Well, it’s that time of year again: The leaves are changing colors, the wind is chilly, you’ve traded in your tank tops for cable knit sweaters, and your solo summer coffee dates are starting to seem a bit depressing and lonely… it’s officially cuffing season. While I wish I could have an enemies-to-friends-to-lovers love story like When Harry Met Sally, unfortunately, 2023 is full of swiping on dating apps, and hoping my matches are actually as tall as they claimed they are. At least for me, finding the best dating apps for a college student has been a series of trials and errors.
Now, would you believe that there are over 1,500 dating apps and sites out there? From super exclusive apps like Raya and The League, to ones where the woman messages first like Bumble, to our more known and loved ones like Tinder and Hinge, surely one’s gotta work, right?
While I am a Hinge girl through and through and met my now best friend on there (we defy the When Harry Met Sally theory), I’m open to trying others. So, I asked nine dating app users about which app they used the most during their college years — so you can start living a modern-day retelling of You’ve Got Mail… kind of.
Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.
- Roy, 23, Hinge
Hinge was my go-to dating app for two years because I think the particular layout of the app really helps to show your personality and interests in a way that other apps such as Tinder fail to do. That being said, I recently deleted my hinge because I’ve come to understand that dating apps aren’t ideal for creating the environment for me to meet someone with whom I really connect.
- Eric*, 23, no dating apps
I hit on people in bars like a boomer. It’s mostly due to my distaste for dating apps. I feel like most people’s profiles tell very little because there is a pressure to fit within an archetypical “good dating app profile.” Meeting in person allows for more organic attraction to flow. Plus, who doesn’t like a meet-cute?
- Makalah, 20, Bumble
I prefer Bumble because it feels higher quality than most dating apps like Tinder and Hinge. It also provides better information within dating profiles, as well as being considered a “women-friendly” app.
- Darla, 21, Tinder
I know Tinder gets a bad rep but being able to link your college and meet people who go to the same school as me has been great. I have such a busy schedule that I want to be able to go on lunch and study dates with a future partner so while I have to be upfront that I’m looking for more than a hookup, Tinder is my first choice in app.
- Kayleigh, 22, Dateability
I like Dateability because it’s a dating app that is designed for disabled people. As someone who is disabled and asexual, I’ve been constantly told by crushes and potential partners, “oh, I could never date someone that’s asexual and/or disabled.” With dateability, though, that helps alleviate those worries. In the grand scheme of things, too, Dateability ensures that disabled people feel safe to date and reminds others that disabled people deserve to find love just as much as abled body people do.
- Jonas, 24, The League
While this is one of the more exclusive apps and you cannot just sign up but rather are placed on a waitlist, I have met people that perfectly align with my wants and needs in a relationship. You have to be verified by your LinkedIn, you’re able to select and match based on your goals and you’re also able to join groups based on your interests and events going on in your city to meet people you have even more in common with. While you only have access to five profiles every 24 hours I find this helps online dating feel less like a game and like the next best thing to meeting someone in the wild that actually wants a relationship.
- Carly*, 23, Hinge
I guess Hinge! It’s easier to start a conversation because there are more prompts, and it feels less like a game (which Tinder can feel like sometimes). That being said, dating apps suck.
- Brenda, 21, Bumble
I like Bumble the most just because it lets women make the first move. Tinder scares me because of the constant harassment and fetishization (which I’ve received as an Asian woman) while Hinge feels more stagnant and deeper than it is.
- Noah, 22, Hinge
I know this isn’t a crazy new app or anything, but I feel like I not only come across people of my same interests but also those who come from completely different walks of life. While compatibility is important in a future relationship, I also think learning about new cultures and hobbies isn’t a bad thing when looking for a future partner and I like that Hinge offers both.
Well, it looks as if Hinge and Bumble come out on top! I’m hopeful that this fall brings forth some romance not only for me, but for you — even if that love is found on a dating app. So, here’s to some killer open-liners, being bold and chatting to strangers out in public, and hopefully finding the perfect cuddle buddy for an annual December Harry Potter Marathon.
*Names have been changed.