Current college students can do anything online: Black Friday shopping, board meetings, ordering pizza and even speaking to a Temple librarian are only a mouse click away.
Dating, with its constantly changing norms, has become time-consuming. Meeting someone new in a fast-paced academic environment can be difficult when the only people someone might encounter are the people within their major.
Datemyschool.com, a dating platform for college students, seeks to make meeting other students more accessible.
Online dating can be a reasonable option for students who feel they don’t have the time to meet new people.
Founded in November 2010 by two Columbia University MBA classmates, Balazs Alexa and Jean Meyer, DMS came into existence when a female nursing student at Columbia complained that 90 percent of her department was female and meeting people outside of her major was difficult. Alexa and Meyer then realized that 80 percent of the business school was male, and DMS was born.
The idea of students meeting across departments and universities in a safe online environment is what makes DMS different from other dating sites.
“On other networks you might already know the people, and then you go on the platform to stay in contact with them,” Melanie Wallner, the Public Relations Director for DMS said. “DMS is the opposite.”
DMS is the first dating service where an active .edu email address is required to join. This measure makes it so that only students and alumni can take part in the service. The profiles are also not searchable by Google, and the only people who can access a profile are those who meet the criteria a user sets, such as sexual orientation and location.
“When I went on [the site], there there’s a cute little video that plays,” Cori Shearer, a sophomore strategic and organizational communications major said. “It shows how online dating can be scary on other sites like Plenty of Fish and eHarmony.”
“It kind of made it a safe way to date because you have to have a .edu email account and it’s only people who go to your university, or whoever you select, can see you,” Shearer added. “I thought it seemed a lot more legitimate than other sites I’ve seen from friends who have accounts.”
After signing up for DMS users are prompted to upload photos and begin filling out their personal information including physical traits, interests and a brief “about me” description.
The site also asks users what schools they would like to meet people at. Once schools are narrowed down, students can also elect to block whole departments if they want.
For example, if a student in Fox School of Business didn’t want to meet anyone else in the same department, they could make themselves unsearchable to anyone in Fox. If that same student didn’t want to meet anyone at Temple, they could choose to block the whole university and stick to searching area schools like Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania.
“I think if you’re looking for someone to date that might be nice to not include the school you’re in since you probably already meet those people on a regular basis, or maybe if you’re looking for a study buddy or a friend in another school to help you out if you’re using it just for that,” Shearer said.
Wallner attributed all of these personalization options to DMS’ zero embarrassment.
“My friend actually found out about it over email,” Andrew Jano, a junior kinesiology major who just started using DMS said. “I figured OK, why not?”
One of the more appealing factors of DMS for Jano and Shearer has also been the site’s goal to keep unwanted attention at bay.
This is achieved by only allowing users to register if they have an active .edu email address. Users can also block members of a certain age if they have concerns of being pursued by older users. DMS also makes sure to only make someone’s profile visible to those who meet their criteria
“To me, a creeper is someone who’s constantly viewing [your profile] and never really saying anything,” Jano said. “They know who you are without you really knowing who they are. They usually don’t have a picture. You could see them on the street and you won’t really know who they are.”
“My roommate and I created accounts for each other on Plenty of Fish when we were really bored one day,” Shearer said. “Really creepy people messaged us back. I definitely think that kind of ruined it for me forever.”
With approximately 600 schools included and more than 55,000 members nationwide, DMS is very unique in its exclusivity and success rate. Wallner said users find someone they like within 30 minutes and that they are responsible for more than 50 percent of dates and some marriages at Columbia.
Temple, with more than 2,000 members, is one of DMS’ larger markets, along with Drexel and Penn.
While Temple’s presence can be seen on DMS, there still isn’t enough membership for students to meet across departments.
“I still think it needs time to grow, I think it’s really ingenious,” Shearer said. “I don’t know if I’d actually use the site for dating someone because I’m a little traditional, but as far as networking and making friends who have the same interest I would totally use that site. Actually, what’s really funny is I’ve seen people I know from class on the site.”
DMS promises convenience and may be leading the way in how college will now interact romantically. Whether it’s a good or bad change, time will tell.
“It’s kind of sad,” Shearer said. “Our generation uses a computer for everything without even realizing it. I feel online dating is eventually going to become necessary because we’ve lost a lot of our social skills and we’ve adapted to doing everything online. Online dating will eventually become less taboo.”