The best dating apps for university students

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This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.

We love a good party as much as anyone, but the logistics of trying to get to know someone in a packed basement over thumping tunes while everyone is doing shots in the corner are a bit challenging. It’s not exactly the prime environment for romance.

Dating apps are the saving grace of university students everywhere. Whether you’re serious about finding someone, or just looking for a quick hookup, you may just need the right app.

After all, everyone’s doing it. 

Why should you consider using dating sites?

Yes, you can still find love in the real world, because meeting in bars, clubs, parks, and other romantic locations still happens every day. By subscribing to a dating site, you’re simply shortening your odds of finding someone special.

Dating sites and apps let you put your information out there to a massive network of potential dates. Plus, you can save a lot of time, energy, and cash by testing out a potential relationship on an app before meeting in real life.

Do you need to pay for the best dating apps?

The good news is that are absolutely loads of free dating sites and apps out there, and the likes of Tinder and Hinge are seriously popular options with students. Most of the biggest and best dating sites also have free versions with limitations on certain features. So you can easily enter the online dating game without spending anything.

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for with dating sites and apps. For the best experience with the greatest possibility of finding exactly what you’re looking for, the best option is probably not a free app. We’re sorry to break it to you, but the best dating sites don’t come cheap. Of course you can still find a date with a free app, but if you’re looking for compatibility tests, chat rooms, videos, and a greater level of control, we recommend upgrading.

What should you consider before using a dating app?

It probably seems obvious, but the first rule of online dating is to just be yourself. It’s all too easy to pretend to be someone you’re not online, but that kind of catfishing game won’t garner you a true connection. By being yourself and presenting yourself accurately and honestly, you open yourself up to the possibility of a great relationship with someone who likes you just the way you are. And isn’t that the whole point of dating?

Don’t be afraid to make the first move. Forget all those outdated rules that say a man is supposed to make the first move or that a woman can’t pay on a first date. Instead, focus on finding an equal partner who helps support your goals, wants to see you succeed, and has dreams of their own.

Get a bit more creative with your messaging than the standard “Hey.” If you’re looking to connect with someone on campus, then open up the conversation with a question about them and a little bit about yourself. Messaging someone is more discussion group than lecture hall — it’s about passing the conversation back and forth. 

Once you decide to meet up — which is the entire point, after all — stay open. We often come up with an idea for how someone will be after meeting them online, and it’s rare that your expectations sync up with reality. Allow yourself to really get to know this person for who they are rather than who you thought they would be before you make up your mind.

That said, it’s crucial that you’re honest. If you really don’t feel a connection, then do the right thing and tell them. A good line to use is something like, “I’ve really enjoyed meeting you but I think there are probably better people out there for both of us.” Not only will they appreciate your direct approach, but it will alleviate that post-date awkwardness of wondering where you stand. Ghosting sucks for everyone. Just be up front and save each of you a lot of discomfort.

On the other hand, what if you really do like them after finally meeting in person? Then what? Set up your next date while you’re still hanging out. That old rule about waiting three days to call? It’s dead. RIP outdated dating rules. Make plans to do something low-key, and for the first few dates make sure the plans are to meet in a public place. The benefits of making a date to do an activity cannot be overstated. It provides you with ample conversation starters and gives you an opportunity to get a little competitive and joke around. Some playful teasing goes a long way. And remember: It’s all about having fun.

What is the best dating app for university students?

At this point there are dating apps for every niche you can think of, whether you’re into gaming, geek culture, or focusing on your career — there are people seeking the same things you are. As a university student, you have specific needs and probably don’t want to wade through all the older people trying to get married. You need dating apps that are specifically good for uni-aged people.

To help you find the perfect dating app, we’ve tracked down the best options for whatever kind of university experience you want, including leading sites like eharmony(opens in a new tab), Match(opens in a new tab), and AdultFriendFinder(opens in a new tab).

These are the best dating apps for students in 2023.

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