I'm worried about the hook-up culture at college. I really would prefer to date and maybe have a relationship. Are there any colleges where people actually have a relationship and maybe become boyfriend and girlfriend? How do I find those schools?


Nedda Gilbert, MSW, Educational Consultant, and Author

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About four years ago the New York Times thought they did an explosive, in-depth piece on the University of Pennsylvnia's hook-up culture. They spent months roaming campus, interviewing female students and collecting data in a rather unscientific investigation. Their report concluded that UPenn was a place where women were too busy, too intense, too ambitious, too concerned about grades, internships and securing an awesome job - to have time for dating or a serious boyfriend. Several of the female students reported guys do not take women out on dates at all - that this was a lost ritual. Similar stories were reported about Yale and all sorts of other colleges - that campus cultures only accommodate a hook-up culture. Further, males seemed to be advantaged.

Hmmm...wild sex, frequent sex, easy sex? I am here to report - from the trenches - that hook-ups as Ms. Dixon said are everywhere - especially when you head to college where the supply chain will support it. There is no other time in life where the trifecta of unfettered access, peculating libido, and wild youthfulness all come together in a perfect storm of opportunity. College is a force of nature where depending on the school -and the person - fun, passion and sex will present themselves in varying degrees.

BUT, and this is a big but - I am also here to report - first hand - that there are tons and tons of serious, I am in love, boyfriend and girlfriend relationships flourishing at Penn, and at every college campus - and even the kind that lead to marriage. I don't know who those reporters spoke to, but serious relationships seem to flourish at many colleges - including Penn and Yale and hundreds of colleges. It's easy to go around a campus and ask, "Hey, have you had anonymous or hook-up sex?' and find a sizable majority who will answer, "Yes." It's tougher to get the low-down on who is dating who and who has fallen hard. That requires you either be part of the student scene, or go deeper in your reporting. My feeling is that the Penn piece - and other stories like this - just skim the top,

If you're looking for a more serious relationship - or just the option that it's possible - there are lots of choices at any school. Both serious love and causal sex are alive and well on college campuses. Don't rule out a college that may be right for you based on what you have heard about hook-ups. If you're concerned about the impact of campus culture, I would focus more on the party scene, or Greek life, because party-hard colleges and/or Greek life are not for everyone. And can really impact your experience.

Best of luck in your journey - romantic or otherwise!

Chelsea L. Dixon, M.S., M.A.T, Author. Speaker. CEO.

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The “hook-up” culture will exist regardless of where you go to college. There will be students in the college dating scene who are single, dating, in relationships and who become boyfriend and girlfriend.

College will be a new experience and you will have the opportunity to try new things. Between going to classes, studying, making new friends and being involved in extracurricular activities you may find that there really isn’t much time to devote to a relationship and that is perfectly fine. There is nothing wrong with being single. You will have plenty of responsibilities and other priorities that will require your attention.

However, if you do become involved with someone, you will have to find a balance between the demands of college and spending time with him or her. Make sure it’s what you really want and not because of pressure or because your friends are in a relationship.

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