From university-only apps to the big players, this is the best technology for the student dater.
By Team Commerce
We love a good party as much as anyone, but the logistics of trying to get to know someone in a packed basement over blaring 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.
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 ASAP. You need dating apps that are specifically good for uni-aged people.
To help you find the perfect dating app, we’ve tracked down eight of the best options for whatever kind of university experience you want.
These are the best dating apps for university students in the UK.
Great matchmaking tech • High success rate
Lots to fill out to sign up • Pricey
If marriage is already on your mind, eharmony is probably your best bet.
eharmony offers ultimate compatibility tech, but it’s not cheap.
The gist: At first, eharmony may feel like a lot. Matches are based on a lengthy questionnaire that drills down into the specifics of your dating preferences and personality. It may seriously pay off to invest the time that’s required for your profile, especially considering that at one time eharmony was responsible for creating the most marriages of any online dating site.
Why it’s good for university students: Chances are, if you find a match on eharmony then they’re just as serious as you. A decent amount of thought and effort goes into filling out a profile, but it could definitely be the difference between wasting your time and meeting someone who’s on the same page and looking for the same thing. Why waste your time on hookup apps when you can easily narrow your options to likeminded matches?
Guarantees you’ll find someone or you get six months free • Missed connections feature is especially great for uni
Not cheap • User base skews a bit older
If you’re looking for something more than just a hookup, Match could be for you.
Match has a huge user base and matchmaking technology, but is pricey.
The gist: Who hasn’t heard of Match? If you’re currently in university, the site has probably been around longer than you have. One thing that has kept Match around for over 20 years: it apparently works. Once you make a profile and set your dating preferences, you’re free to view whoever you please. Match doesn’t limit the profiles that are available to you, so the Match world is pretty much your oyster. The dating app will give you Match suggestions based on your set criteria, which you can change and alter any time.
Why it’s good for university students: For one thing, Match guarantees you’ll find someone, and if you don’t, then you get to keep looking for another six months for free. Another great thing about Match is its “Missed Connections” feature. This part of the app uses your location to match you with people you’ve already crossed paths with in real life. Think about all the times you saw someone cute on campus but didn’t make a move. Or better yet, think about how much more convenient it would be to match with someone who doesn’t live on the opposite end of campus. Proximity is not overrated.
Massive user base • LGBTQ friendly • Great selection of features
Outdated and unattractive layout • Site looks like a porn ad
AdultFriendFinder has everything that your dirty mind can think of and more.
Live videos, group chats, and more monthly visitors than eharmony.
The gist: To be blunt, AdultFriendFinder is a dating site for people who are looking for “no strings attached” casual sex. After filling out an in-depth questionnaire, which includes questions about your gender, sexual orientation, relationship status, and who you’re looking to meet, users then go to the main page where they can search for people who are also looking for relationships or just casual sex. It’s as simple as that.
Why it’s good for university students: AdultFriendFinder has a surprisingly large pool of users, so there should always be people using it 24 hours a day. No matter your kinks or sexual orientation and no matter the time of day or night, there’s someone on the dating site waiting for you to share your preferences, sexual desires, and maybe hook-up with you too.
Easy to meet someone like-minded • UK-centric • LGBTQ friendly
Pricey • Fewer members than sites like Match
Find someone who shares similar values to you with this UK-centric site.
This site makes it easy to find someone who shares similar values.
The gist: Guardian Soulmates is a site made up of Guardian readers, of course. If you believe the reader profiles, this dating app is full of “wealthy foodies who like to travel and invest.” Guardian Soulmates has a smaller pool of daters than the likes of Match and Tinder, but if there’s any truth in the profiles, the matches you make should be interesting. Guardian Soulmates also includes a cool feature that uses criteria you select in the “who you’re looking for” page to give you a list of potential “soulmates”. For each individual criteria, you can set how important these aspects are to you, and if they are important to other site members, you’ll be matched up.
Why it’s good for university students: Nobody wants to end up with a match who doesn’t share any of your beliefs or interests. The fact that you can search for matches using the “Find a soulmate” function means you should only be matched based on both your preferences and how well you fit the preferences of other users. Hopefully you can avoid unpleasant encounters with people you don’t like, and there will be plenty of those at uni.
Cool “dealbreaker” option • Unique matching features and ice-breakers
Hinge’s unique features could make it worth the cost.
Hinge offers dating features that no other app provides.
The gist: Hinge is kind of like a mix between Match and Tinder. On your profile, you’re asked to fill in the basics as well as indicate whether you smoke, drink, want kids, or don’t. Then the app asks you to fill out a few questions and pick three to appear on your public profile. The result? Instead of just judging by pictures, users get a more personal experience and a better idea of your personality based on what questions you choose to answer and how you choose to answer them. Hinge allows for a lot of filters in order to narrow down your search. They also give the “dealbreaker” option to narrow the search even further. Once you come across a profile you like, instead of “liking” the entire profile, you must choose one thing in order to try and match.
Why it’s good for university students: Hinge is perfect for those who are just enjoying the casual uni experience, but would consider a relationship if the right person came along. It’s easy to use and offers slightly more than the typical surface-level swiping. The fact that you’re forced to like a specific profile feature makes it easy to break the ice. Someone liked that you answered “my sister” in the “things I can’t live without” question? Aw. How sweet. Now respond back and ask them if they have any siblings. See how easy that was?
Easy to use • Free version • Loads of potential matches
Low chance of meeting IRL
If you’re playing around, Tinder could be your best bet to find something you like.
Tinder pretty much changed the game when it comes to online dating.
The gist: Tinder is probably the best pick for those looking for a more casual experience. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Tinder is the original “swipe right, swipe left” app that pretty much changed the game when it comes to online dating. Tinder matches you with singles based on your location and pulls your interests from your Facebook profile so that getting started is pretty much as easy as it gets. All you have to do is select a few pictures and a write a short bio. You can also attach your Instagram account if you want. Then, it’s time to swipe. If you and another member both swipe right (for yes) on each other, you become matched and are free to message each other.
Why it’s good for university students: Some 80% of Tinder users are millennials, which means uni kids are definitely familiar with the app. Tinder is perfect for those who aren’t really thinking about commitment, but are open to having some fun with someone new. And there’s nothing wrong with that. A disclaimer though: one study exposed that over 70% of college kids had never even actually met up with somebody from Tinder.
More than just romantic relationships • Focus on equality and respect • Most features are free
24-hour window might be too short • Not much focus on same-sex couples
With a nontraditional approach to dating apps, Bumble creates a welcoming space for students.
Bumble requires women to make the first move and clears out matches if there’s no immediate communication.
The gist: Bumble requires women to make the first move in the hopes of limiting the number of unsolicited messages received from creepy dudes. Obviously, if you’re not seeking a heterosexual relationship, this rule doesn’t apply to you. This system is in place to level the playing field and change the dynamics of dating to promote respect and equality from the beginning. Like most dating apps, Bumble uses swiping to show you potential candidates. If you both swipe right on each other, it’s a match. Here’s where Bumble differs from Tinder, though: matches expire after 24 hours, so women have a limited timeframe to come up with the perfect opening line.
Why it’s good for university students: Universities can sometimes feel like unsafe environments for women, so having a space dedicated to respect and equality is definitely a plus. Additionally, Bumble’s setup pushes people to get out of their comfort zones by forcing them to make quick conversations — and isn’t uni all about getting out of your comfort zone? Bumble is not marketed as a hookup app, so it’s good for students who are looking for something a little more substantial than a Tinder fling.
LGBTQ friendly and inclusive • Plenty of options if you’re looking for casual hookups
Hypersexualized environment • Unsolicited messages and photos
Being direct and transparent about your intentions is key to navigating Grindr.
Grindr is the OG dating and hookup app for gay men.
Grindr Xtra Lite:
The gist: Grindr is known for being the go-to hookup app for gay men, but there’s also the chance to find real, sustainable relationships, too. On the app, you’re presented with a collage of men in your area ready to chat. Most users will let you know straightaway what their intentions are — like if they’re just looking for casual sex or something more — so you at least won’t have to play the “what’s happening here?” game for too long. Because Grindr shows a pool of geographically-close people rather than one person at a time, there are fewer boundaries than apps with swiping features. Anyone can message you without the two of you having to “like” each other first.
Why it’s good for university students: University men who are looking for casual sex, but don’t want to try to hit on dudes at the bar absolutely swear by Grindr. Unfortunately, Grindr is known to be hypersexualized, so it’s not the best place to find lasting love, though we’re not saying it can’t happen. Grindr has the option to display STD information, which is an option not found on most apps. This will also probably encourage you to get tested yourself, which you should do regularly, especially if you’re having casual sex.
Online dating 101
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 our 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.