Drexel University recently joined the ranks of 350 colleges and universities across the nation whose students are eligible to use the exclusive college meeting and dating site, Datemyschool.com.
Classmates Balazs Alexa and Jean Meyer, both pursuing master’s degrees in business administration, originally launched the site in November 2010 at Columbia University. The website, available only to undergraduates, graduates and alumni with an active college email address, offers an easy way for students to meet each other romantically or otherwise.
The classmates originated the idea from a statement made by a female nursing student. After she commented that 90 percent of the people in the nursing college were women and the pair realized that 80 percent of the students in their school of business were men, the two founded Date My School as a forum for students to meet people outside of their majors.
Within the first week of launching, the website accumulated 1300 Columbia students as members. In December 2010, the website started including students from New York University as well.
Melanie Wallner, director of public relations for Date My School, said after the success at the two New York-based colleges, the site began opening its membership to other schools around the country.
“In general, we tend to get lots of requests from a lot of schools to be included in our website,” Wallner said. “We do selectively choose which schools we want to open up at and Drexel seemed like one of the top universities in the Philadelphia area. We knew we had to build it up to be taken seriously.”
Other schools in the Philadelphia area that were granted access to Date My School included West Chester University, Villanova University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of the Arts, Temple University, St. Joseph’s University, Haverford College and Swarthmore College.
Some of the features on Date My School allow students to search for and view profiles based on university, major, age, and religion as well as receive a notification every time someone views their own profile.
With over 31,000 students now maintaining profiles on Date My School, Drexel student and communication major Ashley Parker-Roman didn’t take long to embrace the social network.
“I read about it in the college section of the Huffington Post and must have gotten it right as it opened up to Drexel,” Parker-Roman said. “It’s a cool concept. I’ve really just been using it to meet people and make friends because I am new to the Philadelphia area, but it’s kind of like Facebook with a dating aspect.”
With extensive press coverage including CNN, The New York Times and the Huffington Post, it was pointed out that there were quite a few similarities between the way Facebook began and the way Date My School has gained steam by first targeting college students as their main clients. But any actual similarities between the two social networks, apart from their growth patterns, were quickly dismissed. While Facebook helps people maintain relationships online, Date My School, which pledges that it will always be exclusive to college students and alumni, aims to get people to be together offline.
“We are expanding in a similar manner to Facebook but are essentially the exact opposite of Facebook,” Wallner said. “And while Facebook shows you the people you might know, we show you the people you don’t know but can automatically trust because they go to your same school, pay the same tuition and live on the same campus as you.”
Damali Peart, a behavioral health counseling major at Drexel, made some of the inevitable comparisons to Facebook herself.
“It’s different from Facebook because it’s less looking at people’s statuses and more looking at profiles,” Peart said. “But you can only look at a person’s profile so many times.”
Despite herself, Peart found herself spending more time than intended on the website.
“I’ve been on it for like an hour; it’s really addicting,” Peart said. “But I don’t think it’s ever going to be as popular as Facebook because not everyone is looking to date. And it can’t really try to be something else because it’s already called ‘Date My School.’”
Despite the name, Date My School plans to be a forum for people to meet for other reasons besides dating.
“In the future we hope people will be able to use it for networking, to find study partners and make new friends. It won’t be exclusively for dating, although that aspect will be available for those who want it too,” Wallner said.
Next semester, Date My School will become available to even more colleges and universities across the nation and soon be expanding internationally.