Illustration of three people on their phones with hearts around their heads.

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 trap music while someone does body shots in the corner are a bit challenging. It’s not exactly the ideal environment for romance. (Although maybe you’re not looking for romance? Party on, friend.)

Dating apps are the saving grace of college students everywhere. Whether you’re serious about finding someone or just looking for a quick hookup, you may not need to look further than 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, getting high, or focusing on your career, there are people seeking the same things you are. As a college 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 suited for other college-aged people looking for love on campus.

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 result in a true connection. By being yourself and presenting who you are 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 Forget all those outdated rules that say a man is supposed to make the first move or that a woman can’t pay on the first date.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 candor, but it will alleviate that post-date awkwardness of wondering where you stand. Ghosting sucks for everyone. Just be upfront and save the both of you a lot of discomfort and uncertainty.

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. (A retro arcade or the student union could be a good, low-stakes meeting place. Bowling is always a good choice, too.) The benefits of making a date to do an activity cannot be overstated. It provides you with ample conversation starters and gives you the opportunity to get a little competitive and joke around. Some playful teasing goes a long way. And remember: It’s all about having fun.

So what are the best dating apps for college students?

Our best picks for college students are the following: We like OkCupid for its inclusivity, ease of use, and fun algorithms. Tinder also gets our stamp of approval, as the swipe-happy, low-touch app makes finding people nearby a breeze. Friendsy deserves a shoutout as well for how it keeps the dating pool limited to other college students.

Read on to discover which other dating apps for college students made the cut. We’ve narrowed down the list to the 10 best online dating apps for whatever kind of college experience you want — here they are:

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