College is a prime dating time for many young adults, and many dating sites and apps for college students have become the hot places to flirt on a Saturday night.
With over 8,000 dating platforms in existence, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the options out there, but we’ve done our homework to make it easier to find your way. You can think of this list of top-notch dating sites and apps as an online dating study guide — it can help you learn what you need to know to make the grade.
No matter your sexual orientation or relationship goals, you can find a dating platform that caters to you and has your romantic interests in mind.
Overall Best Dating Sites & Apps for College Students
If you’re a college student or a recent grad, you’re probably looking for a free dating site or app that can introduce you to dates without making you take out your credit card. There’s no need to get into debt just to get a date — here’s our cheat sheet for college students looking for a free ride and a fun distraction in the online dating scene.
- Match is the world’s longest running dating site
- The Discover section has search filters by interests, looks, lifestyle, and more
- Match is available in 50 countries and 15 languages
When it comes to online matchmaking, Match has always been at the head of the class. This dating site (and its companion app) has been around since 1995, which makes it older than some of its current users!
Match stands out in the online dating scene because it uses personality traits, interests, and dating preferences to inspire deeper connections than you’ll find by simply swiping through photos. That’s why we’ve consistently ranked and reviewed Match among the top dating sites in the history of online dating.
Match is free to join, and its free features includes unlimited browsing and limited communication. Match members can message their Top Picks for free; however, they’ll have to subscribe to a monthly plan if they want to message to any dating profile they see on the site or app.
- Over 2 million monthly users
- Premium members receive 20 wildcard matches a day
- Search features include age, height, education, ethnicity, and lifestyle habits
Elite Singles is a high-end dating site for anyone who’s serious about settling down. You won’t find flaky dates and sex-driven singles here. The vast majority of Elite Singles members have their hearts set on finding “The One” online.
Over 82% of Elite Singles members have earned a college degree, so you can compare notes about the college experience and find potential dates who are on your level in terms of intellect and education.
Elite Singles is technically a free dating site — because it’s free to join — but communication is a premium member feature, so it may be worth upgrading to a paid membership if you want to get in touch with single people in this elite network.
- Send messages to premium members for free
- Over 3 million messages sent a day
- Premium perks include photo verification and sending virtual gifts
Zoosk is a socially savvy dating site and app with a global following. Over 40 million singles in 80 countries have joined the Zoosk network since 2007, and it continues growing as young singles come of age and go online to meet people.
Generation Z has embraced Zoosk in a big way in recent years. According to the dating site’s internal numbers, Gen Z users are more likely to swipe yes on dating profiles, and they’re more likely to set up casual coffee dates for a first encounter.
Pro tip: Zoosk uses behavioral matchmaking to identify compatibility between users, so the more you view photos and like profiles, the better the match algorithm will get at predicting who you’ll like.
- Over 2 million people have found love here
- Users can filter their match recommendations by age or city
- Compatibility Quiz identifies common interests, lifestyles, and goals
College students aren’t always into hookups — sometimes they want to find a partner to build a life with them. That’s where eharmony comes in. This premium online dating site was originally designed (back in 2000) to inspire long-term relationships and marriages, and it has brought over 2 million couples together.
The eharmony matchmaking system is great for people of all ages because it focuses on where you are in life and where you want to go in your relationships. You can fill out an in-depth dating profile and an 80-question personality test to help the eharmony team get to know you better and identify key personality traits. The dating service recommends your ideal match based on the information you provide, so make sure you’re honest when setting up your account.
Our full eharmony review can tell you more about how the dating site works, but the TL;DR is this site can help singles get serious and meet people who are ready to settle down.
Christian Mingle is a values-driven dating site where Christian singles mingle freely. Although not everyone on Christian Mingle is a devout Christian, they’re all willing to date and marry a person of faith.
The biggest upside on Christian Mingle is that you don’t have to have that awkward “What’s your religion?” talk before or on the first date. You’re already on the same biblical page, so to speak, because you both chose to seek a potential partner on a God-centered dating website.
Christian Mingle has many heartwarming success stories to its name, and many of them come from college-aged singles who found their ideal match on the site or app. “I knew within an hour at our first date over coffee,” Kimberley said in her testimonial. “Rich knew after the third date — he picked out the ring that night! Five months of dating, five months of engagement, and we are set to marry in two weeks.”
If you want to date in the black community, then BlackPeopleMeet should be your go-to dating site. Its mission is to empower singles of color and create a dating environment where they have the run of things.
BlackPeopleMeet offers a free registration process and user profile browsing, but it does charge for the privilege of sending messages to its members. That paywall naturally weeds out folks who aren’t really invested in online dating and don’t have extra funds to spend on their dates. Still, tens of thousands of people have joined BlackPeopleMeet and made it one of the most popular dating sites for African-American singles and their admirers.
“I was able to find a wonderful woman through the use of your site,” said a Maryland user. “After one month, I truly feel as though she is the woman of my dreams, and when the time is right, I will ask her to marry me.”
- Free, unlimited communication for everyone
- Singles can swipe or search for a compatible date
- Over 91 million connections every year
Since 2004, OkCupid has been one of the most popular dating sites and apps in the business. It’s no secret why — OkCupid is completely free for everyone always, and that includes sending as many messages to your matches as you want.
The OkCupid team has promised to offer singles a lot of bang for their buck, and they don’t charge for browsing, searching, liking, or contacting people on the site. Every year, OkCupid is responsible for making over 91 million matches and inspiring 2.6 million dates.
OkCupid takes a data-driven approach to matchmaking, and it constantly polls its users to keep abreast of the newest trends and opinions in the dating world. According to OkCupid’s stats, singles from the University of Nebraska, the University of Iowa and Yale receive the most likes from members in the DoubleTake section, and Harvard singles are the most likely Ivy Leaguers to say they want a serious relationship.
PlentyOfFish is another always-free dating site and app for college singles and college grads. The dating service has over 150 million members, and it sees over 4 million monthly active users.
You may think this free-wheeling dating site is best for online chats and hookups, but it has actually become a wingman for many serious relationship seekers as well. A POF survey found that 52% of men and 47% of women on POF are interested in becoming exclusive with the right person.
Thanks to its match suggestions and personality test, POF online dating site can help singles meet a potential partner who has similar personality traits and lifes goals.
- Supports active daters in 190+ countries
- The swiping system creates over 12 million matches per day
- Tinder Plus members have unlimited likes and 5 Super Likes
Tinder is a no-brainer for lists like these. It’s easily one of the most popular dating apps for young people, and it’s also one of the most effective ways to meet a lot of people in a short amount of time.
Tinder has some impressive stats and a great reputation to back its services. Over half of Tinder users are under 25 years old, and they send about 4.2 million GIFs per week. Since its launch in 2012, Tinder has created over 43 billion matches, and it has been downloaded over 340 million times.
As of 2019, almost 5.9 million people have subscribed to Tinder to get access to its extra features (including the ability to swipe on profiles in different cities), but it’s not necessary to subscribe to pick up dates on this swipe-happy dating app.
- A feminist dating app puts singles on equal footing
- 60% of Bumble matches turn into dates
- Bumble Bizz and Bumble BFF spark non-romantic connections
Bumble appeals to Generation Z because its women-first dating service upholds progressive and egalitarian values. It’s not just a dating app — it’s a feminist movement that challenges today’s dating culture and gender norms.
A 20-something entrepreneur named Whitney Wolfe Herd founded the Bumble app in 2014. As a former Tinder executive, Whitney understood the online dating scene was problematic for women, and she wanted to give them more power to filter matches and find a potential date, so they wouldn’t be at the mercy of the creeps and jerks running rampant on other mobile dating apps.
Today, 72% of Bumble users are under 35, and over 90% of them are looking for a serious relationship. Bumble has created over 750 million matches, and it is responsible for over 5,000 weddings and engagements.
Bumble is the best online dating app for single moms and young women who want to escape the casual hookup scene and meet single men who treat them with respect.
Best LGBT Dating Sites & Apps for College Students
Generation Z could rightly be called the Rainbow Generation because 30% of Americans who identify as LGBTQ+ are under 24 years old. To put that in perspective, the over-65 crowd makes up just 7% of the LGBTQ+ community.
Looking for a same-sex relationship in a college town is a pretty smart strategy because about 60% of LGBTQ+ individuals have gone to college, including 13% who went on to get post-graduate degrees. Here are some of the most popular online dating sites and apps for singles who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning.
- One of the largest gay hookup sites in the world
- Search filters for age, location, physical attributes, and more
- Available in 12 languages and counting
MenNation is a casual hookup site where being gay is A-OK. Its online dating service caters to gay men (both singles and couples) who know exactly what they want and aren’t afraid to go after it.
If you’ve got sex on the brain, then MenNation can satisfy your lust with a gallery of sexy photos and profiles. You can create a personals ad within minutes and join the fun without paying a cent; however, only paid subscribers can chat without inhibitions on MenNation.
MenNation has a global dating pool of gay men, and its search features allow singles to cast a wide net or set specific standards according to their dating wishes.
LesbianPersonals has a lot to offer LGBTQ+ women seeking one-night stands, threesomes, and other sexual experiences. This casual hookup site supports adults who love to love women, and its sexually active user base includes lesbians, bisexuals, and couples of all ages.
You won’t need to look very far to find potential date options and sexy partners on LesbianPersonals. This lesbian hookup site is one of the largest of its kind, and it has attracted millions of signups over the last two decades.
It’s free to create a user profile on LesbianPersonals and start looking around to find the woman of your dreams. Then all you have to do is get a paid membership to say hello and arrange a steamy first date.
- A quirky and unapologetic womxn-only dating community
- Queer events get users connecting IRL
- The constantly updated Feed facilitates social networking
HER is a womxn-only dating app designed to create real relationships and friendships in the LGBTQ+ community. Over 4 million womxn have jumped on board this app, and all of them have been verified as authentic and genuine.
The HER app acts as a social network with live feeds, queer events, and private messages to help keep lesbian, bisexual, and queer womxn in touch with one another. Free members can set up a full profile to make a positive impression on the HER community and send likes and comments to womxn who catch their eye online.
In a recent survey, 81% of surveyed HER users said they had fallen in love with someone on the app, and you can read many #WeMetOnHer stories on Twitter and Instagram.
- Social networking for gay, bi, trans, and queer men
- Location-based matches spark instant chemistry
- Grindr Equality advocates for LGBTQ+ interests on the global stage
With over 27 million users, Grindr has the distinction of being the most popular gay dating app on the market, and it’s completely free to download, match, and chat.
Grindr is a location-based online dating app, which means a hot date is always within your reach. You can log in whenever you’re feeling frisky and match with single men on campus, at the local bar, or in your area. Most Grindr users are looking for an instant connection and steamy romance, so you don’t have to feel shy about asking a person to meet up right away.
If you’re looking for men in the LGBTQ+ dating scene, then Grindr should be high on your priority list. This app can get you swiping and dating at a fast clip, and you never know where those online conversations and connections will take you.
Best Hookup Sites & Apps for College Students
Some college students are in no hurry to settle down. They’re young and vibrant, and they want to play the field while they can. The average student reports having five sexual partners during their college days. The top dating sites for hookups can help you pursue an above-average dating experience and meet many desirable single men and women in your college town.
We consider BeNaughty to be the top dating website for sexy singles because it offers completely free communication with virtually zero limits. As long as you have a photo on your user profile, you can send individual chats or mass messages on this dating platform.
The fast-paced world of BeNaughty can be overwhelming at first glance, but you can use the search filters to find a potential match who fits your image of a perfect date. BeNaughty lets users filter the database by age, gender, location, orientation, appearance, online activity, and popularity, so a hot date is only a few clicks away.
Not sure what you’re looking for? Then head to the Like Gallery where you can swipe on photos until you find someone in the user base worth liking and messaging.
Adult Friend Finder is among the world’s largest casual dating sites — it has over 100 million profiles, and it has created over 4 million sexy connections to date.
Whether you’re looking for a one-on-one connection, a threeway, an orgy, or a strip tease video, you can explore many erotic discussions and X-rated profiles by becoming a full AFF member. While joining AFF is free, you won’t be able to get all the benefits of the community until you subscribe for less than $1 a day.
Our full review named AFF one of the most legit hookup sites in the online world, and we’d recommend it to college students with a high sex drive and few inhibitions.
FriendFinder-X is among the top dating sites for sexually active singles and swingers over 18. The site prides itself on being “where good girls do bad things,” and it is open to people of all orientations and gender identities.
As a discreet platform, FriendFinder-X doesn’t require users to mingle under their real names, and it does not connect to anyone’s social media account. You are completely anonymous and free to follow your desires in a judgment-free zone. If you’re looking for casual dating, look no further — FriendFinderX can help you find your way to an easy lay, and it doesn’t cost anything to get started.
What is a Good Dating Site for 20-Year-Olds?
Many 20-somethings favor OkCupid because it is totally free to use. You never have to pay anything to create matches and send messages on OkCupid, and it also doesn’t charge for its matchmaking questionnaire, which includes over 4,000 optional questions.
- Only messages from mutual matches appear in your inbox
- Insightful profile questions help singles get to know one another
- A-List members receive additional perks such as seeing who liked them
We’d also say Zoosk is a good option for college-aged singles seeking conversation and connection. The dating platform has a lot of free features, including limited messaging, and its members send over 3 million messages per day.
- Free trial with unlimited profile browsing
- Flirt with women in 80+ countries
- Behavioral matchmaking system pays attention to your likes and views
Most mainstream dating sites and apps cater to a fairly young single crowd, so you can’t go wrong as a 20-something in the online dating scene. You’re in the driver’s seat here, and you don’t have to settle for anything less than an ideal match with a premium member.
What is the Best Dating App for Singles?
Hands down, Tinder is the best dating app for singles who are active in the dating scene — especially if you’re in your early 20s. More than half of Tinder members are between 18 and 25.
In a Badoo survey, 84.4% of college students said they actively use Tinder to find a potential date, so its one of the most popular mobile dating apps for young people.
Tinder has been downloaded 300 million times since its launch in 2012, and the online dating service arranges over 1.5 million first dates a week.
What is the Most Successful Dating Site?
Different dating sites appeal to different people, but Match is for everyone.
Match.com was among the first dating sites to launch in the early days of the internet, and it remains a force to be reckoned with almost 30 years later.
As a serious dating network, Match boasts having arranged more first dates, relationships, and marriages than any of its competitors, and it is responsible for the birth of over 1 million babies.
- In-depth matching appeals to women with high standards
- Only premium members can send private messages to one another
- An established singles network in 50 countries worldwide
Match is definitely the most successful dating site on the market today. Not only has it been around the longest, but it also has more real-life success stories to its name.
If you’re serious about meeting folks, we’d recommend upgrading to Match’s paid membership plan. A premium member can make the most of this online dating service and chat up a potential match in the local dating scene.
What Percentage of College Students Use Dating Apps?
In 2016, 27% of 18- to 24-year-olds reported trying an online dating site or dating app, which was a marked increase from the 10% who’d said they had tried online dating in 2013. We’d be willing to bet that stat has only increased in recent years what with the rise of swiping and mutual matching on mobile dating apps.
In fact, in 2019, more couples than ever before (22%) said they had met their spouse online, and 30% of those couples were originally matched by Tinder!
We Give Today’s College Dating Sites & Apps an A+
College students have a lot of options in the dating scene. Many dating sites and apps are full of promise, and many appeal to young daters, but only a select few passed our test in terms of membership numbers, success rate, and free features.
We’ve ranked the best free dating sites and apps for college students seeking romance and love, and our reviews can tell you everything you need to know to get ahead of the dating curve and hone your flirtation skills.
You can make the most of your college years with a solid dating site or app in your pocket. All you need is a free membership to give yourself a head start and raise your profile in the local dating scene. Good luck!