College dating tips and fun, inexpensive fall date ideas

Pumpkin patchCollege dating can be a challenge because, let’s face it: going out costs money. Right? Well, that’s only if you think expensive concerts or dinner at a fancy restaurant is the only way to have a good time. Come on, now. If you think about it, there are a ton of fun, cheap date ideas out there. Take these inexpensive college dating tips, for example, and try them on for size!

  1. Pumpkin patch – pumpkin picking and carving. With Halloween so close, this is a great way to get into the spirit and get a little creative. Plus, this can lead to another date. Halloween party, anyone?
  2. Bowling – with the weather cooling down, this is a nice indoor sport and a good ol’ American pastime. A little friendly competition during a date can keep things interesting.
  3. Scavenger hunt – have fun searching for clues together and exploring the local area. It’s like the Amazing Race, only, well, smaller — that and you don’t win $1 million. But hey, you’ll have a good time! Many student groups organize free scavenger hunts in the fall as membership-building events. A similar idea for this time of year would be to head to a corn maze!
  4. Picnic – enjoy the season and the great outdoors before it gets too cold. If either of you have cooking skills, this is the time to show them off! If not, sandwiches and snacks will do the trick, of course. Very romantic.
  5. Music festivals – while this can get a little pricey if you’re not careful, student discount tickets are definitely the way to go. If you both have similar tastes in music, this is ideal—even if you don’t, it’s a great way to learn more about each other’s interests.

Dating in college — Do:

  • Complement his/her appearance. A few compliments (don’t over do it) show you’re paying attention.
  • Come up with an idea for the next date and take turns doing the planning.
  • Do your research on where you’re going and make reservations ahead of time.
  • If you’re just beginning to date, meet in a neutral place, especially if you don’t know the other person very well.
  • Thank your date for the nice time you had and, if you’re inclined, say that you are looking forward to the next time!
  • Offer to pay for a meal or activity 50/50, or better yet, alternate paying.

When it comes to paying the bill, it’s best to come up with a system you both can agree on, says Susmita Baral in her February 7, 2011, post, “Dating Etiquette: Who Should Pay & How to Settle the Bill on a Date,” to

“It’s important to remember that in this day and age, many women take chivalry as a sign that a man is underestimating them,” Baral writes. “If it’s important to a girl, then make sure to listen to her reasons, talk it out and come up with a system. If you REALLY want to pay, you can point out that it’s just how you were raised and offer that she pay 1 in every 3 or 4 dates (or whatever works for the two of you).”

Dating in college — Don’t:

  • Ask him/her out to a movie on a first date. This may have been a good standby in high school, but not in college. It’s not conducive to getting to know each other.
  • Choose expensive restaurants or venues unless you are offering to pay. (Even then, tread lightly. Some people are made uncomfortable by their dates spending too much on them.)
  • Be late. It’s not attractive.
  • Show up on your date without taking a shower or brushing your teeth first. Hygiene is key! Isn’t this obvious?
  • Go overboard on the PDA.
  • Constantly tweet or text your friends while on your date.

If in doubt, check in with other college students to see how they’ve handled situations that fall in the grey area. “Dating Etiquette for the Classy CoEd!,” an April 25, 2010, post by Shelly Marie to, offers more dos and don’ts that can help steer your dating life in the right direction.

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