Freshmen feel the pressure to find their soulmate the moment they step on campus
Views | Greta Sowles
Enjoying the scenery at Lake Valentine. | Drea Chalmers
The green, algae-filled waters of Lake Valentine glisten in the sun, mirroring the image of Sem Hill and those that traverse the beautiful walkway between the CLC Circle and Bethel Seminary. Meanwhile, the hormones that rage on freshman hill reach a pinnacle as the third week of school convenes.
In fact, the insanity of freshman hill provides a genuine picture of freshman hormones working a certain brand of magic. While eight freshman girls and boys pack into one tiny dorm room, sitting on beds together, sharing popcorn, and playing video games, it becomes clear that perhaps Bethel’s institutions really do create a pressure to date and to date soon.
Courtney Coulter, a resident assistant (RA) in Edgren, can think of multiple couples that have already started to form in the first week of school. “It happened right away – people were exchanging numbers and flirting; they just think it’s everything.”
Philip Byers, the resident director of Edgren, agreed with Coulter. “You don’t have to be a master of observation to pick up on it. The flirting isn’t subtle.”
Both agreed that the transition into college includes many different variables that make dating difficult. “It’s not that it can’t work – it’s just harder when a lot of stuff is up in the air,“ said Byers.
In the first year of collegiate studying, a fresh dating experience can do two things. It can either distract from the greater purposes of fully appreciating a college education, growing spiritually, and establishing friendships, or it can provide a synthetic buffer for the rich transition that freshman year demands. Either way, the freshman dating scene cannot be healthy.
While some freshmen think that dating can happen if the time and person is right, I’d like to provide three reasons not to date during freshman year.
First of all, the transition from high school to college makes a successful freshman relationship highly unlikely. Both Coulter and Byers mentioned that relationships that start within the first few weeks of freshman year often don’t work out.
Alissa Wheeler, a freshman from Bodien, even mentioned that there is a new term up in the air called DDTR, which stands for “De-Define The Relationship.” This plays off of Bethel’s famous “Define The Relationship” talk that often occurs in the first few weeks of a budding relationship. A DDTR represents the “break-up” talk.
“Freshmen dive into relationships even though they don’t know what they are doing,” said Taylor Bothun, a current RA in Bodien.
Dating also skews the freshman image of college, sometimes for the better but often for the worse. “I don’t think it’s worth it. This is such a big transition. They are changing, and they should not be searching. It skews their image of college,” said Coulter, who added that in the first few weeks of school freshman girls are often trying to impress and are not their true selves.
Finally, dating distracts from studying, which is the primary duty of a student. David Patterson, a freshman from Bodien, does not want to date his freshman year but would rather “focus more on school and adjusting.”
Patterson seems to represent the minority here. Numbers of other freshmen suggest that it’s okay to date if “you’re ready and find the right person.” But I must question whether their discretion is God-centered and truly practical during the exciting but difficult transition of freshman year.
Maybe it is my cynical attitude or my own hypocritical experience with freshman dating, but as far as I know, Bethel’s chemistry department is not brewing experimental love potions and nowhere in Bethel’s covenant is “finding a good Christian spouse” listed as a core value. Perhaps we should redefine the focus of Bethel freshmen. After all, isn’t true love worth the wait?