After I graduated high school, the possibilities before me seemed endless. The different majors I could choose from, the new friends I would make, and the many dating experiences I would surely have excited me. I decided to go to San Antonio College to get my basics done because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, and I wanted to help my parents save some cash. It was difficult to adjust to the community-college lifestyle, after having seen many iconic college movies portraying social scenes filled with football games and dorm-room mayhem, but I got used to it. My classes were interesting, and I made a few new friends, but one thing wasn’t falling into place — my dating life was almost nonexistent.
Originally, I put the sole blame on SAC, but as I talked to friends who went to other local colleges, I realized I wasn’t the only one having trouble in the romance department. I slowly grasped the problem wasn’t me and it wasn’t all SAC; it was San Antonio. I met my current boyfriend when I went to visit a friend in Houston, the summer before I transferred to an out-of-town four-year university. Many of my SA friends also met their significant others outside of the Alamo City. This left me wondering: why does the local dating scene seem inferior compared to other big cities and college towns?
The problem isn’t a lack of students. In the fall 2006 semester there were almost 70,000 students enrolled in San Antonio’s community-college system and five universities. The high number is somewhat deceiving because some of the schools sport an unusual amount of nontraditional students. Last fall, 43 percent of SAC students were over the age of 29, 21 percent of UTSA students were over the age of 27, and the average age of an Incarnate Word student was 26.
But that still leaves a large number of traditional-aged undergraduate and graduate students. What’s the deal?
I decided to hit the streets and ask my peers, “What’s it like dating in San Antonio as a college student?” By far, the most common answer I received was short and to the point: “It sucks!” Although the occasional subject had positive things to say, the majority of responses fell into one of two categories:
Everything is too spread out
One of college students’ biggest frustrations is that there isn’t a designated “college hangout” area. The nightlife ranges from the Falls on the city’s north side to Cowboys Dancehall at Northeast Loop 410 and I-35, to a number of places downtown. The spontaneous socialization that comes from having a central hangout, like Austin’s 6th Street and College Station’s Northgate, is missing. The closest thing in San Antonio to a central strip of bars that attracts college students is the Broadway Street strand that includes Rebar and Revolution Room.
“San Antonio is a slower city,” says Trinity undergrad Andi Narvaez. “You don’t see people on the streets as much. The chances of going out and bumping into somebody are slim.”
It’s a family town
Despite the large number of college students, San Antonio isn’t recognized as a dating town. In the Forbes 2006 Best City For Singles report, San Antonio bottomed out at 38 out of 40, just before Norfolk, Virginia, and Greensboro, North Carolina. The study ranked 40 of the largest U.S. metros based on their nightlife, culture, job growth, number of singles, cost of living alone, cool factor, and prevalence of online dating.
“For some reason, most of the men are married, have children or are divorced,” says Tanya Aguilar Garduño, a SAC undergraduate. “All of which I am not looking for.” A group of Incarnate Word students I encountered agreed and said it seems like everyone they meet is already hooked up.
Although the theories dicussed above were the most plausible, they certaintly weren’t the most entertaining. One young woman actually said the dating drought can be attributed to the small minority of educated people in San Antonio. Another outspoken woman said she can’t find a date because all the guys in town are “assholes.”
Oddly, no one I interviewed mentioned the obvious difference between San Antonio and other typical college towns: San Antonio is foremost a commuter-college city. With the exception of Trinity, most area colleges and universities have minimal on-campus housing, which discourages students from socializing on campus when their classes end.
I decided against leaving you with some lame tips that you have already heard a million times before about how to meet members of the opposite sex. Instead, I leave you with this: Put on a smile, grab a friend, and go hang out at some of the places recommended by students themselves on page 45 of the Current’s College Guide. If all else fails, you can always move to a city with a more hopping singles scene and come back to our beloved city when you want to settle down and raise a family. •