OPINION: First-years at Harvey Mudd, there’s no rush to date

Drawing of a girl hiding under the covers from dating apps
(Laura Jaramillo • The Student Life)

Supply is running out; demand is shooting through the roof. Now that everyone’s taking their pick, the hunt is on — and no, I’m not talking about the hand sanitizer market during quarantine. It’s something far more daunting: the Harvey Mudd College first-year dating scene. 

To some, searching for a significant other can be even more stress-inducing than coursework. I’ve heard plenty of complaints about choices being limited: With a class size smaller than most high schools, the pool of potential candidates is frighteningly restricting in the eyes of many. Unlike a difficult exam, which more studying can readily address, HMC’s acceptance rate or class size won’t magically increase per the wishes of desperate first-years. As an alternate but unsatisfying solution, there’s ample talk of lowering standards to compensate for the lack of viable options.

Miraculously, some winners have emerged victorious from the battlefield. Whether they started dating before arriving on campus or within a month of doing so, don’t get me wrong; these lucky couples have my full respect. At the same time, though, I urge their single peers to take a breather and a step back before they start looking around and stressing about their singleness. For them, it’s understandably easy to panic from the pressure to date as they see their options being quite literally taken. Yet, a few Mudders pairing up shouldn’t trigger our middle school partner project adrenaline. In this case, being alone is perfectly acceptable. 

In fact, carelessly rushing into something might not be the most ideal. To help, the unofficial HMC tradition offers a clever rule of thumb: First-years shouldn’t date before the first chemistry midterm. One idea behind this philosophy is clear. When it comes to dating, people might say that “the early bird gets the worm,” but the early bird won’t have the time to adjust to chemistry, computer science and special relativity homework in a weekend and tend to their relationship. In other words, first-years should get a feel of what they’re getting into at HMC before they dive into what they might ultimately see as yet another obligation. It sounds harsh, but let’s be real: No one pays $320,000 in tuition to skimp on homework for a significant other. 

Besides, even if the early bird gets the worm, they might not have time to scout for the best catch. In layman’s terms, trying to immediately date the first person that looks remotely viable might cause one to miss out on other hidden gems. Realistically, to get into a relationship, no one needs to be aggressively seeking one. Instead, that might even backfire or cause tunnel vision if one becomes too focused on a single candidate. Recognize that relationships that start now might not go forever, so there’s no need to grab someone quick, especially if they may not even be the right fit. Rather, it’s more strategic to conduct a comprehensive market analysis, taking note of whom one clicks with before diving headfirst into a hastily made commitment. 

I get it — college is the perfect opportunity to start with a blank state on the dating scene, and also the easiest setting to spend virtually all one’s time with their significant other. At the same time, relationships are not all there is to college life: Don’t forget, academics exist. And it’s HMC academics we’re talking about. To some, the process of looking for someone might be an escape from that academic headache, but they should be careful not to make it yet another unnecessary stressor. So, single first-years, let’s take a deep breath — you can wait to date. 

Serena Mao HM ’25 is from Fremont, California. She’s in a long-distance relationship and is very much happy to be off the HMC dating market. 

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