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Dating an Undergraduate

So, despite my endorsement of section love, reactions from the readers revealed that many HBS students still feel hesitant about dating someone from his/her section and making it public even if it happens. Yet, over one-third of the HBS population is single and available (or taken/married but available). Now, who should we date?

You can date someone from HBS who is not in your section, but there is always the similar “what if it doesn’t work out” dilemma and the gossip factor that can be daunting. Extension school? Too sketchy. Design school? Too artsy. Law school? Too smart and campus too far away. Kennedy school? Too political. If you look across the river, the answer is right there. Yes, the closest Harvard buildings outside of HBS campus are Leverett, Duster, Mather, Elliot, Winthrop, Kirkland Houses of Harvard College.

A friend of mine in the first year is proudly dating a college senior living in Leverett House. Her boyfriend is four years younger than she. She met him two summers ago in a foreign country where he was an exchange student. Despite the age difference, they are, as people would say, two peas in a pod. Only problem is, she says, that some of her classmates cannot comprehend the concept of dating an undergraduate.

When she brings him to HBS events and introduces him to her HBS friends, they inevitably ask him what he does. He would respond, “I’m still in school.” “Oh, where do you go to school?” “I go to college here at Harvard.” “Oh, so you are getting your PhD?” “No.” “So you’re getting your Master’s?” “No, I’m an undergraduate.” “Ohhhh.” Then they slowly retrieve themselves from the conversation and go on to talk to someone else who is older and seemingly more valuable.

But come on, people! These are Harvard College students, crŠme de la crŠme, future academics, doctors, lawyers, politicians, millionaires-the “golden eggs.” And P.S., many of them are from very affluent and prestigious families. Other benefits include being able to have the “control” of your relationship thanks to the age difference (and we all know how obsessed HBS students are with “control” and “power”), having the right distance (i.e. the width of Charles River) in the relationship to remain balanced, and of course, being able to stay young (if you know what I mean)!

OK, so most people will agree that there are some advantages to dating an undergraduate. The next question becomes: where can we meet eligible undergraduates? To answer this one, do not look any farther than your section. About 10% of the HBS population graduated from Harvard undergrad and a good number of them live in the undergraduate dorms as Proctors or Tutors. How about suggesting some kind of mixer for HBS and undergraduate students? Undergraduates will be eager to meet the charming HBS students who can give them advice on career and life. In fact, the undergraduate boyfriend of my friend said that one of the advantages of dating an HBS student is the depth of experience his girlfriend has to offer and her helpful advice when making his own career decisions.

The only potential drawback of this dating model is money. Since undergraduates will see you as a mature, experienced person, they will naturally expect you to be the sponsor of different activities and honestly, you can’t let an undergraduate pay! So here’s my two cents: make the move and start saving some money! You never know what a fulfilling, rejuvenating relationship is waiting for you.

November 4, 2002
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