Stop the presses: Hooking up in college is pretty common

Freshmen use condoms, seniors hook up less, and other fun findings from a new survey of college students.

College students hooking up: it’s been immortalized by too many movies to count. To learn more about what real college students are up to these days, researchers at New York University asked thousands of them at schools around the country about their experiences with dating, hooking up, and sex.

The researchers found that:

  • By senior year, 77% of heterosexual women and 70% of heterosexual men had ever had sex.

  • About half (53%) had ever had sex as part of a hookup. (Students applied their own definitions of “hookups” in the survey.)

  • When students had sex as part of a hookup, about 70% of them used condoms.

  • Seniors hooked up less often than freshmen, but seniors were more likely to have sex during a hookup compared to freshmen.

One finding that surprised the researchers was that freshmen were more likely than any other class to use condoms during hookup sex. The researchers worried that might mean that older students were taking more risks when they had sex as part of a hookup—but this study can’t actually answer that question. They didn’t ask students about their experiences with sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They also didn’t ask about other methods of birth control, or health care coverage. It may be that more students were using effective birth control as they got older, and/or that they had better health care access.

Still, the study is a good reminder that it’s a wild world out there. Fortunately, there are lots of good resources, like student health centers, peer counselors, and Bedsider Campus Reps, to help light the way.

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