McGill is notorious for its work-hard mindset. If you walk into Redpath or McLennan on any given day, including the weekend, you’re bound to see students studying, catching up on work, or desperately completing assignments that are due at midnight.
Although many students flood the library to study in groups, there are many stragglers who make the trek to the library to cram all by themselves. For some, this might be by choice, but for others, the pandemic and COVID-19 restrictions have made it increasingly difficult to find study partners or connect with peers in Zoom classes.
Sanghoo Oh, U3 Arts & Science and creator of StudyDate, noticed the isolating effect the pandemic was having on students, whether that was struggling with coursework, job applications, or networking. Oh himself said he experienced difficulties networking in his field of interest, UX design. These factors inspired him to create StudyDate, a student networking website designed to help students find study dates or mates.
The platform has a dating app layout, where you can customize your profile to include what classes you’re taking, random facts about yourself, what skills you have and what skills you want to build upon. Depending on your wants, needs, and interests, the website will match you with someone compatible, and you can set up a study date from there.
Although students can connect on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, or dating apps such as Tinder or Bumble, Oh feels that these platforms aren’t as conducive to fostering healthy and productive relationships.
“I don’t think any of them really have a generally positive notion to them, nor do they really act to connect people, per se, physically,” Oh said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “It’s more for entertainment browsing nowadays, and maybe very shallow digital connection.”
Oh also believes using studying as a channel to create friendships or even find romantic interests is a much more compelling idea for students and a more effective way of creating conversation. Many of his friends, for example, had awkward encounters when meeting people from dating apps, seeing as there’s not much common ground from which to spur conversation.
“Studying can solve that issue in a way,” Oh said. “If I’m meeting someone from my same class, for example, and I’m meeting them for a date, there’s already a great icebreaker of sorts.”
Many McGillians have already begun to enjoy StudyDate. Jennifer Shi, U1 Management, found out about the website on the Facebook page Spotted: McGill and immediately signed up, looking to find more people to build friendships given the uncertainty of the pandemic.
“I think [StudyDate] is fun cause it’s in the style of a dating app,” Shi said. “You get to see people’s profiles that you wouldn’t necessarily see just through their Facebook or Instagram profile or in a group chat because you can write things you want other people to know [about you].”
After the final testing period of the platform ends in May 2022, Oh is considering extending StudyDate to the public. But for Shi, its student-community focus has been extremely valuable.
“When you sign up, you have to use your McGill email, and it makes sure it’s all university students, which I think is just safer and also something I’m more comfortable with,” Shi said.
As StudyDate’s popularity grows on campus, its creators hope that it will be able to bring together students on campus who would have never connected otherwise.
“It’s something I never knew that I wanted or needed,” Shi said. “It’s literally the perfect platform where you can make friends during a pandemic and not be stressed out that it’s a dating app.”