Campus couples

Does dating affect academic success?

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer

As Valentine’s Day approaches, love and dating are on many people’s minds. It’s very common for students to date during their post-secondary years—but romance might act as a distraction and have a negative effect on academic success, although there is not yet a consensus on the matter.

A research survey conducted in 1963 concluded that married undergraduates had a higher grade point average (GPA), although different factors in the results included the participants’ educational goals, views, and satisfaction. In general, married students tended to have a more goal-focussed view on their studies. Nowadays, undergraduates are less likely to be married, although ones in committed relationships are still more likely to be goal-oriented.

Studies have shown that time management is essential for a student to fully succeed. Post-secondary students often struggle to find time to study while balancing their other commitments; making time for a romantic companion is often a hindrance to their time management and, consequently, to academic success.

There are many conflicting viewpoints on whether or not relationships affect a student’s academic progress and, if so, whether it has a positive or negative effect.

Cathy, a college graduate, says “I was engaged and then married the entire time I was in college. It really helped to have the emotional support.”

Rhea, a second-year student, expresses a similar opinion, adding “Generally there’s been no impact in my academic performance. I tend to do better when I’ve been with my boyfriend because I end up talking about what I’m learning in class with him.”

Conversely, romantic relationships can act as a social distraction, or cause stress. Stanley, a lawyer, suggests that “The concept of ‘dating’ is always a distraction. You worry about if someone will go out with you, how things will go, etc. You’re programmed to give that a higher priority than studying. I think being in a committed relationship is more helpful than dating for your marks, unless of course it’s an unhealthy relationship.”

Many factors contribute to the impact that a relationship bears on each individual. Some argue that it has nothing to do with the partners or the relationship itself, but rather the student’s commitment to their grades.

Asked about his academic success, Jake, a university graduate, replied “I never dated in school, and my marks were average. Dating has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with your commitment to your coursework.”

Elizabeth McCausland, an English professor at Douglas College, perhaps sums it up best: “A strong healthy relationship with someone supportive probably helps success. High drama, heartbreak, or an inability to balance your time probably hurts. Or maybe not… Maybe the student deals with the bad breakup by burying themselves in their studies. Everyone handles these things differently.”