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Someone mentioned that grad students who dated undergraduates are looked down upon and not invited to events. So, in your experience, are the younger grad/masters students (22-24?) who have dated undergrads looked down or isolated/avoided by their peers? Were they emotionally stunted and failures/sleazeballs?

Someone told me they knew a 30-year-old grad student who went to undergrad parties on the reg and her maturity regressed and wasn't able to socialize with adults professionally. Consequentially, she wasn't able to get a summer internship because she struck out on every single interview and thus, it isn't good for your professional and academic development.

As well, they mentioned that they know people (grad school and workforce) that struggled to leave college. They either hung out near their college and basically extended their college life while having a job/grad school or tried to live the college life away from their alma mater. Yes, this often meant dating college girls. Right now, these are the people are struggling more in life with relationships, career, and etc. because they didn't lean forward to grow up beyond the college world.

So based on that, is it risky and should be avoided?

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  • Hi Zain, welcome to Ac.SE. I edited your question to use typical English formatting. You mentioned freshmen specifically in your title, but not the body of your post. What did you mean? Sep 11, 2020 at 18:13
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    No, they are not.
    – user111388
    Sep 11, 2020 at 18:52
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    Seems to me like there's a pretty big distinction between "dating an adult a couple years younger than you" and "continuing to attend undergrad college parties after graduating".
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 11, 2020 at 19:15
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    @ZainAlleck Yes.
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 11, 2020 at 22:19
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    I updated the title to remove the confusing reference to "not freshmen" and add the part about college parties. Perhaps that will help with the downvotes...
    – cag51
    Sep 11, 2020 at 22:20

1 Answer 1

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In general, this is actually a question about separating your professional and personal life. It all depends on how this is handled by (I assume) you, the master's student. From the perspective of professionalism, who dates who (whom?) is not relevant to the professional conduct of either party and is, in short, nobody's business but yours.

However, there are some special cases that need to be considered.

First, you already mentioned that the student is not a freshman, which I assume is code for "the undergrad is of legal dating age for the age of the master's student". However, as you can imagine, in the general case one must be careful not to do something illegal.

Second, a master's student may be a TA for a course the undergrad is taking. This, again, isn't automatically a problem per se, but it is a conflict of interest that has to be disclosed and managed professionally. You may not, for example, mark your partner's work, even if you are being totally objective, because of the perception of the conflict of interest and favoritism.

To the point of acting poorly because of attending undergrad parties, that has nothing to do with whether the students are in different levels of degrees, nor does it have anything to do with which kinds of parties the person attends. It is your responsibility to be able to interact with your colleagues professionally. If you then go to parties after working hours, that should not affect your ability to work. Who you socialize with and how you act around colleagues are not related. The person in the anecdote needs to mature and learn about appropriate behaviours, and it seems that going to undergrad parties is a symptom, not a cause, of this problem.

Not leaving college is again not a reason to act in a way that is not acceptable to your colleagues. I don't know how many of us have this problem, but I personally "never left college" in the sense that I did all of my degrees right after the other and now work at a university. However, I also do not act like I did when I was doing my undergrad. Similarly, those people who are having trouble moving on are not having such trouble because they never left college, they are not leaving college because they have trouble interacting with the world outside of college.

To the last point above, I'd like to distinguish between not leaving because you can't handle the outside world, and not leaving because it's where you want to be. I like to tell myself that I fall into the latter category, and I'm sure that many lifetime academics do as well.

So, to the real question: is it "risky"? No. If you are the type of person who will act inappropriately then it doesn't matter who you date. If you are not that type of person then it's no one's business who you date.

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