I subscribe to the Sociological Images blog, which often has interesting things to say about American society (and, more rarely, other parts of the world). One of the two founders of the blog, Lisa Wade, studies hookup culture in colleges. Some of her observations in The Banal, Mundane Sex Lives of College Students contradict the media-fueled perception of college students as sexual libertines:
Laird makes the common mistake of assuming that casual sex is rampant on college campuses. It’s true that more than 90% of students say that their campus is characterized by a hookup culture. But in fact, no more than 20% of students hook up very often; one-third of them abstain from hooking up altogether, and the remainder are occasional participators.
If you do the math, this is what you get: The median number of college hookups for a graduating senior is seven. This includes instances in which there was intercourse, but also times when two people just made out with their clothes on. The typical student acquires only two new sexual partners during college. Half of all hookups are with someone the person has hooked up with before. A quarter of students will be virgins when they graduate.
I think that a lot of college students would be reassured to know that they are not alone in getting little or no sex in college, but that doesn’t sell newspapers and magazines, so the information is quietly buried in scholarly papers that no one reads, or put into ham-handed university orientation handouts that even fewer people read (and that no one believes).