Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
SeekingArrangement.com—a website where young women known as "sugar babies" request financial assistance in exchange for dates with wealthy older men known as "sugar daddies"—gave data to the Huffington Post about the top 20 colleges attended by sugar babies.* At first glance, the numbers seem a little high: 498 NYU undergrads are on the site? That's 4% of women enrolled. Another 4% of Tulane's girls are allegedly sugar babies too. Or what about Harvard: 231 students are supposedly sugar babies on SeekingArrangement.com, which would equal 7% of the Ivy League school's female undergrads.
These figures seem especially high when you consider the number of women registered at similar sites: the founder of EstablishedMen.com estimates that 611,000 of his members are female co-eds. Another one of his sites, ArrangementSeekers.com, has around 120,000 college girls on it. Could the recession and student loans really be turning so many smart college girls into pay-to-play sugar babies?
The devil's in the details: SeekingArrangement.com considers any person a student if they register using a .edu email address OR if they write the name of a school in their profile. Even if you don't have a .edu email address, you can identify as a "student" at any number of universities. Or (as I found out when playing around with the site today) if you register using the still-valid .edu address from your undergrad days a decade ago, you'll still be an undergrad to the site's eyes, which entitles you to upgraded membership privileges for free. Perhaps these rewards and the ease of identifying as a struggling student is part of the reason why SeekingArrangement.com's founder Brandon Wade says he's seen a 350% uptick in collegiate sugar babies since 2007.
To learn more about the sugar baby life, I highly recommend Mac McClelland's essay about SugarDaddy.com.
Correction: An earlier version of this story suggested that the Huffington Post explicity argued that 7% of Harvard undergrads were sugar babies. It didn't. Sorry.