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Dating for credit an unusual approach in college marketing class

Welcome to Dating 101, Lehigh University style, where asking for a date, and being rejected, is a lesson that is rewarded with extra credit in class _ not enough credit to change a grade, but enough to make a point. "There is such a glamorization of success that we lose sight that most of life is not a continuation of one success after another," said Bruce Smackey, a marketing professor who four years ago started the date-for-credit practice in his upper-level marketing class.

Rather, he said, rejection is always possible, but the fear of rejection should not stop students from trying something new.

"In life," he said, "we are more sorry for the things we did not do or try than for the things we did try that didn't work out."

That is the lesson Smackey says he tries to teach the 40 seniors in his class. Encouraging Lehigh students to socialize, he says, is an added benefit at the university, which was all male until the 1970s.

Students generally acknowledge that dating is still awkward and relatively uncommon.

"He builds your confidence, and he promotes interaction with other students," said Pamela Corr, a marketing major from Newtown Square, Pa. "The atmosphere he has created has really worked. I have met a lot of people in the class who I would not have gotten to know had I not asked them out."

Larisa Streibert, a marketing and finance major from Newton, Mass., said: "It has made us aware of the lack of dating at Lehigh. To have this as a part of the class makes students realize this and think of going out."

The chairman of the marketing department, James E. Hansz, said: "Marketing is a social process in which buyers and sellers get together. Marketing facilitates transactions or exchanges, and in dating, someone asks and someone answers.

"Professor Smackey is trying to facilitate this exchange, and this is what he is trying to get the students to do."