Maybe it's because young people are living independent of their parents, maybe it's abundance of booze and parties, or the existence of sororities and fraternities that commonly only allow one gender to join, but it's assumed that when a young adult goes to college, they likely experimented sexually with the same gender. While it's usually played for titillation purposes when done with women, this trope can also apply to guys as well.
For those who are gay or bi, it might be the first time they ever acted on their same-sex attraction, leading to other gay plotlines. For those that are straight it's either accepted as having been a brief phase, or rarely spoken of and only in the vaguest terms, a sort of sexual Noodle Incident.
Also known as being a "lesbian until graduation", or a LUG.
Compare Schoolgirl Lesbians, Situational Sexuality.
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Strangers in Paradise: Casey experimented in college and is more than open to a relationship in the present.
In Scott Pilgrim, Ramona experimented with her roommate Roxanne, who became the fourth Evil Ex when she ended it.
Ramona: I was just a little bi-curious. Roxanne: Well, honey, I'm a little BI-FURIOUS!
XXXenophile: In "Now Museum, Now You Don't" we get this exchange:
Trixie: Sometimes all a girl needs is a change. To clear the palate as it were.
Sydney: But I'm not... I've never even thought of...
In the "Green Inferno" storyline in The Authority, the renegade (and bluntly homophobic) ex-Doctor disdainfully challenges the team with the phrase "Poofs first." It's presumably aimed at the canonically-gay Apollo and The Midnighter, but the Engineer steps forward with a cool:
Engineer: Does a lesbian fling in college count, Doctor?
Most characters in Another Country seem to agree that a little homosexual hanky-panky in college is entirely natural. They even fault the master (instructor) for walking in on Martineau and his friend masturbating, because if he were an old boy (i.e. a former pupil) he would supposedly have known from personal experience what goes on in the gym changing rooms.
In the novel The Last Theorem, the protagonist briefly experiments with his roommate, but it doesn't get very far before a friend of the family finds out and tells his father. (His father is quite explicit that he doesn't mind experimentation, but he objects strenuously to the person his son was experimenting with.)
Charles Ryder from Brideshead Revisited is possibly this, though since we only ever see him with one male lover it might also be a case of If It's You, It's Okay.
Melissa And Joey: Implied that Mel may have experimented with bisexuality in college when Lennox pretends to be a lesbian.
Holly Holiday from Glee tells the kids she had some "experiences" as a student while at an all-girls boarding school.
Quinn does this in the fourth season with her BFF Santana during Mr. Schuester's botched wedding.
From Will and Grace, when Will buys Grace a maid to clean up after her...
Will: Grace, this is gonna cheer you up.
Grace: A short brunette woman? Come on, Will, I tried that in college, remember? It really wasn't my thing.
In another episode, Grace is trying to hide from her boyfriend and ends up ducking behind Karen. In doing so, she knocks Karen off balance, and Karen ends up bent over a table. From Karen:
Karen: Grace, I've told you before, I only did this once in college, and it just so I could borrow her Halston skirt.
Karen frequently makes jokes about this, implying this so often it eventually stops being Experimented in College and becomes her just simply being bisexual. In another episode, when being a magician's assistant for Jack, when he tells her to climb in the magic box, she quips, "I haven't done this since my senior year at Sarah Lawrence."
In one episode of Friends, Rachel claims that she kissed one of her sorority sisters, only no one believes her
Inverted in another episode of Friends. Phoebe's Citizenship Marriage husband is an ice dancer who everyone (including himself) thought was gay. It turns out he's really straight.
Duncan: Well, I've never told you this but, there were one or two times, back in college, when I'd get really drunk, go to a straight bar and wake up with a woman next to me. But I, I, I told myself it was the liquor and everyone experiments in college.
In an exchange on Happy Endings, Penny blurts that Jane "hooked up with a bunch of girls in college and called it a phase." Jane calmly says, "It was a phase," while husband Brad sits speechless.
TARA: I trust you. I just ... (looks down) I don't know where I'm gonna fit in ... in your life when... WILLOW: When ... I change back? Yeah, this is a college thing, just a, a little experimentation before I get over the thrill and head back to boys' town. (pause) You think that? TARA: Should I? WILLOW: I'm really sorry that I didn't establish my lesbo street cred before I got into this relationship. You're the only woman I've ever fallen in love with, so ... how on Earth could you ever take me seriously?
In Being Erica, Erica revisits an episode from her university days where she explores her relationship with a lesbian classmate.
This is how Angela's relationship with Roxie started out on Bones. Then she went back to mostly guys, then to Roxie for a while after the wedding fiasco, then back to Hodgins.
Subverted on Dharma and Greg, when Dharma "comes in" to her mother, admitting she's never had a lesbian experience.
Carter: Except for one time in college when I was drunk.
Eric tried to invoke this in an episode of Boy Meets World, flirting with a pretty college student while dressed as a woman. "Oh, come on, everyone experiments in college!"
On Mad About You, Paul's sister comes out of the closet. When Jamie asks her if she's always known that she was gay, she admits to this trope, word for word, but still didn't realize her true sexuality until recently.
A Saturday Night Live skit in which everyone at The Daily Planet is aware of Clark Kent's true identity has Lois, Jimmy and Perry tormenting the clueless man by making comments about Superman, including speculating that he's gay. Kent furiously defends himself, insisting, "Superman isn't gay! I mean, sure he experimented a little back in Smallville. . .", shocking the other three, who were just making things up.
On Fresh Meat, J.P. experimented in his public school with Giles, who later on turns out to actually be gay, with "power showers".
Giles: Come on, all the "power showers"... when you think about it, it was pretty gay. JP: What's gay about it? Giles: What, two men wanking each other off? JP: Don't call it that! * On House of Cards (US), Frank is revealed to have had a relationship in college with a male classmate. This is taken past experimentation in a season 2 episode where Frank, Claire and their bodyguard have a 3-way.
Dardevotes a strip to the concept, and to the author's feelings about fitting it - by accident, as she was an exclusive lesbian who bewildered herself by falling in love with a man.
In thisEl Goonish Shive Q&A comic, Chika reveals that she experimented a bit because apparently she liked to be scientifically rigorous in everything.
Ménage à 3: Late-introduced character Peggy invokes the trope here. She subsequently says that she concluded that she just prefers men, but she clearly doesn't regret the experiment, and the presence of sex goddess DiDi makes her quite happy to revert for an evening.
In the BDSM webcomic Sunstone, it's revealed that Ally and Alan learned the ropes (so to speak) of BDSM by experimenting with each other back in their college days before realizing that two dominant partners make for a rather poor match. In addition, Lisa and Anne both mention having some same-sex experiences back in their college days before meeting Ally.
In Fans!, Shanna mentions that she and Kathryn were Lesbians-Until-Graduation and were even a couple at one point. After having conflicting feelings at the sight of Kathryn with Will, Shanna wonders if she might still be attracted to her... until she realizes it's Will she's jealous over.
Rihanna: I want you to love me/ like I'm a hot guy.
Todd: Okay, but judging by my experimental days in college, it'll just end disappointingly for everyone.
Family Guy: In "Partial Terms of Endearment", it's revealed that Lois once experimented with her college roommate, Naomi.
One Cutaway Gag on The Cleveland Show showed a graduation ceremony at an all-girl college, with every girl there immediately breaking up with the girl next to them the second they graduated.
In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer reacts with surprise that Sideshow Bob has not only given up trying to kill Bart, but settled down with a woman. (Homer apparently thought Bob was gay.) Bob admits he experimented a little in college.
Judging from the Photo Montage in "Holidays of Future Passed", it's implied that Lisa also experimented in her college days.
According to this Crackedarticle, the trope may not be as common as everyone believes. Only 10% of female college graduates claimed to have a lesbian experience, compared to the 15% who did not attend college, implying that its association is due to a Vocal Minority.
The stereotype seems to be stronger with women who go to all-female colleges, which may make it more of a case of Situational Sexuality.
The phenomenon may be underreported, due to those experimenting in college keeping it a secret because they want to project an image of being heterosexual.