You might know already know if Greek life is the right choice for you. But, if you are like many college students, you just aren’t sure.
Joining a sorority or a fraternity has pros and cons. On the plus side, there are parties, immediate friend connections, possibly a place to live as an upperclassman, and a lifetime of memories to be made. But joining a Greek organization also means additional fees, extra commitments and activities, potentially gossipy girls and rowdy boys, and at times the possibility of out-of-control behavior.
That said, let’s take a closer look at why Greek life might – or might not – be a good fit for you.
1. New Friends
Making new friends is one reason many people “go Greek.” You have the opportunity to build friendships with upperclassmen and create bonds for a lifetime. As you move through life and your career, you have an instant network, which can be invaluable when you are searching for a new job or want to get involved in a particular association or philanthropy. Be aware that colleges have many organizations and opportunities to make friends, so this should not be a primary reason to join a sorority or fraternity.
2. Community Service
A big part of sorority and fraternity life is often found in helping others. Greek communities generally are committed to making the world a better place by giving back.
3. Academic Achievement
Many Greek houses are focused on academic achievement. Younger members often find their fraternity brothers and sorority sisters to be a source of encouragement, as well as academic assistance. Your hard work is noticed, too. Recognition for academic achievements is commonly awarded during the end of year dinner.
Jean Mrasek, chairman of the National Pan-Hellenic Conference (NPC), an association of 26 sororities, shares her insight on the positives and the negatives of Greek life to help you make a decision that is right for you. In an interview with The Best Schools blog, she lists many reasons to choose Greek life.
Blogger John Shertzer justifies why he chose to join a fraternity at the website Fraternal Thoughts. “There are those who treat leadership as theoretical, relying on books by experts and seeking inspiration from heroes,” Shertzer writes. “I participated in a service project, set an agenda, approved a budget, intervened in a quarrel between brothers, led a meeting, and stood up to an older member who was slamming an empty keg into the fraternity house doors – all in the same day. I chose leadership that’s real. I chose fraternity.”
Joining a Greek community comes with a price tag. There are fees to join, fees to live in the house, fees for parties, fees for being a no-show, fees for buying “stuff” that displays the Greek letters of your organization. Look over your budget, will joining place additional stress on your checking account?
2. Cliques and exclusivity
Because Greek houses choose their members, some pledges are left out (that someone just might be a close friend or your roommate). How will you feel about that? Receiving that welcome letter naturally creates a sense of being extra special. But exclusivity isn’t always a turn on.
3. Time commitment
Making the transition from high school to college is a big adjustment, and making the transition to Greek life with its varied time commitments is an adjustment, too. There are weekly group meetings and committee meetings, and expectations for showing up for parties, gatherings and service projects. Know the time commitment before deciding what is right for you. Be realistic. Factor in class time, study time, family commitments and your job, then multiply those commitments by 2!
Greek life is not for everyone. For more thoughts on the cons of going Greek check out Hercampus.org. You might relate to a past Her Campus post by op-ed blog writer Katie Sanders.
“I didn’t rush last fall for a bunch of different reasons: first and foremost, I was totally oblivious to the process and pretty much only knew that it would be very cold and very full of girl-flirting, neither of which I’m particularly skilled at enduring,” Katie writes. “And as I welcomed my roommate and our friends into our dorm to thaw and soak their feet and pref their top picks post-“strawberries and champagne” rush events, I felt reassured that a sisterhood was not for me, but I also began thinking about how I would avoid becoming a network-lacking leper. I have since found my networks in other areas – in several volunteer groups, this very online magazine and in my friends, both Greek and not.”