Your first semester on campus is an exciting time, one where your opportunities seem limitless. You’re enrolling in classes that interest you. You’re living on your own, bonding with roommates, and enjoying more freedom than ever before. And quite possibly, you’ve never been to so many parties.
One opportunity you might be considering during freshman year is Greek life. Joining a fraternity or sorority allows you to build your social circle, engage in organized social activities, and give back to your campus community.
However, Greek life requires a significant time commitment, so it’s not for everyone. Understanding life as a sorority sister or fraternity brother is important as you decide whether this lifestyle is right for you.
So, learn more about Greek life to see if it’s a good fit for your college years.
What is Greek life?
Greek life in college is a term that refers to fraternities and sororities. Fraternities and Sororities are separated into chapters, and they are organizations that date back as long as colleges and universities do themselves. While these organizations originally formed as an outlet for students to debate current events and discuss literature, they’ve come a long way from their early days.
Today’s chapters blend both social and service elements to enhance your college experience. You can study and live alongside your brothers and sisters while participating in social events throughout the academic year.
These chapters also give back to the community, typically requiring its members to participate in service projects every semester.
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Joining a Fraternity or Sorority
If you’re ready to join a fraternity or sorority when you get to campus, you need to learn more about the recruitment process to ensure you don’t miss out. Every school conducts Greek life recruitment differently.
Some chapters recruit new members during a process informally known as "rush" at the start of the fall semester. Often, rush week occurs even before classes start so that the process doesn’t interfere with students’ class schedules.
Other universities push recruitment back a semester so that freshmen aren’t overwhelmed by their options when they first get to campus. Adjusting to campus life, living with roommates for the first time, and taking on a college course load is a lot for any freshman. Recruitment might be simply too much, and delayed recruitment can ease that burden.
Begin to research Greek life soon after you make your school decision. Doing so lets you identify the timeline so that if you have to be on campus before the start of the fall semester for recruitment, you can plan accordingly.
Typically, your school’s Greek Life office will manage recruitment and collect the requisite information for interested students. This ensures the process runs seamlessly. Complete the required documents in full so that you’re ready to go once recruitment begins.
And when it does, pay careful attention to all of the rush information you’ve received. Usually, you’ll spend several days to one week visiting the different chapters on campus and getting to know the brothers or sisters.
While this process can be fun as you hop from one social event to another, it might also bring with it some stress. After all, you’re being evaluated by the chapter to determine if you’re a good fit. At the same time, you’re also checking out each chapter to see which one is right for you.
The culmination of recruitment is, of course, accepting your invitation to join. Depending on how your university manages recruitment, you might get just one bid or several bids you’ll have to evaluate. You won’t have much time to make your decision before you pledge your fraternity or sorority, so pay attention during rush to find your favorite chapters.
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Greek life on campus
You also want to learn about the commitment of joining a sorority or fraternity before you dive in. Some campuses feature a robust Greek life, with many students choosing to participate in sororities and fraternities. On these campuses, if you aren’t Greek, you might feel excluded from a significant social element of the university. On other campuses, Greek life just isn’t a big deal, so you’d easily find a wealth of social opportunities outside of a fraternity or sorority.
Take some time to learn more about Greek life at your school before you commit to recruitment. Check out each chapter’s website and social media pages, if available, to see what types of events and activities they engage in every year.
If you know someone in a sorority or fraternity on campus, ask them about their experience, what the commitment is, and what to expect. The more informed you are about Greek life, the better decision you'll make.
Factors to consider
Greek life requires time, money, and commitment, so you want to make sure you’re up to the challenge of joining a fraternity or sorority. Consider all of these factors when evaluating whether you’re meant to be Greek.
Joining any organization in college will likely come with a cost. Fraternities and sororities are notorious for having high fees for members. Before you commit, find out about dues and other expenses related to joining the chapter. Make sure it fits within your budget.
Many chapters have on- or off-campus chapter houses where some members can live. Consider whether this living option is appealing to you when deciding whether you want to join a sorority or fraternity. While living in the house isn’t necessarily required, it might be appealing if all of your close friends are living in it too.
On the other hand, you might prefer to choose a roommate outside of your chapter, which means you won’t be able to live in the house.
Consider your availability to fit the commitments of Greek life into your busy schedule. If you plan to work a part-time job, join other campus organizations, or take a rigorous course load, then you might struggle to fulfill your obligations as a pledge to a fraternity or sorority.
Find out if your school’s chapters have GPA requirements to join and whether they’re known for having a strong focus on academics. Ask if they have mandatory study hours and if they offer academic resources, such as tutors. The answers might sway your decision to join.
Greek life isn’t for everyone. If you’re social, outgoing, and looking to meet new friends, Greek life can be great. However, if you’re more reserved, the seemingly nonstop social schedule might overwhelm you. While many colleges have made strides against hazing, some chapters still put their pledges through a lot, which can be stressful for some students.
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Pros and Cons
Clearly, Greek life has its benefits and its disadvantages. Since there isn’t a straightforward answer as to whether it’s right for you, it’s important that you carefully evaluate the pros and cons to decide if it’s the right fit.
Greek life brings with it many advantages, including the following:
- Social circle. You’ll have an instant social circle within your chapter, allowing you to make friends from across campus.
- Social life. Greek organizations are well known for their active social calendars, which will keep your nights and weekends busy all semester long.
- Leadership opportunities. Greek organizations have a variety of leadership opportunities. These range from serving as the chapter president to heading committees to plan events or run service projects. Leadership positions look great on your resume.
- Service opportunities. Most chapters give back to their community every semester. For example, some work with underprivileged kids, while others raise money for worthwhile causes, and support campus projects. These opportunities allow you to give back and again are good to add to your resume.
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Every organization has its drawbacks, including fraternities and sororities.
Evaluate these when considering if Greek life is right for you:
- Cost: When you accept your chapter bid, you’re also committing to a variety of expenses related to Greek life. You will have to pay dues every semester. If you choose to live in the house, you’ll have to pay for your housing. You might face other costs as well related to special events and trips organized by your chapter.
- Time: Greek life will become a significant part of your time during your college years. You’ll be bound by obligations set forth by the chapter. This time commitment might pull you away from your studies as well as from other organizations and activities you may be interested in.
- Exclusivity: For some, Greek life carries with it a stigma related to the exclusivity of the organizations. During recruitment, you’re quickly evaluated along with dozens, if not hundreds, of other students. You may question why you were selected by your chapter but rejected by others. For some students, building your own social circle independently is a more appealing option than paying to join an exclusive social club.
Ask any college graduate about Greek life, and you’ll get a different response. Some will declare that their time in a sorority or fraternity was the best thing about their college experience
, and others will scoff at Greek life. So, consider what you’re looking for when it comes to college – from the academic life to the social life – in order to determine whether this lifestyle is right for you.