Should Your College Plan Include Greek Life?
You’ve taken the SAT (or ACT), created a stellar admission essay, and received your acceptance letters. You’ve even decided where you will spend the next four years (or more) of your life. So all of your college planning is complete, right? Wrong! Even though you’ve tackled the biggest tasks on your college-planning list, there’s still a lot more to consider before you relocate to campus in the fall. You still need to finalize housing and food plan options, and eventually you’ll need to declare a major. Another thing to consider will be Greek Life.
Once you actually arrive on campus, you will undoubtedly run into several different organizations all vying for your attention. So, before you are bombarded with the craziness that is Rush Week, consider the pros and cons of going Greek.
- One the best perks of Greek life is networking. When you join a sorority or fraternity, you’ll not only form relationships with those students currently participating in the organization, but you’ll also connect with past members as well. Your new ‘brothers’ or ‘sisters’ may have connections that can help you with graduate school, scholarships, and even employment. Additionally, many organizations also offer resources for resume building and interview workshops.
- It can be difficult for college freshmen to acclimate to the college social scene. If you came from a small town or were a homebody, you may find that meeting new people or heading out to campus events is a bit nerve-racking. There’s comfort in numbers. Greek life usually includes an abundance of extra-curricular activities, such as fundraisers, homecoming competitions, and parties! Your fellow Greek sisters and brothers will likely bring you out of your shell and enhance your social life dramatically while on campus.
- Another positive aspect of Greek life is philanthropy. If you enjoy giving back to your community or find volunteer service rewarding, going Greek could be a great fit for you. Nearly all organizations have both national and chapter-level philanthropy opportunities. Greek organizations provide thousands of hours of community service every year and also raise significant funds for many charities.
- If you have difficulty managing your time, you may want to reconsider joining a Greek organization. Most fraternities and sororities place heavy demands on your time for chapter meetings, events, and volunteer service. This can adversely affect your grades if you’re not careful. Many events coincide with mid-term exams and/or finals, so finding a balance between Greek obligations and academic requirements is key. Keep in mind that most chapters require at least a 2.5 grade point average to maintain membership; so keeping up your grades is essential.
- While Rush Week is a rite of passage for all those going Greek, you’ve probably also heard a story or two concerning the hazing that occurs on some campuses. While hazing is strictly forbidden by all Greek organizations, it does not necessarily mean you won’t encounter it during pledge week. Every year, there are stories of students who end up in the hospital, or worse, the morgue. Even if the organization you pledge to does not take things to extremes, you may need to prepare yourself for the possibility of going through humiliating and stressful tests to get accepted. Please Note: if you ever encounter a situation on campus where you feel threatened or see another student being harmed, immediately report the incident to the administration and police!
- The final thing to consider before deciding to go Greek is the cost. Joining a sorority or fraternity can get pretty pricey. There are the annual dues, chapter dues, and incidentals (dress codes, clothes for formal parties, and supplies for events) to consider. If your organization is one with a private house on campus, expect your fees to be even higher. You could be paying anywhere from $400 a year to more than $4,000 a year, depending upon the chapter and campus.
Greek organizations are great for those who seek to be with like-minded people, crave attention, and love an active social life. Going Greek offers a chance to make lifetime friendships and opens the door to a whole network of people in a variety of occupations. You can also learn valuable leadership skills and the art of time management. However, if you prefer to surround yourself with a diverse crowd or have difficulty juggling multiple projects at one time, you may want to reconsider joining a sorority or fraternity. Weigh the pros and cons, talk to current and past members, and factor in the costs before making a final choice. In the end, it’s a personal decision — and only you will know if going Greek is right for you.