One of the biggest decisions for many college students is whether or not they should join Greek life. This can be literally a life changing decision and is not something to be taken lightly, because of not only the money and time-commitment required but because your college experience will probably be shaped dramatically because of your choice.
First, I’ll give you one side to the story. There is no way around having to pay hundreds of dollars per semester in sorority and fraternity dues. Greek organizations are non-profit, but still need a great deal of capital to function. There are many leaders in the national network who have full time positions in running these huge organizations that have thousands of members, so there’s definitely an overhead cost. Money also goes to social event functions (mixers, philanthropy events, formals, etc.), maintaining a house or suite, etc. For many college students, the price tag can unfortunately be the deal breaker in the decision of whether or not to rush. Did you know that there are many scholarships available to combat this problem? If the financial implications of joining Greek life are stopping you from going through with recruitment, I encourage you to seek and apply for scholarships, as well as talk about payment plans with the President of Panhellenic (one of the heads of Greek life at many universities). Many students use payment plans so that they can have a part-time job to pay their dues.
Another consideration is the time commitment. During rush (a series of events where potential new members, or PNMs, will interact with initiated members in the process of determining which Greek organization they will eventually accept a bid from), members may tell you that they don’t have any mandatory events, or that the only thing you need to definitely allot time for is the weekly chapter meeting. Coming from a recent grad who has been in a sorority for 4 years, let me assure you that there are mandatory events. They will range from chapter meetings, philanthropy events, and recruitment (I’m not kidding when I say that I came back to college a week before all the non-Greeks did during Winter break). If you need to miss a mandatory event, however, you can probably work it out with someone on the e-Board of your sorority/fraternity or else you may have to pay a fine or make it up in some other way.
If you are double-majoring, and interning full-time, and involved in a few clubs on campus, and hold officer positions for them, and are doing research on the weekends, and are a student athlete…You should think about your priorities and if making time for Greek life is one of them. However, I promise you that most people in Greek life are very busy and make time for it because they love it and would never have college any other way. In fact, the all Greek GPA is higher than the overall collegiate GPA. Greek students also frequently make up the majority of student leaders on campus despite Greeks being the minority of all students. I actually found that it is easier to be involved on campus as Greeks tend to be more connected and aware of what is going on at their college because of constant reminders and involvement in activities that bring the campus community closer together. Academically, a network of 100+ (the sizes of Greek organizations vary wildly from less than 10 to well over 100) fellow students of every grade level really helps in regards to selecting classes, choosing between professors, and gaining advice.
Joining Greek life can be an incredible experience in which you build lifelong friendships, learn more about yourself and your interests, and gain invaluable skills (teamwork, leadership, public speaking, etc.). There is a love that exists between the members of a Greek organization that goes beyond friendship. It is so much more than a club or extracurricular (if you want it to be, you can just do the minimum to be a member but if you are an active member you will get so much more out of the experience) because there are common ties that will connect you throughout life, as you always have your sisters/brothers, alumni chapters, and local chapters there for you as contacts.
When I was a junior in college, there was a fraternity member who got sick with cancer and immediately needed surgery and treatment. The medical expenses were crippling and his family needed help financially. His fraternity brothers worked tirelessly to put on a 3 day philanthropy event for him, with half of the proceeds going directly to his family to offset some of the medical costs, and the other half going towards research for the type of cancer that he was diagnosed with. The entire Greek community was involved, as well as non-Greeks, to make the event a success. I feel like that one instance alone truly speaks for what the core of Greek life should be about: friendship, loyalty, and community service. Although you may not be best friends with every member of your organization, the ideals that we pledge hold true in many cases in being there for one another; from picking up a sister at the airport, to grabbing lunch with a new member, to taking care of a sister who you find drunk and alone at a bar. Although there is more than enough drinking and partying in the Greek scene, the best friends are the ones that are there for you when the party ends. While considering going Greek for the endless parties and good times is a valid reason (who doesn’t like themed parties, pregames, and weekend-long formals?!), it should not be the only thing you’re looking for.
Another major benefit to joining Greek life is all the things that are learn and can use throughout your career and your personal life. Some of these lessons are practical: how to organize events, work in a team, delegate responsibilities, implement marketing strategies for the chapter, time-management, going above and beyond to meet and exceed expectations. Speaking in front of over a hundred people will feel like you are chatting with your friends, and finding time for Greek Week on top of 3 exams, 2 papers, going out for your roommate’s birthday, and preparing for a debate will not give you a panic attack (okay, maybe not a full-blown one) but will streamline your efficiency because you are used to having your to-do list take up half of your calendar. Juggling commitments effectively, both academic and social, are essential to your happiness in college and being part of Greek life can give you the right tools.
Whether you decide to rush or not, keep in mind that college is only 4 years of your life so turn off the TV, get off Reddit, and explore the multitude of opportunities that are available to you!