So you’ve decided that you want to join a fraternity or sorority. No matter the reason, you’re in for one of the best experiences of your life. Here’s a guide on how to decide if Greek life is for you, to rush like a pro, and to find your home on the Penn State campus.
Have a serious discussion about finances.
Sure, as a new member of a sorority or fraternity, you get the chance to join an incredible community, make lifelong friends, and give back to the Penn State campus. However, you also have to pay for the privilege. Greek dues – the fee you pay to be a member – can cost anywhere from $600 to $1300 per semester, on top of the fees for apparel, formals, big/little week, etc. While most organizations are willing to work with members when it comes to paying dues, it would still probably be best to talk with your parents or whoever is helping you pay for college before you commit to such a big expense.
Consider time management.
Your pledge semester will probably be one of the busiest semesters you ever have at Penn State, especially if you join a fraternity. Your first semester of college will probably be one of the most difficult (and most exciting!) semesters you ever have at Penn State. All of your classes should obviously be your first priority at college. If you think that you’d have a hard time balancing those with adjusting to college and rushing, you don’t have to do it all at once. In fact, sometimes it’s even better to wait a semester or two. Students who rush later often have the opportunity to make non-Greek friends, focus on classes, and get involved in other organizations. And when they do rush, they have a better idea of what to expect.
Head to the involvement fair.
Greek organizations have a whole day dedicated just to them. On the first day of the three day involvement fair, dozens of Greek organizations pack into Alumni Hall in order to talk to prospective members. It’s designed to give you a chance to meet current members, learn a little bit about the history and philanthropy of each organization, and get a better feel for the role Greek life has at Penn State. If you’re set on rushing after that, you should visit the website of either Penn State Panhellenic or Penn State Interfraternity Council.
Take care of yourself.
Rush is pretty draining. For the next few weeks, you’ll be running across campus to fraternity houses or sorority suites, then back to your dorm, and then back across campus, and then back to the house. With all that to do, it can be too easy to follow some unhealthy habits. Try your best not to let that happen to you. Shower as often as you can. Do your laundry. Eat regular meals (preferably something other than Wings Over). Take your vitamins. Get a good night’s sleep. You’ll thank yourself when everyone is sick post rush, and you’re healthy enough to enjoy your new brothers/sisters.
Hang out with your fellow rushees.
Rush is a great opportunity to make new friends. After all, you’re all going through the same thing. So you’ll have plenty to talk about over dinner or in the dorms. Even if you don’t end up being in the same organization, it’s still cool to have different friends across the Greek community and across Penn State.
Have a good attitude.
Okay, so you really like Sig Nu, but they didn’t invite you back. Or you thought the girls at Kappa Delta really liked you, but you got a bid from Kappa Kappa Gamma. It’s not the end of the world. The organizations that invited you to join them did so because they thought you’d be a great fit. They saw something in you and said, “yes, this is one of the people we want to hang out with!” They want to be your best friends! You ended up where you needed to be, regardless of whether or not you know it. Instead of focusing on the organizations that didn’t ask you back, focus on all the incredible people you’ll meet, and opportunities you’ll have with the organizations that did ask you back.
Most people have lots of interests. Maybe you like to dance, play sports, or do stand-up comedy. You can do all of it at Penn State. While your brothers or sisters should be a great family who love and support you, they don’t have to be your only friends at Penn State.
Follow your passions.
Keep an open mind.
Maybe you didn’t find your fit at the chapters here at Penn State. Or maybe Greek life just wasn’t for you. That’s okay. It’s not the end of your social life here at Penn State; not by a long shot. Beyond the dozens of other clubs and sports you can get involved in, Penn State also has an active non-traditional Greek life too. There are roughly 30 to 40 Greek lettered organizations that aren’t considered “traditional” Greek life, meaning they aren’t a part of IFC or Panhellenic. Some of them are multicultural with their roots in the African or Asian American communities. Some of them are professional, specifically for business or engineering or some other major. And some are service based, with their focus on helping the community. With all of these available, you’re bound to find your home somewhere.
I hope this cleared up some of the questions you had about Greek life, and I hope you’re looking forward to rushing in the fall. Good luck, future sorority sisters and fraternity brothers! More importantly, welcome to the Penn State family!