When you hear the term words“Greek Life,” what’s the first thought that pops into your head? Maybe you think of the countless headlines of terrible hazing practices. Perhaps your mind conjures up scenes from films like Animal House, or more recently Neighbors. You may even recall hearing that joining a fraternity or sorority is a way to “buy” friends. Greek Life, however, is more than headlines, cliched movies and stereotypes. It can provide lifelong connections, philanthropic opportunities and academic accountability. You just have to take a little deeper look past the perfectly manicured lawns and giant houses.From the outside, a Greek house can look pretty intimidating. With an entire staff at its disposal, the front lawn and landscaping are meticulously kept, common areas are cleaned on a daily basis, and each meal is prepared by a head cook and other staff members. That may seem extravagant, but it’s actually no different than living in a dorm and dining in the campus cafeteria. In a fraternity or sorority, just about everyone has roommates. The homes typically house 60+ students, meaning that the rooms are not any bigger than your typical dorm room. Common spaces usually include a formal living room, dining room, TV room and study room. Finally, most fraternity and sorority houses have a chapter room – but its location is a big secret. Meals are held at designated times, meaning if you miss the meal and don’t reserve a plate for later, you’ll miss out on eating completely. Usually, meals cannot be super customized to fit a particular diet, unless there is a food allergy. However, the house can work together with the head cook to try new recipes or work to incorporate more local, organic foods – as long as it’s a group effort.Finally, most fraternity and sorority houses do have a grown-up living on the premises, oftentimes lovingly referred to as “House Mom” or “House Dad.” These individuals are employed by the local chapter and run the management of the house and staff. They also work as a liaison between the students and the House Board, a group of alumni who make all of the financial and managerial decisions as it relates to the house and the students living there. However, to be clear, they aren’t walking throughout the house at all hours to ensure that students are behaving themselves. Rather, they’re more behind-the-scenes.Generally, however, every chapter in every Greek organization will have academic standards that members of the house must meet. If a student falls below those standards, they could be placed on academic probation, which means they are banned from attending certain events or at risk of losing their membership altogether if their grades do not improve. At the same time, Greek houses will provide these students with extra tutoring or a study buddy in order to help them in the classroom. Philanthropy is also very important to fraternities and sororities. Each semester, a fraternity or sorority will commit to organizing at least one campus or Greek-wide charity event. A lot of work goes into these events, which can sometimes last for an entire week. With that, each member is required to contribute in order to maintain membership. It should be noted, fraternities and sororities do NOT require students to be hazed in order to become a member. In fact, it is against the bylaws and codes of conduct for every single fraternity and the sorority in the United States. When a Greek chapter is accused of hazing, the national organization takes the case very seriously, oftentimes suspending or dismantling that chapter entirely if they are found guilty. Unfortunately, the threat of punishment is not enough to prevent some chapters from engaging in hazing; and when they conduct these terrible acts toward their peers, they are doing it of their own accord – not because it’s mandated by their organization or “higher-ups.” Finally, fraternity and sorority members must pay their dues. There are fees associated with being part of a Greek organization; and if these are not paid, the member will become deactivated. According to thebestschools.org, these dues can be as much as $1,000 per semester; however, many fraternities and sororities offer scholarships to students who may not be able to afford the entire bill.