You've heard the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s time to explore the idea and form your own opinion.
Whether you’re in high school thinking contemplating the idea for the future or are entering college this year, it’s helpful to hear the positive and negative aspects so that you’re able to make an educated decision on whether or not going Greek is right for you.
Note: I’m specifically focusing on the social Greek organizations, though there are many great academic Greek houses out there, too!
As someone entering college, I was eager to set myself apart from the high school crowd I loathed. I saw girls as mean and catty (with the exception of a treasured few) and being girlfriends was more about gossip and cliques than friendship and support because that’s how it was at my high school.
When my sister suggested I join a sorority to make new girlfriends, my initial reaction was something along the lines of: Are you nuts? College is supposed to be my time to get away from all that pettiness!
Since I went to a local school all-girls high school, I found myself stuck hanging out with the many girls from my high school that attended the same college. I began to realize it’s a lot harder to make friends of the same sex than you’d think, aside from the few you make in the dorms.
I mean, what do you say? Hi, you look cool and I swear I’m not a freak – will you be my friend?
At that point, I started to consider the idea of going Greek. It was a means to, at the very least, meet a lot of new girls during the rush process. I assured myself I could always decline to join if I felt it wasn't for me, so why not just explore my options?
As I embarked upon the rush process, I soon realized that not all girls were alike. I began to make friends and learn that there were a lot of girls out there just like me, who wanted to have positive friendships. I found I had a lot in common with girls from all different houses and that the stereotype of houses not getting along wasn't the reality.
I ended up joining a house that I still love to this day. I still keep in touch with friends from my house, as well as with those that joined other houses. The rivalries are more of a joke than anything, at least in my experience.
While I definitely believe my experience was positive on the whole, I am aware that there were both positive and negative attributes to going Greek. In the end, however, I’m thankful that I took the chance and, looking back, I wouldn't have it any other way.
• You’ll Expand Your Social Circle
If you’re shy, like I was, it’s an easy way to make friends and divide from your high school group.
You’ll make friends – even more so than just your particular house. You’ll meet people during the rush process and at “Greek” activities, both in sororities and fraternities.
If you’re attending or planning to attend a larger school, it makes campus seem a lot smaller because you’re included in the Greek community. Feeling like a small fish in the ocean can be pretty daunting, so making campus feel smaller can be quite comforting at times.
• Leadership Opportunities
Greek houses have opportunities for budding leaders to practice their skills, through positions involving philanthropy, recruitment and social gatherings. It’s a great way to gain leadership experience and have fun while doing it.
I have always had an interest in event planning, for example, and my friends nurtured my interest by allowing me to help plan recruitment and philanthropy events. They were great experiences that helped me develop my skills and interests.
It’s also a great way to mentor others and gain mentors as you mature in college, through big/little programs. The programs give underclassmen someone older to help mentor them and guide them through the rush process and, when that student becomes an upperclassman, does the same for a student in a different pledge class.
I had a wonderful “big sister” who was always available for advice and guidance. I looked up to her then and I still look up to her now. In turn, I was able to have a “little sister” that I provided similar advice and guidance to.
• Housing Options
If you’re attending a college where Greek life is a prominent part of campus culture, you’re likely to have the option of living in mansion-like sorority and fraternity houses.
Not a bad option, if you don’t mind living with fifty other people just like you. It’s not as bad as it sounds – it’s actually quite fun.
• Academic Standards
Many houses have standards that members must meet academically to remain in the house or the student will be placed on probation. It’s a good way to ensure your grades stay where they should – though not all Greek houses have these requirements.
• You’ll Make Connections
Friends, yes. But, going Greek can also help with networking, too.
Many times, including a fraternity or sorority affiliation can help an interviewer identify with you over the many Greek traditions, even if they’re not from your particular house. (It can also have the opposite reaction.) I've personally only had positive reactions, but I’m sure there are skeptics out there, too.
There are also alumni clubs for those that move to new cities, so you have instant-connections with others. I've had several friends move to cities where they didn't know anyone and having the social network from our sorority made all the difference in the world.
• It’s Expensive
It’s no secret that going Greek also takes a lot of green. You have to pay dues, sometimes even extra to attend events and there’s a lot of added in costs that aren't mentioned like, say, all the swag you’ll want to don with your letters.
Do your research before you decide you cannot afford to rush.
For example, living in my sorority house (complete with a chef and maid) was actually comparable to living in the dorms.
• It Takes Up Time
Consider your schedule, then consider another schedule on top of it. While meetings and some events, like philanthropy and recruitment, might be mandatory, others are optional. Though, chances are, you’ll want to attend the fun, frequent social events.
• The Stigma
As with most social organizations, a stigma can come along with membership. There’s the stigma of the Greek system as a whole and then there can also be stigmas or stereotypes of particular houses on campus.
Speaking from experience, I can say with certainty that most of these stereotypes are false, with an exception or two in mind.
• The Rules
While not all houses are the same, many have a lot of rules and requirements, like specific study hours or attendance policies. If you’re more of a free spirit, this may not be your thing.
While some may see this as a pro, it can definitely be a con. Being a part of an organization that doesn't welcome everyone who wants to join definitely can put negative karma into the world. It’s especially a con if you’re the one not being welcomed.
• Hazing Potential
Hazing is illegal and no longer tolerated on most college campuses. More often than not, Greek organizations are extremely careful of following hazing rules.
You've probably heard the same horror stories and I found that, at least in my particular house, were all mere rumors. There are, however, always those exceptions to the rules.
Ultimately, the point of going Greek is to make friends and, in the words of upperclassmen in my house, “Why would we haze you? We want to be your friends and friends aren't mean to one another.”
If you ever find yourself in a situation that makes you even slightly uncomfortable, something isn't right.
You shouldn't join any organization that would require members to put you in danger or feel uncomfortable. If that happens, call it a day, because those people aren't your real friends.
What are your thoughts on Greek life?