You’ve probably heard a lot of mixed reviews about Greek life. While some people roll their eyes and groan at the thought of it, your cool older cousin says that it was “the best decision she ever made.” So, what’s the deal? We will uncover the biggest pros and cons to Greek life so that you can make an educated decision when it comes time for recruitment! (Note: for this blog post, we are only discussing social sororities and fraternities. They are different from Greek, academic organizations!)
The Pros of Going Greek
If you’re unsure if the fraternity/sorority life is right for you, here are five reasons to consider going Greek:
1. It’s an easy way to make friends
No matter the size of your school, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed coming into college as a freshman. Greek life makes it easy to meet A LOT of different people. It may help you feel a little bit more at home knowing that you are connected to the Greek life community. Through the big/little relationship, you will meet your best friends as well as great mentors.
2. You have the chance to give back to your community
While each sorority/fraternity handles their philanthropic involvement differently, most chapters ensure member engagement with fundraisers, events, and campaigns to benefit a range of national and local foundations. Greek life is known for creative fundraising carnivals, dance marathons, and pancake nights! It is an excellent way to do meaningful work for your respective charities.
3. There’s always something to do
You will have mandatory meetings, such as philanthropy, chapter, new member education, initiation, and recruitment. Other social events will be optional, but it is likely that you will want to go anyway! There is no doubt that Greek life is a great way to keep busy and be involved at your school! You will also have the opportunity to join intramural sports with your brothers/sisters or pursue leadership positions within your chapter. (Which will give you lots of transferable skills when it comes time for the job search!)
4. You’ll be held accountable for your grades
Many sororities and fraternities have a GPA requirement in order to join and remain in the chapter. At many schools, the overall GPA for the Greek community is higher than the unaffiliated student body. Often times, fraternities and sororities employ mandatory study hours dedicated to set aside time for homework. It is also likely that people in your chapter will help you with your studies, whether it be tutoring you in Physics or lending extra class notes for your upcoming Anthropology exam. All in all, you will make friends within your organization who will want to stay on top of their school work, too. Nothing makes studying more enjoyable than having library buddy by your side!
5. It isn’t for four years, it’s for life
Many Greek organizations, through their alumni network, serve to connect thousands of men and women of all ages across the country. These connections work as a way to make professional contacts that you might not obtain otherwise. Alumni chapters can also help ease the transition to a new city socially, and when you’re looking for a job right out of college, a Greek connection may come in handy!
The Cons of Going Greek
Now, before you sign up for recruitment, here are five reasons to be cautious when linking yourself with Greek life.
1. It’s a financial investment
You will have to pay chapter fees, national sorority/fraternity fees, specific apparel, the cost associated with big/little, formal wear for mandatory meetings and dances, etc. This can be tough on an already stretched college budget often funded by student loans. If you’re not ready to fork over a chunk of change, you may want to reconsider the often frivolous Greek lifestyle.
2. It’s time-consuming
You may not have enough time to truly focus on your studies, explore other interests, or take well-deserved breaks. It’s easy to get caught up in the social excitement of Greek life and getting to know other people, but it’s also important to get to know yourself. (Isn’t that what college is all about?)
3. You may isolate yourself from forging diverse friendships
When it comes to the exclusive rush process, members tend to look for people that will fit in with the rest of their fraternity or sorority. This ensures that you will get along with other members and embody certain characteristics in the organization. However, Greek life is often criticized for its lack of diversity (rightfully so). The problem with being surrounded by like-minded people with similar backgrounds is that you may be closing yourself off to the chance of meeting others who are different from you. This exposure is important because it allows you to grow in your perspective of the world.
4. You run the risk of hazing
Hazing is the illegal imposition of strenuous and humiliating tasks as a part of initiation into a program. Unfortunately, hazing still occurs to this day. Though many chapters of sororities and fraternities are strict in following the rules set forth by universities, there are Greek organizations that still initiate these horrendous practices. A lot of times, the behavior is kept secret, and that’s how these social clubs get away with it. Hazing has taken the lives of students all across the country, whether it be from alcohol poisoning, overdosing on drugs, or physical abuse.
The individuals that do survive hazing come out with psychological trauma from the degradation; it is a serious matter. During the pledging process, if you find yourself in any situation that makes you uncomfortable, report it. This Anti-Hazing Hotline (1-888-668-4293), open 24 hours a day, allows you to report incidents anonymously. Students tend to keep quiet in fear of incurring social ostracization. Do not be afraid to speak up, for you could be saving someone’s life. When in doubt, remember that you do not want to be friends with people who are capable of such cruelty.
5. Greek life has a bad reputation
Nowadays, Greek life is associated with a negative reputation due to the misconduct of chapters all across the U.S. This is not to say that all fraternities and sororities are breeding grounds for binge-drinking, drugs, racism, hazing, and rape; however, no one can ignore the correlation between Greek life and this harrowing behavior. Keep in mind that you are associating yourself with an organization; even if one person acts out, you will be connected to that infraction. It’s also imperative to realize the media’s tendency to report on bad behavior, and how this also contributes to the negative connotation associated with Greek life.
If you do decide to join Greek life, be aware of the common perceptions of these organizations, and realize that you may have to dispel those notions to show how Greek life is beneficial to you. Also, remain wary if you choose to include it on your resume. The truth is, you can never know who it may offend, this including your potential employer. If there are abilities that you gained from your experience in Greek life (such as event planning, leadership skills, etc.), then by all means, include it.
A part of college is deciding who you want to be and aligning yourself with the values you wish to uphold. When affiliating with different groups and clubs, Greek or not, the most crucial part is considering how it will shape you to be the person you want you to be.