I’m not in college, but members of sororities and fraternities sure do look like they have a lot of fun. First and foremost, college applications are a constant source of stress for seniors. Does the school have the major I’m interested in? Is the location of the college in a city I could see myself living in? Do I join a sorority or fraternity? Is that even important to me?
More and more schools seem to be taking a bigger leap into Greek life, and the percentage of students in sororities and fraternities is rising. As of today, the number one reason why students join sororities and fraternities is for a sense of belonging. At one college, teachers agreed students in the Greek life are typically the strongest leaders on campus. Yet, the rush process may be stressful, and it doesn’t ensure that you’ll end up in the sorority you really want to be in; is that worth it to you to feel this sense of belonging?
For starters, it’s important to understand what you are getting yourself into. Most sororities and fraternities do share some common traits, including secrecy, single-sex membership, and selection by rushing or pledging. In addition, living in a residential property together is usually the norm. Greek life attracts so many college students because it practically guarantees you a group of friends and a bunch of free stuff.
Personally, Greek life seems like the way to go. Yes, it is expensive, and yes, hazing is an issue. Hazing drives away many incoming freshman, and for good reason. Imagine showing up to your new college, all excited and anxious. Now you’ve decided to join a sorority or fraternity, and it’s rush week. Next thing you know boiling water, pepper spray and cayenne pepper are being poured down your back. Just a little example of hazing. And I’ve heard worse.
Many colleges are now banning any sort of hazing. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop every sorority or fraternity from hazing. But hazing it not all there is to the Greek life. Since 1900, 85% of executives of 500 companies and 80% of US Presidents all have something in common. Take a guess. They were all members of a Greek organization during college. Students that take part in sororities or fraternities are often introduced to the opportunities and skills that allow them to become leaders. Young adults in the Greek life learn to embrace diversity. Greek organizations are no longer the homogenous organizations they used to be. If so many of our great leaders were involved in the Greek life, what does that tell you? Don’t forget about those classes, too; while course work should be prioritized, participating in Greek life can add a social dynamic to your college experience that will help provide fun (duh) as well as stress relief.
As there are always two sides to a story, you’ll hear positive and negative things about Greek organizations, and the experience will be different for every person involved. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not Greek life is right for you. As the college application process continues to loom overhead, maybe take a moment and think about how joining a sorority or fraternity could affect your college experience.
Graphic: Jessica Chang