Greek life can be a rewarding and special experience, both during your college years and post-grad, too. Being part of a sorority or fraternity gives you a lifelong sisterhood or brotherhood, respectively. You’ll make friends who have similar values as you, but that also come with a diversity of backgrounds, interests, lifestyles, and more. Every member works together to build upon one another to create a beautiful “family.” Being part of Greek life, you’re also statistically more likely to graduate, particularly with honors, and you’ll learn leadership, be involved in social activities, participate in community service, gain access to networking opportunities, and so much more.
If you’re interested in joining Greek life or you’ve already been accepted into an organization, how can you make the most out of your college years? How can you best use and contribute to your fraternity or sorority? In this article, we’ll give you some tips on making Greek life one of the best parts of your college experience.
What are Sororities and Fraternities?
Sororities and fraternities, collectively called “Greek life,” are social clubs at colleges. There are about 650 colleges and universities that have Greek life, whether those organizations are a large or small portion of the social scene at that school.
All fraternities and sororities have their own goals and values, but most place an emphasis on strong academics, community service, and social life. Sure, there are a few “secret” clubs with rituals and handshakes, but that’s not what Greek life is about. It’s not like what you see in the movies. A sororal or fraternal organization is first and foremost about providing students access to friendships, resources, mentors, and tools to succeed inside and outside of college life.
8 Tips for Making the Most of Greek Life
1. Join because you want to.
The worst thing you can do is join a sorority or fraternity because you feel like you have to in order to fit in. There are so many incredible benefits of joining Greek life, but it’s not for everybody. If you’re not sure it’s an experience you want out of college, then you shouldn’t feel pressured to do it. Greek life should be a college enhancement; if it’s not going to add to your experience in positive ways, then it’s not worth it for you. There are a lot of other ways to make friends, excel in school, and participate in unique social activities and clubs in college.
On the other hand, if Greek life is the right choice for you, then pursue it wholeheartedly! For a lot of people, it’s their favorite part of their college experience and they grow substantially through their Greek chapter. If it’s something you’re really interested in, then it’s definitely worth trying out.
This article on U.S. News takes an honest look at what you need to know before joining Greek life to ensure it’s the right choice for you.
2. Choose the right “fit.”
Your sorority or fraternity should fit just like your favorite sweatshirt. Different chapters have different values, mission statements, and goals. Think about what you want your college experience to look like and then pledge for those fraternities or sororities that best align with your personal standards.
Moreover, each school’s specific Greek chapter might look different than that same sorority or fraternity at another college. That’s why you shouldn’t judge the organization based on website and reputation alone. It has to “feel” right to you when you interact with members, hear about them from them, and then experience it during rush week.
Just as you had to pick the right college for yourself, pledging a Greek organization also has to be about fit. You might not know if a certain chapter is “for you” until you try it out, which is part of the rush, recruitment, and pledging process. If they have an open social event, like a tailgate, check it out to see what the people are like. Remember that pledging is both about the sorority/fraternity determining if they want you—but it’s also about ensuring that specific Greek chapter is right for you as well.
Did you know there can be a lot of different “kinds” of fraternities and sororities? Each organization may have a more central focus, including social, cultural diversity, professional, academic, or philanthropic. Check out a bunch on campus to see which speak to you most.
3. Get involved in the philanthropy side.
Everyone knows about the social aspect of Greek life, but the philanthropy and community service are often just as vital to the fabric of fraternities and sororities. Staying involved with the volunteering portion of your Greek life will be highly beneficial to your growth, learning, and future.
Job recruiters and graduate school application readers love to see that you were involved with volunteering during college. It demonstrates that you care about others and have a level of compassion that extends outside yourself, which is a trait everyone is looking for when recruiting a student or employee.
Even more importantly, you’ll learn a lot about yourself, the world, and your community by staying involved with philanthropy. It will likely become one of the most influential parts of your time at school because it helps widen your world perspective—and that’s what college is all about. Check out more benefits of volunteering for college students here.
4. Create a fraternity/sorority budget.
One of the downsides of joining fraternities and sororities can be the cost. Being a member is more expensive than people might think it is. Some of the commonly incurred expenses can include dues to the national fraternity/sorority, dues to the chapter, liability insurance, house charges (like room & board), technology fees, entertainment, social events, and more.
Living in a Greek house can be expensive, and you’re also required to pay dues to stay involved in the organization. While these can be consistently budgeted in, though, a lot of people end up getting into hot water when it comes to unexpected social costs. Whether it’s purchasing matching T-shirts for a philanthropic event, paying for a booth at a local college festival, or buying a ticket to a dance, you are often “required” or pressured to pay for additional costs outside of what you might initially expect.
Another unanticipated expense is that you’ll probably want to buy your friends and family gifts from your school or Greek organization. Personalized school gear is always a thoughtful, special gift that your loved ones adore, but you’ll want to budget that in, too.
Talk to current house members to get an idea of how much they spend on their sororal or fraternal organization each semester, so you can plan accordingly. (Note: If you feel uncomfortable or judged for talking to your future “brothers” and “sisters” about finances and other honest topics, they probably aren’t going to be the right fit for you.)
Another tip: Also make a time budget for your social life. This will help you manage your time and prioritize accordingly without letting Greek life take over.
5. Find your own path amidst your brotherhood/sisterhood.
It can be easy to fall into the “identity” of your fraternal/sororal organization, just like a student athlete can define themselves by their sport or a student artist can define themselves by their studio. However, if you start putting yourself into a box based on your Greek life or other activity, you’ll likely end up missing out on a lot of other incredible experiences in college. You may even feel like you’re missing a part of yourself.
You are a well-rounded individual—that’s how you got into such a great college! Don’t neglect all the other facets of “you” just because you joined a Greek house. You want your personal values to align with your Greek organization’s mission, but it shouldn’t become your entire life. College is about exploring new things, trying out new skills, and figuring out who you really are. So, enjoy all the facets that Greek life has to offer—and also venture outside your house for other academic, philanthropic, and social experiences. Greek life is just one part of the larger picture that is your college experience.
Networking is a part of life, and it will be a huge part of any career path you choose. The friends you make in college will become some of your first (and possibly best) points of contact in post-grad careers. Greek organizations maintain a particularly active alumni relations program, enabling endless opportunities for mentoring and career networking with current students and graduates. Oftentimes, you even have a point of contact with members of chapters from other schools in addition to connections with people within your own school’s chapter.
When you are a part of Greek life, you have incredible alumni networking opportunities available to you, so use them early and use them often. Members of your organization can help you find your career path, open the doors to new (and often unexpected) opportunities, and become incredible mentors and resources from freshman year through the rest of your life. Don’t be afraid to bond over your sorority/fraternity and reach out to alumni with questions.
7. Use the opportunities in front of you.
Along with networking and career options, Greek life opens doors in every facet of life. It can help you grow your leadership skills… if you take on leadership roles. It can help you gain confidence and social identity… if you participate in their group activities. It can help you learn to collaborate and manage conflict… if you make connections with your brothers or sisters. What we’re getting at is that there are thousands of things you can gain and learn from your experience in Greek life… as long as you take responsibility for your experience by getting involved and undertaking all those opportunities with open arms and a sense of excitement.
8. Preparation is Key
Being a part of fraternities and sororities could be a huge asset to your college experience, career path, and social life now and moving forward.
If you prepare for the time, social, and financial commitment of Greek life effectively, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
Does your school have Greek life? What has your experience been like? How do you rep your pride for your school?