Once you’ve finished the lengthy process of applying and getting into college, you’ll be able to get to the more fun parts of university. You can choose your classes, find accommodation, and decide whether or not you want to join a sorority or fraternity.
If you’re not familiar with Greek life, you may be wondering what is a sorority. There are a lot of different things to consider before joining a sorority or a fraternity, and there are many elements that make up each one.
We’ll go over the different aspects of Greek life, such as the recruitment process and the pros and cons of joining. Keep reading to find out if Greek life is right for you.
What is a Sorority, Exactly?
A sorority is an organization on a college campus whose purpose is to foster friendship and community, among other things. Women join a sorority, and men join a fraternity. There are chapters of Greek life spread around universities in both the U.S. and Canada.
Each sorority has its own goals, rules, and expectations, but they’re generally similar across all Greek life. Membership to a sorority is gained if you can prove you have the qualities that fit with their specific requirements. The qualities they typically look for are usually based on things like your personality, your academic achievements, community participation, and campus activity.
Many new college students seek to join a sorority or fraternity since it provides a sense of community and gives space for students to form bonds and friendships. Greek life is also associated with a certain type of lifestyle, which can help students feel like they fit in somewhere or help them integrate into campus life.
What is the Purpose of a Sorority?
Aside from providing a space for new students to meet like-minded friends, sororities do serve a greater purpose for its members.
Over the years of belonging to a sorority or fraternity while in university, students will feel like they’re a part of a community, a sisterhood, or a brotherhood. This sense of community can have a positive impact on your overall education when dealing with the stress of college life.
Additionally, sororities also set a high standard for academic achievement and behavior, which means members are held accountable for their performance and actions.
Greek life also provides an invaluable network that members have access to their whole lives. Sorority sisters are often encouraged to help one another, especially when it comes to their careers. This networking opportunity can help open a lot of doors to graduating students.
You’ve likely seen a few college-themed movies where sororities and fraternities have intense recruitment processes that include humiliating hazing techniques. The truth is, in most Greek life, the recruitment process isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be in Hollywood.
Generally, the recruitment process is broken down into three parts: rushing, pledging, and hazing or initiating. Let’s take a closer look at each step.
A potential new sorority member is called a rushee, and the recruitment process overall is called a rush. At this time, rushees and current sorority members meet each other to see if they’d fit in the sorority culture.
A rush often has several events or steps in order to narrow down the pool of applicants, especially if it’s a large school. Rushees will attend parties, perform skits, discuss sisterhood, and try and make a mark on the sisters in order to secure a spot in a sorority.
Once the activities are over, the sorority sisters will discuss and vote on which applicants they’d like to offer a spot. Then, these applicants are offered a formal bid and they are asked to join the sorority.
Once an applicant accepts a sorority’s bid, she is considered a pledge. Now, the new member learns more about the sorority, including their history, requirements, and values.
Pledging a sorority often requires a lot of time and dedication since many pledges are required to take an entrance exam. After spending some time studying a sorority, pledges are required to take and pass a test where they are quizzed on their knowledge of facts such as Greek symbols, a sorority’s founders, and other relevant details.
Hazing and Initiation
While many universities have taken action against hazing, there are still reported instances where it can get out of hand. Hazing requires new pledges to often perform degrading or humiliating tasks to show their allegiance and can be anything from binge-drinking, going without sleep, or being forced to wear specific clothing.
Typically, fraternities usually have bigger problems with hazing, but it’s still apparent in some sororities. Most universities take hazing very seriously and will address hazing complaints by new pledges.
After pledging and hazing are complete, new members go through an initiation where they are formally inducted into the sorority. During initiation, pledges will be let in on sorority secrets, such as secret passwords, handshakes, and others. There is usually a ceremony based on sisterhood as well.
Image by Christina Davis from Pixabay
4 Benefits of Joining Greek Life
If the recruitment process hasn’t scared you away and you’re still interested in joining a sorority or fraternity, you might be wondering what benefits Greek life can afford you.
Aside from better housing options, Greek life can be beneficial in many other ways.
Most sororities will have a minimum GPA requirement, pushing you to focus on your schoolwork and do well in your classes. Even after you’ve been initiated, you can still get put on probation within your sorority if your GPA falls too low.
But it’s not all bad. Sororities encourage learning with your sisters, so there are often study groups and study rooms rented just for sorority sisters.
Most Greek life members are actively involved in philanthropy or charitable causes. Therefore, you’ll be required to join these activities as well and become more involved in philanthropy.
As part of a sorority, you’re not only expected to partake in these events, but you might also be expected to throw them. Sisters often help sign others up to a charitable organization, schedule fundraising events, or even organize a “Philanthropy Day” for the whole sorority.
3. Social and Professional Networking
Joining a sorority or fraternity is one of the best ways to network both on and off campus. Active alumni of your sorority who are recruiting will often prioritize younger members of their sorority, so it’s a good idea to stay active in your sorority even after you finish college.
Aside from professional advantages, you’ll also have a social network for life as well as friends with deep personal connections. Your sorority sisters will always be there to lift you up, encourage you, and celebrate with you, so these are very important connections to have.
4. Campus Involvement
As part of Greek life, you’ll learn how to become a leader on campus, a skill that will also prove to be very helpful in your future career.
Many sorority and fraternity members are involved in student government, student affairs, and other student-led organizations. Being involved in these extracurricular activities is a great way to enhance your CV for internships, summer jobs, and even when applying to companies after you graduate.
3 Downsides of Greek Life
Greek life isn’t for everyone. Some people don’t make it through the recruitment and hazing process, and those who do may soon realize that being a part of a sorority or fraternity isn’t what they expected.
Like everything, there is a downside to Greek life. Here are a few things to consider before you join.
While the benefits we mentioned may be worth it, they don’t come for free. Aside from the cost of your tuition and accommodation, you’ll also have to cover the costs of Greek life. Sororities often have a membership fee every semester.
You’ll also need to dish out cash for membership items like t-shirts, scarves, or pins, and then there’s the cost of attending formal events. Joining a sorority isn’t cheap, so if you’re planning on pledging, it’s important to keep this in mind when planning your college finances.
2. Time Consuming
Pledging itself requires a significant time commitment, but even after that process is over, you’ll still need to dedicate a lot of time to your sorority. Whether it’s being present in meetings, attending events, planning fundraisers, or participating in bonding activities, you’ll need to manage your time effectively.
If you’re already stressed with your course load, then you may want to consider if you really have the time to dedicate to Greek life.
3. Frequent Substance Abuse
It’s no secret that one of the most coveted parts of being a part of Greek life is attending the parties. While these parties can be a great way to blow off some steam from all your demanding schoolwork, Greek life also fosters a lot of binge-drinking and drug abuse.
The social nature of these societies lends itself to abusing alcohol and other substances, and also makes it difficult to withstand peer pressure. Of course, this isn’t the case for every sorority or fraternity, but it’s something to be aware of since it can impact your education.
The Bottom Line
Now that you have a better picture of what is a sorority, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on whether you’d like to join one or not. If Greek life isn’t for you, there are other ways to get involved on campus.
You might also want to consider eliminating all those campus distractions and study online instead. University of the People offers tuition-free distance learning, so your student experience can revolve around your academic work instead of your social obligations.