For some people, being part of a fraternity or sorority is a major part of their college identity. Others pride themselves on being fiercely independent of the Greek system. Our experience has been somewhere in between.
JULIE: My husband and I were not members of a fraternity or sorority while in college, but many of our friends were. We generally saw it as being like most things—a mixed bag.
We left the decision about whether to join a sorority completely up to Lindsey. She'll tell you more about her experience, but we would have supported whatever choice she made.
I can tell you that for me, as a parent—there were several considerations to having a child involved in Greek life:
1. Cost: This isn't something I had thought much about beforehand, but joining Greek life comes with some built-in expenses. Some costs we've incurred include a recruitment fee, house fees and dues, a sorority pin, a more extensive wardrobe, and social functions for both Lindsey and our family. Many of these are optional, of course, but some are definitely not.
Altogether, we spent $3,258 on the sorority in Lindsey's first year.
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2. Alcohol use: Excessive and underage drinking is a common problem on college campuses in general, but peer pressure to drink can be even higher within the Greek system. This is something that many students deal with when they go to college, and certainly is something worth discussing with your child before they decide to join a fraternity or sorority.
3. Limitations: It's easy to let the Greek system become your entire world. Living in a fraternity or sorority gives you a place to belong at college, but it can become limiting as well. Fortunately, Lindsey has become involved outside of her sorority, and that has proved rewarding for her.
LINDSEY: While going through sorority recruitment, I was definitely skeptical of the process and of the prospect of joining a chapter. Even once I pledged a house, it took me awhile to get used to the idea.
Now, a year later, I can say that I feel completely at home in my sorority, and that I am confident in my decision to go Greek. Here are some of the benefits to consider, as well as one disadvantage.
1. Connections: When deciding whether to go through recruitment, I was told by a family friend that Greek life is not the only way to meet new people, but it is one of the easiest ways. This is something that I have found to be unequivocally true. Being a part of a fraternity or sorority gives you an instant connection with a large group of people, and that network will continue to grow.
2. Events: At my school, being in a sorority or fraternity provides opportunities to engage in all kinds of events and activities, such as Homecoming Week, themed parties, serenades, philanthropy events, and theatrical productions. If these sound up your alley, I would definitely encourage you to consider going Greek. Keep in mind, however, that some of these things can become major time commitments.
3. Belonging: It sounds cheesy, but a sorority or fraternity can become a home away from home, just as a dorm, group of friends, or campus organization can. Especially since moving into the house, my sorority sisters are the ones with whom I share everything—failed tests, lazy Sundays, new jobs, broken hearts, and game days, to name a few.
Before you go through recruitment, however, consider whether you will be comfortable living in a house with 70 other women or men. It is definitely a new experience, especially since I didn't grow up living with sisters.
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4. Stereotypes: It is undeniable that there are certain stereotypes associated with Greek life. There are people who will judge you for being in a sorority, or for which house you join. The important thing to remember is that each house has all types of girls, so you shouldn't put too much stock in those who make assumptions about fraternity men or sorority women.
This is also why I am such an advocate of being involved outside of your sorority. It can be just as rewarding to participate in activities that have to do with your academic focus or other interests.