To Rush or Not to Rush…Is Greek Life for Me?

The really cute guys down the hall are doing it. Your roommate and her best friend are doing it. But you’ve heard some pretty scary stories about it from friends as well as the six o’clock news. Should you rush?
While the Greek Systems vary depending on what school you go to, they all have a social aspect to them. Sure, there are business, engineering, and service fraternities, but for all intents and purposes, I’m talking about the organizations that are social in nature.

Reasons to join a sorority are many. If you are the only one of your high school friends attending your college, it might be a good idea. The Greek System is a great way to meet new friends and find your niche so to speak. If you are a born leader, joining a sorority is a great way to shine and continue to build your leadership skills. At a lot of schools, entry into other high-profile campus organizations is paved by connections in the Greek System. While campus officials and non-Greeks don’t like to admit it, there’s a lot more exposure and opportunity for Greeks. While that exposure, as you’ve probably seen on the news, is not always positive, no publicity is bad publicity right? Leadership opportunities abound within the sorority as well. Depending on the size of the sisterhood, there might be anywhere from six to twenty elected executive board positions every year. These can range from President to Rush Chair to Alumni Relations to Panhellenic representative. If you enjoy sports, a lot of sororities participate in intramural leagues on campus.

Another great reason to join a sorority is that you are likely to have at least one of your sisters in most of your classes. This creates an automatic study group and someone to sit next to in class. First semester can seem daunting, especially on large campuses and a familiar face in class makes life much more comfortable. A lot of fraternities and sororities keep study files somewhere in the house. These might contain past exams, class notes, term papers, quizzes, and review packets. Keep in mind that professors know about such files and that it’s probably a good idea not to re-use a term paper. You’re likely to get busted.

Most sororities have a philanthropy aspect to them. Usually a charitable organization that is selected at the national level such as March of Dimes or the American Heart Association, benefits from fundraising events planned by the sorority throughout the school year. Giving back to the community is definitely a great reason to join up, although participation and actual fundraising results vary from house to house. There are definitely those houses that are more active in philanthropy than others.
The friendships you make in a sorority can last a lifetime and it’s common knowledge that a lot of hard to get jobs, political nominations, and business deals have been gotten because of an age-old fraternity or sorority relationship. In the real world, after graduation, success in large part is determined by who you know, and knowing your fellow Greeks is a great start.

Now let’s talk about reasons for not joining a sorority. There is a huge time commitment and those who don’t commit usually don’t last through the pledge period. If you are great at time management, then you should have no problem juggling a full-time load and pledging a sorority. However, if time management is not your biggest strength, you want to be really careful that you don’t let your grades slip. It’s easy to lose sight of why you’re in school when you’re having an absolute blast at bid parties, formals, and mixers. Failing grades can get you kicked out of school, though, and if you’re not a student, you can’t be a Greek. For the most part, sororities are pretty tolerant of those who are different from them. Life is a lot easier for those willing to conform. Certainly, there is no uniform, but each sorority typically has a stereotype it is known for on campus and if you don’t know what they are, ask around. Your fellow students will be happy to give you the scoop! While campuses are cracking down and some fraternities and sororities are declaring themselves “dry houses”, drinking is still a major concern in the Greek System. It’s important to point out that this issue is not unique just to Greeks but to college students in general. Most people associate drinking with Greeks so it’s important to know to use your best judgement. Hazing is a practice that is hardly as prevalent as it used to be but it still happens. Usually it’s behind closed doors and late at night. Hazing rituals are extremely secretive and can range from verbal humiliation to physical exertion. Universities as well as the sororities’ national headquarters have strict hazing policies in place with major consequences. When hazing is discovered, houses can lose their charters, participants can be expelled, and in extreme circumstances, those guilty can be jailed.

The decision to rush for some is an easy one. Perhaps their mother and grandmother were members and becoming a legacy seems like the natural choice. For others, it can be a tough nut to crack. Talk to others who are considering rushing and you’ll find that they share the same concerns. The Greek System isn’t everything to everyone, but it can be a great vehicle for creating memories and making friends that will last long after college days are gone.

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