Part of the reason I didn’t rush was I planned on going to law school (later changed my mind and I’m not pursuing that anymore) so I wanted extra time to get a 3.9+ GPA—and didn’t know if I could accomplish that while spending significant time at the fraternity.
Another reason is that my freshman year I felt I needed my own time to figure out what I wanted and how I was going to get it. I didn’t want to risk leaving those questions unanswered for too long. (This isn’t to say that you can’t do Greek life and find those answers.)
And, I already knew more than 100 people from high school that were going to Miami University, so I was always one phone call away from going to most parties and events.
Today, there are many recent attacks against fraternities and sororities, which some arguments do and some don’t have merit. However, in this post I’m going to highlight the benefits that Greek organization’s can give you.
This post applies to underclassmen considering whether to rush a fraternity or sorority (and the people who want to expand on the benefits of being in Greek life in interviews with employers or grad schools).
Easier Transition To College
Everyone wants to make friends as they enter college. A quick way to transition socially from high school to college is to go through rushing and pledging with a large group, because then you’re likely to meet some new awesome people that you can find you have things in common with.
These connections made early on in college can also turn into lifelong friendships to the level where you make it a priority to have a reunion each year.
Strong Network And Connections
I can’t count how many times I’ve heard that someone received an internship or job offer through the connections of their fraternity brother or sorority sister. Many times independent students could face a harder time getting hooked up like that.
And you can use your association with a fraternity or sorority the rest of your professional life as a conversation starter or networking tool to connect with an alumnus of the same organization. This, again, won’t be available for independent students.
Fraternities and sororities offer leadership experiences from president to social chair, and many in between. In my interview experiences, employers loved to see my leadership experience as a president of a student organization. (I believe that graduate schools also highly value leadership experiences.)
Leadership positions require responsibility, time– and people–management, making tough decisions, organization, learning from mistakes and I’m probably missing other essentials. The point is that employers want all those listed attributes above in their employees, because it minimizes the risk of hiring you. Having a leadership position on your resume also gives you a talking point during interviews to market yourself well by providing examples of real-life stories in the position.
Service And Philanthropy Experiences
If you want to give back to the community while in college, it’s easy to do if you join a fraternity or sorority. You will have multiple opportunities each semester to help out by raising money for good causes and serving local, national, or international people.
Also, (yet not a reason to do it) you can gain experience interacting in philanthropic environments, which could be valuable if there are consistent service events that your future work gets involved in.
Building Social Skills
Depending on the person, the social skills you develop in a fraternity or sorority can be one of the best learning experiences from going Greek. Because of the consistent interaction with people that fraternities and sororities provide, you can have more opportunities to better understand different types of people, step out of your comfort zone, find common ground with people who seem different from you, speak up when necessary, and navigate social events smoothly when you might only know a couple of friends.
For a relevant story, I remember a corporate executive from the company 3M who spoke to me about how shy and introverted he was before coming to college. Then, he joined a fraternity and felt forced to improve his social and communication skills after he was constantly put in social settings and didn’t want to be so uncomfortable in front of people anymore. Now, he manages thousands of employees and is thankful for his time in a fraternity that pushed him to develop his social skills.
Learn To Communicate With Outside Professionals
This benefit is similar to the section above on building social skills, however I think that joining a fraternity or sorority can lead to more experiences with professionals (alumni, University faculty, national representatives, venue workers). Being able to confidently and professionally communicate with working adults is an important skill in any future field of work.
If you’re struggling with a problem in one of your classes, your family, an injury, or a health concern, fraternities and sororities can offer a solid support system that has your back in tough moments. The shared common experiences over time lead to a sense of security where you can confide in other brothers or sisters. An independent student who doesn’t make a strong effort to make friends on campus, could struggle to find a similar support group if they need it.
(If you think I’m the emotional type because of that paragraph, you’re so wrong.)
(Potentially) Higher GPA
There are many studies that showcase the fact that Greek students have a higher GPA than independent students on some campuses. For example, the Miami University website says, “As a result of the Greek Community’s academic goals, the All-Greek GPA is consistently higher than Miami’s All-Student GPA.”
This could be due to many reasons. But, whatever the reason, I think the study that Greek student’s do better than independent students at some universities is important to point out, because most freshmen are under the assumption that they can’t get good grades and be in a fraternity at the same time (as was I). I think time-management skills are crucial if you’re (deciding to be) in a fraternity or sorority and want good grades.
From knowing friends in Greek life, I believe that these students get the added bonus from their friends and connections of getting the inside scoop about certain classes and professors to take. Again, an independent student may be less likely to know what class and what professor is going to be a great learning experience or a struggle.
Also, it’s probably more likely that you know people in your classes if you’re in a fraternity or sorority and that creates an internal sense of accountability to show up to class and do well so you’re not embarrassed.
Easy To Find Social Events
Part of the beauty of being in a fraternity or sorority (assuming you’re not the social chair) is that most of the big social events are planned for you. You just need to show up—in the right attire—and you’re off to a great day or night of fun.
The casual social events are easy to put together, too. A text message to the group pledge class can instantly let you know where people are and what they are doing. In general, being in a frat or sorority just makes hanging out with friends, getting an intramural sports team, or grabbing food with people so much easier than when you’re an independent student.
Personally, I know that I need to make a bigger effort to rally a group of friends or plan something because I’m not in a fraternity, which is hard to do on some days.
Although I only brought up the positives, there are some negatives to Greek life that you need to consider (which off the top of my head include paying dues, losing out on personal time, and going to chapter meetings that might bore you to death). Also, for those of you who want the main elements of Greek life without the social party scene, then there are student organizations and clubs that are worth checking out.
So, deciding whether you want to join a fraternity or sorority in college is a personal decision that I can’t argue for in either direction. I hope that this piece inspires personal reflection about the issue and helps you come closer to finding what success in college looks like for you. At the end of the day, stay positive!
Readers: What are your thoughts on the positives and negatives of Greek life? Why did you decide to join or not join a fraternity/sorority?