Greek Life: The Pros and Cons
For some, the term “Greek life” conjures images of wild college parties. A lot of that has to do with movies and TV shows that portray fraternities and sororities as party-obsessed. While partying is often an integral part of Greek life, there’s a lot more to these organizations than what we see in the media. Getting involved in Greek life can be a great way to build lifelong friendships, set yourself up for post-graduate success, and perform valuable volunteer work. Of course, anyone thinking about pledging should be aware of the potential downsides. Greek life can be time-consuming and expensive, plus the lifestyle simply doesn’t suit every student. In this guide, we’ll discuss some key factors to consider if you’re thinking about going Greek.
What is Greek life?
Before we dive into the pros and cons of Greek life, let’s cover the basics. Fraternities and sororities are undergraduate organizations that help college students develop social and leadership skills. Greek life participants attend social events together, coordinate on community service projects, and often share the same housing. At their core, fraternities and sororities provide spaces for like-minded students to support each other throughout college and beyond. Many fraternities and sororities are national organizations that support chapters at hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the nation.
Pros of Greek Life
Not only do Greek organizations foster the development of great friendships, but they also encourage service work and provide academic and career-related support. With so many great reasons to join, it’s no wonder hundreds of thousands of students are involved. Below we’ll discuss some of these benefits more in-depth.
It’s no secret that a lot of students join fraternities and sororities for the social benefits. Going Greek means you’ll be immediately surrounded by a tight-knit group of people. This can be particularly appealing for underclassmen struggling to find a social circle. Members share a bond strengthened by a variety of activities. These include chapter retreats, formal dances, and of course, parties. So, if you’re looking for a fulfilling social life to occupy your time outside of academics, Greek life may be the way to go.
Greek life members play hard, but they also work hard. Many organizations offer support systems to help members achieve their academic potential. These include study sessions, tutoring programs, and study skills workshops. Some chapters expect members to meet GPA requirements, giving students an incentive to keep their grades up. All of this should be encouraging for anyone worried that pledging may come at the expense of their education.
Going Greek gives you the chance to build important long-term connections within your organization. As you advance in your college education and career, these connections can prove useful in securing internships, employment, and recommendations. Not only will you develop a strong network of peers within your chapter, but you’ll also have an extensive alumni network to turn to. It’s estimated that there are more than nine million Greek life alumni in the U.S. Joining a fraternity or sorority provides an instant connection to a large community of people who can point you in the right direction on your post-graduate path.
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Joining a fraternity or sorority also gives you the opportunity to do a lot of good in the community. Most Greek organizations devote significant time to philanthropic activities such as volunteer projects and fundraising events. Not only is this an excellent way to give back to the community, but it’s a great way to develop skills and build your resume. Many chapters even have leadership positions dedicated to the service aspect of their organization. Members in this position coordinate projects and fundraisers, log hours contributed by each member, and delegate responsibilities.
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Cons of Greek Life
While joining a Greek organization can be a great experience, there are some other factors to be aware of if you’re thinking about pledging. Some students may be deterred by the cost, time commitment, or lifestyle associated with fraternities and sororities. Let’s talk about these potential downsides more in-depth.
Going Greek isn’t cheap. Members pay regular chapter dues to support operations costs and the upkeep of community areas. These dues vary widely between schools and chapters, so it’s tough to know exactly how much to expect. However, it’s not uncommon for members to pay upwards of $1,000 per semester in chapter dues. On top of membership fees, there’s a variety of other costs associated with Greek life. Members should expect to purchase attire and tickets for social events and pay fees associated with applying and becoming a new member. Although the cost of Greek life can quickly add up, some chapters offer scholarships to subsidize the cost of joining a fraternity or sorority.
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Greek life is just as much of a time commitment as it is a financial one. If you choose to join a fraternity or sorority, you’ll go through a pledging process that will last 6 or more weeks. During this period, you’ll spend all your free time attending meetings, completing tasks, and learning the ins and outs of Greek life. Even once pledging is over, the organization will expected you to attend house meetings and chapter events throughout the year.
Depending on how demanding your chapter is, being Greek is roughly the equivalent of adding a class or two to your schedule. Of course, this isn’t a bad thing if you’re ready to make that sort of time commitment. But if you’re already juggling an intense course load, extracurricular activities, and a part-time job, you may find it challenging to add Greek life to your plate.
Fraternities and sororities are commonly associated with hazing, an initiation process that involves harassment. While virtually every college prohibits harmful hazing activities, unfortunately, it’s still fairly common. Greek life can also foster a culture of binge drinking and drug abuse. Every fraternity and sorority is different, though, so it’s unfair to say that all organizations partake in hazing or excessive drinking . It’s important to research the chapters you’re thinking about joining so you’re aware of the potential risks.
The Greek lifestyle doesn’t appeal to everyone, and that’s completely okay. Maybe you enjoy partying, but you can’t see yourself going out nearly every weekend. And even if you are party-happy, you may not want to deal with the extra commitments associated with Greek life. Between attending meetings, performing volunteer work, and throwing parties, the lifestyle can easily consume most of your time. If you value time to wind down or pursue other hobbies, joining a fraternity or sorority could be overwhelming. And while Greek organizations can foster lifelong friendships, some students may want the freedom and flexibility to make friends outside of Greek circles.
Should I join Greek life?
Ultimately, that decision comes down to your personal preferences and what you want out of your college experience. Joining a fraternity or sorority can be incredibly rewarding, but it’s not the only way to achieve a fulfilling college experience. The great thing about college is that there’s so many different paths you can take. Extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and academic research are all meaningful experiences as well. If your heart is set on pursuing Greek life, though, take the time to research the fraternities and sororities at the schools you’re considering. Every chapter is different, so you’ll want to find an organization that’s right for you. In the end, you should make an informed decision that supports your goals and interests.
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