A sorority sounded like a great idea when you were a freshman—you were promised a group of girls who would clue you into campus and love and support you like a sister, hooking you up with great information about where to go, where to find great dates, how to participate in awesome campus traditions, and providing you with tons of other benefits. By sophomore, junior, or senior year, however, sorority life can start seeming a little less great. If you’re no longer feeling the “Alpha Phi love” or “Phi Beta warm-fuzzies,” check out some of the pros and cons of disaffiliating from or leaving your sorority.
Pro: You’ll have more flexibility.
Think about a typical week’s worth of sorority activities. Now think about what your schedule would look like without weekly chapter meetings, charity events, dinner hours, study sessions, and weekend events. Disaffiliating from your sorority could lead to more free time to spend on new things, such as participating in other clubs and activities, volunteering on your own, spending more time hitting the books, hitting the gym, or simply allowing you to have a little more “me time.” Now that you’ve been in school for a while, you also no longer need the plus of having tons of girls around to show you the ins and outs of campus and nightlife in your college town. In fact, you might even have more fun exploring different things in and around campus on your own instead of with a huge group of sisters.
Having more free time could be a huge pro, especially if you’re looking to bring your grades up, devote more time to another organization, nab a killer internship to boost your resume, or develop other skills and talents outside of your sorority commitments.
Think carefully about how you’d use the extra time you’d have before you decide to drop your letters. Do you need more time to tackle a tricky class? Is there an activity you wish you had more time to devote to or would like to join? Are there things you feel like you’re missing out on because you’re busy with all of your sisters? Reflect on questions like these before making a final decision to make sure you wouldn’t regret leaving.
Con: It might not be as easy to meet people, including alumnae who could open doors to possible careers or internships.
We get it—you’re human. You’re not going to enjoy every event your sisters plan, every fundraiser you throw, or every party you’re expected to attend. These events sometimes carry a huge bonus, though; they can introduce you to people with whom you share similar interests, who support the same cause the fundraiser event is supporting, or who have connections that can take you places. (Beauty parlor scene in Legally Blonde 2, anyone?) There may be alumnae who work for a company that you’re dying to intern at or work for. “A lot of girls really don’t see the value in a lifetime membership,” says Julie Johnson, College Panhellenics Committee Chairman for the National Panhellenic Conference. She says the experience of being in a sorority extends long after you graduate your school or university. “It really is more than those four years in college,” she says. Johnson advises those thinking about leaving to “think long-term about what could happen.”
Your sorority can also introduce you to some influential people on campus who are in your sorority or in sororities you work with or (single!) hotties in a frat you’re partnered with. Obviously a sorority isn’t the only place where you can make these kinds of connections, but it’s an easy in, and it works as an instant conversation topic. Think about if you can still benefit from the network your sorority provides before you decide whether or not to leave.
Pro: You’ll probably see more of your non-Greek friends.
One huge bonus of no longer going Greek? You’ll now have time for your non-Greek friends. “Once I quit the sorority, I found friends that had interests much more similar to my own, so I do not feel like I missed out on much by quitting the sorority. I could simply go to a bar if I wanted to be in the party scene and I no longer had to pay thousands of dollars to be part of a sorority,” says Leslie*, a recent college grad who left her sorority after a year. This can be great if you’re in a sorority with a lot of mandatory weekend events or mixers, or if you’re in a chapter that celebrates big events like homecoming or spring break together. No longer needing to spend these days with your sisters means more time for friends you’ve met outside the Greek system.
You could also have more flexibility with who you date. Some Greek collegiettes say they feel pressured by their sisters to date guys from certain frats and avoid others in less desirable groups or ones outside the Greek system. Of course, this isn’t the case in every sorority, but it might be easier to meet someone special when you’re not spending every weekend with guys from a specific frat that your sorority has paired up with for a mixer or date party. This is also a major plus if you find you’re no longer as tight with your sisters as you used to be, or you don’t have many friends in the house and didn’t bond with the group like you thought you would.
Con: Seeing your former sisters could be kinda (or really!) awkward.
Unfortunately, not everyone will understand your decision. You could lose touch with some of your sisters you simply weren’t all that close to in the first place, or from others who don’t or won’t see things from your point of view. “Girls would pass me on campus after I quit and wouldn't even acknowledge me,” says Leslie. Be prepared to deal with this, and confide in a few sisters you’re close with if you’re comfortable talking about some of your doubts or issues and trust them. Tell them what you’re thinking and ask for their input. Including the sisters you want to still see and talk to on a regular basis and cluing them in from the start will help you stay close with them, and it will help avoid any awkwardness or drama with the people who matter most to you if you do decide to leave.
Pro: No more dues!
It’s no secret that sorority living can be expensive. Between dues, potential fees for living in the house or eating meals with your sisters, going on trips or weekend getaways, gifts for your little, and all of the oh-so-cute apparel with your letters, it can cost quite a bit to be in a sorority from semester to semester.
Look at your budget and decide whether or not you want to keep spending as much as you have in past semesters to be a part of a group you’re losing interest in. Is it worth the investment? Or are there other things you’d rather spend it on? An investment in a different group on campus, more shopping money, or rent for an awesome off-campus apartment in a future semester could make more financial sense.
However, don’t let budget constraints be the only reason for leaving until you’ve explored your options. Johnson suggests talking to sorority leadership to see if an arrangement can be made if you’re having trouble paying dues or other fees instead of letting it be an obstacle to your participation in sorority activities. “Some groups have policies with reduced membership rates,” she points out as an example of what can come of talking things over with a trusted sister or your house mom. “You also don’t have to buy every t-shirt, buy every picture… it’s all choices that you make,” she says.
Con: You’ll lose out on some of the already-paid-for activities you used to do with your sisters.
Of course, those dues need to get paid for a reason. Chances are some of the money you spend goes back to you in the form of awesome activities or fun events for you and your sisters to bond even more. These activities are also usually discounted (or even free!), meaning you don’t need to shell out as much for some of your favorite ways to spend the weekend.
Again, you’ll have to examine your budget and figure out what activities you enjoy doing with your sisters, and which ones you’d rather drop altogether or do on your own. Look at what you spend and decide if it’s worth it—could you do these things on your own, or is the bonus of having people to do things with on the sorority’s dime worth it?
Pro: You lose some of the pressure to fit in and “fake” enjoyment at events.
Leaving makes sense for a lot of girls who may feel like they no longer fit in with the group. This was the case for Leslie. “Once I joined the sorority, I realized how different I was than most of the girls,” she says. “I knew pretty much immediately that I wanted to quit, but I decided to stick it out for a full year just to make sure I was making the right decision. It seemed that the sorority required more from me than I got in return, and I felt I did not need it to have a good social life.”
Now that you’ve most likely had a year or two under your belt, you’ve probably got a better sense of some fun places to go where other students like to hang out, and you might even have a fave spot or two of your own. Dropping out of your sorority would mean more time to enjoy the things you want to do and go to the places you enjoy the most instead of slapping a smile on your face and sticking to the group decision.
Con: The process of leaving your sorority could be a lot of work you don’t have the time or patience for.
Most importantly, be persistent! If you do decide to leave, be prepared for a lengthy process that could take a bit of time. “Leaving is very specific to each organization,” says Johnson. Work with sorority leadership, your house mom, or your school’s Greek Council to find out exactly how to disaffiliate. Also, make sure to consider any other details you need to figure out, such as finding housing, getting on a meal plan, getting a new parking permit, or other things you may need once you leave the house. Know that the process of leaving is also usually not reversible—once you leave, you’re out. Be patient and respectful with anyone and everyone you work with in the process of leaving your sorority to ensure a smooth transition and to minimize any damage to your reputation or image.
Leaving a sorority is a huge personal decision. Only you really know what the right path is for you. Whatever your reasoning for considering leaving, weigh the pros and cons, and don’t be afraid to trust your gut and stick with what feels right. You only get one undergrad college career—make sure you’re spending it the way you want to spend it!