So, congratulations. You’ve graduated high school, and you’re all ready to go to college in the fall and eagerly spread your little freshman wings. For many of you ladies, joining a sorority is in your blood. Your mom, aunt, older sister might expect it of you. What exactly is it all about though? Probably one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to consider your options, do your own research, and decide for yourself what makes the most sense for your life as a college student.
Take it from me. I never went through formal recruitment my freshman year, but lived on a floor with other freshman girls who had moved in a week early, gone through it, and all joined different sororities. I had come to college with two interests: my career and to be on the dance team, nothing else. However, my Greek roommate gradually became one of my best friends, and through her I made other close friends whom were also in the same sorority.
Naturally, my curiosity of Greek life grew. I wanted to see what all the hype was about. One thing led to another, and I was informally recruited in the spring of my freshman year into the same sorority as my best friends. After less than a year of some serious ups and downs, I finally made the personal decision that it simply wasn’t right for me, respectfully discontinued my membership, and haven’t looked back. And guess what? Life does exist on the outside. Friends, parties, networking connections, campus involvement, academic achievements, and leadership opportunities are all still there for you. I (and many others) am living and breathing proof of that.
Do not get me wrong. Greek Life can be an absolutely wonderful thing for many. It’s an active community of campus leaders, and you’ll never be bored being a part of it. It’s where you’ll meet your dearest friends as well as your most bitter enemies. Each side has its perks.
Allow me to map it out for you with a classic pros and cons list:
Pros of Going Greek:
1. Guaranteed group of friends and sisterhood
2. Nation-wide connections through others that have been in the same sorority; it’s a lifetime membership.
3. There is always something going on and something fun to look forward to.
4. Feeling of acceptance and being a part of something big
5. Service experience through philanthropies
Cons of Going Greek:
1. With the label, comes the stereotype (as with anything else you join).
2. Easy to lose one’s individuality and independence; you are likely to become more known and referred to as a [insert sorority name here] more so than by who you are.
3. Expensive (Dues, philanthropy fundraisers, t-shirts and other apparel, purchasing gifts for your little sis, cost of certain social events, purchasing your badge and other materials)
4. Pressure to make it a priority; membership often makes it difficult to be actively involved in other organizations, because it takes up most of your time.
5. Drama. Stick 50 or so girls together regularly in the same vicinity and there’s bound to be tension, passive aggressiveness, and competition. We’re girls. We can’t help it.
Pros of NOT Going Greek:
1. Freedom from rules, curfews, pressure of how to dress and act and who to be friends with.
2. Learning to make your own way and rely on yourself---- a useful life skill to obtain.
3. More time to manage the things that are most important to you, ie. part-time job, church, other campus organizations, visiting home, academics, working out, etc.
4. Preserving your individuality and avoiding the label. (While many professors and employers look at Greek life involvement as a positive and prestigious stamp on your résumé, others may consider it the contrary and not take you seriously.) It can either help you significantly or hurt you. So, with the sorority letters comes that risk.
Cons of NOT Going Greek:
1. You may often feel like you’re missing out on things like date parties and swaps. These are usually exclusive, however, if you get to know some frat boys pretty well, it can be really easy to regularly get asked to fraternity date parties, which are usually more fun and laid back anyway.
2. Just like sorority girls come with their labels, so do non-Greeks. Non-Greeks are often referred to as GDIs (ask a friend if you’re not sure what that stands for). Non-Greeks are often associated with certain personality traits and attitudes that aren’t always true.
3. In some prestigious organizations on campus, you may get shafted. Many are made up of mostly Greek students, and when there is a competitive application process, the ugly truth is that in most cases the Greeks have an edge. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
4. You have to make friends the old-fashioned way, put yourself out there, and get out into the social scene all on your own. It can be frightening as a freshman not knowing how it all works yet, but once you settle in after a semester, you’ll get a feel for the college party life and can easily blend in as a non-Greek.
When it comes down to it, the most important thing is to be honest with yourself. Decide what your priorities are as a college student, and make your own decisions uninfluenced by others’ suggestions. Just know that there is lightness and darkness on both sides and only you can decide what is best for you.