During the week-long process of sorority recruitment, a Potential New Member (PNM) can talk to around five sisters per house. Conversation topics range anywhere from clichéd banter, such as social events or summer plans, to interesting chatter, like a cool vacation you took or unique hobbies. But regardless of where the discussion goes, there are some secrets sorority girls will just never spill to a PNM.
On the outside looking in, the customs of Greek life may seem transparent: socials every week, frat tanks for days and throwing up your sorority’s sign whenever possible. However, there are many aspects you’d only get to know once you join. Check out some of the things sorority girls will never tell you about being in a sorority!
1. Being in a sorority is a huge time commitment
You probably realize you’ll need to participate in events to be an active member, but most sisters won’t reveal just how much time you’ll actually devote to the chapter. Most chapters require sisters to acquire a certain amount of points to maintain status as an active member. These points can come from attending socials and mixers or participating in philanthropic activities. Or, it could include going to assigned tailgates for football games or anything else that a chapter sees fit. This can add up to hours and hours of activities per week!
“There are weekly chapter meetings, which are mandatory and are two hours on Sunday nights. New Member meetings were Sundays for usually an hour. We attended those for eight weeks until initiation,” says Melanie, a junior at Florida State University and a Phi Mu sister. “During social season we had about one [social] a week, but those weren’t mandatory. Anything that is a good representation of the chapter is required, like participating in other chapters’ philanthropies or attending intramural games.”
Melanie says that participating in these events is deemed very important. “There is an unspoken obligation and expectation to be involved,” she says. “A lot of the girls didn’t realize how much goes into it, but my chapter makes it very easy for you to be as involved or not as you want to be.”
2. The house might have problems
An awesome perk of being in a sorority is always having a place to call home. Whether you live in the house or not, that’s typically the place where meals are served and sisters come to hang out, study, relax and gossip. But these enormous homes are not always as fairytale-like as they may seem.
Ashley*, a Cornell sorority alumna, reveals, “Our house had extremely loud pipes when the heat was on. Girls would ask about it, and we would have to make up lies during rush. Also you’d never tell a rushee something like we have to pay for laundry or that we don’t have snacks out constantly like other houses.”
While these white lies might seem unfair, a sister would never want you to base your views of a chapter and its members on the house!
3. You won’t always be so involved
The new member period of joining a sorority is also referred to as the honeymoon period. Everyone you meet is wonderful and every event is the most fun you’ve ever had. You bond with your new sisters during meals and everything about your chapter just couldn’t be more perfect. Not to say any of this isn’t true, but this obsession probably won’t last forever. Between freshman and senior year, you’ll likely tend to start going to fewer events every semester.
“The majority of the girls aren’t very involved and just go to eat food,” says Emma, a recent graduate and sister of Alpha Chi Omega at Florida State University. “People stop going as often when they get older because they live off campus, so it takes more time and effort. Girls stay active members but won’t participate in socials or date functions because they don’t have the participation points to attend.”
4. There are strict rules (and fines that come with them)
There’s a lot more to sorority life than just mixers and retreats. Most sororities are governed by the National Panhellenic Conference, which has strict guidelines all members have to follow. Sororities get fined for every Panhellenic rule that is broken, such as sisters contacting PNMs during the week of recruitment.
For example, Ashley dishes, “You would never tell a rushee that everyone will be fined if the lists of girls who we are inviting back for the next round for rush are late to Panhel.”
The rules are there to give sorority life some structure, even if they seem unnecessary. However, this may leave PNMs with a bitter taste in their mouths about the National Panhellenic Conference. So, sisters tend to avoid the subject at all costs.
5. You won’t be best friends with everyone in your chapter
Although it seems like it on Facebook, not all girls in the chapter are soul mates. Unless you have an incredibly small pledge class and chapter, there’s a good chance you won’t be best friends with everyone.
“Out of 200 girls, only about 10 are your true friends for life,” Emma says.
Throughout your time, you’ll hopefully find a tight-knit group of girls whom you’ll become close with. As for the other girls, they’re great lunchtime companions and study partners, but you probably won’t be asking them to be your bridesmaids.
“I’m close friends with about six girls in my chapter; the rest are just acquaintances,” says Jill*, a junior at Michigan State University and sorority sister. “There are 150 girls in total, and it’s impossible to know everyone personally.”
6. Girls drop all the time
While some girls are obsessed with their sororities from day one, others don’t always feel that draw. Throughout the four years, girls tend to drop out, whether it’s because of money issues, loss of interest or personal reasons. Regardless, your pledge class is bound to get smaller each year.
“Girls drop because it can get too expensive, their school work gets too difficult or they just feel like they haven’t made any great friends,” Emma says.
Jill also says that the expenses of joining a sorority play a huge role in girls’ decisions to drop. “[Dropping] is rare in most sororities here because most girls who join know what they’re getting into,” she says. “If they do it’s because of the money or it just isn’t their thing.”
7. The food isn’t always great
Unless you go to one of these schools, your college’s dining hall food probably isn’t top-notch. A perk of sorority life is having a chef cook for you and your sisters, which means that the food can be more tailored to your tastes. However, the food can tend to get cyclical since it can be challenging to feed such a sizable group of girls.
“The food is cooked in mass quantities and has lots of butter,” Emma says. “We eat a lot of pasta and chicken and vegetables. I got sick of the food at the end of the semester after eating everything at least five times.”
But in the end…
Although these are some things sorority girls wouldn’t spill, there are so many more aspects that can make your sorority a great community within your school. Sometimes the secrets of a sorority can even be the best part. Whether the secrets are exciting, funny, interesting or discouraging, they all help to make each chapter unique.
*Names have been changed.