Should You Join a Sorority as an Upperclassman?

Freshman year came and went. You may have gone through rush and not have found the right sorority, you may have wanted time to adjust to college before joining a sorority or you may have initially thought going Greek wasn’t for you. But now you feel like something from your college experience is missing. Whether deep down you always yearned to wear letters or you just realized that going Greek could be your perfect fit, it is completely possible to join Greek life later in your college career. There are both perks and pitfalls of joining a sorority after your first year, so check out our list of pros and cons to help yourself decide if joining a sorority as an upperclassman is right for you!

Pro: You’re already adjusted to college life

Many collegiettes decide to wait to join a sorority so that they have time to settle into college first and to focus on getting good grades. Once you’ve had some time to adjust, it won’t be as difficult juggling new commitments (big/little week, chapter, charity events, mixers) with schoolwork because you’ll already be used to college life and managing a busy schedule.

Geanie Blanco, a senior at SUNY Oneonta who joined Sigma Delta Tau as a second-semester sophomore, was happy that she had time to ease in to college life before joining a sorority. “I was able to really grow as an independent person my first three semesters away from home and learn a lot about myself [that] I don’t think I would have if I had joined as a freshmen,” Geanie says. “I’m definitely happy that I waited to go through recruitment.” 

You may also already have friends outside of Greek life, so add your new sisters into the mix, and you’ll have an awesome, big group of friends to hang with! “Freshman year I was also able to establish a large friend base outside of Greek life, which is great since there can be drama situations you need to get away from sometimes,” Geanie says.  

Con: The older you get, the more difficult it can be to join

While upperclassmen can join sororities, age discrimination can occur. Some sororities have a specific number of spaces for freshmen and limited spaces for upperclassmen.

“At my school, only freshmen are guaranteed a bid from the start,” says Iris Goldsztajn, a recent grad at the University of California, Los Angeles who joined Gamma Phi Beta as a sophomore. “So obviously, a lot of the places are saved for them, and the older you get, the less space there could be for you.” 

You may get overlooked not because the sorority members don’t like you, but just because of your year. “For juniors especially, it is REALLY hard for them to rush,” Tyra*, a Cornell sorority sister, says. “One thing we were always asked if we were to stand up for a junior rushing was, ‘Do you want to take a little that’s older than you?’ Plus, financially, it is letting in someone in who will only pay dues for three to four semesters as opposed to seven to eight, so Nationals might not be thrilled with that.” 

You should expect that other girls might question your motives. “Girls will wonder why you’ve waited this long to rush,” Iris adds. “Did you feel above Greek life before? Are you just joining for internship opportunities or cheaper housing?” If you’re doing recruitment for the right reasons, don’t sweat it, but be prepared for everyone to ask why now you’re suddenly interested in joining. When this happens, just be ready to whip out a quick, honest explanation about why you’re interested, and specifically what changed between freshmen year and now.

Remember that although it can get more difficult to join a sorority as you get older, it’s not impossible! “I have one continuing third-year in my pledge class, and about five junior transfers,” Iris says. “If [active members] like you during rush, that’s ultimately all that matters.”

Pro: You can get the inside scoop from friends already in sororities 

Chances are you already have a few friends who are in sororities. They may be able to give you some insight into their sororities and the vibes of their chapters. 

“A lot of my friends have talked to me about sorority life,” says Gloria Kimbulu, a junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who is rushing in the fall. “Since I have friends in different sororities, I do have a better idea of which sororities I’m interested in. I think that talking to my friends will help my rush experience because I may have a better idea of what to expect than some incoming freshmen.”

Check out HC’s complete guide to sorority rush for more ideas on what to expect during rush!

You’ve also already been on campus for a while, so chances are you have a better sense of each sorority’s reputation on campus and the types of people each sorority attracts. “Another advantage of joining later is that you can get a feel for them beforehand, instead of joining blindly—even though the rush process tends to work out pretty well as a general rule,” Iris says.

Even if you still don’t know which sorority you want to join, knowing a few friendly faces during recruitment can still help you feel a little more at ease. If you go through rush already knowing several girls in a sorority, you’ll likely be more comfortable when speaking with girls in their sororities since you’ll already know active members! 

Con: You may feel old in your pledge class

Joining later means that you’ll have a younger pledge class, and it’s possible that your big may be the same age as you or younger. “It can make your big/little experience weird because I know people that are older than their bigs,” says Elora Clifford, a recent grad from Boston University who was in Sigma Delta Tau. “At BU, a lot of people don’t like taking a sophomore as a little because you automatically think that most people tend to go abroad spring of their junior year, and if she comes as a sophomore and you get her as a little, the following year when she goes abroad, she won’t be able to take a little.”

If you’re in a pledge class full of freshmen, you also may feel a bit out of place. “When a new class comes in, everyone treats them like a freshman even though some of them aren’t,” Elora says. “Everyone automatically assumes that you are a freshman, so you get treated like it.”

However, it is possible that there will be other girls in the same situation as you! “I was a little worried at first,” Geanie says about rushing as a sophomore. “But when I saw a lot of girls my age going through rush the same time as me, I felt better.” 

Pro: You won’t have to pay as many dues

Since you just joined, you may have missed out on a year or two of paying dues. 

“Honestly, probably one of the biggest advantages of waiting to join is that you have to pay one year less of dues, which are really expensive,” Elora says. Waiting a little will give yourself time to save up money if you didn’t have the financial means necessary to join earlier. By joining later, you can still have a great experience, but it won’t cost you as much. 

The cost to join a sorority varies widely depending on the school and sorority. According to Campus Explorer, at the University of Southern California, the average cost is $1,300 a year (but does not include housing and food); at Penn State, the costs range from $350 to $600 per semester; and at the University of California, Berkeley, being in a sorority costs between $3,500 and $4,200 a semester, which includes housing and food.

Deciding whether you want to join a sorority is a big decision. Joining a sorority later in your college career can be a little difficult, but if you find the right sorority, your future sisters won’t care what year you are—they’ll just be glad to have you in the family!

*Name has been changed.