Four Things I Learned My First Month In A Sorority

When I first came to American University, I never imagined that I would have ever found myself in a sorority. None of the women in my life had been involved in Greek life, therefore, I did not know what to expect. One month after joining my sorority though, I am here to tell you that it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. To prepare myself for this new chapter of my life, I read a bounty of articles on the recruitment process but there was a scarcity of articles detailing the new member perspective. Without further ado, here are four main things I learned in my brief, but jam-packed first month in a sorority:

1) You will start meeting new friends immediately.

As soon as you accept your bid, your new sisters will begin reaching out to you right away to arrange coffee and dinner dates. These dates will be very frequent at the beginning leading up to big-little week. While these dates will become less frequent after you get your "big," (your mentor and friend in your sorority) you will still be able to continue to develop lifelong friendships.

You will not only be meeting initiated members of your organization during your first month, but you will also begin to meet the women who accepted bids alongside you. A number of young women join sororities for one reason: to meet and befriend new people. Due to proximity, you will naturally become close to your new member class during your new-member education process which includes weekly classes before initiation. In addition, within my first month of joining a sorority, a plethora of unofficial new member events such as dinners, brunches and movie nights were organized. During this time, I also began to notice that some of my new sisters were in my classes, giving me new study buddies to navigate through class work. Seeing familiar faces in my classes has definitely made me feel more comfortable and confident as well. 

2) You will most likely not know every single woman in your sorority your first semester, and that's okay. 

According to the most recent data from the Fraternity & Sorority Life (FSL) website, each of the nine organizations that make up Panhellenic have approximately one hundred members. With other commitments, as well as life in general, it is virtually impossible to get to know every single person in your sorority during your first semester.

While this can be overwhelming, it also means that there are new people to meet and new friends to make at every turn. Some sisters that could become your lifelong friends may be returning from abroad after your initial semester. Moreover, if you decide to become actively involved in your organization, it is possible to get to know people you did not meet right away or to befriend a whole bunch of new people. Through sisterhood events and other opportunities, sororities make it possible to continue meeting new women in your organization long after your first month of membership. 

3) Balancing schoolwork, extracurricular activities and your new obligations to your organization are not as difficult as it sounds. In fact, your sorority will help you do so. 

One of my primary concerns when joining a sorority was its potential to interfere with my schoolwork and extracurricular activities. I thought that I would have to adjust my entire schedule in order to fit a Greek organization into my life. I am happy to report that is not the case; in fact, I have found myself becoming more productive and able to manage my time better this past month. With immediate access to the calendar of upcoming events in my sorority, I was able to plan out my schedule to include more than enough time for schoolwork, extracurriculars, and my friends. My new sisters have also helped me stay on track academically by joining me in the library or the Bridge to study alongside me. 

That is not to say that time commitments are without challenges and conflicts. Sometimes you may have a class or another obligation during a sorority event. That is 100% okay. You are automatically excused from any sorority event if it conflicts with one of your classes or other extracurricular obligation as long as you communicate it to your organization. 

Yes, your calendar will become busier but sororities are supposed to be organizations that support you as you advance personally, academically and as a working woman. Most sororities offer scholarship programs and weekly mandated study sessions to keep members on track academically. While I cannot speak for other sororities at AU or in general, I know that my organization requires its members to be involved in at least one extracurricular outside of the sorority. Most sororities also have strong alumnae relations networks that can and will help you navigate the job search process; all you have to do is ask! 

4) It is 100% possible to maintain your individuality once you join a sorority. 

My largest apprehension when going through the recruitment process was sacrificing my individuality once I took on my Greek letters. I pictured sororities in my mind as they were portrayed in the media: as all-encompassing and lacking diversity. However, as I continued onwards through the extensive recruitment process, I was pleased to find myself talking to women who were unlike one another in most areas except for their passion for their organization. 

During the recruitment process, I began to realize that the women who made up these organizations did not sacrifice their individuality at all. In fact, they seemed surer of themselves and their identity than anyone I had met in my semester prior.  Each woman I spoke to in the eight organizations that I visited was unique in their own way. I crossed paths with women in so many different majors that I did not know AU even offered; I found myself speaking to women who had been abroad and had many stories to tell about their travels; I spoke to women that not only shared my interests but also introduced me to different ones; I bonded with women about passions and ambitions for our future career paths-- even if they were not similar whatsoever. 

I have come to learn in my first month as a "sorority girl," that each and every one of us is different in our own way. We look different, act different and are interested in different things. One thing we all seem to have in common though is that our organizations have empowered us to become the best individual women we can be to ourselves and to others.

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