What Is Greek Life And Should You Join It?
Greek organizations are unique to the US college culture and joining one of them is a big deal to some freshmen. Sadly, Greek life is not always portrayed in a good way by the media. Common misconceptions are that Greek life students party every night, drink a lot and haze new members under the name of rituals. Well, my Greek life experience was quite different from that stereotype.
I went through Primary recruitment in my second semester of freshman year and, luckily, I received the right to join the chapter, which I liked the best among all choices I had. Two years later, I still say that joining my sorority was the best decision I have ever made in my college life. I will name three advantages and disadvantages I gained from going Greek in my college years. If you are studying at a four-year-long degree at college in the US, please consider Greek life after reading this post.
If you are not familiar with Greek life, below is the list of five related words I will use in this post.
Greek Organization: Almost all colleges with four-year-long degrees in the US have at least several of Greek organizations on or off campus. There are hundreds of different Greek organizations existing in the US, and all of their names consist of Greek alphabets, like ∑ø (Sigma Theta) or a∆π (Alpha Delta Pi, or ADPi as an abbreviation). Each organization has a headquarter and promotes unique rules and mottos to encourage its members’ personal growth. You can be affiliated with one Greek organization and cannot join two at the same time.
Sorority and Fraternity: Sororities are Greek organizations for women and Fraternities are for men. Girls who are affiliated in the same sorority refer to each other as “sisters” while boys in the same fraternity refer each other “brothers.”
Chapter: Let’s say you visited College A and College B, and both had ADPi. Then those are called different chapters within the same sorority.
Greek House: Many chapters have their own residence halls, which are collectively called Greek Houses. Only people who are initiated into each Greek organization have the right to live in their houses. (For example, there are seven different Greek houses on my campus, and four of them are sororities. I am affiliated with ADPi, so I have a right to live in ADPi house but not in any of three other sorority houses.)
Chapter Meeting: Once a week (or twice a month, depending on the organization) all members of each chapter gather to have an official meeting. Once you graduate from your college, you do not have to attend chapter meetings, of course.
Primary Recruitment: There are several different ways to call this annual event, but you can simply think of this as a huge process of hiring new members. All chapters in the same college share this Primary recruitment period, which typically falls at the beginning of a semester. Basically, when candidates and a chapter mutually like each other candidates receive the right to join that chapter. The exception happens when a candidate does not fulfill any of requirements stated by their organizations.
Advantages of joining Greek Life:
There were three reasons I decided to join my sorority: food, housing and people.
If you have experienced college life in the US, you may be aware of how lame your housing and food options were during freshman year. All air-conditioned, clean halls are for upperclassmen and the limited food options in college cafeterias can quickly get boring. Once I visited some sorority houses on campus, I realized they had the air-conditioning and assigned cooks who prepare absolutely amazing food every day for sorority girls. Those two options attracted me into considering Greek for the first time. No shame.
Among four sorority choices I had, I begun to like ADPi the most. More than any other reason, I liked the people in that chapter very much. Many of the members were genuine and open-minded. I loved the inclusive atmosphere they had in their sisterhood: each member knew how to respect individual differences and embraced other thoughts and interests. Those are the people I admired and wanted to be surrounded with. So, here is the takeaway: you can consider joining a Greek organization akin to choosing the people you want to be close friends with.
I have found my decision to be the correct one, after looking back at how I have changed since joining my sorority. As an international student, I was diffident about everything I did in classes. I was scared to speak up in discussions because I felt my English was never good enough to properly explain my thoughts. I tried to mimic what other local students do, think and say. But of course, this often failed because I did not share the same social background with them. After joining my sorority, I was embraced for who I am and have since recognized my leadership ability, which I found was necessary for me to regain my confidence in expressing myself. My sorority sisters helped me grow into a much better version of myself. I did not know finding a place where I belonged could give this much positive influence in my life.
Disadvantages of joining Greek Life:
There are only three things about being in sorority which bother me sometimes: money, time regulation and the conflicts that happen in human relationships.
There are some fees we need to pay for being a member of Greek. Each Greek organization has different fee charges and the total annual cost has a huge range, but once these costs accumulates, you might feel that being a Greek as costly. You can set a payment plan or apply for scholarships through your Greek organization to help with your payments. I personally feel that the fees are worth what I gained from my sisterhood, though.
You also have to grow into a better manager of your time once you join Greek. Sets of meetings, recruitment practice and required events to attend often constrain your study schedule. Taking with my sorority sisters is so fun, but you should plan ahead so that you don’t stay up all night crying in front of the unit readings which piled up.
Please remember that wherever people gather, dramas happen. If you have some experience of running any organizations, you know every single organization gets some conflicts when it comes to relationships, and Greek is no exception. You can proactively avoid you getting into trouble. For example, don’t be gossipy, manage your stress levels so that you can avoid being acerbic to other members, and much, much more. Please know that headquarters of Greek organizations and universities prohibit hazing, and you can go talk to the college office in charge of Greek Life if anything unwanted happens.
What you should know before deciding to go through recruitment:
As I said, I like the people in my chapter. The color of chapters can drastically change depending on its members. It is true that other ADPi chapters on different college campuses are more “typical” sororities in both good and bad ways, compared to my chapter. Therefore, you cannot think like that “my best friend in Arizona University is in Chi Omega so I think I will get along with people Chi Omega in my college as well.” You need to visit people from each chapter to find out who are your people.
If you are interested in joining Greek but still feel skeptical, you can put off going through the first Primary recruitment in your college life. People change depending on who they spend time with. Some upperclassmen advised me to go through the second Primary recruitment after seeing how other students in my class changed months after they join Greek. I did not follow that advice because I had a confidence that joining ADPi will not change me into any worse version of myself. My upperclassmen friends later told me that my decision was right for me. It’s totally subjective to judge which of people’s behavioral changes are good or bad, but please know that waiting to see what happens to other students can be a great indicator for you when it comes to making a decision.
Lastly, I totally recognize that Greek life is not for every college student, which is totally okay! Some freshmen (like me) demand a group of people who you feel you can belong with, or who will help you grow into a better person, and it sometimes happen to be Greek organizations. There is no reason not to give a shot at something that will benefit you after balancing your estimated gains and losses. If you have any questions regarding this topic, please leave comments below! I am happy to discuss it with you.