Should I Join a Fraternity/Sorority?

How to Tell If Fraternity/Sorority Life Is Right for You

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No matter if fraternities and sororities on your campus have a huge presence or a very small one, there are a lot of things to consider before joining one. Here are some tips for making sense of Greek life.

Pros to Joining a Fraternity or Sorority

Fraternities and sororities can offer a lot of benefits for college students. Many of these organizations provide housing, a fantastic social support network, good leadership opportunities and a close community to which you can belong during (and after) your time at school. Many of them have a strong presence on campus and a deep commitment to public service.

These organizations can provide good mentoring opportunities and a great resource for asking other students about everything from which professors are best to where to get a job over the summer. Additionally, national fraternities and sororities can provide scholarship opportunities and can connect you with strong alumni networks when you're looking for jobs. For some students, the friendships they form during their college involvement with a fraternity or sorority will last a lifetime.

Potential Cons About Greek Life

In contrast, there are some things you should consider before signing up to learn about every possible house during pledge week. In many cases, joining a social fraternity or sorority means committing a significant amount of your time to the organization. This can be great, but if time is at a minimum for you, you may want to find out more about what is involved. Many social fraternities and sororities also have costly membership dues that must be paid on a regular basis. Make sure you consider these expenses when planning your finances for the year. (Scholarships are often available, though, for students who have problems meeting this requirement.)

Colleges usually have specific times each semester when you can join a fraternity or sorority. During that time, make sure to ask about time commitments, financial obligations and anything else you want more information on. Remember: it's okay to ask questions! Don't be afraid of looking silly. If nothing else, your curiosity will indicate that you are really interested in a specific organization and want to find out all you can about it.

A Word About Hazing

One important thing to note, however, is that hazing should never be a part of your pledge process to a fraternity or sorority. Not only are there rules at your school against it, but there are also quite a few laws prohibiting hazing in any form. Even if you think it's OK and part of a historical process, it's not something that should be taking place. Any fraternity or sorority worth joining is going to make sure that all "initiations" are healthy, fun and in an environment that supports positive choices. If your alarm bells are going off, listen to them and avoid any situations that make you feel uncomfortable.

Other Options to Consider

There are also fraternities and sororities on campus that aren't solely social in nature. There are quite a few national organizations that recognize, through their selective membership processes, academic high achievers, students interested in certain disciplines (English, biology, etc.) or those heavily involved in community service programs. If you like the idea of belonging to an organization but are worried about the time commitment or other factors, check out the other, non-social fraternities and sororities. They might provide you with the community you're looking for without the heavy involvement. And, if there aren't any organizations like this at your school, consider starting a chapter on your campus. It's easier than you may think, and if you're interested, other students probably are, too.