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Going Greek: Should You Join a Fraternity or Sorority?

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Fraternities and sororities tend to be a love-‘em-or-hate-‘em phenomenon – it seems like everyone you ask harbors a very strong opinion about Greek life. Maybe you were raised in a fraternity-friendly family that taught you the Greek alphabet before you even knew your ABCs, or perhaps you were brought up in a bookish clan that regarded fraternities and sororities as the epitome of tackiness. Regardless of your own background or your beliefs about Greek life, there’s probably more to this age-old college tradition than you might think.

For example, if you think Greek life is nothing but wild parties and pantie raids, think again. Most Greek organizations donate a surprising amount of time, money, energy, and resources to charity and community service. But on the other hand, there’s undeniably a strong social component to the Greek world, as well. If loud parties and all-night shenanigans don’t really appeal to you, you might be better off somewhere else.

Bottom line? Just like many other parts of college life, there are both advantages and disadvantages to fraternity and sorority membership. Whether you’re already sure you want to join one or you’re still weighing your options, it’s not a decision that you should take lightly or make too hastily. Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you’re pondering the pros and cons of Greek life.

What kind of social scene are you looking for? If you run with a fairly conventional crowd and don’t mind hanging out with the same core group, a fraternity or sorority might be a great way to make friendships that will take you through four years of college and in some cases, last a lifetime. On the other hand, if you like to mix with a diverse range of people in many different crowds and subcultures, Greek life might not be ideal for you.

Do you like a structured schedule or lots of free time? Many first-year Greeks are surprised by the number of daily and weekly obligations that their organizations require. Most fraternities and sororities mandate scheduled study time, multiple meetings each week, ongoing community service and volunteering commitments, plus attendance at other group events. If you thrive on having a regimented schedule, you might be a perfect candidate for Greek life. On the other hand, if you’re the type who needs a lot of free time or “me” time to stay sane, you might bristle at all of the commitments fraternity or sorority membership entails.

Could you use a networking boost? Fraternity and sorority members benefit from the power of a worldwide network of brothers and sisters, and many swear that these bonds run much deeper than the friendly acquaintance that college alumni typically share. Your fraternity or sorority ties could help you in your career, during relocation, or at any other crucial juncture in your life. If you plan on going into a profession that requires lots of networked connections, Greek life might be a great way for you to lay the groundwork for future career success.

Can you afford the extra fees and dues? Many cash-strapped college students are shocked to find out how quickly the costs of sorority or fraternity membership can stack up. In addition to regular dues and fees, you also often have to cough up for lots of little extras, as well. However, at some schools, Greek membership may actually reduce your total costs for things like housing and food.

Are you disciplined enough to avoid trouble? It’s no secret that many members of fraternities and sororities like to party hearty. Some students take it too far and spiral into a downward cycle of addiction, poor choices, and academic failure. If you have issues with substance overuse or abuse, or if it’s hard for you to stand up to peer pressure, a sorority or fraternity might not be the best place for you. On the other hand, if you have a strong sense of self and a clear understanding of your limitations, go ahead and get fitted for that custom toga.

What’s your stance on Greek life? Do you plan to pledge, or would you rather eat glass? Tell us what you really think in the comments.

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