Greek Life in College: Benefits and Considerations for Students

Greek life is a term for college organizations we know as fraternities and sororities providing students with academic support and helping them develop leadership and social skills.

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College life is more than lectures, writing assignments, and exams in chase of a diploma. Entering a university in the USA, students also get a chance to live Greek life.

Greek life is about joining fraternities and sororities, student organizations that go far beyond academic activities in college. It’s about networking, leadership, and social life. The big chances are that you’ve seen it in movies, – yeah, most of them showcase it as endless parties and fun – but everything is not that blatant.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything about Greek life in college: its benefits, possible cons, and factors to consider before joining fraternities and sororities in your alma mater.

So, what is Greek life, and is it worth your time?

Table of Contents:

  1. What is greek life?
  2. Top 20 colleges with greek life in 2021
  3. Benefits of greek life for students
  4. Factors to consider before joining
  5. How to join greek life in college
  6. FAQs
  7. Is greek life worth it?

What is Greek Life?

Greek life is a collective term describing social organizationsaka Greek-letter organizations (GLOs) at colleges and universities. Most of us know them as fraternities and sororities.

In plain English, it’s communities of undergraduate students at college campuses, popular in the USA, Canada, and the Philippines. They have national chapters, and it’s a Greek Life office at the campus that controls their activities.

Each Greek-letter organization (a fraternity or a sorority) varies in purpose and function, but most of them share five common elements:

  1. Secrecy
  2. Monosexual membership (Though, some exceptions have a place to be; it’s the 21st century, after all.)
  3. A two-part vetting and probationary process for new members
  4. Ownership of some residential property where all members live
  5. Identification symbols like Greek letters, emblems, passwords, colors, badges, and others

Greek life means organizing and engaging in philanthropic activities, academic support, networking, creating opportunities for newly graduated members, hosting parties, providing new members with training and instructions, and more.

A helpful read for those out of the subject: Greek life terminology from Emory & Henry College

Top 20 Colleges With Greek Life in 2021

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Let’s face it, fraternities/sororities’ reputation is not that positive, and it’s American movies to blame for that. Movies like Animal House or Neighbours make the audience think that the only thing Greek life can bring is wild parties with hundreds of drunk students swimming in pools and drinking beer while listening to loud music that drives all the neighborhood nuts.

However, it’s not so.

While some universities and colleges don’t bother about Greek-letter organizations, others consider them integral to student years. For them, going Greek means unforgettable experiences, life-long memories, and being something bigger than yourself.

Below, you’ll find the top 20 colleges with Greek life. More than 15% of their student population are Greek members, with principles based on academic integrity and achievements, philanthropy, leadership, and social involvement.

Top Schools for Greek Life in 2021

UniversityStudents in Greek LifeDescription
University of Mississippi6,500+35 chapters, some with 400+ members, spend much time volunteering, maintaining a high GPA, and leading student organizations
Miami University (Ohio)22% of student populationNicknamed the “Mother of Fraternities,” with over 46 Greek chapters helping sponsor and host sporting events, philanthropies, and service events
Syracuse University3,500+40 recognized chapters raise thousands of dollars for philanthropies and participate in community service projects
University of Alabama11,000+67 fraternities and sororities seizing leadership roles, participating in service activities, and supporting local and national non-profits
University of Missouri7,50058 Greek chapters, with a significant focus on philanthropy and academic support
Florida State University5,80057 chapters participating in social activities, raising money for philanthropies, and volunteering in the community
University of Iowa3,600+49 fraternity and sorority chapters, known for academic excellence and performing in non-profit community service
University of Southern Carolina29% of student population60+ Greek chapters, guided by academics, leadership, wellness, and community service
University of Illinois7,00090 chapters on campus, raising funds for philanthropies and volunteering in the community
University of Arkansas6,000+Greek membership followed by principles of scholarship, friendship, cultural appreciation, and service
Indiana University8,000+70 chapters participating in philanthropy projects and community service
University of Oklahoma6,000+58 active chapters helping peers grow academic and personal skills (the average GPA is 3.2)
Purdue University20% of student population80 Greek organizations providing academic support, civic engagement, and leadership development
Iowa State University4,000+60 chapters, socially and academically involved in the community
University of Delaware26% of student population47 Greek organizations participating in diversity education, community service, and philanthropy events
San Diego State University3,600+44 chapters with values like diversity education, academic achievement, leadership development, and philanthropy
Auburn University (Alabama)3,000+52 fraternity and sororities donating to charitable organizations (both state and nationwide)
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor15% of student population50 organizations, with values like academic support and integrity, leadership, and giving back to the community
Penn State4,20082 fraternities and sororities, with basic principles of academic achievement, social service, and philanthropy
University of Virginia4,600+63 chapters, with the main focus on philanthropy, raising money for many foundations

There’s also a dark side of Greek life, which has become even more visible in 2020, in contrast to the racial justice protests and a COVID-19 pandemic affecting all educational institutions. Now students revise their views on the fraternities’ role and values, leaving for some reason or another.

Benefits of Greek Life for Students

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It’s up to you whether to join Greek life or not. Membership is not mandatory, and it doesn’t influence your grades.

Let’s face it, fraternities and sororities can be desirable for first-year students living far away from home and willing to feel relatively safe. Plus, the spirit of camaraderie is super strong there: All members stick together and work for common goals. Not bad, huh?

The four most common benefits of Greek life for students are:

  1. Networking. Members of fraternities/sororities indeed benefit from an alumni network after graduation. These connections are valuable when searching for a job or asking for references after college, leading to success.
  2. Social life. Greek-letter organizations help you build connections and lifelong friendships. You develop leadership skills, participate in social events, spend time with like-minded people, and learn through different activities.
  3. Academic support. This aspect of Greek life is lesser-known, but it has a place to be. Organizations provide members with educational resources to uphold grades (coursework, tutors, writing help, study files, and so forth). They do that to help students stay productive and support the required GPA their chapters have for them to stay.
  4. Philanthropy. It’s a significant part of Greek life, allowing you to gain volunteer experience and participate in leadership opportunities. Most Greek-letter organizations focus on fundraisers and community projects, getting money for charities each year.

Factors to Consider Before Joining

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If you don’t want to join a fraternity or sorority in your college, there’s nothing wrong with you. Greek life is not for everyone: It takes tons of time and energy, costs money, and may appear not as pleasant or free-minded as some enrollees believe.

Your top three factors to consider before joining Greek life in your college are:

1) Cost

Some students get surprised when they find out there’s a cost for joining and staying a member of a Greek-letter organization. Yes, fraternities and sororities require payment to cover house maintenance, social events, sports programs, and other general operations.

This fact may become a barrier for many students. Costs differ between colleges: Thus, Campus Explorer specifies $1,631 per year in the University of North Carolina, while Kansas University requires $5,300 for fraternity membership. (The cost includes room and board).

2) Hazing

While colleges and universities technically forbid hazing activities, they still happen. Hazing is a ritual of initiating new members to a fraternity or sorority, and it often entails pain, harm, cruel punishment, illegal activities, excessive alcohol consumption, and compromising dignity.

Despite all the efforts to ban hazing, students still face it, and the consequences are not that harmless sometimes: Some remind horror stories and, unfortunately, may lead to fatal outcomes.

For students planning to join Greek life in their colleges, it’s a must to do research and see if it has a reputation for hazing newbies.

It is only fair to say that not all hazing activities are that brutal in today’s fraternities and sororities. They may ask pledges to do some pointless, publicly humiliating tasks to prove their worth. And it’s up to a newbie to agree, as long as activities aren’t harmful to them or others.

3) Time

Greek life may not be for you if you struggle with time management and don’t understand how to combine academic activities, your job (if you have any while in college), and your sorority or fraternity obligations.

Get ready for countless meetings and events during your pledging process (it’s around 6-10 weeks). But once it’s over, you’ll still have weekly meetings, weekly social events, study halls, chapter events, flash mobs, and so on.

It’s not a negative aspect but just a factor for you to consider when joining a fraternity or sorority in college.

How to Join Greek Life in College

Joining a Greek organization varies from college to college and between each fraternity and sorority. There is no standard method, so if you’re interested in joining a particular chapter, you will have to talk to one of its members to find out what is involved.

As a rule, organizations evaluate candidates based on leadership potential, academics, involvements, and character.

What can influence your membership?

  • A membership fee: As already mentioned, there’s a cost for joining and staying a member, which varies from college to college.
  • Your academic results: Each Greek organization requires a minimum GPA for joining, most between 2.5 and 3.0
  • Your leadership and organizational skills: They may consider your sports results, social activities, participating in college flash mobs, and so on.
  • Some specific criteria of every single Greek organization: You’ll never know until you ask. As a rule, it’s your strong values about something, willingness to volunteer, love for learning, and genuine interest in Greek (not party!) life.

FAQs

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What is a fraternity or sorority?

It’s a group of guys (fraternity) or girls (sorority) formed for common goals and aspirations on college campuses. They share efforts, knowledge, and friendship. We call them Greek organizations because their names usually consist of Greek letters serving as a reminder of their group’s values. Fraternities and sororities have been part of college life since the 18th century.

Why do some consider greek life bad?

Greek life has a negative reputation for being associated with alcohol parties, sexual assault, fatal hazing new members, cliquishness, and classism. Unfortunately, all this still has a place to be despite all the efforts made: national laws prohibiting hazing, university policies, students’ active stand on Greek life’s positive outcomes, etc.

Can a girl join a fraternity?

Yes, if we speak about co-ed fraternities, present in many campuses today. As for single-sex fraternities, anyone identifying as a male is welcome, as long as they meet GPA requirements and can go through the recruitment process.

Can a guy join a sorority?

Sororities are women organizations, and they welcome anyone identifying as a female. If you identify as a male, you can still join co-ed fraternities on your campus. While most Greek organizations are single-sex, gender-inclusive chapters also occur (like Phi Sigma Pi or Kappa Kappa Psi, for example).

Do Greek groups still practice hazing?

All colleges and universities technically prohibit hazing in student organizations, providing policies against it. Also, hazing is against the law in most states of the USA. Students take it more seriously now and are more responsible when choosing rituals for initiating new members. And while some cases still have a place to be, students are encouraged to report about them (even if anonymously).

What GPA do you need to join greek life?

A GPA to be eligible to join a Greek organization is a minimum of 2.5, and it means that you should also uphold this minimum while being a fraternity or sorority member. Greek organizations encourage good grades and can even have fines for those failing to maintain their academic results.

How will Greek life affect grades?

Greek organizations take their members’ academic results seriously, helping each other in this area. Some organize study sessions, offer help with writing assignments and exams, provide incentives based on GPA, etc. While membership in a fraternity or sorority requires a significant time commitment, they understand you’re a student first.

Are fraternities an American thing?

On the whole, yes. We can meet similar organizations in Canada, the Philippines, and Great Britain, but American colleges have made Greek organizations an integral part of student life. While likely borrowed from British universities, the concept of fraternities and sororities comes off as “American” because of wide press (and movie) coverage in this country.

Is Greek Life Worth It?

Having read all the information above, are you still sure you want to join a Greek organization? Great! But before you do, take time to research fraternities or sororities at your college: their values, programs, membership fees, lifestyle, and other aspects that matter.

Ask yourself, “What do I want to get from a Greek organization?” 

It’s easy to find academic support or social activities unrelated to Greek life, so you don’t have to join any organization to have them.

Ask yourself, “What do I want my college life to be?

If you plan to focus on a busy academic schedule, Greek life may overwhelm you. But if you’re more about networking, social events, and camaraderie, fraternities and sororities can benefit your college life and beyond. Plus, they can provide a safe environment for students away from home who need a new family to belong. 

So do not lose your chance if you have one! And Bid4Papers will cover for you and help with writing assignments at all the right times.