Our Guide to College Greek Life

college greek life

Being a student does not mean lectures, exams, and boring college parties only. A student life is your great chance to join something more than just a group of people who try to get the same type of diploma; and when we say “something more”, we mean Greek organizations (do not confuse them with anything related to Greece!). Wanna feel yourself a protagonist of a high school movie? Welcome to Greek life then!

Greek life is a life of fraternities and sororities, and every freshman is welcome to join them, though some nuances should still be taken into account before doing that. So, make sure you’ve read our guide to Greek life for every student to find out if he is ready to live it in college, and whether he wants to do that at all.

To join or not to join them?

Certainly, it is up to you whether to join a fraternity/sorority house or not, because such a membership is not compulsory of course. Every student decides for himself whether he wants to be a part of such a group while studying at college or university or not.

The truth is, that these organizations may be very attractive for freshmen who live far away from home for example, and who want to feel themselves relatively safe. Moreover, the spirit of camaraderie is uncommonly strong in these chapters, where all members stick together and often work for some common goals. Sounds not bad, huh?

But Greek life may be not a very good idea for those students who do not like different kinds of organizations on general principle, who feel a lack of finance for joining them, or who fail with some other attributes (sports achievements or facial appearance for example). So, if you are not a cute blonde with big… heart, or a strong guy who breaks bricks by his head, Greek life may have a couple of fails in store for you.

How to join them?

First of all, you should know that there are not two but three types of Greek chapters actually. Contrary to what is believed (fraternities are male-only, and sororities are female-only), there are also mixed Greek chapters too, like Phi Sigma Pi or Kappa Kappa Psi for example (which are much more popular among students, if you know what we mean).
The process of 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 sorority or fraternity then you will have to talk to one of its members to find out what is involved there.

What can influence your membership?

  • A fee for your membership (no money – no honey, sorry)
  • Your academic results (geeks and nerds have their own fraternities of course, but it is even more difficult to become their members)
  • Your sports results (everyone loves athletic guys and girls, c’est la vie)
  • Proved organizational skills – gathering folks to make a rocking college flash mob will work too!
  • Some specific criteria of every single Greek organization (you never know, what these dudes have in mind)

By the way, speaking about academic results, it should be mentioned, that academic testing of students who joined or did not join Greek letter organizations have demonstrated the following fact: male members usually achieve lower grades than other male students who do not live Greek life.

As for female students, this was also found to be true in the first year, but bonds grew, and some results showed sororities’ academic results beating independent students in the later years. It is perhaps true, that the added strain of the financial cost of being a member, as well as time spent on organizational matters, took away study time in the first year. This could have affected results adversely; however, students did gain a far greater sense of self-confidence and self-worth which made college life easier to deal with.

What will change for you after joining them?

Well, first of all, you should join them. What does this whole process look like?

  1. Rush week
  2. Get ready to complete a number of tasks to prove the fact you are worth being a new member of their chapter (walking naked at campus for example, why not?).

  3. Hazing
  4. The practice of hazing is widely derided, and is now illegal in most states. However, it still continues to these days. Hazing is a practice of ritualized and sometimes non-ritualized embarrassment of a student who wishes to enter a sorority or a fraternity.

  5. Pledges
  6. Depending on the organization, this is a period of a continued review to ensure the initial selection was the right one, usually culminating in an initiation ceremony.

  7. Initiation ceremony
  8. The initiation ceremony is often a ceremony over a period of a few hours. It is heavily ritualized, based around Greek practices and some Masonic practices, and quite often it has been performed the same way for decades.

  9. Attributes
    • Barges: once you’ve become a fully-fledged member of the community, you’ll be given a barge which should be worn all the time. Sometimes these barges are protected legally in order to prevent them from selling outside of the college.
    • Coats of arms: they are often a part of the organization’s mythology. The majority of Greek chapters have them, so, get ready to wear the coat of arms of your fraternity/sorority as well.
    • Apparel: there are also t-shirts, tops, jewelry, and many other items with the marking of your Greek chapter that are often handed down or can be won in specific competitions among the chapter’s members. Who knows, maybe you will have a scarf and a cloak like Harry Potter to designate your affiliation to Gryffindor?

The vast majority of fraternities/sororities members do not carry their association beyond the college experience. It is not necessary to have been a part of any particular Greek organization at college to benefit from career progression in later life. There is only one exception here – The Skull and Bones Chapter at Yale University, but this is another story.

Greek life pros and cons

Benefits of being a member of some Greek chapter or organization are obvious:

  • a camaraderie (your “brothers” and “sisters” will always help you deal with college problems, and they will definitely support you);
  • a life full of events and activities (this can make your college life more enjoyable by having like-minded people around, and it is always much better than being alone, isn’t it?).

But are there any drawbacks of your life in fraternity or sorority? When you are a freshman, it can be quite difficult for you to combine your study and Greek life, especially during the extended period of pledging before becoming a full member: all those activities will grab all your time and take you away from studies. In case you get low GPA and want to improve it, you should know that there are many ways to work it out. For example, you can get help with college papers (both writing and research); just make sure to provide strict guidelines and as many details as you can.

One more nuance that can surprise you is the cost of joining and staying a member of a Greek organization. It is in about $3,500 at some colleges. Some chapters ask their members to pay on a regular basis to maintain membership (annually or monthly). So, if you want to stay a member of your chosen fraternity or sorority, you may have to work longer hours at your part-time job to be able to pay all those fees. Well, maybe this is one of the main aspects to explain the lower academic results of Greek organizations’ members we’ve mentioned above.


Having read all the information above, are you still sure you want to join any Greek organization? It’s your choice, but remember the fact, that Greek life is not for everyone (for example, if you have your own house, this can mean sharing it with up to 70 other students from your fraternity. It sounds cool, and it can give you a reputation of a true bro among other students, but are you ready for this?). What is a heaven for one person can be a real hell for another one. However, fraternities and sororities can provide a safe environment for students away from home, who are in need of a new family to belong to. Do not lose your chance, if you have one!

Image source: flickr.