Living away from home – possibly for the first time – can be a daunting thing to get your head around. With the stress of that and class, maybe joining a sorority might be some fun.
Joining a sorority is not like joining any other club. There is much to consider before you commit to Greek Life.
- Sorority Finances
- Hazing – have you got what it takes?
- Privacy in your Sorority
- Find a Good Fit
- Friends for Life
Being away from home and away from friends and family can be difficult at first. The chance to have an instant group of sisters (or brothers in a fraternity) sounds quite appealing. Before you jump in here’s a few things you might need to know.
Setting off for college is an expensive time. Tuition fees, board, living expenses. It all adds up, and more often than not it’s parents that are footing the bill. If you decide that you then want to join a sorority, this will be an additional cost.
This all begins with Rush Week, which is basically a recruitment drive for each sorority. In order to be involved you need to pay a Rush fee to each house you may be interested in. It’s like buying a ticket for an event or a party. This could cost up to $150 per house. There is the additional costs of Rush week that include what you are going to wear. Each event will possibly have a theme, you can’t wear a cocktail dress to an afternoon tea party…
Once you have been offered a sorority (or more than one) you decide which is best for you.
New member fees are then due. These again depend on the house you have chosen and can range from $600 – $900. Going forward as an Active Member your dues will be $300 – $600 per semester.
There is also the social aspect. Each house will have an events calendar which will see another $100 per semester being spent.
There’s always a sister to cheer you up or have a chat to. You will be allocated a ‘Big’ initially. An established member that will check you’re ok and also give you gifts to make your day!
They are there to guide you, to make sure you understand your chapter and how it is run. So although your privacy is in no way private it is a great way to settle into college.
Then of course there is your board. Not all sorority members live in the house. Many live in dorms on campus. For many the cost is comparable, they are much the same. However, if you are living in one of the preserved Greek Houses then your board can be as much as $5000 per semester.
There are other smaller items that need to be paid for but over the course of your degree can all add up. Merchandise, t-shirts, ‘Big’ gifts, and absenteeism, can amount to hundreds of dollars over the course of your college stay.
Hazing – have you got what it takes?
In 2019, hazing became prohibited by law in 44 states. 10 states have introduced laws stating that hazing is a felony, the remaining states see it as a misdemeanor.
So what exactly is hazing?
Hazing is an old tradition of initiation activity or ceremony that must be completed in order to join the sorority.
It can range from relatively benign activities to more extreme pranks that can involve violence or criminal activity. Often small activities are all that is asked such as ‘required greeting of other members’, ‘eating together in the cafeteria – to ‘sleep deprivation or ‘having to endure embarrassment’ by doing sit-ups or other exercises in front of people. Many new members expect some form of initiation to feel fully part of the sorority.
There are further actions however that are more extreme. Being dropped in the middle of nowhere, to have to find your way home. Lines of shouting and endless roaring. And then there is the criminal activity such as physical harm, branding, or forced alcohol consumption. These are all against the rules of colleges but unfortunately, some of these activities still continue.
Being part of a sorority is about trust and being able to rely on your sisters. This is the basis behind hazing. That you will protect your sorority and stand by your sisters. But sometimes, this is taken too far. You need to consider how strong you are mentally even before you sign up for Rush Week.
Whether this is for you or not. Many sororities have eradicated the harsh initiations.
Do some research before you choose your house.
Privacy in Your Sorority
Whether you are living in dorms or in a sorority house, your privacy is something you may not have a lot of. In a dorm you are surrounded by people all the time, however, you may not interact with all of them. The difference in a sorority house is you are expected to interact all the time. It’s a sleepover every night. If you are asked to do a chore you cannot refuse. And that little black dress you were saving for the holidays, you could well see somebody wearing it, before you, without even having asked permission. Everything is a free for all. What’s mine is yours.
While all of the above may be seen in a negative light it can also be a positive. You have chosen this sorority and they have chosen you. So although never being alone might be a bit overwhelming it can also be comfort whilst away from home.
There’s always a sister to cheer you up or have a chat with. You will be allocated a ‘Big’ initially. An established member that will check in regularly that you are ok, and also give you gifts to make your day! They are there to guide you, to make sure you understand your chapter and how it is run. So although your privacy is in no way private, it is a great way to settle into college life.
Find a Good Fit
During Rush week, everyone is promoting their house as the best one for you. Ultimately it is your decision as to which Greek Life is most appropriate for you. Or you might decide that sorority is not something you want to be involved in.
Being part of a sorority also involves a lot of philanthropic work. Each house has a dedicated cause that they promote and raise money for. Kappa Delta supports @Prevent Child Abuse America’, as do Sigma Delta Tau; Alpha Epsilon Phi supports Jewish women battling breast cancer; Delta Delta Delta, and St Jude’s Foundation supporting childhood cancer research. Each chapter gives time, ideas, and service to each of their chosen causes. Each member is obliged to give a certain amount of hours, without question.
You also will have to attend chapter meetings, generally once a week. As a newbie, you will be required to learn the history of the sorority and what values are important in the house.
Finding a good fit is very important. See where your values lie and what philanthropic causes you feel you could dedicate your time to. It will take up a lot of your time, so before you pledge make sure you have that time to give.
Friends for Life
This is possibly the most positive part of joining the Greek Life. Joining a sorority is more often than not joining up for life. Membership has increased by 50% in the last decade. Today many of the top sororities promote women’s rights, health care for all, and a sense of family.
Networking is one of the most valuable parts of being in a sorority. From gaining a part time job to landing an internship. It is a nationwide organization, its long-term benefits are priceless.
Even when you graduate the alumni of your sorority will be on hand to help. It is a nationwide, if not worldwide networking group. Each chapter will have a website with job opportunities that you can take advantage of. Other alumni will become connections that you can use as referees, or for seeking letters of recommendation.
There are upwards of 9 million alumni members of fraternity and sorority. That is a very large social platform to succeed at whatever it is you decide your future might be.
Joining a sorority is a very personal choice. Don’t just join the one your mom was a member of. Join the one that matches you as a person.
If you decide not to join one that’s perfectly fine too. They’re not for everyone, but check them out before you fully make up your mind.
Other Useful Related Articles