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All About: College Fraternities

Updated on February 2, 2008

Who Should Read This Page?

This page is devoted to college fraternities. This is definitely worth reading for high school students, as well as parents of high school students. This is also a suitable read for those who are already college students who might have misconceptions about what fraternities are really like.

I'm currently in a fraternity, and have been for three years. I've seen and heard what other fraternities do as well as my own. It's an imporant decision whether you decide to attempt to join one or not.

The Rush sign for a fraternity called PIKE
The Rush sign for a fraternity called PIKE

The Rush Process

The Rush is how fraternities find new members. Generally, they'll all set up a station for a week and introduce themselves to potential new members. Some fraternities are very selective in who they pick. Others will take just about anyone. Different fraternities stand for many different things, so you should try to find out what the fraternity you wish to join stands for. Also, keep in mind that the same fraternity on two different campuses can be completely different, so make sure to learn about your local fraternity rather than their national organization as a whole.

The size of a fraternity range from around 5 people all the way up to about 170 (although that's a rare size).

You should go around and get to know as many other members in the fraternity as possible. Just be social and be yourself and you'll do fine. If they're not willing to accept you for being yourself, then you're probably not a good fit for them anyway.

The Bid/Pledge Process

If you are accepted, you'll become a bid. A bid means that you are obligated to that fraternity, and you won't go and join with any other fraternity. Generally, depending on the fraternity, that will last for anywhere from one to three weeks.

During the bid process, try to get to know the other bids for that fraternity. After that, you'll become a pledge. This will likely be the longest part of your induction program before becoming a brother, and the most important. Also, this is where most potential problems can occur (such as being blackballed and hazing, explained below).

Potential Problems and Pitfalls

Well, while pledging there are many potential problems you may run into. Listen carefully, as it's probably best that you avoid them if at all possible.


This is one of the primary problems that people associate with fraternities, and they're not wrong. To be blunt: almost all social fraternities haze in some way, shape, or form. While many do it just in fun, you need to make sure that they're not going overboard. If, at a pledge meeting, you're told to do 10 push-ups because you don't remember something you were supposed to, is that hazing?

By most univerisity standards, yes, it is. Does that mean you should quit immediately? That's your choice. If you're not willing to do a few push-ups, don't bother trying to rush a fraternity, because just about all of them will have you do that.

There are times, however, when fraternities go overboard, and you need to be able to say no and quit those pledging programs when necessary, as they can be dangerous for your health and well-being.

A fraternity should never:

-Force you to drink or smoke anything

-Force you to experience heavy physical pain

-Force you to do anything of a sexual nature that you're uncomfortable with

If a fraternity does, it's probably a fraternity you want to avoid. You should try to get a general feel for the fraternity before you join it, from brothers already in the fraternity, and others who know about the fraternity.


This is different than hazing. If a certain number of the brothers in the fraternity feel that you're not right for the fraternity (generally around 20%), they can vote to have you blackballed, or kicked out of the pledging program and asked to leave. The best way to avoid this is to avoid making enemies with fraternity brothers while pledging.

If a brother is a bit of a [insert curse word here] to you sometimes, instead of getting angry and resentful, stay calm. They're just doing it to you because some fraternity brother did it to them when they were pledging. Unless you feel that it's encroaching onto the territory of true hazing (which you shouldn't put up with), you can deal with it.

Pledge Brothers:

You're going to be spending A LOT of time with these people. Make friends with them, as if you both "cross", that is to say become brothers, you'll be friends for years to come. That being said, there are some pledge brothers you simply don't get along with. Avoiding them can be quite difficult, since you're forced into the same area often. The best advice for this is to once again stay calm, although you don't have to take any **** from them like you would fraternity brothers.


In the end, it should be completely your choice on whether you join a fraternity or not. If you don't feel comfortable doing it, don't. Depending on who you ask, fraternities can be a fantastic place to find friends that you'll have for the rest of your life, or an elitist cult of sorts meant to deprive you of any individuality or self. You decide.


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    • Mark Sparks profile image

      Mark Sparks 

      7 years ago from Charlottesville, Virginia

      Having been in a fraternity for two years, I can agree with the points you've made. The most important thing to remember about the advice is that it's all general; what's true in one college, may not be the case in another.

      thanks for the article!

    • YankeeRoo profile image


      7 years ago from Sydney AUSTRALIA

      This hub is rather 'politically' stated in content. What is absent, like the comments of Adam (above), is those aspects which many religious families fear: that fraternities are allegedly: secret societies; involve bastardisation; lots of drugs and alcohol; favours for brethren post-graduation; tend to have lower GPA than independent students; etc. As a fraternal member, I know that most of the fears and scaremongering that goes on is unfounded. Sure some houses have some level of bastardisation (hazing), but none are outright and intentionally dangerous.

      A great aspect of fraternities is the mateship and comraderie that develops amongst the brethren; as similar for Sororities across the sisterhood. If you were a nobody in high school, or rather unpopular, the fraternity system gives you a new opportunity to shake that aspect away and become a somebody. The social aspect of fraternities and sororities is a big draw card.

      Also, being able to visit another chapter in another state/country and being accepted as a member is really cool too. But don't count on getting any immediate favours (particularly out in the real world) just because you were both members of the same frat.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      7 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      I joined a professional chemistry fraternity in 1966. Most of the hazing we had then took place during our hell week. The initiation ceremony was on a Sunday, but I remember an awful lot of hazing involving the drinking of alcohol which took place on Friday and Saturday evening of that week. Before being formally initiated I remember having to stand on a chair and fall backwards believing that my fraternity brothers were going to catch me. They did!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a horrible post. All that you said could be gotten from wikipedia. I want to know what being in a fraternity is really like. For example, does it fit any of the two classic stereotypes: partying all the time or giving special favors to brothers in the real world. What else can you say about a fraternity that is not commonly known. How will being in a fraternity differ from not being? Answer some of these.

    • profile image 

      10 years ago from New York, NY

      Great post Mastersman - we have a very interesting blog post dispelling other myths and the pros/cons of pledging -


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