Benefits of Joining a Sorority or Fraternity
Sororities and fraternities often get a bad rap. They're stereotyped as loud, drunken miscreants or as ganglike organizations with a bad case of groupthink that severely haze their new members. And sometimes, these stereotypes can be true. Some Greek groups do have drinking problems. Some groups do behave reprehensibly towards their new members... But many don't.
I personally joined a non-drinking sorority with a strict no hazing policy, and I have never regretted my decision to pledge for a single second. Through my experience in a sorority, I gained many benefits and positive experiences that were not only personally enjoyable, but also helped me grow as a person, greatly enhancing my college education.
Joining a sorority or fraternity is a great way to form close friendships quickly. Over pledging, you spend extended amounts of time together, meaning that if you don't know your sisters or brothers at the beginning of the process, you definitely will by the end. In fact, from pledging onward, a Greek group can be one of the best support networks available to college students.
Often Greek groups will assign or allow pledges to choose "mothers" or "fathers," or mentor figures within the group. These older mentors can become role models and wonderful sources of advice and support throughout your college years and beyond. Later, as more new members join the group, you may be assigned a new pledge to mentor yourself, passing on the advice and support that you were given when you joined the group. Both having a mentor and being a mentor can make you feel more connected to your school and to the group and provide you with a feeling of security and purpose, since you both have support and give support to others.
You will also likely build many other strong friendships with your group. You see each other regularly and engage in meaningful activities together, from recruitment and socials to benefit the group to service projects to benefit the community. You also refer to each other as "sisters" or "brothers," which symbolizes a commitment to care deeply about each other, even if you don't always agree. Through all of my most difficult moments in college, I was always able to find a sympathetic ear or some sage advice among my sisters.
Finally, although my group was a non-drinking group, many people find that Greek groups provide them with a safe place to drink, with people they trust. With your sisters or brothers, you have people watching your back, making sure that you don't do anything stupid and that other people don't take advantage of you... As an added perk, fraternities and sororities also often stipulate that sober drivers must be present at all events, ensuring you a safe commute home.
A sorority or fraternity is also a great place to develop leadership skills. During my time in my sorority, I served as pledging coordinator, secretary and president, gaining great organization and leadership skills in the process. As pledging coordinator, I was in charge of creating and maintaining a tight pledging schedule, explaining activities and group values to new members, and making sure that everyone was comfortable and having fun through the whole process. As secretary, I had to be on top of all the group's activities, taking notes on everything and sending out detailed memos-- I had to be especially organized, because if I didn't know what was going on, no one did. Finally, as president, I learned to tow the line between chaos and dictatorship, making sure that the group ran efficiently and that everyone's voice was heard whenever we had a decision to make. I helped mediate interpersonal conflicts and tried to ensure that everyone's best interests were being served. These are complex, practical, real world skills that I never would have developed in quite the same way in the classroom.
Contrary to popular belief, Greek groups don't spend all their time partying. They contribute a lot to their communities, raising money for charities, cleaning up parks and highways, tutoring and mentoring local children, and more. My group's biggest project was Relay for Life. We hold bake sales, participate in email and letter campaigns, and of course participate in the actual event at the end every year, and we always far surpass our fundraising quota. It feels good to give back to society. It endows life with some meaning beyond classes and textbooks, and it helps you develop the leadership skills mentioned above, working to produce a positive change.
Finally, joining a fraternity or sorority connects you not only with members of the current group, but also with alumni dating back to the group's founding. Although my sorority is very young, I met several interesting alumni, including a children's book publisher and two PhDs, one of whom taught chemistry as a visiting professor for a year at my school. As an English major heading off to grad school next year, I got some great advice from each of them and a better idea of what I might want to do with my life. If I should ever decide I want to work in publishing, I know who to contact, and if I ever need a place to stay for an interview or a school tour in Colorado, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey, California, India, or the Ukraine, I have contacts for that, too.