In America, we see that almost 750,000 college students have become members of a sorority or fraternity, a Greek letter organization. There are universities where Greek participation even has reached to a staggering 80 percent. It’s not only on university or college campuses where some so many students (sometimes over half) are Greek organization members that this aspect is dominant.
There are more than 120 American schools where more than 25% of the student body is a Greek club member. Also at colleges with a relatively low Greek involvement percentage, the pressure to become part of a chapter can be big for many students, and it may be dominating the school’s social scene.
Greek life, often criticized for its partying, drinking and exclusivity, has become a greater indicator of success, class, and social status. Students who have joined must, on top of their ever-increasing college costs, be able to furnish all costs associated with a Greek organization such as recruitment fees, annual membership costs, clothing expenses, and contributions for social, community, or charity events.
On more than 650 Canadian and U.S. campuses, students who have become members of a Greek organization, not only for partying and drinking, but also for social opportunities and to develop their leadership skills. But it’s not only that they have to shoulder the ever-growing cots of college, they also need to deal with the financial burden that comes with being a sorority or fraternity member such as returning membership dues and more add-on’s that can top out easily at a five-figure amount annually.
In the ‘going Greek’ process, the first phase is the recruitment period where potential new members can meet and talk with current members. Often, there will be a sort of application fee, which may very well be at the same level of the application fee of the school itself. The total cost of the recruitment may vary. At Lehigh University, aspiring members need to pay $45, whereas at UT Austin and at the University of Mississippi will need to furnish at least $125 in application fees. Please be aware that applying and making it through recruitment is no guarantee for membership. Aspiring members pay for the chance to get in, not for the ticket.
By the time a student got accepted, membership dues and other contributions start to kick in. The membership costs are also varying, not only per campus but also from chapter to chapter. In general, we can see that fees are ranging between a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars per semester. To give you an example, Washington and Lee University (Virginia) is an almost 80% Greek school, and students who are joining a sorority or fraternity here, are paying more than $11,000 per year on average in fees related to membership dues, contributions, housing, and meals.
Pledging to a sorority or a fraternity may very well result in long-lasting relations, friendships, or business connections that can have a fantastic impact on your life, but please bear in mind that not everybody is made for Greek life. When you decide to not become part of a fraternity or sorority, there still are plenty of options to engage actively in the community of your campus through study groups, student clubs, sports or professional organizations, or by signing up for any other special interest group. All these options allow you to build a strong network and rewarding time at college.
Pros of being a sorority or fraternity member:
- Make new friendships and build academic or personal relations. Being a member of a sorority or fraternity will provide you with valuable connections to a large number of people, a network that will never stop growing.
- Being in a fraternity or sorority gives you the opportunity to actively get engaged in all sorts of events, such as parties, charity, Homecoming Week, serenades, theatrical productions, or philanthropy events.
- Belonging! Now this may sound cheesy, but a Greek organization may also be your ‘home away from home’. But of course, a group of friends, a dorm, or any other campus organization can give you that feel too.
Cons of being a sorority or fraternity member:
- Costs. There are quite a few optional, but strongly encouraged, and mandatory charges that come with membership, such as the cost for clothing (Greek letters sweatshirts, formal dresses or suits), and fees for various social and community activities.
- Limitations. You may easily be tempted to let the Greek Life take over your entire life and world. Being part of a sorority or fraternity may definitely give you a place where you can belong during your college years, but it may easily become a limiting environment as well.