When you first get to campus, college looks a bit intimidating. There are no hallways filled with familiar friend groups, and the classes are scattered across campus. If you want to get involved and make new friends, it’s all in your hands. One possibility for jumping into student life is to join a Greek organization.
Fraternity life is a world of its own. It’s a place where everyone is family and each member is pushed to succeed in his academic life. It’s fun but challenging. Of course, a negative stigma plagues the Greek lifestyle. But despite everything you may hear, it’s nothing like the movie Animal House. Even news articles tell conflicting stories about what you can expect. There are some standard facts you’ll need to know as you prepare, but just like you, we wanted to know what real frat brothers had to say.
- You’ll have family everywhere. While many schools have the same fraternities, the chapter located on one campus is not the same as the one found at another college, which means that you can connect with brothers who have a variety of interests. The brotherhood is a strong tie, one that will help you in many situations in college and beyond. It’s something that you can bond over years after graduation. Aside from the networking connections, graduates also leave their chapters with well-developed leadership skills.
- Harsh hazing is a thing of the past. Although many of us have heard terrible stories of upperclassmen torturing pledges until they can “prove” themselves, that’s hardly the case anymore. There is no school that supports the abuse of its students. It may, however, cheer on some good-natured mischief, like covering a pledge’s car in Post-it notes. If you ever do experience hazing more severe that toilet paper taped across your dorm room door, you should report it to your college immediately.
- Brothers are expected to maintain good grades. Fraternal organizations mandate study hours just as frequently as they require pledges to wear letter jackets. They want to ensure the success of their brothers. That means, even if you’ve bonded with every member of a fraternity, if you can’t meet the GPA requirements when it’s time to rush, the organization will not be able to accept you. Consequently, Greek students have proven their abilities in the classroom and thereafter. According to a survey in the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, members of fraternities and sororities were more likely to graduate on time and find jobs right after graduation.
- The dues will cost a pretty penny. You’ve probably heard the term “paying for friends” associated with the cost of being involved in a fraternity. These dues are not friendship fees, though. They go toward the cost of Greek letter gear, formals, events, and more. In the first pledge year of Greek Life, a brother will spend between $500 and $900 on dues alone depending on the school. At University of North Carolina, new members pay between $600 and $900 each semester. After that year, the dues decrease but you might live off campus in a frat house then, in which case the costs shoot up even higher. Each chapter varies, so be sure to inquire about these fees prior to joining.
- Members make a positive impact. Not only do fraternities give back to the community, but because they are such close-knit groups, members have a great time volunteering. Brothers get involved on campus and off. If you’re still hung up on the money situation, it might make you feel better to know that some of your dues will go toward events where the fraternity will volunteer or raise funds for a great cause.
The Inside Scoop
Aside from all of those fun facts, you probably want to know what Greek life is really like? We asked current and former frat brothers about their experiences.
What are the most important skills you’ve taken away from fraternity life?
“Time management was by far the most useful skill I've learned from being in a fraternal organization. I learned this in my associate member process and strongly believe that I would not be able to effectively manage my time without attaining this knowledge from my local Pi Kappa Phi chapter here at SUNY Brockport. In addition to this, I have learned how to properly facilitate a meeting while simultaneously applying effective note-taking skills.” -- Patrick S.
“I learned networking skills and how to be a more outgoing person.” -- Carl B.
“The skill that I learned from joining a fraternity is talking to people. When I was younger I was extremely shy and did not talk to anyone unless I was comfortable around them. Once I joined Pi Kappa Phi, that changed and now I'm comfortable with meeting new people.” -- Connor P.
“Being in a fraternity taught me to be accountable, even if I wasn't always accountable during college. It (and the criminal justice major bros) also taught me politics and its common structure through all kinds of organizations, even though I held only low-level positions as a student.” -- Matty I.
“Being in a fraternity taught me time management skills I use now in the workplace. Time is everything and being able to balance fraternity roles, part-time jobs, school work, and of course a social life can be pretty tricky.” -- Ryan H.
How do you balance Greek life and school work?
“I balance Greek life and academics exceptionally well because my chapter here at SUNY Brockport holds its brothers to a high standard of academic success. We are to uphold stringent GPA requirements through both our national and local organizations. It honestly is more of a seamless integration than a balance. Greek life and school have worked together in a [symbiotic] relationship to form the man I am today.” -- Patrick S.
“It’s tough at times to balance, but if I'm diligent about putting school work first and getting it done, I still have time for fraternity stuff.” -- Carl B.
“I'm able to balance Greek life with school work by simply going to the library as often as possible. In the library, I don't get distracted by anything, and I'm able to just focus on getting my work done so that I can be more involved with my fraternity.” -- Connor P.
What advice do you have for brothers in college currently who are new to fraternity life?
“ONLY do it for the right reasons and try to make some great impact along the way (hopefully positive).” -- Matty I.
“Fraternity life is a great experience that will build friendships for a lifetime. By joining a Greek life organization, you have the opportunity to get more involved on campus as well as in the community. However, it is important to note that there are many other organizations on campus to get involved with. If you’re thinking about joining a Greek life organization, be sure to check out all the school has to offer and really get to know the brothers of each fraternity. You can rush multiple fraternities and make your decision based on who you get bids from as well as who you feel like you fit in the most with.” -- Ryan H.