House Hunting – Choosing a Fraternity or Sorority
IF YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT JOINING the Greek system when you go to college, it’s important to know that not all fraternities and sororities are created equal. Some will have a reputation as a party house; others will be more academically focused with lots of designated study time. There may be a couple that feel disorganized and disjointed, while others bask in the warmth of togetherness with community meals made by a house mother. Much like choosing a college, you’ll need to fully weigh the pros and cons of each house to determine which, if any, is the best fit for you.
Here are some of the things to consider:
Ask around to find out what each particular house is known for. Do they throw the most parties? Do the most fundraising? Hold the record for the most wins at Greek Week competitions? To avoid any conflict of interest, ask some students who aren’t involved in the Greek system.
Although each fraternity and sorority has its own criteria for legacy, at minimum, most will define it as a close relative’s previous membership. So if your mom was an Alpha Delta Pi, or your dad was a Tau Kappa Epsilon, you’re considered a legacy. But take note: being a legacy is no longer a guarantee of acceptance into that house, so you’ll still need to be your typically charming and likeable self!
Another consideration is the commonality of certain fraternities or sororities, such as religion, athletics, race or gender (there are also several coed fraternities).
Some chapters (the individual locations of the national entity) offer scholarships to members and/or incoming students. They may also serve to provide a great network of alumni around the country, which can be handy upon graduation when you’re trying to find a job.
5. HOUSE LIVING
You’ll be spending a year or two (or maybe longer) living at the frat or sorority house, so check it out! The most obvious thing to do is to walk around inside the house. Is it clean? Is it in desperate need of repair? Is there a quiet place to study (don’t count on it!)? Is there a mandatory (or optional) meal plan?
6. POLICIES AND REQUIREMENTS
Review the chapter’s pledging policy and procedure, and ask around to see if you can get an idea of the house’s reputation for academics, alcohol and hazing (the latter of which is illegal in most states). Don’t be afraid to ask outright about the chapter’s priorities, values and requirements. For example, some may require an above-average grade point average (GPA) for membership, and an even higher GPA for those wishing to take a leadership position (such as house president).
Lastly, even if you think you’ve found the perfect fraternity or sorority, you’ll need to consider the cost. Depending on the chapter and if you choose to live in the house, costs could include a recruitment fee, house dues and fees, paraphernalia (e.g., pins, sweatshirts, shorts, t-shirts), social function costs and in some cases, more formal clothing (e.g., suits or gowns).
Remember, movies like “Animal House” and “The House Bunny” are fictionalized accounts of Greek life for the sake of entertainment. You’re looking for a real-life organization that will complement your college experience … hopefully with just as many laughs.