What is Greek Life and Should You Rush in College?

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    College isn’t just a place to study and attend classes. It’s a place to make lifelong friendships. For many students, Greek life is a great way to make friends, develop leadership skills, engage in philanthropy, and gain access to valuable alumni networks. But how do you know if Greek life is for you? 

    In this article, we will review the pros and cons of fraternities and sororities, as well as explore the history of fraternities in the US. So if you find yourself wondering, should I join a frat? or should I join a sorority?, read on for further insights!

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    How do you join greek life in college?

    Students interested in joining a fraternity or sorority have to go through a process called “rushing,” which takes place over the course of several days. This process may look different depending on the organization, but generally, you can expect to attend several events where you meet fraternity and sorority members, get to know them, and hope to build a connection.

    Throughout the rushing process, current members decide who they want to invite to join their organization. Receiving a “bid” on Bid Day means the organization has invited you to join. Bid day is a big tradition in sororities. Popular sororities hold elaborate celebrations for their newcomers.

    For some students, Greek life is an important part of the college experience. That said, joining Greek life is not something that should be taken lightly. This is why you should consider the pros and cons of Greek life before deciding whether or not you should join a fraternity or sorority.

    Pros to rushing fraternities and sororities in college:


    Lifelong friendships

    After you rush and receive a bid, you are invited to join a network of current and past members in your chapter. In addition to gaining a tight-knit group of friends, you’ll gain access to an extensive alumni network. Greek life alumni networks are invaluable resources, which often lead to job opportunities after graduation. 

    According to The Fraternity Advisor: 85% of Fortune 500 executives and 76% of Congress members belong to a fraternity. So belonging to a fraternity or sorority can be a real resume booster! Especially if you have business or political aspirations. Keep in mind that joining a fraternity or sorority is a lifelong membership and leaving Greek life is often frowned upon.


    Philanthropy involvement

    Every fraternity and sorority has a philanthropy requirement. This means that throughout the school year, organizations participate in and host fundraising events for their respective charity. For example, Kappa Delta is affiliated with Girl Scouts of the United States and places its efforts towards helping women and children. The sorority raises an average of $2 million dollars a year. 

    Overall, fraternities and sororities raise millions of dollars each year. In fact, according to the National Panhellenic Conference, sorority members and alumnae donated more than $20 million and volunteered more than a half million hours for various charitable causes in 2021-22. If you were interested in learning How to Start a Nonprofit in High School, you’ll appreciate the importance of philanthropy in Greek life!


    Leadership opportunities

    Fraternities and sororities provide members with numerous leadership opportunities. For example, every year the organization opens its executive board positions and members can choose to run for various positions. These positions include President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Risk Management. These positions hold a great deal of responsibility and help provide students with pivotal skills they’ll use when looking for employment after graduation. Students who were members of High School Honor Societies may be interested in joining Greek life organizations with an academic focus.

    Cons to rushing fraternities and sororities in college:

    While there are certainly pros to joining a fraternity or sorority, there are several cons you will want to consider carefully, including how much money and time you are willing to invest. On a more serious note, you will want to consider the potential for various hazing activities, which can sometimes result in serious injuries or even death.


    The expense

    One of the most well-known facts about Greek life is that it’s expensive! Joining these organizations isn’t free. Your monthly fees can vary, but these fees typically include things like merch, events, meal plans, and housing. 

    At the University of South Carolina, 2023-24 semester dues range from $90 to $1,300, with the average semester due being $783. It’s also worth noting that first semester dues are more expensive, due to initiation and other one-time fees. 

    According to an article on Credit.com, one student recounts spending nearly $15,000 after all four years of college just on their Greek organization alone. This doesn’t include the additional money spent on gifts, swag, car decals, and other branded knick-knacks.


    Time commitment

    Belonging to a Greek life organization can be a large time commitment. Especially while you are rushing, which often takes place over the course of several weeks. It can be difficult for students to focus on their school work, campus jobs, and other commitments when their Greek life organizations require such a large time commitment. 

    Remember, sororities and fraternities often host weekly parties, meetings, and other events. Members are also required to participate in charity work. So make sure you are able to commit the time needed to be a productive member before you rush.


    Negative reputation

    Fraternities and sororities often receive bad press for their history of hazing, alcohol abuse, and sexual assault allegations. Despite widespread anti-hazing laws (which exist in all but 6 states), 40 male college students were reported to have died between 2007 and 2017 due to hazing-related events. Furthermore, four hazing-related student deaths were reported within the course of one month in 2019. Although hazing-related injuries and deaths are more common in fraternities, they remain a problem among sororities as well. 

    If you are interested in joining a fraternity or sorority, do your research beforehand. Look into any scandals or allegations. Consider each organization’s reputation carefully. Then ask yourself, is this an organization I feel good about joining? Then, if you decide to rush, be on the lookout for signs of hazing. And remember, nothing is worth your physical or mental well-being!

    History of greek life

    The first academic fraternity, Phi Beta Kappa, was formed at the College of William and Mary in 1776. Ancient Greek was a popular subject at the time, and students were drawn to the language’s sense of elitism and secrecy. Ultimately, this is why students decided to use Greek letters to name their organizations. Previously, there were two secret societies that used Latin names. 

    Sororities, originally called “women’s fraternities,” began forming in the late 1800s. The first women’s fraternity, Kappa Alpha Theta, was founded at Indiana Asbury College (now DePauw University) in 1870. At the time, the formation of self-governing women’s organizations was truly progressive — especially since the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, was not ratified until August 18, 1920.

    Alpha Tau Omega, founded at the Virginia Military Institute in 1865, was the first fraternity to purchase a residential house for its members. With the assistance of alumni, Alpha Tau Omega purchased its own house in 1880. Fraternity and sorority houses are now common throughout the US.

    History of black fraternities and sororities

    The National Pan-Hellenic Council is made up of nine Greek life organizations, five fraternities and four sororities, commonly referred to as “The Divine Nine.” According to the National Pan-Hellenic Council website: “Each of the nine (9) NPHC organizations evolved during a period when African Americans were being denied essential rights and privileges afforded others. Racial isolation on predominantly white campuses and social barriers of class on all campuses created a need for African Americans to align themselves with other individuals sharing common goals and ideals.” 

    The first Black fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, was founded at Cornell University in 1906. Of the remaining organizations, five were founded at Howard University: Alpha Kappa Alpha (1908), Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. (1911), Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. (1913), Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. (1914) and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. (1920). Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. was founded at Indiana University in 1911. Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. was founded at Butler University in 1922. And Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc. was founded at Morgan State University in 1963. 

    There are lots of notable alumni from the Divine Nine, including:

    • Kamala Harris (Alpha Kappa Alpha): American politician and attorney currently serving as the 49th Vice President.
    • Michael Jordan (Omega Psi Phi): Six-time NBA Championship winner and businessman. 
    • Zora Neale Hurston (Zeta Phi Beta): Acclaimed author, anthropologist, and filmmaker who played a central role in the Harlem Renaissance. 
    • Rafael Warnock (Alpha Phi Alpha): American Baptist pastor and politician serving as a Georgia senator since 2021.
    • Richard Sherman (Phi Beta Sigma): Five-time Pro Bowl NFL cornerback. 

    List of black fraternities and sororities; The Diving Nine

    • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity: Founded at Cornell University in 1906
    • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority: Founded at Howard University in 1908
    • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity: Founded at Indiana University in 1911
    • Omega Psi Phi Fraternity: Founded at Howard University in 1911
    • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority: Founded at Howard University in 1913
    • Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity: Founded at Howard University in 1914
    • Zeta Phi Beta Sorority: Founded at Howard University in 1920
    • Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority: Founded at Butler University in 1922
    • Iota Phi Theta Fraternity: Founded at Morgan State University in 1963

    How many fraternities and sororities are there?

    While most Greek life organizations have individual “chapters,” some organizations are college specific. Some organizations have hundreds of chapters. In fact, one of the largest fraternities, Tau Kappa Epsilon, has 290 chapters throughout the US. 

    Currently, the North American Interfraternity Conference represents 57 fraternities; the National Panhellenic Conference represents 26 sororities; and the National Pan-Hellenic Council represents nine historically Black fraternities and sororities.

    List of fraternities and sororities

    Although this list is far from complete, the 26 members of the National Panhellenic Conference and the 57 members of the North American Interfraternity Conference make up the majority of Greek life organizations. 

    Members of the National Panhellenic Conference

    Alpha Chi Omega

    Alpha Delta Pi

    Alpha Epsilon Phi 

    Alpha Gamma Delta

    Alpha Omicron Pi

    Alpha Phi

    Alpha Sigma Alpha

    Alpha Sigma Tau

    Alpha Xi Delta

    Chi Omega Fraternity

    Tri Delta

    Delta Gamma

    Delta Phi Epsilon 

    Delta Zeta 

    Gamma Phi Beta

    Kappa Alpha Theta 

    Kappa Delta

    Kappa Kappa Gamma

    Phi Mu 

    Phi Sigma Sigma

    Pi Beta Phi

    Sigma Delta Tau 

    Sigma Kappa 

    Tri Sigma

    Theta Phi Alpha 

    Zeta Tau Alpha

    Members of the North American Interfraternity Conference


    Alpha Chi Rho

    Alpha Delta Gamma

    Alpha Delta Phi

    Alpha Gamma Rho

    Alpha Kappa Lambda

    Alpha Phi Alpha

    Alpha Tau Omega

    Beta Chi Theta

    Beta Sigma Psi

    Beta Theta Pi

    Beta Upsilon Chi

    Chi Phi

    Chi Psi

    Delta Chi

    Delta Kappa Epsilon

    Delta Lambda Phi

    Delta Phi

    Delta Sigma Phi

    Delta Tau Delta

    Delta Upsilon


    Iota Nu Delta

    Iota Phi Theta

    Kappa Alpha Psi

    Kappa Alpha Society

    Kappa Delta Phi

    Kappa Delta Rho

    Lambda Sigma Upsilon

    Lambda Theta Phi

    Nu Alpha Kappa

    Omega Delta Phi

    Phi Gamma Delta

    Phi Iota Alpha

    Phi Kappa Psi

    Phi Kappa Sigma

    Phi Kappa Tau

    Phi Kappa Theta

    Phi Mu Delta

    Phi Sigma Kappa

    Phi Sigma Phi

    Pi Kappa Alpha

    Pi Kappa Phi

    Pi Lambda Phi

    Psi Upsilon

    Sigma Alpha Epsilon

    Sigma Alpha Mu

    Sigma Beta Rho

    Sigma Chi

    Sigma Nu

    Sigma Tau Gamma

    Tau Delta Phi

    Tau Epsilon Phi

    Theta Xi


    Zeta Beta Tau

    Zeta Psi

    Members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council

    Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

    Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity

    Omega Psi Phi Fraternity

    Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

    Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity

    Zeta Phi Beta Sorority

    Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority

    Iota Phi Theta Fraternity

    So, should you rush?

    As previously mentioned, joining a Greek organization comes with many benefits as well as drawbacks. Greek life is a huge tradition on campuses and can contribute to your experience in many positive ways. Should you decide to rush, make sure you have done your research and are certain you want to affiliate yourself with a group of people for your college experience. 

    Discovering leadership opportunities and ways to be involved on campus can be difficult and intimidating. Prepory students are ingrained with the idea of demonstrating leadership early on. To take advantage of our college advising services, contact us.

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