Some female students go to college already committed to the prospect of joining a sorority. Others have pondered the idea, but take a wait-and-see approach. Regardless of your inclination or drive for Greek life, it's important to understand what a sorority pledge means before you make one. Bear in mind, though, you can get out if you don't enjoy the experience.
The Pledging Process
For some, it is fear or uncertainty about pledging requirements that prevent them from joining a sorority. Horror stories about embarrassing, dangerous and even illegal hazing or rush week activities have appeared in movies, television and news stories. While some sororities still engage in some extravagant pledging rituals, many have made commitments to remain "dry." Many colleges and Greek life councils have banned hazing as well. Your best bet is to ask current sisters, alumni and others who have gone through the rush process what to expect from a given sorority.
If you can withstand pledge week, you can experience some of the typical benefits that come with sorority life. Most include both social and service experiences that allow for personal and professional growth. You get a formal support system to aid in the transition through college to adulthood. You can develop your leadership skills through involvement in officer positions or committee planning. You can also network with current and former members to improve your career opportunities after graduation.
Direct and Indirect Costs
Sorority life isn't free, or even cheap in many cases. Some sisters spend several thousand dollars a year in membership dues, extra clothing and accessories for formal and informal activities and supply money for projects and events. Indirectly, sisterhood can distract from educational priorities. Some students get so caught up in the social experiences of sorority life they forget to crack open their books. This fact isn't inherent, though. Some sororities have academic requirements for members and promote academic achievement. If academics is important to you, investigate the prowess of potential sororities on campus.
Hanging out with sisters, attending mixers, dances and intramural events and engaging in service projects are all common activities within sorority life. At some schools, all sorority members live together in a house. In some cases, houses are too small and only juniors and seniors live in them. This provides an intimate setting to develop bonds, but may minimize your level of privacy during college. If you desire to have many friendships beyond sorority life, you can. However, sisters will typically expect that you prioritize the sorority in your social rankings.
- Photo Credit David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images