Rushing a fraternity is often one of the most exciting times in a freshman's life. The process itself can be exhausting, demanding and even dangerous in some cases. Careful investigation of your frat options and consideration of your motives for joining can help ensure you make the right move.
People join fraternities for a host of reasons. For some, it is the social appeal projected in movies and television. Others want the bonding and support system to ease the transition into college. Acceptance is a common motive as well. Leadership and personal and professional development are all admirable reasons to pledge. If your primary motive in pledging is to party, you might want to reconsider the balance between academics and social life. Additionally, frat brothers may not think fondly of a brother who only comes around to party and doesn't engage in other activities.
The Time Commitment
Fraternity life may seem like a perfect mix of brotherly bonding and fun from the outside perspective. The reality is that pledging a frat is essentially an informal commitment of a good amount of your time and energy during college. Frats participate in a variety of formal mixers, service activities and campus projects, but they also tend to have informal expectations of members within the house. Before pledging, you might want to research whether the frat has any academic standards. Otherwise, you may find it difficult to hit the books consistently when social duty constantly calls.
Joining a fraternity adds to the already significant costs of tuition and room and board at many colleges. Most frats have semester membership dues of a few hundred dollars. You may also have to buy some professional attire and more fashionable casual clothes to fit in for professional activities and social mixers. Some of the costs are optional, but you might find your wallet running on empty if you can't say no to constant nights out, local sporting events and other fun excursions.
Perception vs. Reality
Given the emphasis on bonding and brotherhood, fraternities can be ripe with gossip and judgmental attitudes toward other groups and individuals on campus. Additionally, non-Greek life students may have stereotypes about Greek members that are hard to shake. Even though many schools and organization have banned hazing, drugs and alcohol, the "party" perception that many people have about frats remains. You may find that other students keep their distance if you walk the campus wearing your Greek pin.
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