During the first week of college, quite a bit of information is dropped upon freshmen rather quickly. First, you move in, then you learn where everything is, then you learn how the dining hall works and by the end of it all it’s difficult to tell left from right. Before you can fully plant both feet on the ground, sorority recruitment starts. There was barely enough time to wrap my head around the syllabus of my British Literature class when suddenly the opportunity to rush was thrust upon us. As freshman we had to make a split moment decision. We either had to jump right into rush three days after orientation ended, or wait another year. Looking back on the experience now, I think opting out was a better choice for me.
Those Greek letters have a high price tag. Sororities have required dues that you have to pay to join and for continued membership. These fees can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. While some offer scholarships, very few are willing to pay the full amount. This makes it difficult for students who are barely able to afford college to join. In addition to this, you have to buy different outfits and paraphernalia for various sorority related events. The costs stack up in no time and before you know it you’ve just paid half your tuition in fees and costs associated with the sorority. When I was an unemployed freshman, the last thing I was thinking about was adding to my personal debt in the name of joining a social club.
Aside from their high costs, sororities also require a large time commitment. Some girls on my freshman hall disappeared completely for the entirety of pledge season. Even after bids were extended and they were full fledged members, they still had to participate in fundraising events, weekly meetings, mixers and assorted other events that whittled down their time outside of the sorority. After being burned out from the amount of clubs I had joined in high school, I knew I didn’t want to join anything that would take up more than two hours of my time per week. To me, college was (and is) a time to explore my options and do things I wouldn’t have time for as an adult. I had a chance to join the nerf wars club, learn to dance, and help register people to vote among other things. There wouldn’t have been time for any of that if I had joined a sorority.
Member of sororities will often combat this with an assortment of perks that set them apart from other clubs. Sororities tell perspectives about how Greek life helps with networking, building lifelong friendships, and engaging in community service. While these are great reasons to join a sorority, when you stop and think about it…these are good reasons to join any organization on the college campus. Networking in general involves meeting people and leaving them with a good impression of you. You can do this at college sponsored events or through online profiles. With friendships, they can be formed anywhere for a multitude of reasons. People with shared interests and experiences can be found in every corner of the globe. As for community service, in every college there are many clubs dedicated to any number of causes. I’m not saying these aren’t good reasons to join a sorority, but if these are your only reasons, you might as well join another club at no cost to you.
Although people join for all sorts of reasons, none of them are hyped as much as the “sisterhood” aspect. A sorority is an opportunity for women to form sisterly bonds with each other. However, anytime you get a group of people together, there will be people that don’t get along. Just because you share Greek letters with someone doesn’t mean you share the same beliefs and worldview.
If you are thinking about joining a sorority, I recommend rushing in the spring of your freshman year or later so that you have an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of each sorority and can make an educated decision. It’s also important to ask yourself a few questions:
- “Am I willing to make this financial commitment on top of my tuition, dorm costs, meal plan and text books?”
- “Do I want to commit to this sorority for the duration of my time in college and beyond?”
- “Can this sorority offer me something that I can’t get in any other organization?”
- “Do I actually like the women in this sorority?”
- “Am I gaining more than I am giving up by joining this sorority?”
Many of the people I know that have gone through the pledge process to full fledged membership tell me how it was one of the best choices of their college career. Maybe for them, it was. As someone coming to the end of her college career, I honestly don’t feel like I missed out on anything by not going Greek. As a matter of fact, I think it saved me several thousand dollars and allowed me more time to try new things and meet new people. Being unaffiliated also allowed me to focus on the reason I came to college in the first place: to get a degree.
If I had to decide whether or not to rush all over again, I would definitely remain a GDI.