Going Greek: Is Joining a Sorority or Fraternity the Right Choice for Your Teen? (page 2)
After your teen makes the all-important choice of which college to attend, he’ll soon need to decide whether or not to adopt the “Greek life” by joining a fraternity (or, if she’s a girl, a sorority). He may have already factored in the role Greek life plays when choosing his college. Whether or not he’s done his homework about Greek life on campus, you may want to help him carefully consider the pros and cons of going Greek.
To be or Not to Be Greek? That is the Question.
Should your teen join a sorority or fraternity? It depends on several factors, including:
- Your teen’s personality and interests.
- The role that Greek life plays at your teen’s college.
- The focus of each sorority and fraternity –are they strictly social or do some have a cause or charity they support?
- The costs involved.
He’ll also want to consider the pros and cons of Greek life as an overall part of his college experience. Going Greek may or may not be the right choice for him, so help him consider the pros and cons.
Benefits: Friendship, a Cool Place to Live, and a Full Social Life
Joining a sorority or fraternity is an easy way to form friendships, and on many campuses it’s the primary way. On other campuses, Greek life is either banned, or plays a minimal role, while other clubs rule the social scene. Here are the key advantages to joining a Greek house:
- Fraternities and sororities provide a ready-made social scene.
- Many Greek houses also provide a great place to live. Some have grand houses on campus and private chefs, with costs comparable to living in a dorm.
- Joining gives you a sense of identity and an easy way to bond with your classmates.
- Members find leadership opportunities as most have an executive board that governs the organization. Getting elected to a board position can provide valuable experience to add to one’s resume.
- They also can provide helpful resources for navigating college life, including course notes, outlines and copies of old exams and a good network of contacts to help you get jobs and other opportunities in the world after you graduate.
Drawbacks: Isolation, Temptation, and High Costs
Although Greek life can be great, it also has some drawbacks. Here are the negatives your teen will need to consider:
- Some fraternities and sororities require members to live in their housing, which can limit your ability to make friends outside of your Greek house.
- Greek life, whether or not you live in the frat house, can take up your entire social life and isolate you from other students.
- Although Greek life provides a ready-made social life, you’re not assured of getting along with your sorority sisters or fraternity brothers.
- While some Greek houses have required study hours and boast high GPAs for their members, others have a very social atmosphere which may tempt you to ignore your studies.
- The costs of belonging can be high. Dues can reach up to $800 per semester -- a steep $1,600 a year! Some dues cover social events and expenses but others don’t, so it’s a good idea to check out what’s included in the dues before committing. And if your teen is planning to study abroad for a semester or a year, he may still have to pay the dues.
An Alternative: Non-Greek Houses
Some campuses offer non-Greek houses, societies, or membership clubs in addition to -- or instead of -- the Greek system. Joining a club or society can give you a sense of belonging to a social group without all the trappings of Greek life.
Play the Waiting Game: Rushing or Waiting a Semester
Your college freshman may want to consider going through rushing, just to get a feel for Greek life and decide if it’s right for her. Or she might consider waiting until second semester -- or even until sophomore year-- to rush, if that’s an option. Waiting will allow your college freshman to get used to campus life, meet friends outside the Greek system, and adjust to the academic demands of college.
The important thing is that your teen carefully weighs the pros and cons, and then decides what’s right for her. That way she’ll be confident she’s made the right choice and she’ll be on her way to making the most of college life.
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