I don’t want you to join a fraternity or sorority.
If you’re reading this and you’re not already affiliated with a fraternity or sorority, please know that you’ve probably made the right decision. While I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the fraternity experience has done wonders for me, I want you to know what you’d be getting yourself into. The years of bickering and arguing about the importance of “traditions.” The mandatory events and meetings conveniently scheduled to overtake half of your week. The expenses that somehow seem to rise exponentially each semester. Seriously, if these things sound daunting to you then you shouldn’t join a fraternity or sorority.
Sure, you could make lifelong friends. But is it worth the effort? You’d have to actually take out your earbuds, stop snapchatting your high school friends, and put your phone away to engage in a good conversation with a fraternity man or sorority woman. That is probably too hard for you. It is so much easier to blend into the crowd, have one or two buddies you’ll meet in your residence hall, and throw back some Natty Light with them until graduation. There’s really no need to step outside of your comfort zone, meet new and diverse people, and bond over shared values and beliefs. You’d be much better off staying out of the Greek system, sticking with your old friends and old habits.
If you were to join, you’d have even more opportunities to excel scholastically. But do you want to try that hard? Who needs the support of other students who have experienced the same classes, professors, and programs? I have been out of school a while, but I bet that ratemyprofessor.com still has the same benefit for way less money. If you fall behind in a class or have a rough semester, you’d be able to get along just fine without a fraternity or sorority to provide support. One meeting with an academic advisor and a quick skim of a BuzzFeed article on study skills will have you on your way to a 4.0 before you know it! Honestly, I know too many members of fraternities and sororities who have failed out of school because they decided to major in drinking, drugs, and one-night-stands instead of keeping focus in their major. It would be too much work for you to balance your social schedule and your academics. Who came to college for a challenge?
Of course the skills you’ll gain as a leader could be useful someday. But wouldn’t you rather find other ways to beef up your résumé? There’s plenty of other ways to build leadership experience. Why pick a one-stop shop for leadership opportunities with access to amazing nationally-recognized programs when you can pick up a few books or maybe join a student organization or two? Never mind that most fraternity and sorority members are encouraged (or required) to join another student organization. You don’t need anyone telling you what to do. College isn’t about rules or accountability, and there will be plenty of time to develop leadership skills later.
A benefit of being part of a fraternity or sorority is definitely being able to give back to important causes. But don’t you have your own expenses to take care of? College is expensive. Your bills could include rent, groceries, cell phone, utilities, beer, car insurance, gas, clothes, and spring break. Would you even want to try to give ten extra bucks to help find a cure for cancer? And who wants to give up precious weekend hours for community service? Someone else can build that Habitat home. Obviously you don’t need to even be in a fraternity or sorority to perform service or philanthropy. Plenty of college students do it. But I’m sure you’ve got other things on your plate.
If I’m being blunt, here’s why I really don’t want you to join a fraternity or sorority: I’ve worked too hard to let someone like you be part of the problem. We’ve got enough members who decide to quit two years after they’ve taken their “lifelong” oath, or who join for the toga parties and “funny” hazing. I don’t want you to join if you’re not willing to be part of the solution.
What solution am I talking about? I’m not talking about values congruence, which is a term we’ve coined to describe an expectation that today’s college students sit around and discuss ways to make values statements from the 1800s applicable today. Instead, I’m talking about just being a decent and responsible adult and student. That means wanting to build new friendships and striving to be the brightest student in the classroom. It also means wanting to challenge yourself to be a better leader on campus and in your community. This is a lifestyle your fraternity or sorority expects you to adopt for more than just the four or five years you’re in college. We want you to be a change agent. We want you to redefine the way the world views North American college fraternities and sororities. Can’t commit? Then I wish you luck. I don’t want you to join a fraternity.