July 31, 2014

5 Questions to ask when considering a social fraternity or sorority

Nick Estrada - University of South Carolina Campus

Summer is coming to an end and soon thousands of students will be heading back to universities around the country and starting classes. Many of these students are however not only looking for academic enrichment but also ways to get involved outside of the classroom. There are also hundreds of organizations on these campuses that offer endless opportunities for these students, like you.

One type of organization that will no doubt be seeking new members this upcoming fall is social fraternities and sororities. Depending on the university structure recruitment may look different on every university, but they all have one thing common. These organizations need new students, like you, to join. Since they need you, here are some important questions you may want to ask if you choose to go through recruitment on your campus.

1. How much does it cost to be a member of your organization? Like many things in college, joining a social fraternity or sorority costs money, so it is important to understand how much you will have to put into it to be a member. Be sure to ask about new member fees that may be associated with the new member process as well as costs that may be paid even after you are initiated into the organization. You should also ask if the chapter allows for payment plans so that you can adequately plan your budget. Remember, joining a fraternity or sorority can be viewed as an investment in your personal development by creating life-long relationships, increasing your network, and providing leadership development.

Part two of this question is what types of scholarships may be offered by both the local chapter as well as the national organization.

2. What does the pledge/new member process look like? Asking for a copy of their member intake program will give you an idea of what is expected of you to become a member of the organization. This will also give you an idea of the time commitment joining a social fraternity or sorority will take. If an organization is unable or unwilling to provide you information about what their new members go through to become part of the organization this might be a red flag.

3. What leadership opportunities does your organization offer? One of the best reasons to join a social fraternity or sorority is the leadership development that comes with being a member. See what the local chapter offers and what positions you may be able to take on in the chapter once you are a member. See how you are able to get involved even as you may go through the new member education process. Also ask what opportunities may be offered by the national organization. Once you’re a member these will all be things you can take advantage of. These leadership development opportunities will serve as a way to develop your skills that will make you a stronger candidate as you move forward into the job market after college.

4. What are your values and how do you support them? Social fraternities and sororities are all based on a set of values. It’s important to understand what those values are so that you can be sure you agree with them. The better question beyond just what are the values however, is how do they support them? The reason this is a great question is because it will give you an idea of whether this group you may want to join actually stands for what they say they do. It will help you check to see if they are “walking the walk.” Also by knowing the values of the organization you can truly align yourself with a group you feel matches what you believe in.

5. Why should I join? Like I said in the beginning, ultimately these organizations need you, so be sure to ask this simple question. Members of the organization should be able to articulate the benefit of the experiences they have had by being a member and why you as an individual would benefit from joining. Be wary if members fall back on talking about other organizations and why you shouldn’t join them. Talk like that does not showcase the benefits of why you should join that organization.

As you move to your campus this upcoming fall and think about going through the recruitment process, be sure to think about asking some of these questions and to think hard about the organization you may choose to join.

Nick Estrada is a current graduate student in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of South Carolina. He is passionate about the fraternal movement, leadership development, and enhancing the student experience. He focuses on topics that allow you to challenge your own thinking and develop yourself further as an individual in whatever stage you may be at the moment.

COMMENTS:

  1. Going Greek had never occurred to me until I got to college. I had reservations against the stigma of “paying for your friends,” or “joining Greek life is all about partying,” but after going through the pledging process and finally becoming a member of Greek life, I realized I made the right decision. Through my Greek affiliation I have gotten involved with several philanthropic events through the university and the surrounding community. I have made the Dean’s list for two straight semesters with mandatory Greek study hours, and I have made friends that will last a lifetime. I honestly couldn’t image college life without being a part of the Greek Community. I recently found a Greek Life post on Union College’s Guidance Blog that was true to my experience of Greek life. Check it out to see if Greek Life is for you.

    http://www.unioncollegeguidance.com/

  2. These are great questions, most of them can be answered on-line but getting the answer from a chapter member allows you to see if the chapter is following the national standard; if they are not, that is another red flag. Other important questions to ask deal with some of the more risque aspects of fraternity/sorority life and vital to making your decision about which organization you join.

    You should flat out ask if the group participates in hazing? The answer you get may surprise you. Be aware that submitting to hazing is just as bad as the act itself.

    Does the fraternity have an active alumni network? A big reason for joing a fraternity/sorority is the NETWORKING! If you have to rely on keeping in touch with college buddies on your own it can be tough. Having an established alumni network is helpful in your transition from student to professional and it allows for a structured way to be mentor in the future.

    Be sure you are committed to more than just the social aspect of the org you join, most if not all require consistent community service efforts as well

  3. Great questions posed and explained. A lot of young students have joined these types of organizations because they’re popular or cool, but it’s important to associate yourself with organizations that not only have a mission but live their mission. It’ll been a lot as time goes on.

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