January 17, 2018

Is It Really Like “Animal House”? What to Do When Your Kid Joins the Greek Life

So, your son or daughter says they’re going Greek at college this year, and the first thing that comes to mind is the movie “Animal House.” Pop culture doesn’t exactly represent the Greek system in the most positive light, so outsiders might not realize that it’s not all about partying and being popular.

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, 85 percent of Fortune 500 executives were a part of Greek life, and college graduation rates are 20 percent higher among Greeks compared with non-Greeks. As a parent, it’s important to evaluate the situation holistically.


Photo of Kappa Alpha Order and Tau Kappa Epsilon members from Bowling Green State University
via Wikimedia Commons

Hazing Horror Stories

Sensationalist news always tends to make the front page, so many parents have probably read about hazing horror stories in the Greek system. The facts, according to HazingPrevention.org aren’t exactly reassuring either.

  • Since 1970, there has been at least one hazing-related death on a college campus each year.
  • Eighty-two percent of deaths from hazing involve alcohol.
  • Sexual abuse in hazing rituals have increased in frequency since 1995.

Although these statistics are worrisome, 44 U.S. states have anti-hazing laws instated. Furthermore, many Greek organizations make a special effort to prevent hazing by holding hazing awareness weeks and offering resources to students facing a tough situation. Although hazing is often associated with Greek life in particular, researchers at Vanderbilt University claim that hazing incidents have been documented in a wide array of organizations — from the military to athletic teams.

Benefits of Greek Life

Beyond the potential dangers of Greek life, most parents are worried that going Greek means their kids will spend their college experience on Break’s funny picture app or messing around on Facebook. In reality, however, those apps are used for down time, and Greek students are some of the most involved and successful students on campus.

Studies conducted at the University of Missouri-Kansas City revealed that the overall fraternity and sorority GPA is higher than the overall collegiate GPA. Moreover, Greeks throughout the U.S. and Canada are more involved on campus and rate their university experience higher. Volunteering is another strong value across the board for fraternities and sororities. According to the same study, fraternity and sorority members make up the largest network of volunteers in the U.S. In fact, fraternity and sorority members volunteer a total of approximately 10 million hours of community service each year.

Making Connections

In our modern world, networking plays a huge role in finding a job. One of the main selling points of Greek life is its networking potential with former fraternity or sorority members in the professional world. Katherine Cohen, CEO and founder of IvyWise, claims to have seen the benefits firsthand of using fraternity or sorority connections to find a job after graduation. Since Greek students are also especially adamant about getting involved on campus, they encourage students to seek out campus organizations that cater to more personalized interests, such as the newspaper or the dance team.

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