A Guide to Greek Life

Watching autumn leaves begin to fall on college campuses buzzing with excitement, many students find themselves at a crossroads: the decision whether to join Greek life. From the ivy-clad buildings of the East Coast to the sun-kissed campuses of the West, Greek life is an influential aspect of many college campuses across the country. While the age-old tradition can offer a sense of community to students, it brings with it both controversies and challenges.

A sense of belonging thrives within the walls of a fraternity house or sorority chapter. Members of Greek organizations often refer to each other as “brothers” or “sisters,” forging bonds that go beyond friendship to create a feeling of family away from home. 

“When you join a sorority, everyone is so nice to you and treats you like you belong there,” Delaney Ballard (‘23), a student in Greek life at    the University of Colorado, Boulder, said. “It has been nice to meet girls in different grades. Now I know a bunch of people who give good advice about life [at Boulder].” 

From shared meals and late-night study sessions to philanthropic events and social gatherings, the daily life of a fraternity or sorority member is marked by a deep sense of connection and support. 

“The culture [in Alpha Phi at University of California Solana Beach] was very positive and collaborative,” AP Literature teacher Sara Boozer said. “That was probably my favorite part of being in a sorority: the collaboration. It was a very positive place to spend time.” 

However, the connection forged in Greek life houses can be vastly different at schools throughout the country. On the sun-drenched campuses of the West Coast, Greek life seems to be more “laid back,” according to Boozer. Sororities and fraternities at schools in the West often emphasize philanthropy and personal development, while acting more as a social club rather than a tight-knit community.

“I had a really positive experience [at UCSB]. There was no stereotypical movie drama — I met great friends and had a great time,” Boozer said. 

Greek life at University of Arizona shows a similar West Coast casualness.

“Being in a frat makes life more social,” Santiago Johnson (‘23) a student at University of Arizona said. “It has definitely made me involve myself in more activities. It’s really helped me get the full college experience.”

Connections seem to strengthen as schools move south. In the Central South, schools like Texas Christian University offer a tight-night Greek life scene, one that often defines the campus.

“I feel like sorority life is what you make of it,” Giselle Souza (12), a future TCU student, said. “If you’re all-in and crazy for it, then it is going to give you a real sisterhood. It really is a great community.”

Greek life also thrives in the Deep South, where hospitality and tradition are very important. Schools like Tulane University in Louisiana are steeped in rich history and cherished Greek life customs that date back generations. 

“Greek life is huge at Tulane,” Katelyn Gardner (12), who plans to attend Tulane in the fall, said.  “[As a school] in the Deep South [that has been] around [for] so long, the sororities and fraternities have a lot of history. From what I have heard, there have been nothing but good things about Greek life.”

While some students look forward to joining the Greek life scene, issues of exclusivity have plagued some such organizations, sparking debates about the true values of brotherhood and sisterhood. One such criticized tenant of Greek life is rushing, the period during which prospective members explore fraternities and sororities, hoping to be picked for their top house.

“There’s definitely cliquey girl drama at every school, but the rushing process is not as bad at TCU as it is at [Southern Methodist University] or most other schools,” Souza said. “But what you look like, your Instagram, your social status and how much money you have definitely has an impact on if you get picked.”

Greek Life can sometimes be perceived as exclusive due to the close-knit nature of the organizations. The rushing and the recruitment processes contribute to this perception, as the process can create a sense of belonging for some while potentially excluding others. 

“For me [during rush,] I felt like I got a pretty good idea of where I was going to fit in. It can be very emotional because houses can drop you, but I just didn’t take it personally,” Ballard said. “If you don’t take it personally, and you think, ‘I’ll end up where I’m supposed to end up,’ then it’s really easy.” 

Despite challenges with exclusivity, the essence of Greek Life endures, as the first fraternities date back to the founding years of the U.S.. 

“Being a part of a sorority will be super fun, to just meet new people and participate in the whole rush process,” Souza said.

Like any other social group, Greek life for many is merely another way to get involved. 

“I would encourage any student to think about what they enjoy in high school and find where they feel the most connected,” Boozer said. “I think the students that are happiest in college are the ones that find that thing again.” 

Ballard agreed.

“Personally I love it, but I have a ton of friends who are not in Greek Life and they still love the school and have a social life,” Ballard said. “You don’t necessarily have to be in Greek Life to have a social life.” 

According to a poll done by the Falconer of 104 TPHS students, only 29.8%  are planning to join Greek life when they attend college. 

“I think it’s an individual decision; I would absolutely not say it like a blanket statement. Take into consideration your school, your university and what you like to do,” Boozer said. “I think the more involved a student can be in college, the better the experience [they] will have. But I don’t think there has to be Greek Life at all.” 

While there are many ways to make meaningful connections on campus outside of Greek organizations, the overarching values of brotherhood and sisterhood that define Greek Life can serve as a guiding light for students as they navigate the complexities of college life and beyond.

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