College: Will you go Greek?

Is Greek life right for you?

The season is upon us. College girls will excitedly bustle chapter to chapter in their “cute casual” outfits and college guys will try to be on their coolest behavior as they attend potential member events. It’s time for fraternity and sorority recruitment.

Nearly 700,000 undergrads are members of fraternities or sororities, according to numbers from the National Panhellenic Conference and the North-American Interfraternity Conference. The choice to go Greek is more popular than ever, especially for women. The number of sorority members increased more than 15 percent from 2008 to 2011, according to the NPC. The most significant increase was from 2010 to 2011.

There’s more to Greek life than date parties and paddle decorating and it may or may not be for you. Deciding that is only half the battle. If you do choose to go through recruitment, how do you pick the chapter that will be the best fit for you?

Nicki Meleney, executive director of the National Panhellenic Conference and Peter Smithhisler, president and CEO of North-American Interfraternity Conference offer some tips on finding the right sorority or fraternity for you:

1. Determine what is important to you. Each chapter has a unique feel and culture. Are you joining for academic, philanthropic or social reasons? Try to visit as many as possible.

“Look for a group of women that make you feel comfortable, that you enjoy and one that will give you the sorority experience you are looking for,” said Meneley.

2. Be yourself. Avoid trying to portray yourself in a way you think will impress the members of a chapter. Your best fit will be a place where you are accepted for exactly who you are.

“It is of utmost importance that the recruit understands that the fraternity is trying to get to know the real you,” said Smithhisler. “They want you to relax and be yourself.”

3. Ask questions. This is how you learn the values of your potential sorority or fraternity. The answers you’ll receive are vital is choosing the chapter that is best for you.

“Inquire about the time commitment of being in the sorority, the expectations for membership and what type of academic support the sorority offers its members,” said Meneley.

4. Put your best food forward. As important as it is to be yourself, you also want to make a great first impression. Show a real interest in the chapter and have open conversations. Be up front about the experience you’re looking for.

“Be authentic. Be genuine,” recommended Smithhisler.

5. Keep an open mind. If you don’t get an invitation from your top choice, don’t panic. It might mean that chapter wasn’t right for you. You do have options. You can choose a different fraternity or sorority or even try to go through recruitment again later.

“If you aren’t asked to join a particular group, go back to the person you had the strongest connection to and ask some direct questions, advises Smithhisler. “There’s a reason for the disconnect.  Find out what it is and determine how you move forward.”

“We encourage women to keep an open mind throughout the recruitment process and if you don’t get your top choice, give it a try,” said Meneley. “All of the NPC sororities have great experiences to offer and you just may realize this was the perfect fit for you!”


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