Out of the thousands of college freshman who will pledge fraternities and sororities this year, only a handful will thoroughly research their Greek organization of choice before making a commitment to it.
And there's a surprising amount of information waiting to be discovered at every college's office of Greek life, including past violations and grade-point averages.
"If my brother was looking to pledge a fraternity, the first thing I'd tell him is to go to the Greek life office and ask which fraternities have been on probation recently. See who's been in trouble. That's a good place to start," says Patrick Daley, a Pi Lambda Phi alumni from North Carolina State University. Daley founded the Fraternity Advisor (thefraternityadvisor.com) in 2009. "The chapter grade-point averages will also tell you a lot. And I'd want to see who were the recent winners of Chapter of the Year. Typically, all of this information is at the office."
But that's just scratching the surface. Maria Diaz, president of Lambda Pi Chi, a Latina-focussed sorority, says that it's actually more important to meet with alumni than current student members: "Some people just join to have fun during college, which is fine, but if they want their academics to reach a certain level, if they want this to benefit their lives, I would look to the alums of the organization -- see where they are in their lives. Is that where you want to be?"
Know their numbers
Perhaps the most important two questions to ask a fraternity or sorority before pledging: How many people pledged last year, and how many were actually initiated?
“If last fall, the fraternity took in 20 new members, but only initiated 12, that means eight guys got cut or quit, or didn’t make grades,” says Daley. “There’s a big red flag there: Why did these guys not make it through the process? There’s a reason why people don’t make it, and it’s usually not a good one.”