My name is Shunterrence Trammell. I am a Fashion Merchandising and Management major at Southern New Hampshire University. I just recently changed my major from biochemistry. I studied biochemistry for 3 years at the University of Arkansas. I have worked on a research grant at Dublin City University, Ireland and the University of Regensburg, Germany. My research mainly focused on optimizing the durability and physiological clearance of polyethylene glycol (PEG) based surgical films.
Upon the death of my mother while living in Europe, I decided to pursue something I am truly passionate about. I plan to become buyer for a major department store or retailer such as Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, or Saks Fifth Avenue. However I do want to explore as many areas of the fashion industry as possible. I plan to someday live and work in New York City.
Greek organizations have been a part of the college/university atmosphere for over a century. There are now dozens of such organizations at universities and colleges across the nation with a few in Canada and other countries as well. There are both social and professional Greek organizations with each having their own intended mission. Most freshmen at one time or another ask themselves the question: Should I join a sorority/fraternity? Dozens of college students are simply put through the whole rush and pledging experience immediately following high school due to family tradition or just plain eagerness to be a part of something they believe in.
There are both pros and cons to joining a Greek organization just as there are for joining any other group or club. However it seems that Greek organizations are held on a pedestal and given a different significance-be it positive or negative. Students may not properly analyze the pros and cons of joining a Greek organization just because of the reputation given to them. There are three practical concepts that will help navigate the idea of joining a sorority or fraternity:
- What not to expect by joining
- What you can still achieve by not joining
- Overarching pros and cons of joining
1. What Not to Expect
It is true that most prospective sorority sisters and fraternity brothers expect certain things to obtain and/or achieve by joining a fraternity. If you are seriously thinking about considering it, there are things you should not expect.
First, do not expect joining to increase or bring about popularity. Is there really such a thing as popularity in, say, a four-year research university with over tens of thousands of students and faculty? Some students may not even know what Greek organizations are or what they mean. There may be some popularity to gain within the specific fraternity, sorority, or among the Greek life but those are small, confined spaces. The golden ticket of college life should be to explore and expand your horizons. Seeking popularity within or without a fraternity is an impediment to becoming well rounded.
Most individuals mention networking when they mention Greek organizations. It is true that such groups have connections with successful individuals and businesses. It is also true that social events are held within the fraternity specifically for the opportunity to network. Though is it only within a fraternity that one can network? There are millions of professionals who are very successful and never were associated with any Greek organization. Some networks may have to be constructed outside the fraternity, which suggests that joining for the sake of networking is impractical.
One should also abstain from believing that the Greek organization will precede them in their career path. Of course there are safe, cushioned career paths that are paved by who knows who. However those are the minority. In most usual cases, your work ethic, experiences, and professional skills precede you, not Greek letters arranged a certain way.
2. What You Can Still Achieve by Not Joining
While thinking about joining a Greek organization, you should constantly tell yourself the not joining will in no way affect your education, social life, or career path. Many have done great things without the sanction of a fraternity or sorority. All the same many members of Greek organizations have done great things that are not attributed to the organization.
As mentioned before, networking is something completely possible outside the Greek environment. It should also be know that the work that comes with networking is needed within or without the fraternity. Depending on who knows who or what letters you represent is not wrong. It is just impractical. Think outside the box, or frat house, if applicable.
Dubbed social fraternities and sororities, there are organizations that are known by how they groom the members and plan social events to allow for not only networking but a chance to meet other sisters or brothers. There is a common joke that some individuals join fraternities in order to make friends or enhance their social life. This is not always true but it does happen. One should just simply ask; what will it mean that I need a fraternity in order to make friends? This question will not be answered here. The point is that friendships and a healthy social life are not achieved by joining any organization-Greek or non-Greek. Such ventures may be helped by joining but not initiated.
Leadership is another important trait that can be obtained outside Greek organizations. Again this is something that can be practiced within the fraternity but not created. Leadership is achieved simply when one wished to take on the role. This can happen in or outside any group or organization. You should just not depend on minor things when joining a Greek organization. They have much more to offer.
3. Pros and Cons of Joining
As with anything, there are blatant pros and cons to joining a Greek organization.
You don’t have to search long or hard to find numerous scandals and incidents that occurred within fraternities or sororities. Most occurred during pledging rituals. There should not be a stereotype placed because of isolated incident but there is inevitably a reputation with fraternities and sororities. This can absolutely be a negative when one takes into account how some employers may feel about Greek organizations based on the reputation given them.
Aside from stereotyping and labeling, there are some unique advantages of joining a Greek organization. One major one is the fact that the organizations seek to provide a structured college/adult experience. It can definitely be a good thing to have a positive way to navigate both college life and adulthood. Greek organizations strive to do this and the lessons they teach are lasting. A common theory among sociologists is that structure, physical or social, endures over time even as other things change around it. The structure provided by Greek organizations certainly helps.