Kimberly Harris is a first-generation college student from a working-class
Midwestern family. She graduated summa cum laude from Syracuse University
with a bachelor’s degree in public policy, political science, and magazine
Before I went to college, I had limited exposure to fraternities and sororities, or “Greek life.” I knew some of their names, applied for their scholarships, and even participated in a rites of passage program hosted by a fraternity and sorority collaboration during my senior year in high school, but I didn’t really understand their purpose or popularity. I was a first-generation college student from a working-class home, so I only encountered a few “Greek” members at church. Within a short time of arriving at Syracuse University, I began to understand both the appeal and diversity of these groups.
Sisterhood: Sororities provide an opportunity to meet, get to know, and bond with other young ladies that you may never have otherwise met. They may belong to different majors, student organizations, class years, geographic origins, religions, or socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, all characteristics that could help college students naturally gravitate towards each other. Forming strong connections with sorority sisters can extremely beneficial for overcoming the typical and unexpected challenges associated with college life.
Community Service: Many sororities make community service a priority, either by fundraising for local or national causes or by directly serving members of the community. Taking the time to contribute to the improvement of other people’s lives can result in very insightful and uplifting experiences that complement the college experience and inform personal and professional goals while also leaving lasting impressions on underserved individuals and communities.
High Academic Standards: Sororities often, if not always, require a minimum grade point average to join and remain active in the organization. This requirement ensures that members remain focused on their primary objective: college success and graduation. As an undergraduate, I saw that many of the highest academically achieving students on campus were members of fraternities and sororities. Unfortunately, some members get caught up in the social aspect of Greek life and forget to balance it with their academics, but successful time management is crucial in college generally and especially while participating in student organizations.
Networking and Mentorship: Sororities are amazing sources of professional networking. Many have existed for 100 years or more and boast a large number of alumnae, women who have become very successful in their careers and are willing to impart some of their knowledge and wisdom to women who belong to the same sorority.
If you’re interested in joining a sorority, get to know the sorority’s organizational values, as well as the women who are members of the chapter on your campus. Ensure that they reflect your personal and professional values, goals, ethics, and aspirations. If not, that is totally ok. Don’t force it. Find the right fit and have a great experience. If you decide not to join, the world will continue to revolve, I assure you. Either way, find great friends and seek out memorable opportunities that will help make your college experience one for the history books.