The beginning of college is a time like no other. It’s wild and free in a way life has never been before. Majors, activities, paths, and social circles are like a buffet, each tantalizing and beckoning in its own, unique way.
But while the options are thrilling, like a Choose Your Own Adventure book with their own unique t-shirts, and major options, the decisions you make in college have a lot more significance to your life than those old books used to have.
In fact, the sheer volume of options at your disposal is enough to keep you rooted in place, so overwhelmed by the decisions at your feet, you’re afraid to take a step.
One of the decisions you will be faced with, as a female entering college is this: Are you going to join a sorority?
Sororities are like the college version of being a cheerleader: cliché and stereotyped, yet undeniably intriguing. For some reason, as a woman in college, this decision seems to define us. You’re either a sorority girl, or you’re not. And if you’re not, most likely you’re really not. It’s rare to find people who are impartial about sororities and the girls who occupy them.
I was a sorority girl, and I know the decision you may be facing right now is a big one. And so I wanted to share a bit of my story with you, why I decided to join a sorority.
Keep in mind, this was my experience, at my school, in my sorority, at the time I was there. There are a million variables and everyone has a unique experience. But here are my answers to some of the questions you may be asking.
1. Why did you join a sorority?
I always wanted to be in a sorority. My mom was in one, as was one of my mentors growing up. I remember sitting cross-legged on her bed looking through photo albums at the faces of happy, confident girls who looked like they were having more fun than could fit in the frame. I wanted to be a part of that.
2. Are sorority girls shallow and catty?
Yes, and no. The thing about sorority girls is that they’re just like any other group of girls. If you’re on the soccer team, or in a club, or an activity, or student government, you’ll find the same thing. Women at any age have the ability to be shallow and catty, and the ages 18-22 are no different.
3. Do sorority girls haze?
I was not hazed at all in my sorority. I was never made to do anything I didn’t want to do, and was never forced, asked, or even suggested to do anything humiliating or anything that made me feel small. During our time as “pledges” we weren’t even called pledges, and we were spoiled with gifts, the doors of our dorm room were decorated, and we were invited over to the house for dinner. We were treated like little sisters, and taken care of that way as well.
4. Do sorority girls party more than other girls?
Keep in mind that my university is known for its partying, and so at your school, your experience my be different. We did party a lot in my sorority, but we also were held to a standard that other students at the university weren’t. There are governing bodies in charge of the sororities and when someone gets into trouble, it’s a sorority issue as well as a legal or academic issue. We were expected to comport ourselves a certain way, to represent our sorority on campus, and to represent it well. Although we did party a lot, and made poor choices at times, I think our membership in the sorority kept us accountable to an extent and kept us out of messier layers of trouble. So yes, sorority girls party, or at least we did, but I don’t think I partied more than I would have if I weren’t in a sorority.
5. Did you like being in the sorority?
Yes, and no. I liked being in a sorority and now that I look back, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I don’t think I would have liked floating around such a large campus without a place to belong. Just like being in high school and being a part of a sports team gives you a place to fit and an activity to throw your energy into, a sorority is the same way. And I don’t think I would have enjoyed college as much as I did without it.
At the same time, I have to be truthful in the fact that I was really unhappy during some of my time in the sorority. I think the sorority had something to do with it, but mostly I can see that I was dealing with a lot of insecurity, and being in a group of 89 girls didn’t make it any easier (as you can imagine).
6. What would you say to the argument that joining a sorority is just paying for friends?
The thing is—a sorority is a club. That’s what it is, and in every club there are dues. At my school, and in my house, when you lived in the sorority you were essentially paying rent, and it ended up being more cost-effective than living in my own house. It also had WAY better food
But the reason for joining a sorority is the exact same reason you’d join a club—to get to know people with similar interests. The dues are just the way the organization keeps going and keeps the lights on. I never once felt like I was paying for friends.
The other thing is this: my other option would have been to meet people in the dorms and around campus. I found many more like-minded friends, women with similar interests, in the Greek system than I would have if I had just met people out at the bars, or sitting next to me in class. That’s the name of the game when you join something—you’re narrowing your focus of friends, and when you do that, you’re more likely to find people you click with.
7. Why did you join the house you did?
Despite the fact that I’m an extrovert, I don’t love small talk. I can do it, but it wears me out. So going through rush, which is basically a weeklong cocktail party (sans cocktails), was exhausting. In every house I stood extra straight, tried to be extra funny, tried to smile more, and tried to make the best impression possible.
When I showed up at my sorority house, the one I ended up joining, I felt comfortable in a way I didn’t anywhere else. Being in that house was the first time I relaxed all day. I took a deep breath, curled up on an oversized armchair, and had conversations that didn’t revolve around my major, my hometown, or what I liked to do in high school. That would be my best advice—join a house where you feel comfortable.
8. What’s the best part about it?
The best part about the sorority is having a built-in friend group all the time. There’s always something going on, and always someone to hang out with. You’re a part of something, a member, one of the group. And on a campus as big as mine, that was not only comforting, but also a lot of fun. We went to movies, and corn mazes, and out to parties, and to the mountains. We’d sit on the couch for hours, watching movies we’d seen a million times, or around the breakfast table long past lunch. Those were my favorite parts about being in a sorority.
9. What’s the hardest part about it?
Like I mentioned, a few of the years I was in college were some of the hardest of my life. I was dealing with some serious insecurity—trying to figure out who I was, where I fit, and why I mattered. Although this wasn’t a product of the sorority, it was a tough thing to navigate while I was in it. In a sorority there are 100 other women right in front of you to compare yourself to, and if you’re playing the comparison game, you’re sure to come up short. The reality of it is that you may not be the smartest, most beautiful, most popular, most successful one in the house—especially not all at the same time. And if you’re looking to those things to make you feel like you matter, you’re going to be disappointed. Large groups of women are breeding grounds for insecurity, and that insecurity was by far the hardest part about the experience for me.
10. Was it hard being a Christian in a sorority?
This is a tricky question for me to answer because I wasn’t a Christian until the very end of my experience. I don’t remember knowing many Christians within my sorority. I knew a few girls went to church every once in awhile, but I wasn’t a Christian and so I wasn’t looking for friends who were. When I did become a Christian, the transition was a hard one. It wasn’t because my friends weren’t supportive, or didn’t like Christians, because they were, and they did. It was hard because I changed quite drastically almost overnight, and I’m not sure I, or they, knew what to do with that. I didn’t do a great job of being a good friend to my sorority friends after becoming a Christian, because I think I feared what they’d think of me. And I don’t think they knew what to do with this massive thing that changed their friend so much.
So is it hard being a Christian in a sorority? Probably. It’s much easier to be a Christian when you’re surrounded by people who believe the same thing you do. But does that mean it’s impossible? No. Does it mean it’s not worth trying? Definitely not.
11. Would you recommend it?
I would. I think sororities are historic organizations that have produced many kind, brilliant, world-changing women. I also think it’s definitely something to research before you decide to join. Find out the reputation sororities have on your campus. There are some schools that have Greek life, but nobody joins it. There are also houses (more accurately known as “chapters”) at certain campuses that you might want to join more than others. Those are all questions to ask before and during the rush process.
And when in doubt, go through rush. It is a great way to dip your toe into the process, to see what the houses are like, and who the girls are that fill them. If you go through and don’t connect to anybody or to any one house, then you don’t have to join. But you might be surprised and find a group of women who are friends you just hadn’t met yet.
If you have any questions about sororities, let me know! I’d be happy to help in your decision-making process in any way I can!