Each year, roughly 750,000 students participate in Greek life on campus. What factors do these students consider before taking the plunge and pledging to a Greek organization? It’s important to do your research and consider the financial implications of college Greek life. How much does it cost to join a fraternity or sorority on your campus? Let’s get into the pros and cons of joining a sorority or fraternity.
College Greek life tends to get a bad rap. From hazing incidents to going viral for all the wrong reasons, pledging a sorority or fraternity can come with its pitfalls. However, there are also many social, professional, and recreational benefits of joining a sorority or fraternity.
As a member of a BGLO (Black Greek Letter Organization), I experienced how fun and inspiring Greek life can be.
Before deciding to invest your time and money in a Greek organization, you should weigh the pros and cons of Greek life on campus.
First, let’s get a few things straight.
Let’s be real, knowing how much it costs to join a fraternity or sorority is absolutely vital. Consider how your participation college Greek life might impact your financial future. The benefits of joining a sorority or fraternity won’t matter if you you can’t afford the costs.
Next, remember that not all organizations focus on the social aspect of their members. Greek organizations centered around activities such as band (Kappa Kappa Psi) or academics still make social connections. The focus of their members, however, is on achieving professional or educational goals.
Not just a boys club (or girls club)
Some social sororities and fraternities are exempt from Title IX requirements, allowing their membership conditions to be gender exclusive. Others are co-ed, like Alpha Theta, Lambda Lambda Lambda, and Alpha Phi Omega. These fraternities openly accept members from all walks of life, regardless of biological sex or gender identity.
Now let’s get down to business: the pros and cons of joining a sorority or fraternity.
Pros and cons of Greek life on campus
Benefits of joining a sorority or fraternity
Joining a sorority or fraternity can offer many benefits.
Community on Campus
One of the most valuable benefits of joining a sorority or fraternity is the connections you can make. Many pledges or rushes are recruited based on compatibility and like-mindedness, creating an immediate bond and sense of community. Your new community may help support and uplift you while you’re away from home.
Katherine Johnson, the famous NASA mathematician and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, references her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters throughout her memoir. Her AKA sisters served as a support system for her after losing her first husband, throughout her career, and in her retirement. These connections last a lifetime and extend beyond the bounds of campus.
Networking on Campus and with Future Employers
Did you know that 85 percent of Fortune 500 executives are fraternity members?
When you join a fraternity or sorority, you can access a network of brothers and sisters that may be established in your desired field after graduation.
Connecting with Greek alumni can expand professional opportunities.
During my undergraduate years, alumni members helped me when I needed references and gave feedback on my resume. They even assisted me in getting my first clerical job on campus. Utilizing these Greek-based connections can benefit you immensely.
These connections can prove extremely useful; simply getting a degree to land your dream job may not be enough anymore. The rate of graduates getting a job after college isn’t as high as it used to be. In fact, the unemployment rate for recent college grads exceeds that of the general population. Plus, nearly 34% of recent college graduates are underemployed, with 43% of graduates being underemployed on their first job.
Stretching your social network and comfort zone
Additionally, being part of a college Greek life organization can help you learn to communicate with different personalities, taking you out of your bubble and opening your eyes to new opportunities and experiences.
Another huge benefit to joining Greek life on campus is the number of leadership opportunities. Greek life can push you out of your comfort zone and develop your leadership skills inside and outside your organization.
I was given many responsibilities as a member of my organization: it wasn’t just solo cups and toga parties. I had to manage volunteer projects and meet deadlines. At one point, I found myself as President of my chapter and a Vice President of the NPHC (National Pan-Hellenic Council) on campus.
That balancing act of educational obligations and Greek duties was a struggle. I became more aware of dates and deadlines. Having these leadership roles showed me how important it was to plan ahead. It also made me uncomfortable, which is essential when growing and becoming a leader. Although it was a tumultuous journey, I could feel myself maturing and becoming more responsible.
Open yourself up to the possibilities of these opportunities. If you decide to take the plunge and pledge, make the most of it.
The most significant barrier that keeps new graduates from getting a job may be their lack of experience. The amount of volunteering and projects that Greek organizations do can build your resume. The projects and volunteering projects I did as a sorority member made my resume stand out, especially to future employers.
Not only did it show that I am active within my community, but it also demonstrated my willingness to dedicate time to help. It displayed my responsibility and compassion.
Until you have gained experience from internships or positions, listing your Greek projects can help you attain the opportunities you want.
Cons of Joining a Sorority or Fraternity
Now that we’ve discussed the pros of joining a sorority or fraternity, let’s get into the cons.
Registration and New Member Fees
It’s true; campus Greek life is expensive. You spend a lot of money joining a sorority or fraternity. The costs of joining a fraternity or sorority can vary by campus, but here are some average costs to get you started.
There are application fees and rushing fees, depending on the type of organization. Registration fees can vary from $50 to $200.
Once your desired organization chooses you, costs continue to go up. New member fees can average from $600 to $1,000, covering just the membership.
These costs can seem staggering if you’re a first-generation student like me. Staggering, but not impossible. Plan ahead. Ask alumni for ranges and go from there.
Most of all, save and budget in a way that doesn’t leave you in a hole after joining. Remember, short-term decisions can have a lasting impact and ruin your relationship with money if you resort to taking out extra student loans or using credit cards.
Dues and Housing Costs
After joining, you will be responsible for paying active member dues each semester at both the chapter and national levels. Not only that, but you will also be responsible for paying your council dues. Depending on your organization and council, these fees can be upwards of $600.
If you have the option to move into a house with your specific organization, those costs only rise. Members usually pay between $1,000-$7,000 each semester to live in the chapter house.
Beyond understanding how much it costs to join a sorority or fraternity in upfront costs, you should also account for hidden costs. Social events like formals, retreats, and step-shows can be costly. You cover many events out of pocket during a given semester. Decorations and supplies don’t pay for themselves. There can be a lot of pressure to step up to the occasion, making you feel inadequate if you’re not financially prepared.
Also, don’t forget the small things, like meals out or study sessions at the coffee shop. You can avoid breaking your budget by tracking your expenses daily and spending mindfully.
The cost of looking the part in college Greek life
Greek paraphernalia, like letterman jackets and shirts, can also be expensive. You might spend as much as $500 shopping for events.
To ease some of the financial stress of these social events, utilize apps like Pinterest or Poshmark to find sensible, stylish, and affordable outfits.
Making the final decision to participate in Greek life on campus
Above all else, ensure you can take on the membership financially before joining. If you can’t afford to participate, the pros and cons of joining a fraternity or sorority aren’t worth considering at this moment.
However, don’t give up just yet. If you want to join an organization but are afraid of costs, devote some time to planning. Aside from your parents, side hustles, part-time jobs, and financial aid disbursement, some alums may be willing to support you and help with membership costs.
Whatever your decision may be Greek-wise, remember that wealth is about more than just dollars and cents. Participating in Greek life on campus could be the embodiment of community, culture, and experience that is worth your financial investment. Just be mentally and financially prepared for the monetary obligations of joining a sorority or fraternity.
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Jasmine Powell is currently a graduate student at the University of Memphis and an intern at Nav.it. Her goal is to make writing her living and create material that will help people of color in their daily lives.