Disclaimer: I have nothing against Greek life. This is not an article bashing Greek. It is truly just a personal experience that I am sharing in hopes of helping those who are unsure of what its like to live independently among a Greek community. I do believe that each person is ultimately in charge of making their own decisions during recruitment, no one else can decide what is best for you other than yourself.
Greek life is very popular at DePauw University. However, joining a Fraternity or a Sorority is not for everyone. No matter what decision students decide to make, it is made depending on many factors. There are pros and cons in both communities; it’s all about what defines you.
A long time before even arriving at DePauw University I had already began thinking about whether I should join Greek life or not and I was torn between the two. The decision to rush or not to rush was so hard for me. For one, I really didn’t know much about it; I knew of its existence but other than that it was pretty much alienated from my life. I knew of certain family members having been in fraternities and sororities during college, but again it wasn’t a common subject to talk about at the dinner table. I quickly learned upon my arrival that Greek life was a major part of my school’s social life.
Attempting to learn all the names of the different sororities and fraternities made my head spin. There was so much information being thrown at me left and right and although it was all new, I was enraptured by the idea of finally being able to be a part of a group of women that shared the same interests as me. A group of women that would stand by me, love me in the best and worst of times, and support me so that I could continue to grow into the strong woman I am today. Just thinking about the sisterhood and the numerous strong women that I could possibly stand beside gave me butterflies. I was eager to finally feel included, to feel like I belonged somewhere, to have a “home” away from home. I wanted to follow along in my mother's footsteps and make her proud. All of the women that prepared me for recruitment kept emphasizing how it was truly an amazing opportunity, that I would end up exactly where I belonged. I have finally realized that those words couldn’t ever be truer.
Recruitment wasn’t like anything I expected, it was hard emotionally for many women including myself. There were quite a few rules to follow and there was so much pressure to be perfect that I found myself challenged as I am far from perfection. Although the different women I met in each house were very supportive, it was still hard at times to stay the positive, bubbly, quirky, proud woman that I am during recruitment. There were times I felt as though I was being judged for my personality, but I didn’t want to change who I am just to please someone else or to just fit in. I still wanted to give recruitment a chance, though, I had high hopes and felt secure that everything would work out. I stayed with it till the third round where I ended up dropping out. There was only one house where I felt like I belonged and I didn’t get in. I also didn’t agree with how recruitment had messed with my head and affected my self-confidence and personality; therefore, I didn’t want to take part anymore. At first, I was devastated. I felt alone. Unwanted. Like there was something wrong with me. I couldn’t understand why things worked out the way they did. The worst part about it all was I felt like no one cared about me. The same feelings that I had all through high school about not fitting in and being invisible re-surfaced. I had already felt as though I had no friends at school and the rejection during recruitment didn’t help at all.
It took some time but eventually with the help of some amazing people I was able to get back up and brush the dirt off my shoulder. They helped me to realize that Greek life wasn’t the only option. That there was more to the school than that. Second semester of my freshman year was still a little rough because I did lose many of my friends as they became more and more involved with their houses, and there were times where I just felt completely separated from everyone else with how the school’s social scene revolves around Greek life.
As a sophomore, I have been able to make some amazing friends living in a dorm with other independents. We basically call ourselves a fraternity since we are all pretty close to the point where we usually leave our doors wide open for anyone to come in and socialize. It also helped me to realize all the benefits that come along with being independent that I wasn’t aware of before recruitment. I have no dues, no mandatory meetings, more time for studying and I can still, for the most part, get into any of the fraternity parties. There are drawbacks to not being Greek though as well. Some disadvantages are that friends aren’t just handed to you like in a sorority and fraternity, finding things to do on the weekend, and getting into parties can be harder especially if it's invite-only. The hardest thing for an independent girl is just finding out who is having a party. We don’t have sorority sisters texting everybody saying what is going on tonight on campus. This small trouble gets easier the more people you meet and become friends with though when you go out.
Greek life can be one of the most positively influential experiences in one's life. When one arrives in a new environment, there is an automatic need for acceptance that everyone searches for. In Greek life, that need is fulfilled by the brothers or sisters one comes to know as family. Nonetheless, every individual finds their place among society, whether it be in Greek life or not, and everyone has the potential to be successful. It is just a matter of how one wants to get to that point of success.
The experiences you have in college if you are independent are what you make it. If you are outgoing and open to new friends, finding a group of people who you connect with and having a good time in college should be no trouble. If you sit in your room and don’t go out and try to make friends, your college experience as an independent will be completely different. Being independent at a college that is mostly Greek is not as scary as it sounds. It doesn’t make you any less of a person. Greek life isn’t a fit for everybody. Going Greek or being independent both have their advantages and disadvantages for each person. In the end, it is your decision what you choose and to make the best of it during your college years.