Movies vs. Reality - What Does Being In A Fraternity Really Mean?
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Movies vs. Reality - What Does Being In A Fraternity Really Mean?

Expectations were nothing like reality when I joined a fraternity.

Movies vs. Reality - What Does Being In A Fraternity Really Mean?

"TOGA! TOGA! TOGA!" Practically every person that walks through the halls of any university in America has some notion of the classic toga party. This, among other things, is what attracts many young men to the fraternity lifestyle. The promise of flowing alcohol, social liberty, and story-worthy adventures entices many young faces and yet, these things make up such a small portion of actual fraternity life that it makes one wonder what benefits the greek community actually has to offer.

Drawing from personal experience, a fraternity is what you make of it. Like any other college students, if you look for partying then that is exactly what you will find. This mindset is not exclusive to fraternities either. Movies and media have glamorized the college lifestyle of consuming copious amounts of alcohol, staying up late with your friends, and barely scraping by in classes. So when someone whose entire life has been dictated by Mom and Dad (or whatever other authority figure) is suddenly free to explore the boundaries of what is socially acceptable, cutting loose would definitely seem to be an attractive option.

Yet as surely as Fall turns to Winter and day turns to night, those who only sought to reap the social benefits of college soon discover that all that glitters is not gold. College is nothing like the fairy tale told through movies and those convinced otherwise soon find themselves changing their tune, or on a one way trip home. However, if you are like myself and yearn for something with substance, a brotherhood of like-minded individuals striving for academic aptitude and career success is what you could be fortunate enough to find.

So if fraternity life isn't about an altered state of mind or just looking to have a good time, and I can find these things in other, non-greek, facets of campus, what benefits could a fraternity possibly hold?

Diversity of thought

One of the first things I noticed while becoming acquainted with the reality of Greek life, was the amazing diversity of thoughts and backgrounds. When I define my fraternity experience as a brotherhood of like-minded individuals striving for academic aptitude and career success, it seems at odds with this supposed diversity of thoughts and backgrounds. This couldn't be farther from the truth. In my mind, like-minded doesn't mean that we think the same. Quite the opposite actually. With such a diverse mix of backgrounds and upbringings, each person formulates their own perception of virtues and values, and of right and wrong. Despite the difference of ideas, each person compares their vision of what makes a good person against what their fraternity brother deems a moral person and gets to glean some insight about their own perceptions. Nowhere else would you find such a rich base of knowledge and life experience to draw upon.


Each and every person that walks this planet has faced trials and tribulations, hardship, and adversity. Each person is a product of how they reacted to these hardships. There are points in your life where it feels as though the universe has it out for you and that nothing will ever be good again. This is where support comes in. When life hands you more than you ever thought you'd be able to handle, having a support network of 50+ brothers who genuinely care about your well-being is something you can simply not replace. Even if it feels like you have a burden that you must carry all by yourself, knowing that you have so many quality, caring individuals to hold you up when you stumble can make the difference between "I can't do it" and "I can't believe I did it."


Before college, teachers, parents and coaches were probably constantly checking over your shoulder to make sure that you got your homework done,that you finished your chores, or that you practiced your sport or instrument. When you finally get to college, it is such an abrupt paradigm shift it can be hard to adjust. Suddenly, your teachers don't honestly care if you choose to do your homework. Your parents aren't going to ground you for skipping class. Nobody is going to scream at you for not going to the gym. Now it is all on you. Now it is all about personal accountability. For some, this can be an easy adjustment, I mean at this point you really should be here for yourself. But for me, being accountable to myself was far from easy. I could seemingly always find a way to justify another episode on Netflix, or another game on xbox, or just thirty more minutes with friends and soon I was drowning in schoolwork that I was sure I could, "just get to at some point."

The factor of fraternity life that truly sold my mother on the idea, was the concept of GPA requirements. You see, one thing that doesn't really get talked about during, "Animal House," or "Old School," is the self imposed requirements fraternities (and greek organizations in general) have; the community service, the grades, and the basic moral principals we live by, all work in tandem to show that we hold ourselves to a higher standard. While many of these things also boil down to personal responsibility for completion, you also feel accountable to your brothers (or sisters). If I can rely on all of these quality individuals to do what they need to do, then I have to show them that they can also rely on me. In my eyes, I owe it to these people to strive to be the very best version of myself.

While college is the ideal place to discover yourself, explore social boundaries, and yes, maybe even consume some alcohol (responsibly), it certainly isn't what movies make it out to be. There will be good times, there will be bad. There will be happiness and you will experience sadness. You will make friendships that last a lifetime because you finally make friends based on thoughts and taste, not simply because you've known each other since first grade. Proverbs 13:20 says, "you are the company that you keep," and I like this because it speaks to the fact that the people you choose to surround yourself with is the single most accurate reflection of yourself. So what does fraternity life mean to me? Simple. It means that my reflection is second to none.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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