Here's 8 huge things about Greek Life that I had zero idea about before joining Greek. And honestly, each one of them surprised me deeply.
Most likely if you are not quite involved with Greek life, or do not know anyone affiliated with a fraternity or sorority, you see people walk around with three or two or four Greek letters on their jacket or shirt and wonder what the hell that means.
Maybe someone introduces themselves and they say something like "oh yeah I'm in Kappa Omega Psi Omicron Nu Delta" and you just smile and nod hoping to not offend the person because they slipped into a different language. It's perfectly normal to not know the letters, as I certainly had no idea the difference between the orgs. But joining Greek life as whole as taught me not only the Greek alphabet, but the difference between every single organization's letters and which one are sororities, fraternities, honor associations, and more.
Additionally, as you become a new member of your fraternity/organization, the more and more you learn you'll begin to realize that those letters you see actually have their own sacred meaning shared only by the members of that organization. It is surprising how much of a difference in understanding and pride I have in my letters of Alpha Epsilon Pi now versus when I just began my new member journey.
Yes It's Expensive, but There Are Ways Around It!
Many people say that they would join a sorority or fraternity if not for the member dues. Some people pay up to fifteen hundred dollars for their dues, others only six hundred. However, there are a plethora of scholarships available to you if you really do want to join. Every single organization's national headquarters is more than willing to help you out if you can show your passion for the organization and why you will benefit the chapter as a whole.
In fact, these scholarships aren't that hard to get. Obviously depending on your organization and the scholarship you may have to put some effort in, but the national headquarters of these Greek organizations want you to join if you're good for them.
You're Not Actually "Paying for Friends"
Piggy backing off the last one, those large sums of money you may shell out every semester do not go towards paying for your friends. Because obviously me and every single member of a Greek organization has friends outside of their respective group. In truth, they're expensive to run.
Most student organizations have a very small budget and don't require a lot of money to be paid into them, since something like the astrology club or Slovenian culture appreciation club aren't booking expensive events every week.
But there's a lot of behind the scenes work when it comes to running a chapter. Between mandatory fees your chapter has to send to your national headquarters for the services they provide, fees for holding events, formals, socials, and much much more. It all does add up, and certainly isn't for friends. In truth you're paying to be apart of something greater and deeper than that.
Philanthropy and Charity are One of the Biggest Parts
Now of course fraternities and sororities don't want to leech you of every cent in your savings account. In fact, one of the biggest parts of Greek culture is giving. Philanthropy is a HUGE part and is what defines Greek organizations from many others. Every single chapter of every single Greek org has a charity they specifically give to and run huge events that support their philanthropy.
For example, one of AEPi's national philanthropy is the Israel Cancer Research Fund, to which we have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for (nationally speaking).
The Universal Language
There's a lot of unique things to Greek life as a whole such as bigs, littles, chapters, paddles, formals, pledging, rushing, and so much more. There is a sort of language in Greek life as a whole than anyone in any sorority or fraternity ever is going to understand. But if they're unaffiliated and have never been around people in Greek life then they're most likely not going to understand what you're saying when you talk about how your little made you the cutest dolphin paddle,
Essentially, there's a lot of traditions and words that carry out internationally and it is a really lovely sight and feeling to know that.
The Stereotype is (Mostly) a Lie
There is this unfortunate negative stereotype with "frat boys" or "sorority girls" where they all fall along this homogeneous superficial line of being snobby, rich and way too attractive for their own good. This is completely false. it is so easy to look from the outside in and see and judge members like this, but everyone is never as one dimensional as the stereotype says they are.
Oftentimes girls are warned about "the frat guy" for being sleezy, and the sorority girl is viewed as basic and mundane, but after personally getting to know people from several different fraternities and sororities that just is not the case. it really isn't. While sure you do have some people that sort of fall into these dull stereotypes, all it takes is just having a different kind of conversation with them to show you that they are human too. They too have their own flaws and quirks and unique passions about them. And I think it's incredibly unfortunate that a lot of people unaffiliated are actually very quick to judge the guy or girl who just happens to be in a Greek organization . . . JUST for being in their organization.
So if you're also worried about not fitting in, well that is what rush week is for. To dip your toe into the water and see what each organization is like. They all obviously have their own vibe, but rarely are they as malicious as the stereotype or the media makes them out to be. In fact, the nicest people I've met at my university are currently apart of a Greek org.
The Passion for Something Bigger
Number 5 ties into here too. When you join your organization, you are not just joining your one chapter of your fraternity or sorority. You become a part of something bigger than you can even imagine. Once you're a brother or sister, you are always a brother or sister even after you graduate. Being an alumni is something sacred and people do treat you just as they would one of their own members even if you're from a completely different chapter.
There is this warm sense of interconnectedness when you're apart of one of these organizations. Especially when you experience a national convention for your first time.
And it doesn't stop there either.
You are not only apart of your respective org's family, but in reality you're apart of the Greek family as a whole. Whether it is large group philanthropy events where many different organizations participate or just a social event in general, you will find someone everywhere to socialize with. And that is honestly quite the most beautiful part of Greek life. You're never alone