Helping your Student Choose Social Activities: Greek Life
Parents and college students should discuss the benefits of joining campus social organizations, such as Fraternities or Sororities. There is a tremendous upside of being a member of fraternities, sororities, and other social organizations — but there can also be negative downsides to such a decision.
As a parent, it’s a good idea for you to learn about fraternities and sororities so you can help your student make the best decision about whether or not he or she should be part of the Greek life. Educate yourself by reading our guide to fraternities and sororities.
Parents often equate college social organizations with binge drinking and late night partying. But the truth is there are benefits of your child’s joining college social organizations during their college years. A few areas to consider when helping your child to decide whether a greek organization is right for them:
Academics should be your child’s number one focus while in college. That’s why most Greek organizations require a minimum GPA in order to remain a member. Usually, each individual chapter has an elected official who is responsible for keeping track of members and their academic performance. Furthermore, many fraternities and sororities have educational programs, such as tutoring and study sessions, which can assist the entire chapters in excelling academically. Most chapters also offer member scholarships. Since obtaining a degree is the main reason for attending college, make sure your student realizes that he must keep up his grades if he wants to participate in a Greek organization.
Your student will have financial responsibilities when it comes to joining a fraternity or sorority. At most schools, there is a one-time new member/initiation fee as well as semester membership dues. Depending on where your child goes to school and to which organization he wants to join will determine the amount of dues he will have to pay each semester. If your child is really interested in becoming a member of the Greek life, you need to sit down with him or her and work out a college budget to determine whether or not joining a fraternity or sorority is affordable.
In the past, fraternities and sororities have received a bad rap for participating in hazing, which is any action taken that produces bodily harm or danger, mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, fright, or ridicule. Today, all fraternity and sorority policies strictly prohibit any type of hazing activity. In fact, the organizations have taken on a zero-tolerance stance on this issue. Some states even have legislation that makes hazing a third-degree felony. If you feel that your student may be participating in inappropriate activities associated with hazing, you should contact the school’s Dean of Students office immediately.
On average, your student should expect to contribute two to four hours per week for meetings and mandatory activities. If your student has the time, he can also choose to participate in optional activities, such as holding an office, attending social events, helping out with various projects, etc. Some organizations require more time than others. Advise your child to ask questions regarding time commitments during recruitment.
Social organizations also lead to a network of contacts and friends who may be extremely useful when conducting a job search post graduation. In his book, “Leadership Secrets for College Students,” author Winton Churchill implores college students to “… take advantage of good fortune when it comes.”
Online, LinkedIn.com has become a valuable network for professionals. When a student has been in a national Fraternity or Sorority, they have connections they have never met. When applying for jobs, being in a fraternity or sorority looks good on a resume, especially if your student held a leadership position or received a community award.
Fraternities and sororities participate in many different activities. The kind of activities your student may participate in will vary depending on which chapter he/she joins. Possible activities may include:
- Fundraising for charities
- Tutoring elementary school students
- Conducting environmental and neighborhood cleanups
- Sponsoring blood drives
- Organizing clothing and book collections
- Volunteering at shelters
- Participating in intramural athletics
If your student decides to go Greek, you should stress how important it is to balance social activities and academics. If grades start to slip, they may want to cut back on the activities in which they are involved.
Keep in mind that while Greek life is great for some students, it’s not for everyone. You should discuss with your son or daughter what he/she would like to do and then support his/her decision. If your student decides that joining an organization is the right decision, make sure he researches the different chapters thoroughly. If you child really wants to join, please talk with your student about waiting until at least until the second semester. Students are overwhelmed with their new college life already; it can be helpful to get their academics under control the first semester.