In this post, I’ll share my sorority experience and what it’s like to be in a sorority in 2021.
Whether you’re a freshman going to college for the first time, a junior transfer looking to integrate into your school, or a current student looking for a new experience, joining a sorority may be on your mind.
When you think “sorority,” you probably think of taking cute pictures with your sorority sisters, the mansion-like homes, and of course the party scene. And you’re not wrong — Greek life offers all of that and more, for better or for worse.
Greek life has long been a pillar of American universities. At some schools, the overwhelming majority of the student body are involved in it, while other universities completely ban Greek life. And you might be trying to decide if that’s an aspect of college that you need in a university, as for some people it can be a major college decision factor.
The truth is, the Greek experience is unique to each university and to each sorority. So I can only give you my best advice based on my experience.
I joined a sorority first semester of my freshman year, and I was a member for two and a half years, until I deactivated my membership. So here is all the advice I’ve gathered from my experience joining, being a member of, and dropping a sorority.
Recruitment in 2021
While each college has a variation of how this plays out, recruitment does follow the same general guidelines. In the course of a few days, you’ll visit every sorority on your campus, and as the days go by through a process of mutual selection, the number of houses you return to everyday will decrease.
So, what is mutual selection? While you choose what houses you like the most, they will also choose who they like the most, and that will determine what houses you are invited back to.
As an international student I wasn’t too emotionally involved in this process, but I did see many girls who were upset when they weren’t invited back to a house. Maybe that’s because they really connected with the house, they were a legacy or because they liked their social standing (more on that later). But the best advice I can give you from my friends mom who was in a sorority is: do you really want to be friends with girls who don’t want to be friends with you?
Finances of Joining a Sorority
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This will vary greatly by university, but generally speaking, if you live in an expensive area, like, I don’t know, the Bay Area, it might be economically convenient to live in a sorority. That’s because rent is expensive and, in your sorority, rent is cheaper and it covers food, utilities, Wi-Fi, and even cleaning fees.
However, in some other areas this may not be true, and it could be prohibitively expensive to pay dues. While some scholarships are offered for sororities, expensive dues are one of the issues that lead to a lack of socioeconomic diversity in sororities.
Sororities will disclose their costs on a website, and I think it’s important to look those up and keep those in mind when making decisions during recruitment. Also keep in mind that while I did have friends who paid their dues on their own, being in a sorority does generally mean being surrounded by people who are all privileged.
Social Aspects of Sorority Life in 2021
Probably one of the biggest reasons people join a sorority is sisterhood. Just kidding, let’s be real, it’s partying.
The party aspect of a sorority will really vary depending on your school, and if your school has a very lively social scene or not. In my experience I’ve seen girls who enjoyed partying and girls who didn’t all within the same sorority, so I think it’s a very opt-in aspect of Greek life. But at some schools, partying is the essence of Greek life, so do your research ahead of time (but don’t ask anyone during recruitment).
And I couldn’t talk about the social aspect of Greek life without mentioning rankings. Rankings are unofficial listing of sororities and fraternities based one superficial criteria. Sororities and fraternities of similar rankings tend to have social events together.
If you ask me, this is a little too high school for college. Be friends with who you’d like, and make sure they’re friends with you for the right reasons, too.
Sisterhood in Greek Life
Now, sisterhood is a big part of joining a sorority, not kidding this time.
When I first came to college, being so far away from home and in a very large university, finding a community was really important for me. Greek life most definitely presents you with an instant group of friends.
Even after dropping my sorority, my Greek life family remains a big part of my life. I’m still close to my Big, my Grand Big (who graduated a year ago), my twin, and my little. I was always able to count on them and especially as a freshman they were always there to help.
When it comes to my friendships, I’d say I made around five close friendships in my sorority, but sisterhood extends beyond your house. I’ve found that some of my closest friends are in other sororities, and we all live together now. It’s the Greek community that has been the most relevant to me in my time in college rather than only the relationships I formed inside my house.
Diversity and Inclusion in Greek Life
In the wake of the social justice protests in the summer of 2020, sororities around the country rallied to raise funds for social justice initiatives. My sorority, and pretty much every other sorority at my school, raised thousands of dollars. They set up committees and procedures to transform Greek life into an actively anti-racist and more diverse student group.
A year later, I can’t really say if anything has changed or if the momentum has continued because I dropped my sorority, but I will say that sororities were a powerful vehicle in spreading information and resources on becoming actively anti-racist.
Nonetheless, in universities like my own, there are exclusively black sororities and fraternities which are not integrated into the larger Greek life. As a Latina member myself, I did feel I often got lectured on representation by white members. Not to mention, Greek life is extremely cis gender and catering to heterosexual members, with some houses not extending invitations to all female-identifying people.
Greek life is not diverse and inclusive. Period. The question is, do you want to change the system from the inside? Or better, can you?
When you bring together over 100 people in an organization, you can be certain of one thing: not everyone is going to get along. In any given house, there are plenty of people who under other circumstances would not hang out. But that’s a given, what matters is the overall culture of the house.
In my experience, the house culture that my sorority marketed, specifically “celebrating being different,” really meant celebrating one specific type of different. There was a general move towards groupthink, where everyone was expected to agree on certain topics.
The truth is, you can’t tell the truth about a house from recruitment, because it’s an illusion. To understand the culture of a house, your best option is to not rush immediately as a freshman, or you could ask someone you trust that goes to your school.
Career Development in Sororities in 2021
The number one way of convincing your parents to pay for you to be in a sorority: tell them about the connections you’ll make. Just being in a sorority gives you really great opportunities, you have these connections to older students who can guide you to the best classes and teachers, and even help you get into clubs at your school.
You also have events, that may vary by sorority, such as inviting your professors for dinner at the house, which gives you a one-on-one opportunity to speak to a professor and build those relationships. You’ll also find libraries and quiet study spaces in sororities, as well as a plethora of resources for every class gathered over several years.
You will also have job opportunities from alumni, from babysitting gigs in your area to corporate jobs post-graduation. While I wouldn’t say Greek life will definitely get you a job, what helps is having that connection in the company that can put your resume at the top of the pile.
Lastly, sororities offer leadership opportunities that you may not otherwise have as an underclassman. You can join committees, or hold a position in sustainability, or philanthropy, or internal social events. Even if you don’t take on a leadership position, recruitment actually teaches you real life skills on recruiting and soft skills for communication that you can speak about in interviews.
Philanthropy in Sororities in 2021
Every sorority has a philanthropy. While sororities make it seem that philanthropy is a pillar of Greek life, enough that they allocate a full day to it during recruitment, it’s far from that. Most sororities operate on a requirement basis, they do what they need to do.
To be frank, I rarely saw people go above and beyond for their sorority philanthropies, and very few had any engagement with the local community to advance their philanthropic ideals. While many women were extremely devoted to their causes, they weren’t the majority. I actually do believe a lot could be done by harnessing the female-driven power of a sorority, it does mean rolling up your sleeves.
Why did I drop my sorority?
Before I explain why I dropped, I want to say I have no regrets about joining a sorority. It gave me the majority of my friends, introduced me to new academic opportunities, and gave me my best college memories.
Ultimately, I dropped for a number of reasons, the first one being that I felt I had to prioritize other parts of my life and didn’t have time to attend meetings and such. I had to prioritize leadership positions and internships over all the events that come with being in a sorority.
Secondly, I felt it had become too insulating to live within my sorority, always with the same people and in the same environment. I have learned what I needed to from that phase in my life, and I’m ready to branch out.
Thirdly, I saw little change for a lot of effort. I tried to change certain systemic issues I noticed, but to little avail and I concluded my efforts would be more useful elsewhere.
And lastly, COVID really detached me from the experience and I moved on.
Overall, I’m extremely glad I gave Greek life a shot and I wouldn’t want my college experience to have gone any other way. While my sorority experience is unique to me, I hope I’ve been able to give you a more accurate depiction of sorority life in 2021.
Will you be going through recruitment?
What did you think of my sorority experience? Did it mirror yours in any way? What are your thoughts on sororities? Do you have any questions? Let us know!