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Social/Greek Life at Public Schools vs. Private Schools

wysterywystery Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
So I'm a Penn State student who is looking to transfer schools. I've been admitted to Northwestern University, but I worry that the predominant social scene at Northwestern won't be so different from that at Penn State.

One of the main reasons I am transferring from Penn State is because a large portion of the student body parties really hard really often, not caring as much about intellectual conversation or making a positive contribution to society, and I think this is perpetuated by greek life culture there. Northwestern seems like the private school most like a public school, and apparently about 40% of students participate in greek life. Do many students party hard multiple times a week at all schools, or is that mostly a Penn State/large state school thing? And is extreme partying caused by greek life? Can I expect a different social scene at Northwestern because it is a more selective private school, or does the prevalence of greek life there result in a similar atmosphere?

Replies to: Social/Greek Life at Public Schools vs. Private Schools

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,097 Senior Member
    edited May 2018
    Your question is not a question of public versus private school.

    Your question is specific to Penn State versus Northwestern.
  • soontobecollegersoontobecolleger Registered User Posts: 588 Member
    Most students at NU do not participate in greek life and it is easy to find students who don't party, but I'm surprised you weren't able to find students who don't party at a large state school, so you may feel the same way at any school that has greek life.
  • wysterywystery Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
    edited May 2018
    @soontobecolleger It's not that I couldn't find students who don't party at a large state school. There will be students who party/don't party at any school. I was referring to the overall social culture at these types of schools, not specific individuals.
  • soontobecollegersoontobecolleger Registered User Posts: 588 Member
    Idk what it's like at Penn state but I have not been impacted by greek life at NU. just my experience.
  • wysterywystery Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
    @ucbalumnus No, not all of my questions have to do with Penn State and Northwestern. I am looking for insight about whether what I have observed is the case at most schools like them. I also asked about the relationship between partying and greek life. I would appreciate some actual insight.
  • IWannaHelpIWannaHelp Registered User Posts: 383 Member
    First of all, your number is wrong. It's not 40%, more like 30%. Secondly, the Greeks are way different from those at larger and significantly less competitive public schools. Many of the Greeks are still geeks and nerds at Northwestern. If you were looking to party often during the week, you probably would have stayed away from Northwestern at the first place. With the quarter system, you are more limited on how much you want to slack off.
  • cfsnowycfsnowy Registered User Posts: 118 Junior Member
    edited May 2018
    I think it's a good question, but I would think both universities you mentioned are large enough that a Greek OR party scene can be avoided by simply not becoming involved with it. From what I've observed, you can definitely have a party scene at colleges that don't have a big frat/sorority presence. However, a large Greek presence pretty much ensures a heavy party scene that reaches beyond the Greek community. I don't think private vs. public has a whole lot to do with it. Does that make sense?
  • wysterywystery Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
    @IWannaHelp Thanks for the insight. I actually got the 40% figure directly from Northwestern's website (https://www.northwestern.edu/fsl/), but I guess it's good to hear that it feels more like 30% and that the nature of greek life is different there.
  • wysterywystery Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
    @cfsnowy Yeah, I think I get what you mean; basically heavy partying can occur at any school, and schools with a large greek presence are almost sure to have a broader party culture? My focus on public vs. private was b/c I wanted to know whether what I observed at Penn State was the norm at most colleges. Thanks for the input!
  • shawnspencershawnspencer Registered User Posts: 3,110 Senior Member
    edited May 2018
    It will largely depend on each individual school, NOT public vs. private school. Penn State is known for having a very large Greek/party culture and it will likely not be the same at other schools -- you might want to ask on the Northwestern forum directly. However like I mentioned earlier this is not an issue of public vs. private. For instance William and Mary (public) is not a school that is known for its party-heavy culture, while a school like Tulane (private) is. It is also separate from selectivity and even Greek life, but the individual culture of the school itself.
  • momocarlymomocarly Registered User Posts: 774 Member
    My S goes to a large state college (23,000) in the midwest. He is in the Greek system. He has a 4.0 average and feels there is lots of academically inclined students to be found in and out of the Greek system. There are parties, but not multiple times a week! Saturday night if prime time with sometimes a Friday night or Thurs night party (but those are quieter). There is no pressure to party. A lot of his friends are not Greek. The college isn't known as a party school. It is much more known for its sports. Anyway, it all depends.
  • twogirlstwogirls Registered User Posts: 6,900 Senior Member
    My daughter attends an OOS public university and Greek life is about 18%. There are parties at all schools but if you want to avoid them, you can. My D does not party at all and has a busy life filled with clubs, volunteering, dinners with friends etc.

    Your concerns have nothing to do with private versus public, and everything to do with the individual schools.
  • tutumom2001tutumom2001 Registered User Posts: 1,145 Senior Member
    No, not all of my questions have to do with Penn State and Northwestern. I am looking for insight about whether what I have observed is the case at most schools like them. I also asked about the relationship between partying and greek life. I would appreciate some actual insight.

    I went to a large public university with a very active Greek Life (about 40-50% of which I did not take part). DH went to a small LAC with absolutely no Greek Life whatsoever but there were lots of social-type clubs. I would say that his LAC had more of a "party atmosphere" just because there were fewer students overall, the party people tended to find each other in large numbers, and it was more difficult to find a fair amount of students who did not party. Even the various dorms had hazing incidents. At my large public university, there was a group for everyone, to the point even that not all of the Greek houses were large party places. No one really seemed to care whether you were at the weekend party or not, and probably no one even noticed whether you where there or not.

    In summation, yes this is going to be a Penn State vs. Northwestern comparison.
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