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Pros and Cons of Greek Life?

UrbanMumUrbanMum 66 replies8 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
Could someone educate me as to the effect a big Greek scene has on campus social life? I’d like to know both the positive and negative aspects. My D is preppy but not athletic, she loves debate, witty conversation, and she has a quiet confidence. In other words, can a school with a significant Greek scene be a good fit for a kid who isn’t an outgoing party type? My husband and I know nothing about fraternities and sororities aside from what is portrayed in the media and we need a balanced perspective. Thanks!
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Replies to: Pros and Cons of Greek Life?

  • NJWrestlingmomNJWrestlingmom 1038 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,039 Senior Member
    You will find it is going to vary WIDELY depending on the school. Big state U in the south could run you thousands of dollars a year, whereas the state schools in NJ might run you $500. Is she looking anywhere in particular?
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  • kalonskalons 625 replies21 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 646 Member
    i disagree with the above post (to an extent). as an avid vocalist against greek life, there are schools where greek life isn't how it's portrayed in the media (kenyon, case western reserve, etc.). a student's experience drastically varies based on where s/he goes to school. however, greek life has enough of a bad reputation based off all the things southernhope stated above that i would not advise your daughter to rush because of it.
    In other words, can a school with a significant Greek scene be a good fit for a kid who isn’t an outgoing party type?
    to answer your question, again, it depends on the school. at union college/uofmiami? most likely not. at kenyon/case western reserve? most likely yes.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22072 replies14 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 22,086 Senior Member
    Pros - a lifetime of friends. Example: last year 40+ of us had a reunion for our 40th year. My father's frat brothers are still meeting yearly and they are 83+ years old. Every year, sixty plus years. I also like being involved with the alumnae in my town, with women I didn't go to college with. We do volunteer work, participate in things like the Heart Walk, do fun social activities. I really like going to the meetings with women who are in their 80's and who just want to talk and eat and have fun.

    For my daughter who took 2 spring semesters in a row off at her school (one an internship, one semester abroad) it was very convenient to have a place to return to, to fit back in. She didn't have to worry about finding a place to live. Both my kids were at schools with a small Greek life (under 10%), but the Greeks did seem to participate in other clubs and activities at the school - academic clubs, student government, volunteer activities, talent shows, carnivals, parades.

    Sororities don't host parties with alcohol. The members certain attend such parties, but not all of them do.
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  • ItsRennItsRenn 4 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 8 New Member
    There is a sorority or fraternity out there that can appeal to almost anyone but it should never determined by the representation in the media. I have a few points you should be aware of:
    1. Alcoholism is engrained in the culture, even at dry campuses your child WILL be exposed to underage drinking which can be very uncomfortable with so much peer pressure.
    2. Make sure you can afford it first, before your child rushes check on the school's Greek life page and check to see if they have the yearly dues for each organization. After being a freshman new member this year I paid around $2,600 for the entire year and it stressed my parents and I out tremendously.
    3. Determine what it is they hope to gain from Greek life, many people join to meet new people on campus (which is not a bad reason) but, make sure your reasons are not superficial because you can get drawn into the dangerous side of college/ Greek life.
    College in general can be hazardous it's not just Greek life and if you shelter them through life, they won't know how to handle situations where their morals are tested.
    Just from my experience as a sorority woman!
    -best of luck
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  • UrbanMumUrbanMum 66 replies8 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    @NJWrestlingmom We were looking at Dartmouth as a reach and Wake Forest as a target.
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  • UrbanMumUrbanMum 66 replies8 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    @SouthernHope Add date rape to your list and it’s exactly the stereotype we have in mind.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5379 replies10 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,389 Senior Member
    At some level, it depends on the school. To me, it is institutionalized cliques and at a smaller school that is big on the concept of its community, this is a detracor from that. But, and this is a big but, at a very large school, it can create a community.

    Personally, I dislike that you choose who you want as friends and they choose you bsck. Or not. And if you grow apart from them over the next year or two, you are more locked in. Social groups may be less fluid. Most activities involve alcohol but this is often the case at schools where there is no Greek life.

    The upside is that at many schools, you can live with your sorority and they have nice housing, and it's an opportunity to get involved with all aspects of managing that group and house.

    As for a quiet person, there tend to be groups that favor that. And yes, it can be expensive. You might be interested in the book "paying for the party ", which is about Indiana U, if your D is considering larger schools.

    As with everything, ymmv.
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  • TTGTTG 1662 replies14 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,676 Senior Member
    Greek life is definitely significant at Wake Forest. Drinking is pretty strictly policed on campus, so a lot of social life revolves around off-campus parties at houses rented for that purpose. Students often uber and shuttle among these parties. Drinking is heavy, the locations are secured for that purpose after all. Drinking is also very much the focus at football games. You can see if you go to one in the fall. Students can have social lives and friends without participating extensively, and certainly some non-Greeks enjoy their experience at Wake. A student who pursues that path must be pretty secure and comfortable being outside the social mainstream. Academics at Wake are A+.

    I know Dartmouth less well, though I have been to Hanover/Dartmouth about 4 times and done some things at the school. It seems like Greek life is pretty big there too.

    William and Mary is similar to Wake in many ways. William and Mary Greek life is an aspect of social life but is not as dominant as at Wake. It's big enough for a student who wants Greek life but small enough it can be easily ignored if not. This is one of the significant differences between the schools.

    I agree with above comment about Case Western (CWRU "Crew") and Kenyon. I'm very familiar with the former, including frats (sororities less so). The school in general has a nerdy, science vibe. Greek life is definitely an aspect of social life but relatively chill compared to a Wake or Washington and Lee.

    I'm far from anti-Greek, just spent a day with someone from my Greek organization, but believe it's for some students and not for others. I know a local kid who's a terrific student and really into Greek life. Wake is great for them. We've learned, though, that if a school has a dominant culture, it's difficult to live on the fringes of that.

    Good luck!
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  • rosered55rosered55 4164 replies124 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,288 Senior Member
    My older daughter was in a sorority at a small private university in California. It surprised me that she decided to join one but it turned out well. She also was a member of the school's residential learning community, a group that was seen as hippies by many of their classmates. She navigated the different social worlds successfully.
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  • scubadivescubadive 1091 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,094 Senior Member
    Whether students are in Greek life or not the reality is that many of them drink. Many were drinking in high school. Its just that is well hidden until they hit college. While drinkkng does tend to take place at frats on campus, it also takes place off campus which leads to its own problems. My child who is Greek never went through hazing. As in anything it has its plusses and minuses but that goes for any organization on any campus. Cliques exist everywhere. In a big school it can help it feel smaller. They generally have better food and better housing.
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  • GoCubsGo719GoCubsGo719 98 replies33 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 131 Junior Member
    When the CWRU greek life is referenced, is a point being made that fraternities at these type of schools highlights the academic side over the side we often see with the media. Furthermore, could this type of greek life be seen at schools like Wabash (especially if anyone is familiar with the attitude surrounding greek life at Wabash and what goes on there).
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22072 replies14 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 22,086 Senior Member
    Greek life at some schools is very different from the Animal House stereotype. Some have houses where some or all of the members live, some have wings of a dorm so have to follow the rules of the dorm contract. Some houses are very involved in activities, some have a lot of athletes or engineers or dance majors.

    A member of my house at Harvard was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year. It's not all toga parties and hazing.
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