My daughter is in a sorority at Alabama. c.400 members, large mansion, about 60-70 girls live in the house, there is a meal plan included in dues.
Tiers: at Bama these are determined by a combination of (in no order): how southern the chapter members are, grades, perceived physical attractiveness, involvement on campus and popularity with fraternities. But with 400 girls per chapter, any ‘reputation’ simply cannot apply to all the members! There are girls from all over and of all kinds in each house. ALL the chapters do the same things and events.
On a smaller campus, with smaller chapters, then each chapter is likely to have a stronger personality or vibe. This is what rush, and also the new member period, is for: finding out where you fit.
I would NOT get into the tier thing. You are looking for a group of girls you can vibe well with, make friends, and have a support group throughout school and beyond. D says the best advice is to really know yourself: Top tier is the one that you fit into best!
Dues: at Bama, these are $3000-4000+ per semester for those who live OUT of the house but about half that is for the meal plan. Those large mansions are expensive to run. Then there are other costs around big/little gifts, event t-shirts, socializing, travel, wardrobe etc etc. Many girls do have part time jobs.
Living in the house: at Bama, it is highly desired to live in, and only 60-70 girls out of 400 can. A points system is run based on attendance and involvement to see who can live in. Living in will be cheaper than paying rent and out of house fees. At other campuses, the chapter may struggle to fill the house and there may be a requirement for an entire class to live in. At Bama, the new mansions mean well designed twin rooms, but at other schools, there can be 6 people in bunk beds! Some schools have houses but no one lives in them. Other have a designated dorm.
Politcal leanings: these will reflect the general campus vibe. At Bama, greek life leans moderate/conservative with a decent number of vocal supporters of the outgoing president. But there are also many liberal members too. Perhaps not as vocal. All the sorority chapters have Diversity chairs, but they are not especially diverse, except in geographic representation.
For videos: pick a school that is like where you are going to be attending, even better if you can find some from your campus. Especially those from fall 2020 which will show you what it’s like during covid restrictions.
The Sororities Reddit is also a good read.
But as others above say - so much will depend on where you are attending school. Alabama is Greek Life on steroids!