Joining a sorority 2021

I really want join a sorority when I go to college this year. I don’t know much about the greek process. I’ve been reading some posts on here and I want some clarification. If anyone could lend me some insight I would really appreciate it.
-I’ve seen a lot of posts refer to some sororities as “top-tier” or " low-tier" who/ what determines that?

  • Also I see there are dues. I didnt know this. whats the average cost? Covid really did a number on my family’s finances, so I’m worried about that part.
  • Do we need to live in a sorority house, or is it optional?
  • What sororities tend to lean more conservative or liberal? I’ve also seen people refer to some as overwhelmingly Jewish or waspy. That seems very subjective to me. Is there a sorority fraternity website someone can recommend that has a brief description of each? some elements confuse me because I thought it was mainly about sisterhood & service; however, religious and political ideology plays a lowkey part.
    I tried to watch some youtube videos about sororities, but it was very school-specific.

Sororities/Fraternities are VERY school specific in their culture/fees/rules etc. There is no one size fits all as to tiers, or how they are run etc. My son was president of his fraternity and said there was no way he would have joined his fraternity at numerous other schools. You will need to do research once you choose a school. Even when you can join is different at different schools. Some rush before your Freshman year starts, some won’t rush until second semester.

Fees were inexpensive where my son went to school but at some southern schools the fees are outrageous for the very same sorority.

Many schools publish the GPAs of the sororities at their school. Look into that. I wish I had answers for you but you will have to look by school. Some don’t even have houses. Some require you live in the house, some don’t require it but almost all live in, some very few members live in. It is all over the place!

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My school a private, Christian, classical liberal arts college. They awarded me an excellent merit scholarship. I have always found it difficult to bond with other girls. Once in middle school I didn’t go with the crowd. My personal ethos was entirely different. While many focus on diversity in terms of race I focused on diversity of thought. I need to do research into each one because I didn’t like what some tagged sorority members posted on their Instagram. A side note I noticed that schools tend to push students like me ( latina )towards other activities ( like the latinx student union or black students to join the black student union)and not Greek life. That confuses me because I want to mix in with all kinds of clubs not self segregation of sorts. Feels like misplaced good intentions.

There are 26 National Panhel sororities that can be found at different schools around the country, but there are also local sororities and sororities with special interest (music, traditionally black or other ethnicity, religion). You’ll have to see what your colleges offers. Usually, there is a coordinated recruitment at the beginning or the fall or spring semester.

Cost? Varies by organization and what it includes.
Live in the house? Up to the house.

One of my daughters lived in her sorority for 3 years. It was cheaper than the cost of room and meals in the dorm and included her dues. Her initiation was more expensive than her sister’s house.

Second daughter had the option of living in her house (which was really a remodeled apartment house) but she didn’t want to. It was owned by the university and the cost was exactly the same as the dorms except she wouldn’t have had to buy a meal plan. Ironically, her meal plan was included with her athletic scholarship so no cost or savings there. Her dues and initiation fees were very low, about $350 per semester. That covered the dues, snacks, party decorations, etc.

Your school will be different because they all are. At really big schools like Alabama, the fees can be in the thousands because they include meals, parties, tshirts, etc.

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I’ll suggest that you may find it less difficult to bond with other young women in college than you did in high school, for a variety of reasons. Joining a sorority can be an amazing experience, though.

It sounds like you might like to join a National Panhellenic Council (NPC) sorority, which are on average the oldest sororities and don’t focus on a particular racial heritage or faith tradition (although they are traditionally white and Christian). NPC sororities often do recruitment just before the beginning of the school year or in the first few weeks of the school year, although some do wait until the beginning of the second semester. I’d search your college’s website for information about Greek life/Fraternity & Sorority Life or sorority recruitment and see if they have formalized instructions there. (NPC has pretty strict rules about recruitment, so most colleges have this organized at the institutional level.)

The cost does vary, but it is usually in the low four figures. Whether or not you need to live in the house depends on the chapter - some universities don’t have Greek houses at all; some universities don’t have houses for all the chapters on campus, and some chapters don’t have enough room for all members to live in the house. Which chapters lean more conservative or liberal varies a lot by location and chapter, so you really have to find that out when you attend recruitment (or hang out on campus, if you decide to wait).

Most sororities still existing today were founded during the Third Great Awakening in the U.S., which was a time of religious (mostly Protestant) activism; it makes a lot of sense that there would be influences from that period and thinking in the founding ethos of many sororities. Jewish sororities often were founded as strongholds for Jewish women, who were in the minority - and often discriminated against - in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And yes, sororities are mainly about sisterhood and service, but within “service” one has to define on what they will focus. Lots of sororities do focus on political activism because it is one way to effect change in the world and achieve their goals. If that’s unappealing to you, that’s totally OK - you’d want to look into the sorority’s ideals and goals, as well as get to know the members in the chapter as much as you can, to find a place that feels right for you.

I’ll also point out that diversity of race correlates strongly with diversity of thought, as race in the United States can predicate very different life experiences. And mixing in with all kinds of clubs isn’t mutually exclusive with joining clubs that are geared towards a certain heritage or faith tradition.

You can visit the websites of each of the NPC members from the NPC website: https://www.npcwomen.org/about/our-member-organizations/. But again, remember, this is very chapter dependent; the national website will give you broad strokes only. In case you are interested, here also is the page for NALFO, the governing body for Latinx fraternal organizations: https://nalfo.org

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Definitely a cost to sororities, but there is also some huge bonding opportunities as well. However, it is definitely not for everyone and depending on the school, rush itself can be brutal and an intense process in itself. Some schools are essentially rushing girls from the beginning of their Senior year in high school so that by May, they essentially know who they want. It makes it very hard for OOS girls for big in state schools. As for very Jewish or waspy. Yes that is a thing unfortunately. Some houses will automatically cut you if they know you’re jewish, and some very Jewish houses will cut you if you’re not.

As for costs, it also depends where you you go to school, but usually it is public, so if you search the schools you’re interested in then you can find that information. My kids go to schools where it’s optional to live in the house, but most girls do and it’s actually cheaper than not living in. It’s also cheaper than living in the dorms. In their case they live in the sorority for sophomore year, many sororities live in Junior year. Some all the years I guess depending on space.

Again back to cost. It really depends. I was floored at how expensive the cost was for one of my kids. Like literally floored because I had no idea. It was cheaper this year, probably because she didn’t have initiation and first year stuff. But my other daughter is in a sorority elsewhere and it is WAY cheaper, except her house to live in which isn’t as nice was more expensive this year, but not substantially so.

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!

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I was thinking about Greek life for a while. I noticed girls from a few sororities checking out my Instagram ALREADY. So that further pushed my curiosity. I’m such an introvert so I really want to push myself to be more social. Thanks

The Greek experience is VERY different from campus to campus. It’s a big thing in some places and not-so-much in others. It’ll be very unique to the school, both from the perspective of the student population (e.g., it’s “cool” or “uncool” to be in a house) and from the perspective of the school administration (e.g., the Greek system is either supported or is viewed as “outsiders” and gets no real support). You really need to go through recruitment to find out for yourself. And, every house is different with its dues and live-in requirements. As some have mentioned, some schools have houses and others don’t. Some schools that have houses can be either managed by the national organization, a private corporation board of alumnae, or by the university housing - it all depends. I came from a state university with a very large Greek system and had a wonderful experience. I am also still active as an alumna with the national organization and find the experience very rewarding. My daughter is also a current member of a house at a large school. If it’s something you “vibe” with, it’s an excellent experience: learning to live with a diverse group of women, managing the organization, prioritizing academics and community service, and providing a fun social scene. But, it’s not for everyone. The best way to find out is to go through recruitment. And, don’t pay attention to “tiers” or “ranks.” It’s all about what works for YOU.