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15 Oft-Overlooked Benefits of Greek Life

Posted on Monday August 6, 2012 by Staff Writers

Animal House may be the quintessential college movie, but it didn’t do the reputation of Greek organizations any favors. The movie (and films like it since) helped create the stereotype of fraternity members as perpetually drunken party animals, while sorority girls are superficial, stuck-up husband-hunters. Hopefully most of us recognize that while frat guys certainly enjoy a good beer and sorority girls can be shallow, such portrayals are negative stereotypes taken to the extreme. Many recognize the positives of built-in friendships and an active social life, but there are many more benefits of Greek life worth noting that are often overlooked.

  1. Leadership opportunities:

    A popular knock on Greeks is that they are conformists or followers, but the reality is Greek organizations provide scores of opportunities for students to be leaders. Every frat and sorority has elected positions for president, treasurer, social chair, and more. Even freshmen can volunteer for leadership roles like athletics director or fundraising coordinator. Not only are these powerful personal growth boosters that can be difficult to find elsewhere on campus, they look excellent on a resume.

  2. Better awareness of alcohol abuse and hazing than average students:

    If anything, Greek students may even have a better understanding of the dangers of alcohol and hazing than non-Greek students because of programs designed to prevent fraternity and sorority hazing deaths. Many schools have optional or required training programs Greek groups must pass each semester or year. A recent survey by the NASPA Assessment and Knowledge Consortium found nearly 40% of Greeks discuss hazing prevention multiple times each semester, while 93% said they were ” extremely knowledgeable” about what qualifies as hazing.

  3. Encouragement of academics:

    One of the biggest pluses people overlook about Greek life may be due to a misguided belief Greeks spend all their time partying. Many will be surprised to learn that Greeks often have higher GPAs than the rest of their alma mater’s average. Many Greek chapters require a minimum GPA for joining. Greek students also have access to older brothers or sisters who have taken the same classes and can help them with their studies.

  4. Community service:

    Although it often gets overlooked, one of the founding principles of Greek organizations is a dedication to the community. Every legitimate fraternity and sorority donates at least hundreds of hours a semester to local or national causes it finds worthy. Most have a specific charity or group they fundraise for every year. Greek organizations routinely bring in tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. Compared with the average student, Greeks are much more involved in bettering their communities.

  5. Greeks are more likely to graduate:

    Surveys and studies have consistently shown that Greeks have better retention rates, are more likely to graduate, and are more likely to graduate on time than non-Greeks. Their high levels of involvement on campus and good grades as a result of their Greek membership are big contributors. And probably a partial explanation is Greeks live for the time they finally become seniors, and thus the oldest and most powerful people in the house, so they stick it out to the end.

  6. Career networking:

    Because they’re so focused on making friends right now, new Greek pledges are prone to overlook the fact that the friends they’re making and people they’re meeting through the chapter could one day be important business contacts. The mixers, tailgates, service projects, and reunions will be chances to kindle or rekindle friendships and perhaps be the start of profitable business relationships.

  7. More interaction with faculty:

    Professors and school officials are some of the best resources a campus offers for educating students, but unfortunately many students do not take avail themselves of their wisdom. Many never even meet their professors. One of the benefits Greek organizations promote is the increased levels of interaction with faculty members, whether through working with Greek advisors or organizing campus events with administrators. These faculty can be great influences on young people.

  8. Improve interpersonal skills:

    The first fraternities were formed 200-plus years ago as basically discussion groups for students to debate topics not covered in class. So speaking and interacting with people has always been an integral part of the Greek experience. In living and working together, students learn interpersonal skills like conflict resolution and how to meet and work with others. These skills are vital for success after college and are applicable to careers of all stripes.

  9. Housing:

    It may seem trivial, which is why people overlook it, but frats and sororities often have some really nice digs. They can be a great way to get yourself out of the constrictions of dorm living and into a house that may have a pool, pool room, widescreen TV, ample kitchen, and other nice perks.

  10. Rushing produces stick-to-itiveness:

    Many students readily say “Hell Week” is the most grueling thing they’ve ever been through. In fact, the entire first year can be pretty brutal for new pledges, as they may be required to serve at the beck and call of older members. Of course the senior members enjoy having such power, but these trials also serve a purpose: they weed out the people who are not committed. If you can make it through the first year without quitting, you’ll have learned an important lesson about your own character and hopefully developed some compassion for the freshmen you’ll one day be the boss of.

  11. Built-in sports team:

    Everyone knows about the Freshman 15, those pesky pounds new college students pack on their first year through a lack of discipline and the absence of wholesome, home-cooked meals. A very popular activity in Greek organizations is intramurals, which promote good health (and healthy competition) and help members stay fit. Even if students are looking for an informal pick-up game, it’s much easier to field two full teams when you have a house full of willing girls or guys that you know to join you.

  12. Prevents feelings of isolation:

    Even on a campus full of people, many students struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness in their new collegiate environment. While it is theoretically possible to continue to have those feelings after a student joins a Greek organization, the likelihood should be much decreased once one finds a fraternity or a sorority with members with similar interests, values, and personalities. And with an assigned Big Brother or Big Sister, there will be somewhere there to encourage students to attend events and stay engaged in the group.

  13. Connected people are happier people:

    Crafting strong friendships is probably Greek life’s No. 1 selling point, but an ancillary benefit of those friendships that may be overlooked is that good relationships are a vital factor in determining happiness. Happiness has a number of benefits, including better physical and mental health, from a stronger immune system to better pain tolerance and increased longevity.

  14. Practice your interview skills:

    Rushing a Greek house is a lot like interviewing for a job. It requires the same ability to relate to people, to sell yourself, and to do your research on an organization beforehand. If you can learn how to relax and be yourself while going through the process of choosing and being chosen by a fraternity or sorority, landing a job will be a piece of cake.

  15. Some of the most successful people were Greek:

    Bearing in mind that correlation is not causation, a common theme to some of the most prominent people in America is that they were members of fraternities or sororities in college. Thirty percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, 40% of U.S. Supreme Court justices, and 48% of U.S. presidents were Greek. For making up only 3% of the population in America, clearly the Greek system is doing something right.