5 Lessons Joining Greek Life Taught Me

In business and life, relationships are everything. The ideology emphasized by networking is that who you know is more important than what you know. By reading this blogpost, it’s safe to assume you have some degree of interest in the topic of Greek Life, and heard about the networking benefits that these organizations provide. If you are still pursuing a degree and on the fence about Greek Life, here are 5 valuable lessons that I learned as an active member.

1.) Prioritizing Education

One misconception about joining Greek Life is that members have a lower average GPA. This idea stems from belief that fraternities and sororities foster an imbalanced work/life environment. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, especially for reputable organizations that are recognized by the campus.

At CSUSM, the Student Life and Leadership Office recently compiled an infographic, noting that the average GPA for the students in Greek Life is higher overall in comparison to those not involved in Greek Life. This is reinforced by the Fraternity and Sorority Life admission requirements, which state, “Any student who does not meet this minimum 2.5 GPA requirement is not permitted to go through recruitment and may not receive an invitation or bid from any fraternity or sorority with the exception of NPC sororities that determine their organization’s minimum GPA.” Like federal laws, the eligibility requirements set by the campus represent a minimum. Most discerning organizations tend to raise the bar at 2.75 or 3.0 minimum, since long-term membership retention requires individuals who prioritize their education.

2.) An Emphasis on Values

What do all Greek organizations have in common? They all have mottos, creeds, and ideals, aimed specifically at character development and refinement. These ideals fall under four areas: service, social, scholarship, and brotherhood. A well-run organization with effective leadership will balance these elements, and provide networking opportunities that go far beyond the undergraduate years.

Coming from a background with little knowledge about Greek Life, I received limited exposure through the media. The media, however, only offered an unrealistic and distorted lens. There’s a plethora of movies and shows (Animal House, Blue Mountain State, and Neighbors, to name three) highlighting the stereotypical fraternity and sorority culture; a focus on parties, alcohol, hazing and debauchery.None of these aspects resonate with me in any way. I would have likely never joined Greek Life if I kept a closed mind on the topic. However, during my freshman year, my former resident advisor enlightened me on this topic, and he encouraged me to give it a shot. I’ve been in Greek Life from that day forward.

3.) Leadership Opportunities

Greek Life is yet another outlet for leadership development. During my time as an undergrad, much of my opportunities came through networking through the fraternity and related organizations. I took the chance of running for student body president at CSUSM, knowing I had a strong network as leverage.

What do you see yourself leading in five, ten, or even twenty years? If you want to head one of the nation’s largest corporations, let’s not forget that 43 out of top 50 are headed by fraternity men. What about the U.S. Supreme Court? Likewise, 40 of the 47 since 1910 were fraternity men. In fact, 76% of all Congressmen and Senators belong to a fraternity. And to boot, 63% of the U.S. President’s Cabinet members have been Greek since the 20th century.

The point I’m making is that there are endless opportunities for leadership; they all start with getting involved.


4.) Power of Alumni Networks

There is a well-supported theory that you and I both are connected to anyone on this planet by no more than five intermediate acquaintances. It is referred to as six degrees of separation, and this concept is especially powerful with the emergence of rapid communication technologies.

What if you could personally close this gap by connecting with people through a shared membership? That is a benefit of Greek Life, and it provides the intimate setting for strong bonds to form.

5.) Greek Life is lifelong

Most importantly, Greek life extends beyond the four years of school. I can testify the validity of this statement, especially after attending alumni nights each rush week in Sigma Chi. Members that graduated 30, 40 and even 50+ years ago from all parts of the world take time to make it out to an event…for what? Obviously, something of great value has brought them together, taking time away from work and family obligations. And that is the power of lifelong membership.

Conclusion

The sororities and fraternities across the nation are as diverse as the cultural fabric and people that tailor them. There are organizations that fit the stereotype and those who break the mold. The key factor to networking success is finding an organization that best suits your passions, and provides an environment conducive to success in your career (or whatever you pursue).

References:
https://www5.njit.edu/greeklife/directory/facts.php

http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/six-degrees-of-separation
http://collegelife.about.com/od/cocurricularlife/a/GreekLife.htm

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