Regardless of why someone joins Greek life in college, everyone has a different experience depending on the sorority or fraternity they joined, the college they went to, how big or small their chapter was, and so on.
I asked the BuzzFeed Community to share some things that people would be surprised to learn about Greek life — and the range of answers surprised me. Here is what some people had to say.
1."The way hazing is so blatantly passed off as 'bonding.' It’s literally an excuse for people to take out their toxic traits on you with no repercussions because of 'brotherhood.' I was in a 'professional' frat and I can only imagine how much worse it was at a real one. I legit do not understand how these things are legal."
2."Greek life is all very frilly and so many things you are required to do have very little meaning to the current members. Also, almost everyone in Greek life is rich."
3."I had a really positive experience in my sorority. I was at a small school in the Midwest which likely made it more affordable than at some other schools. I was outgoing and super involved before I joined, but it felt like my sorority sisters were people I could let down my hair with. There was always something to do or someone to hang out with, which was crucial at a small campus where so many went home every weekend. I had some great experiences and am still friends with many of the women. That being said, recruitment is super hectic and stressful. Bid day is fantastic, though!"
4."Joining a sorority was my biggest mistake in life. It is 100% a cult and a scam. The rituals, the popularity contests within the sorority itself (and then of course with other sororities and frats), and the hazing. I went $20,000 into debt because I was forced to live in a house full of bullies and fakes. They say they don't haze, but we all know the truth. My children will never join Greek life."
5."Recruitment (rush) gave me great preparation for being in the real world and having to work and make conversation with people who may be completely different than me. During recruitment, you’re getting to know the potential members but you know very little about them. They’re nervous, you only have a short period of time with them, and so on. It taught me how to hold surface-level conversations with just about anyone, feel comfortable, and keep the conversation going. If you do any work in outreach, you know this is a must-have skill."
6."I was in a sorority in the south where Greek life was huge on campus. At my university at least, by the time people reached their senior year most were pretty annoyed with a lot of what went on and either quit or were just riding it out until graduating. There are definitely some great perks to Greek life but also a lot of drama, pettiness, and dysfunction with an organization run by a bunch of 18-to-21-year-olds. By your senior year, you’re usually more mature and can see just how ridiculous a lot of it was. I heard this from friends in other sororities as well, so I know it wasn’t just mine."
7."Not all Greek life is just about socializing! I am a member of Delta Sigma Pi, which is a professional business fraternity. We are very career-oriented but still have social events and have a lot of fun hanging out with each other! I met my long-term boyfriend and some of my best friends through DSP, and it was honestly the best decision I made in college."
8."Oof, where to begin? I was in Greek life, and I have extremely mixed feelings about it. One thing I have to be honest about: it’s a haven for insecure people. That certainly doesn’t apply to everyone. I met some boss bitches in my organization but it’s pervasive, to say the least. Tons of people in Greek life in general (and even in my own sorority) ganged up on me to bully or exclude me just to get that high that comes from bothering someone else. Sorority life afforded me a lot of experiences and relationships I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise, and I don’t necessarily regret it, but if I had it to do over… I probably wouldn’t."
9."Pledging to a fraternity or sorority DOES change a person, and yes, in most cases for the worst! As someone who joined a Black Greek Org for the purpose of action, it SUCKS to see people switch up for the newfound attention they’d get (especially right after the probate). People really lose their minds once they’re able to wear a jacket and do a stroll."
10."They are a lot of work, and I think the whole 'party' stereotype really depends on what school you probably attend. Also, there is a lot of bullying that happens TOWARDS them."
11."When I was in college, my sorority had a points system for required 'sisterhood' events. And if you didn’t meet a required minimum number of points, you could be kicked out of the sorority. You could even lose points for not attending the sisterhood events. One year on Valentine’s Day, my chapter hosted a dinner that had a required attendance. I was knocked points because I chose to go out to dinner with my boyfriend on Valentine’s Day instead of with my 'sisters.'
Roanoke College / Via giphy.com
12."It's just like any other club — there are executive boards, activities put on for the public, fundraising efforts, and general meetings. There's lots of boring general stuff that goes on weekly that we have to do like other clubs and extracurriculars."
13."'Rush' is a name for recruiting week. On the recruiter side, it's a ton of work. It spans three days. Each day has themes, songs, and schedules to memorize, food to serve, and a conversation with many strangers for up to an hour. We literally trained to be good at conversations, how to make people feel welcome, how to ask interesting open-ended questions, and how to make the conversation about the other person."
14."I was in a sorority and loved the experience. Went to a state school that was in a rural area outside of Chicago. Not much nightlife or many bars due to so many people commuting in and out of the city, plus it was a farm town with old-fashioned people who wouldn’t approve of a lot of things that would have modernized the town at that time. I met my best friends through the sorority and married someone from one of the fraternities."
"I should note that I was in college in the early 2000s, so hazing and some of the predatory behavior that most people associate with these communities was nonexistent. Obviously, binge drinking was a problem, and is on any campus, but I wouldn’t connect that to the sororities or fraternities at my school at least. Overall, a great experience that I have no regrets over and I still benefit from the connections I made to this day."
15."My sorority provided a great deal of education on diversity, leadership, mental health, and bystander education. Thanks to that leadership, I am in a psych master's program."
16."There are so many aspects to it, it’s not just parties 24/7. It’s hard work. You have to maintain a very high GPA, attend meetings every week, attend philanthropic events weekly/monthly, and plan and execute A TON of different events. I could barely keep my part-time job because it took up so much of my time, and this is without holding a position — such as president or social chair. Holding a position is WAY more work.
"As a whole, there’s a lot of competition and hostility between sororities, but individually, everyone loves each other. Some of my best friends were in other sororities and anyone I ever met was so sweet and didn’t care about the sorority on sorority drama. It’s a weird hive mentality when the whole sorority is together."
17."Greek life at small universities is incredibly different from Greek life at big universities. Small universities have smaller chapters usually, so you really get to know the other members and experience different things."
18."Almost nothing was as fun as what people think sororities are like. The day you get in is probably as fun as it gets and then after that comes so much responsibility to go to mandatory events and chapter meetings. If you miss any without a valid excuse that has to be approved by your peers you would be fined up to probably around $30 depending on the event you missed. It’s a huge financial commitment which I don’t think lots of people think about. Dues, house costs, philanthropy donations, money for your pin, and other clothes you are required to wear. Some sororities at my school had semester dues up to $1300 while others were $260. And the whole concept of 'Big Sister/Little Sister' is one of the most toxic things I’ve ever had to witness."
MTV / Via giphy.com
19."There are definitely a lot of issues with Greek life but overall I really loved my experience. We received a bunch of education about alcohol/drug safety as well as sexual violence prevention that was way more comprehensive than any high school sex ed."
"Also women in sororities are always portrayed as dumb but I met some of the smartest and well-rounded women I’ve ever known in my sorority. Half of our chapter women were in STEM majors and all sororities on campus were required to have a higher average GPA than the all-campus GPA. I learned so much about career and personal development and wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything. I’ve made real lifelong friends who continue to inspire me."
20."A huge number of my sisters studied abroad, which required good grades to qualify. Several of us graduated with honors my year, and still do each year. People think sorority girls are vapid morons. But, among our alumnae, we have college admissions counselors, physicians, NPs, marketing executives, teachers, actresses, ministers, nurses, and principals. Very little of sorority life is partying, it's about building relationships."
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21."It was a source of strength and support for me. I'm 34 and my fraternity brothers are still my closest friends. These relationships have been invaluable in navigating career, marriage, and family without judgment just with love."
22."Social media is heavily monitored. You don’t see every member posting the same photos by accident. There is a member that monitors everyone’s social media and if you post something inappropriate they will tell you to take it down. They monitor EVERYTHING, including finstas!"
23."The amount of community service that we do. My fraternity adopted a highway and would clean up all of the trash along a 2-mile stretch several times a year. Also volunteered to go to a senior home and spend time with the residents. We'd talk with them, listen to their stories, or shoot pool with some of the guys. We were the only visitors some of them received."
24."Sororities bring out the worst in us. They build their image on empowering young college women, and sometimes they do, but it is a toxic competitive culture of forced femininity. If you don't look or dress the way they want you to, you will be disciplined. The worst things I have ever heard young women say about other young women was during recruitment. During an evaluation, the nicest sister will rip apart a potential new member for having undyed roots or because she just doesn't like her face."
"We are also encouraged to compete against other sororities for reputation, fraternity attention, grades, campus participation, etc. I have been to charity competitions that were basically "Mean Girls" after Regina shared the Burn Book.
Things are even worse within individual chapters. I found myself plotting to take down a rival for a leadership position and I had to stop and ask myself what the hell I was doing. And the national sorority organization, the Greek system, and the university actively encouraged this dynamic."
25."My fraternity experience was much different than others, I joined at age 21 during my junior year. I wasn't hazed, beaten, or insulted — we were just a group of friends that shared common interests. Our fraternity had its own national philanthropy and we would spend spring Break and fall Break building handicapped accessible play units in different parts of the country."
Workaholics / Via giphy.com
"As young men, you would think that many of us thought it was a huge waste of our time in college to spend breaks working and not somewhere more traditional like Florida or Texas, but the kids we helped and their parents, teachers, and family made it so fulfilling to help make life better for them. As time has gone on, I don't go to National Fraternity conventions, or wear my fraternity letters, however, I still talk to a majority of my brothers and we have all helped each other in different ways. I look back and realize college had its parties and formals but the good work that we did together is what means the most."
26."I was in a fraternity during college about eight years ago in Texas. I had no intention of joining one when I got to college but it was one of the most amazing decisions I made. I made some lifelong friends, helped me grow into a young professional, and taught me some of the skills you need to know to be successful in the workforce. As a first-generation college student and a son of blue-collar workers I had never learned what it meant to dress for interviews, how to tie a tie, write a resume, or other important skills."
27."When I joined Greek life, my depression was basically out of control. My sorority gave me a family that cared about me and helped me through the tough times. I still have sisters that I talk with, including one that I speak with every day! Those relationships and the time spent with my sisters were some of my favorite memories of college."
28."The whole thing is a gigantic pyramid scheme. For sororities, the entire rush process and the first year are designed to make new recruits feel special, so it's nonstop parties, brunches, and formals. You're given gifts by your mentors... the entirety of the following years is centered around recruitment. Recruitment meetings, recruitment retreats, and an occasional weekend or two of service work to keep up appearances. It ended up being a complete waste of money and a total bore."