The fall semester is here, which means we are well on our way to another season of fraternity recruitment! Although the novel pandemic of COVID-19 has made many things unclear one thing remains certain, thousands of incoming students will face the tough decision of choosing a chapter they would like to join. For many students this is a daunting decision, since most decisions in their lives up until this point was made for them. In addition, the decision of choosing a chapter is no light task either. With chapters boosting lifelong brotherhood/sisterhood and many individuals attributing joining their chapter as the best decision they have ever made; the hype alone makes this a tough decision.
So, what exactly should an incoming student know when faced with the decision of choosing the right fit? In all honesty, there isn’t a one size fits all approach to help. However, there are a handful of factors and questions to ponder that will help you decide easier.
Experience: What does the chapter experience look like?
During recruitment week it is easy to get caught up in the “glam” of Greek life. However, that fades away after the week is over, once the academic workload hits you and the weather gets bad. It is super easy to get caught up as a first-year student in the flashy parts of Greek life. Superficial things such as which chapter has the nicest house, the best game room, or the biggest TV all seem to be impressive those first few weeks. The key though is to dig deeper and focus on the experience the chapter provides.
At some point, the rush period ends, and you are fully immersed in your chapter’s experience. If you go through recruitment leading with curiosity, you will understand what that experience looks like. Asking the following questions to active members should provide some clarity:
- What do chapter meetings look like?
- What does the typical week of programming look like?
- What does it look like when chapter brothers typically hang out together?
By intentionally asking questions such as this, you can gain a feel for what the experience as a member of that chapter looks like.
I recall my rush experience where I faced this dilemma first-hand. The chapter I ended up joining didn’t have the nicest house or the nicest game room, not even by a long shot. However, by being intentional about the experience I was seeking, I ended up selecting a chapter experience that I’ve fallen in love with. Believe me, you will thank yourself later for prioritizing the experience when going through recruitment. By doing this, you’ll end up making the best decision on where your new “home away from home” will be.
People: Are these the people I’m proud to associate with?
As author Jim Rohn once wrote, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” While this may sound cliché it is accurate. You show me your friends and I can show you what your future will look like. Undeniably, study after study shows that the surrounding people influence our behavior and habits. What does this have to do with picking a chapter exactly? As you go through recruitment, you should consider the people in the organization. By this I don’t mean shallow metrics such as popularity or clothing but the context or their character and their principles.
This may seem like a small thing, but in reality, whatever chapter you join will determine the people you hang out with. If a chapter is filled with ambitious and hard-working people, you will notice yourself being pushed more. Vice versa, if you hang around a chapter filled with lazy and rude people you will notice yourself becoming like that. So as you are meeting the members of an organization, ask yourself if you’d be proud to associate yourself with these people. Once you join that chapter, and start wearing those letters people will associate you with them. A good rule of thumb is thinking, “Would I be proud to introduce my brothers/sisters to my family?”
By picking people that you’re proud to associate with that also have prominent character, you will notice it will add value to your time as an undergraduate in Greek life. In addition, you will be made better having been a member of that organization.
Opportunity: How does this help you grow as an individual?
When going through recruitment it is easy to think short term. This short-term thinking leads to a focus on factors that are not necessarily important. Counter to this, it is critical that you approach this decision with an infinite mindset and thinking long term. Greek organizations differ because they focus on lifelong brotherhood and sisterhood. This means you have a lifetime of opportunities with this organization. That being considered, what opportunities does this organization provide and are available for members to take advantage of? While all of Greek life has its own set of opportunities for belonging to the community, every chapter has a unique set of opportunities and benefits.
As you go through the recruitment process, ask questions to learn more about these opportunities. Many organizations have their own leadership training seminars for members and conferences for members to attend and learn at. Several organizations have amazing opportunities in the form of trips such as lobbying in Washington D.C. or even going to Greece! As you dig deeper, you can see how much you can get out of experience in Greek life. As a dues paying member, it’s in your best interest to get the most bang for your buck. Learn about these opportunities and don’t forget to factor them in when making your decision.
Member Development: What kind of person do you want to become?
Ask anyone and they will tell you that college is the most transformative years of your life. The person who finishes college is often a different version of themselves from when they began their educational journey. This is important to consider, because the Greek organization you join will influence the person you become at the end of your undergraduate career and beyond. The question is, how will your Greek life influence that person you become? Will it push you to become a better person and grow, or will it become a vice for you? A good way to monitor this through recruitment week is to analyze a chapter’s seniors and upperclassmen. The chapter’s membership development has influenced these members the most, and it will show. Look at their graduating members and analyze what they are doing. Do you aspire to be like them someday? If they are not the people that you would consider role models and that you would like to have as mentors, then that reflects the member development of that chapter and ultimately their culture.
By looking at their graduating members and considering what they have done/what they are doing you can learn a lot about their member development. If you want your time in Greek life to be life changing, then the chapter’s member development program will be essential for you to consider.
“Secret Sauce”: What makes this chapter different?
I intentionally saved this one for last because it is the toughest to determine when going through rush. Nearly every chapter is going to have a lot in common. They all will have their form of a ritual with a secret message or gesture. They all will have a philanthropy and compete in intramurals. While much of the experience will be similar regardless of the chapter, each of them will have some unique factor that differentiates them from the other chapters on campus. For some it may be their membership development, academic success, or involvement on campus. This can be tougher to determine as a potential new member but as you learn more about the chapter remember to think about their “x-factor.” What is this chapter better than every other chapter at? Once you’ve determined that you can help re-list your preferred chapters based on what your priorities are.
For example, if your top priority is leadership development and there is a chapter that is the best at that then you may want to move it up on your list of preferred chapters. With the decision of choosing a chapter, it seems there are an endless list of things to consider because of how many functions fraternities and sororities have. However, by honing in on one particular aspect, it can really help you make that decision if you are on the fence between a few chapters.
With these five factors and questions to pair with them, you should be well equipped to make the decision that is best for you. If you go into the recruitment process trying to find the best fit for you and have clear expectations out of what you want from your Greek life experience, then you’ll make the best decision for yourself. I still remember being on the phone with my mom and dad on bid day, trying to determine which chapter to join. Their sage advice still rings true to this very day: What do you want to get out of Greek life and which chapter best delivers on that? While these tools don’t eliminate the decision process (you may still need to weigh the pros and cons) my hope is it provides adequate support to head into bid day with a clear conscience that you’re making the best decision for you and your future. Best of luck to you through the recruitment process!
Meet the Author
Caleb Gipple ’21
Public Administration & Political Science Major
Recruitment & SLC Chairman