Contrary to what’s shown in the media, Greek life is so much more than drunken parties and hazing. Students who choose to participate in Greek life on campus also get to enjoy community service opportunities, school spirit activities, lively events with other campus organizations, and most importantly, a sense of community. Many people who took part in Greek life in college say that the relationships formed with their fraternity or sorority brothers or sisters last for a lifetime. If you’re considering participating in Greek life on campus, you want to ask yourself some questions to decide the best fit for you.
The first question to ask yourself is what type of fraternity or sorority are you interested in? Of course, there are the social Greek life organizations, which the majority of sororities and fraternities fall under, but there are others as well, such as service, professional, honors, and cultural. So what’s the difference between each one? Let’s take a broad look.
Social is the most common. These organizations involve living in a sorority house with your sorority sisters or a fraternity house with your fraternity brothers on campus. Social organizations are always separated by gender and involve a rigorous rush or pledging process. These houses focus on personal growth versus a direct cause. You will be involved in social mixers, community service, and campus-oriented events and festivals, and will be held to the standards given by the fraternity or sorority.
Service organizations focus on community service and philanthropic events. You can be a part of both a service organization as well as a social organization. These organizations are co-ed and do not involve living in a house with the other members.
Professional organizations are great for students with a good sense of their career path, as these organizations are geared toward a specific profession or major. Some examples are business, engineering, medicine, and law. These organizations are very driven and set high standards to help you excel professionally. These are sometimes co-ed, but often strictly for men or strictly women.
Honors organizations focus highly on your previous achievements, awards, and GPA. These organizations, similar to professional ones, are directed toward areas of interest or major. One of the big differences between an honors fraternity or sorority and a social one is that rather than going through a rush or pledge process you are invited based on credentials and inducted almost immediately.
Cultural interest fraternities and sororities, which include but are not limited to religious or ethnic groups are also present on campuses, though the size of these are often smaller than social and others. A few examples include African American, Jewish, LGBT, and Native American.
As you can see, there are several different factors that can play into your decision on the fraternity or sorority that is right for you. Make sure to note that although there are various focuses and appealing elements, every single organizations offers plenty of opportunity for leadership, growth, development, community involvement, academic achievement, and lifelong relationships. Once you get a better idea of which type of fraternity or sorority you’d like to be in, then you can start really focusing in on which college will be right for you. Below we have put together a list of some of the colleges with the best Greek systems, so if Greek life on campus is important to you then, read on.
- Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA:
At Lehigh, 43% of students are involved with Greek life. There are 31 chapter organizations on campus, giving students a variety from which to choose. Specifically, there are 19 fraternities and 12 sororities (Fraternity: 13 social, 3 cultural, 1 service | Sorority: 9 social, 2 cultural, 1 service). Social Greek housing at Lehigh is particularly nice because it is located on a beautiful hill referred to as the “Hill” by students and staff, giving students a fantastic view of the campus.
- Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX:
There are 17 fraternities and 14 sororities on campus of which 43% of SMU students are members. (Fraternity: 11 social, 6 cultural | Sorority: 8 social, 6 cultural). SMU has a stronger multicultural and Pan-hellenic (African American organizations) council than most university Greek systems. Students who participate in Greek life at SMU are believed to have a higher average GPA than their non-Greek counterparts. Their Greek alumni network is also not one to be overlooked. Its enormous alumni presence opens students up to a breadth of personal and professional opportunities.
- Penn State University, University Park, PA:
There are 72+ organizations at Penn State, making them one of the largest Greek organizations in the country. (Fraternity: 33 social, 11 cultural, 6 professional, 1 service | Sorority: 17 social, 7 cultural, 1 service, 1 professional). Penn State Greek life parties start on Thursdays and are booked solid through to Saturdays. They are known for their day-long parties that start early in the morning and going until late into the night. One of the highlights of Greek life at Penn State is Thon (short for Dance Marathon), where students dance for 46 hours to raise money for the fight against pediatric cancer, surpassing others’ philanthropic efforts by an enormous amount. Aside from these famous celebrations, one of the best-known Greek parties at Penn State is State Paddy’s Day—a fake holiday to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, since the actual holiday usually falls during spring break.
- University of Georgia, Athens, GA: There are 62 fraternities and sororities on campus (Fraternity: 23 social, 10 cultural, 1 professional | Sorority: 17 social, 11 cultural). UGA is famous for “Frat beach,” also known as the world’s largest cocktail party. The event takes place on St. Simons Island for the UGA/Florida game, and between 4,000 and 5,000 people attend. Philanthropic events include Greek grind, a campus-wide dance competition to raise money for child abuse prevention, and UGA Miracle, which raises money for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. UGA students who participate in Greek life have a higher average GPA than their non-Greek life counterparts on campus. UGA has been recognized for two years in a row for Panhellenic excellence and has several diversity initiatives so that all students can feel included in Greek life.
- Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN:
About half of Vanderbilt students participate in Greek life. There are 35 organizations on this campus (Fraternity: 12 social, 7 cultural | Sorority: 9 social, 5 cultural, 1 service | Co-ed: Honors 1). One of the biggest Greek events is Lights on Lawn—a one-night concert that benefits the Mary Parrish Center for Domestic Violence and Abuse. The week leading up to the concert is filled with fun promotional events and free food from participating Nashville eateries.
- University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL:
There are 63 fraternities and sororities at the University of Alabama (Fraternity: 27 social, 9 cultural, 2 professional | Sorority: 16 social, 6 cultural | Co-ed: 2 cultural, 1 honors). It is said the sorority and fraternity houses at Alabama are like multi-million-dollar mansions. One of the best-known Greek traditions on campus is Greekfest, which features big-name artists visiting campus and giving performances during the first week of school. Artists have included Nelly, Dierks Bently, G. Love & Special Sauce, Robert Earl Keen, and Pretty Lights. Proceeds from the concert benefit the UA Greek Relief and the Billfish Foundation. Greek life students also get block seating right beyond the end zone at football games. Every sorority and fraternity also has its own chef team.
- Dartmouth College, Hannover, NH:
Sixty percent of Dartmouth students are a part of the Greek life at this university. Twenty-eight Greek organizations make up this campus. Additionally, there are 2 honors societies that give recognition for excellence within your fraternity or sorority. (Fraternity: 13 social, 2 cultural, 1 professional | Sorority: 7 social, 2 cultural | Co-ed: 2 social, 1 cultural | Honors: 2). Sororities and fraternities host live band performances, guest lectures, and charity events. The Philanthropic All American Rush (PAAR) is a competition between Greek organizations to raise money for the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth. Some of the top parties include Sigma Nu’s Eighties party, Tabard’s Disco Inferno, and Alpha Chi’s Beach Party.
- Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA:
Over 80% of students at Washington and Lee are part of a Greek organization. There are 13 fraternities and 8 sororities (Fraternity: 11 social, 2 cultural | Sorority: 6 social, 2 cultural).
- Chapman University, Orange, CA: There are 16 Greek organizations on Chapman’s small campus (Fraternity: 8 social | Sorority: 8 social ). Greek Week is one of the most exciting weeks sororities and fraternities host on campus it is a week full of fun activities, competitions, and events that each chapter participates in, including decorating your house, friendly athletic games with other houses, and artistic activities that show off your school and Greek spirit. New executive board members participate in the Olympus Forum, a daylong leadership retreat. Chapman Greek life students also participate in Greek Day of Service, where chapters work together to benefit various organizations and causes.
- Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA: More than 60% of sophomore through senior classes are Greek at Bucknell. There are 20 fraternities and sororities total (Fraternity: 8 social | Sorority: 7 social, 1 cultural). Bucknell Greek life students take part in the No More Campaign to raise awareness to end sexual violence and assault, hold obstacle course runs to raise money for the B+ Foundation to fight childhood cancer, and raise money for the Million Penny Project for recreation programs in Lewisburg.
- University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK:
Greek life is a huge part of campus life at University of Oklahoma. There is a choice of 59 organizations to be a part of (Fraternity: 17 social, 14 cultural, 2 professional | 11 social, 13 cultural, 2 professional) . The Greek houses on this campus are large and extravagant compared to many. Over the past few years, over $20 million have gone into the fraternity and sorority houses and wealthy donors are always trying to outdo each other to see who can make the biggest donations.
Curious to learn more about Greek life on college campuses? Connect with current college students or recent Greek alumni on Konversai. Konversai is the first-ever live-video knowledge-sharing platform that allows you to connect with anyone, anywhere, about anything. Konversai believes that we gain the most valuable knowledge by talking to other people and hearing their experiences. Users are encouraged to be both providers and seekers of knowledge on Konversai’s platform, and knowledge providers are encouraged to charge for their time. So if you’re a college student, Konversai is a great way to make some extra cash to help pay for your tuition or to save up for your weekend outings. If you don’t need the money, you can also hold sessions for free or donate to a charity of your choice. Konversai is your first step to forming meaningful relationships that will help enrich your life and the lives of others. Get in on the fun today!
*All organization numbers are based on current recognition from each official university site as of 2/17/17*
- Best College Reviews. The 50 Best Colleges for Greek Life.
- Lee, Harrison. (2015). Top 9 Universities for Greek Life in the United States of America. Total Frat Move.
- Levin, Paige. (2014). CM’s Top 10 Schools for Greek Life. College Magazine.
- Pow, Chris. (2012). UA Greekfest features Nelly, Umerphy’s McGee in August 24 student concert. AL.
- The Princeton Review. Lots of Greek Life.