This is the first part of a multipart series on the benefits and drawbacks of Greek Life on Transy’s campus.
As a member of a sorority on campus, the benefits of joining a sisterhood seem obvious: friendship, shared values, a national philanthropy organization, and networking opportunities. But, these are all superficial-though certainly important- benefits that only scratch the surface. Joining a sorority fulfills many psychological needs and wants that college students struggle with. So, I’d like to talk about the psychological benefits of joining a sorority.
First and foremost, sororities offer a sense of belonging and companionship that is critical for college students. Humans- even introverts- crave friendship and social belonging, and a sorority offers an opportunity to find a home. This is not to say that other organizations cannot provide students with a sense of belonging- they can and do. However, in fostering an environment of like-minded people with shared values, sororities build a system that is easy for students to fit into. The first year of sorority life in particular is specifically geared towards making members feel welcomed– specifically, new member education programs allow for the new members to quickly bond over their mutual interest and is designed to forge meaningful relationships. This support system remains essential for students, particularly for those feeling homesick or overwhelmed at the beginning of their college career.
Underscoring the importance of this social support is the fact that social support has long been linked to more positive mental health. Though Greek students do not necessarily have lower rates of mental illness, they have a better support than non-Greek students. In an age when between a quarter and a third of college students meet the criteria for either an anxiety or depressive illness, mental health cannot be ignored.
Joining a sorority may also have cognitive benefits that non-sorority members do not receive. Sorority membership promotes involvement with campus life, which in turn is positively correlated with cognitive development. Membership can improve skills such as interpersonal communication and time management, ultimately expanding member’s cognitive abilities. These mental gains combined with the high academic standards set by sororities push members to grow intellectually. According to USA Today, Greek students generally have a higher GPA than non-Greeks and have a 20 percent higher graduation rate.
Some of this academic success may be derived from the sense of accountability that sororities both instill and demand from members. Many aspects of college diminish the importance of accountability in daily life– classes often do not have attendance policies, students may choose how rigorous a schedule to form, and little to no oversight exists outside of the classroom. By holding themselves (whether willingly or unwillingly) to a different standard, sorority members develop a strong sense of both individual and group accountability. Individually, members must maintain a certain GPA, take on responsibilities within the chapter, and pay their fair share. Group accountability is perhaps even more prominent– Greek awards, good social standing, and chapter success are dependent on the group as a whole, and members take this group obligation very seriously. While these new standards of accountability are demanding for students, they also allow for more personal growth and instill positive long term habits.
Greek life is not for everyone, and it certainly does have some negative stigmas like drinking and hazing, but the benefits of sororities carry real merit. Sororities fill student’s needs and wants– needs and wants that you may not realize even exist.