College is full of unfamiliar territory. You find yourself confronted with choosing a perfect major, making new friends and growing as an adult. Exploring what IU’s campus has to offer is a fantastic way to get out of your comfort zone and see what’s right for you.
I’m writing this article to share my experience of joining a sorority and eventually dropping. Hopefully this can serve as a guide to help decide if going Greek is right for you.
I’ll address some of the major responsibilities of joining a sorority:
As a sorority member, you will be spending a lot of time at events. There will be organized sisterhood events, chapter meetings (typically Sunday nights) and random events that the Greek system as a whole encourages sorority members to attend. I would estimate about 10-15 hours a week dedicated to the sorority. A lot of people will tell you you’ll be fine balancing school, work, other organizations you may be involved in and the sorority. I would say that is kinda BS. A lot of sorority members do manage to somehow find time for all of these things, while others don’t have many other responsibilities, like a job. At times you will feel overwhelmed by the time commitment, it can be very frustrating to sit through a three hour meeting on a Sunday night when you have homework waiting for you and an 8 am to attend in the morning. To balance being in a sorority, it must be the extracurricular activity that takes priority. I would recommend a sorority to someone who may be looking for a packed social schedule, getting really involved with campus activities and who has a large amount of free time. These are all necessary to being a good member. I would not recommend it if you like to do your own thing, rarely attend social events and have a job where you want/need to work more than 10-15 hours a week.
Maybe, you’re here on scholarship. Or maybe you work to put yourself through school. Or maybe you just like having some extra spending cash. If you’re interested in sorority life, expect to spend some money. I underestimated the amount of money I would be spending, and this turned out to be a big reason for my disaffiliation. If you join an unhoused chapter, expect to spend around $400 to 700 a semester on dues. If you are housed, your dues will range from about $8,000-10,000 a year. Dues are membership fees for joining a sorority. They include money for events, formals, outings, clothes and much more. The general idea is that you get your money back through these events and things, but a lot of it goes straight to headquarters. There are also alumni dues you'll have to pay after graduation. I had major issues with money while in a sorority because there are a lot of hidden fees you aren’t warned about if you're unfamiliar with Greek life. You may have to buy required clothing, make required philanthropy donations, or buy tickets for various Greek events. Not to mention, the time commitment may limit you from working as often as necessary to pay for all the extras...which is ironic because how else you are paying for the sorority? Bottom line - I wouldn’t recommend joining a sorority if you don't have extra money to spend throughout the semester. It's a HUGE financial obligation. If you want to go Greek, budget your money to have at least an extra 100 or 200 dollars on top of the amount of dues to spend on the sorority each semester.
Joining a sorority is about becoming part of an organized group. You will be giving up some of your freedoms. There is an executive board who essentially organizes events and a standards board for enforcing the rules set for the sorority. It's all about holding each other to a high standard. This includes being fined for not attending mandatory events, logging study hours each week, or being highly encouraged to participate in events like IUDM. There are expectations to handle yourself responsibly at parties and not post photos of yourself drinking on social media. There is a mindset of shared responsibility: if someone represents the sorority in a negative light, everyone gets lectured.
However, in any club or organization there has to be some structure. I found the politics of sororities really tiring after a while, but others get really involved and embrace the system. These rules set in place could help you become more responsible and organized. It is important to recognize the trade offs when giving up some of your freedoms when entering a sorority.
IU has a large Greek system. A lot of people are concerned about the negative stereotypes of Greek life. I’ll be honest, some are true and others aren’t. It really depends. There is a materialistic aspect of sororities for sure. I felt it was a system that encouraged spending money and didn’t really offer many resources to those who couldn’t do that. People often judge the “top” chapters based on attractiveness of their members. There is pressure to look good so that fraternities will think of your sorority highly. There is also the social scene. Parties are frequent and you’re encouraged to go so that fraternities like your chapter. I didn’t like this at all. There’s likely going to be points of drama and gossip in the sorority. This is minimized by a strong sisterhood, but it happens.There are also awesome things you can find in a sorority, like close friendships and networking connections for jobs. Sorority members have also been some of the most driven people I’ve met. It is also really comforting that you can always find someone to meet up with for frozen yogurt, and if you need help, you have a huge support system of people who are there for you. If you are looking to get involved with Little 5, IUDM or other philanthropy events then Greek life is right up your alley. A lot of people also feel that joining Greek life makes campus a little bit smaller for them.
Now that you’ve read this, hopefully you’ll have a better understanding of the expectations after joining a sorority. Enjoy your time at IU, and whether you go Greek or remain independent, know that you’ll always be a Hoosier not matter what your choice. And that’s all that matters.