The media’s portrayal of Greek life in college ranges from a well-rounded organization that promotes philanthropy and academia to students with the “Work Hard, Play Hard” mentality. Greek life on campus has its benefits, but there are universities that do not have Greek life present on campus for various reasons, which may include religious reasons, university policies, or historical reasons. On campuses with Greek life, some students may choose to not participate for various reasons, such as costs and reputation.
If your school does not offer Greek life or you choose to not participate, do not feel as if you are missing out in any way. Everyone has a different college experience; while Greek Life does offer and promote many virtuous and beneficial experiences, it is still possible to experience part of Greek life elsewhere.
What Greek life offers
Greek life is known to offer a brotherhood/sisterhood among its members. It promotes philanthropy and community service, embraces mentorship, and strives for academic excellence, competition, an extensive network with valuable connections, inclusive community, and an extensive nightlife. Greek life may function as a pre-professional society, special interests, or a cultural organization.
What your university offers
Universities invest in many student-run as well as university-run programs. Programs universities offer aren’t a substitute for being a part of a Greek organization, but can function as alternative methods for you to enhance your college career and be an active member on campus.
If you are looking for a brotherhood/sisterhood…
Look out for all-male or all-female organizations. Brotherhoods and sisterhoods are not formed overnight, but are created through bonding and spending quality time with your peers. If your campus does not have any all-male or all-female organizations, join a club that interests you. This can be a dance team, a singing group, a business organization, etc.
If you are looking for philanthropic and/or community service…
Universities offer many service programs, but it may be more difficult for you to find them so you have to do some research. For example, if you are looking to give back to the community, consider volunteering as a tutor at a local high school or middle school. Tutoring is one of the best gifts to give to someone who is struggling academically, because it shows that someone cares, and it is a great way to build experience working with younger children. You can also participate in an on-campus bake sale or fundraiser if you are looking to make a difference.
If you are looking for mentorship…
Seek mentorship opportunities on campus. Universities offer mentorship programs as well as student organizations. To get freshmen more involved on campus, many student organizations at my university recently started mentorship programs to help guide freshmen and sophomores through their underclassmen years with the guide of upperclassmen.
If you are looking for academic excellence…
Visit the campus library often and learn about various resources your university offers. Some universities offer free tutoring to their students and professors have open office hours for further explanation of the material. Take advantage of all available resources to excel academically while in college.
If you are looking for competition…
Look to join a case study competition run by various business programs or join an intramural or a club sports team. A little competition never hurts anybody, and competitions can be a great way to take a step back from rigorous academics. If you win, or are placed in a competition, that will provide a great conversation point when you are talking to someone you are trying to impress.
If you are looking for community…
Join a club. Many clubs on university campuses meet at least once a week. These clubs often host events or bonding events for its members. Joining a club has many benefits; it gives you an opportunity to meet people you would not have met otherwise, and is a great way to do something you love while being a part of a larger on-campus community.
If you are looking for a larger network…
Subscribe to your university’s career center to find various networking opportunities. If you aren’t sure how to network, you can find some networking tips here. You can build a network through taking the time to build a relationship with faculty at your university.
If you are looking for a lively nightlife…
Explore your college town! College town are filled with hidden gems and things to do for those 21 and older, and those who are under 21. You can go to 18+ clubs with rhythmic beats all night long, find a local music pub, bowling alley, or karaoke. In college, partying every weekend can be exhausting and repetitive. If you are seeking a college experience filled with excitement and exploring, venture out with your friends.
My university does not have Greek life, but I didn’t miss it. I have participated in many different organizations and met so many people and individuals through these organizations, and I love that my friends at college have diverse interests. I was Editor-In-Chief for an online women’s publication at my university, which has chapters worldwide. I also managed a mentorship program for students of color interested in business, worked an on-campus job, participated in various service programs and trips, and participated in a leadership program. Though I have not been exposed to Greek life, I have acquired many skills and experienced many qualities of Greek life while building connections and valuable friendships.
While Greek life may not be available to all students, or some students feel they are missing something without it, you can seek enriching and fun programs on campus to join, which will make your college experience as memorable and rewardable as possible. Joining a Greek organization has its benefits, but the reality is that you have many other options that will enrich your university experience.
Vanessa Sewell is studying Economics and Communications at Boston College. She is from Bronx, NY. Vanessa has worked on topics related to lifestyle, fashion, culture, and education during her time at Boston College. During her free time, she can be found playing piano and guitar or jamming to Spotify.