Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases will return next Wednesday to the blog! In the meantime, I wanted to mix it up a little bit for this midweek post, in honor of the fact that my sorority is currently going through Spring Recruitment.
Most of you know that a highlight of my college experience has been getting to be apart of a sorority. My former college didn't have Greek life, so when I transferred schools at the start of my sophomore year I was very excited to go through Formal Fall Recruitment. I received a bid to Alpha Delta Pi at the conclusion of recruitment, and was ecstatic to accept.
I love sharing updates on the blog from time to time about what my sorority is up to (I share a recap from our Bid Day festivities every year: read this past year's here!). Something that I have been reflecting on recently is that a good blog post topic might be an honest reflection about things that I wish I had known about Greek life before joining a few years ago! I don't mean this necessarily in a negative way- I'm not suggesting that these factors would have been deal breakers in my decision to join a sorority. But I do realize that when girls are going through recruitment, often the same information about sororities is continually thrown at them. "Find an outlet for sisterhood, socials and service!" or something along those lines. Greek life has definitely thrown a lot of surprises my way, so I thought that I would share some truths that I've discovered about sorority life during the past few years!
1. It is a HUGE time commitment: All of the Greek chapters at my college are quite small, and we also don't have Greek housing on campus. Because of this, I made a false assumption when going through recruitment during sophomore year that being in a sorority wouldn't take up that much of my time. FALSE!! Whether your chapter is large, small, or somewhere in between, all sororities require a commitment of your time and talents (and a financial commitment, but I'll get to that!). Certainly there are a few weeks during the year when the only thing on my sorority's calendar is our one-hour long weekly chapter meeting, but during Formal Recruitment season?! That's a whole other story! There will be times of the year in Greek life such as recruitment, Greek Week, or the weeks leading up to your chapter's philanthropy events when you need to invest many hours into chapter events.
2. With the time commitments- allow for flexibility: Even more then the amount of time that I put into ADPi, something that I've had to adjust to is that the Greek calendar is frequently changing. When it comes to planning my schedule, I am extremely Type-A. I could plan all of my social commitments out in advance for the next six weeks and be happy as a clam. I'm not super spontaneous when it comes to making plans, and I know that about myself.
However in my own experiences with Greek life, I would say that about 75% of the time things are planned out well in advance, but the other 25% things are thrown on sorority members at the last minute. And very quickly you need to learn to go with the flow! For example: this is the first semester since I've been in the chapter that my sorority is participating in Informal (Spring) Recruitment. Although the events aren't nearly as time consuming as Formal in the previous semester, they're still mandatory for all chapter members to be at. We weren't given a lot of advance notice about the fact that our chapter would be doing Informal, and now suddenly I have ADPi things going on almost every night this week! It might be disruptive to my schedule, but I need to remember that I made a commitment to Alpha Delta Pi, and realize that last-minute events do come up.
3. Also allow for flexibility regarding financials: You don't need me to tell you that Greek life is an expense. Unfortunately, one of the negative stereotypes about Greeks is that they pay for their friends. I don't think that could be further from the truth- each semester's dues help to do everything from fund chapter events, support a maintenance fund for your chapter's lodge or house, pay dues to your national offices, and many more important things. Sorority dues are not cheap, and this is something that I was aware of before going through recruitment. (My college's Panhellenic Council was awesome about educating girls interested in recruitment on the truth about how large of a financial commitment it was!)
Yet something that I did not expect is that dues are not the only ADPi expenses that I pay every semester. My chapter requires all members to pay for additional things throughout the semester beyond dues, including but not limited to t-shirts, ADPi honor society dues, food for sisterhood events, and some small expenses for our philanthropy events. This can all add up very quickly, and were extra expenses that I wasn't aware of before joining Greek life. My chapter has high enough dues each semester that all of our tickets to social events are covered (and sometimes we get free t-shirts for socials as well), but in other chapters on my campus that have lower dues, they have to pay for tickets each time that they have a social as well! So this is definitely something to keep in mind.
4. Another big expense- growing your sorority family: Something else that is a large additional expense in regards to being in sorority is taking a Little (or Littles!). For those of you not in Greek life- a Little is a sister that you "adopt" as your little sister in the organization (you are her "Big"). She is a younger member of the chapter that you serve as a role model for, and you help educate her about the sorority in the weeks leading up to initiation. Everyone has a Big, but not everyone has to take a Little, because taking a Little is a financial commitment! Littles are welcomed home by their Bigs and new sorority families with gifts... and I quickly learned your sorority chapter doesn't help fund those gifts, it's all on each individual Big sister!
Little gifts in my chapter include a variety of different craft items, letter shirts, and other ADPi gifts (such as photo frames or scarves). The summer before I knew I would be taking a little, I started making sure to save more of my paychecks from my summer job so that I wouldn't be so strapped for cash once the new semester came!
The first four truths that I shared above might seem a bit negative... I don't mean for them to be, I just want to share an honest perspective of Greek life, of both the highs and the lows! To end this post on a strong note though, below are three more truths, and they're definitely happier truths.
5. Sisters = smiling faces: My sorority sisters and I are all busy women. Despite the time commitments to our sorority, we don't live and breathe ADPi all of the time. But even on weeks were we might be more consumed with school, work or personal obligations, having sisters means that you are never alone on campus, and that whenever you see a sister, you are greeted warmly with a smile , and usually a hug too! This doesn't just go for campus run-ins... sisters are happy to see you whether you see them at the mall, at a restaurant, at a park, or even out on the town on weekend nights (that's usually when they're the most excited ;-) ). In the midst of my crazy schedule, it always makes my days a little bit brighter to see the happy faces of my sisters on campus and around Charlotte.
6. Sisterhood is taken seriously: Just like with biological sisters, sorority sisters do not get along 100% of the time. In any close-knit group of girls, disagreements do arise. But also similarly to biological sisterhood, sorority sisterhood is for life. You begin to realize that you can't let a petty argument ruin the tight bonds of sisterhood, and quickly you learn humbling life lessons about apologies and resolving differences. I began to learn this during my first year in my sorority, and I had a hefty dose of learning it again just last week. This life lesson might be the most important of all that Greek life has given to me.
7. Greek life really does give you friends for life: As I approach graduation at the end of this semester, I am valuing the bonds that I have made from Alpha Delta Pi more than ever before. Certainly not all of the friends that I have made in college are in my sorority- goodness, that would be a bit unhealthy if that were the case! But the sisters that I am close to hold an extremely special place in my heart, and I know that time and distance in the future won't change those bonds. I have special relationships with both my Big and my Little, some sisters who have already graduated, and some sisters who are in my grade who I met the year that I joined ADPi!
If any of you younger readers of my blog are considering going Greek ever, please e-mail me! I clearly love to talk about my experiences with both ADPi and Greek life. :-)
xoxo Miss ALK