Ask Kat: The Reluctant Rusher
I found a college that I am about 99.9% certain I want to attend next year; it truly is the perfect fit for me. There is, however, one thing that has been bothering me about it.
Now, I haven't spoken to anyone that actually goes there but many websites of student reviews that I've read (such as collegeprowler.com and studentsreview.com) all say that the social scene at this school is fantastic until the spring semester of their freshmen year. This, apparently, is when your social standing begins to depend on whether or not you choose to participate in greek life.
I never thought that I would be one to join a sorority. In my experience, large groups of girls that are together for long periods of time usually results in mass drama. Also, there are many stereotypes and labels that go along with different sororities that I find somewhat degrading and insulting, and I feel like it would create unnecessary competition and hostility between girls.
On the other hand, I don't want my social life to go down the toilet like many student reviewers have experienced. I like to think that I don't need to join a sorority to feel included in social life at college, but there's no way of telling. Also, it is possible that Greek life is more important to guys at this school than it is to girls, but from what I understand there is a high percentage of the student body who participates there.
So, should I consider rushing for a sorority next year? Should I not believe everything I read and follow my instincts that it isn't for me? Or should I wait it out and see how my first semester goes? Everything could change between now and then, but I definitely want to attend this school and I don't want an otherwise wonderful experience there to be ruined because of this!
Oddly enough, your question reminds me of a lot of the love-related dilemmas I've seen lately. You know: the ones where a letter-writer's boyfriend or girlfriend is wonderful and fabulous and perfect in every way... oh, except for this one teeny-weeny incompatibility that's totally ruining the entire relationship.
Which is to say that if this were really the perfect school for you, the prospect of being involved in its predominant social scene wouldn't make you break out in hives—and if it does, it's not perfect. So before we go any further, let's let go of the spectre of this school as your one-and-only; there are thousands of colleges out there, and the sooner you accept that, the easier it'll be to make an objective choice from the three options available:
Option A: Attending your preferred school, and going greek despite your misgivings.
Option B: Attending your preferred school, avoiding Greek life, and resolving yourself to a place on the social sidelines.
Option C: Finding another school that fulfills all your needs—academically, geographically, AND socially—and going there instead.
Which of these options you pick depends on two things: what's most important to you (for example, social inclusion vs. an award-winning program in your major), and what the social scene at this school is actually like. And since only you know the former, let's talk about the latter. Have you done your homework on greek life in general, and at this school specifically, and formed an educated opinion on its merits (or lack thereof)?
Or—and be honest, now—are you basing your impression of sororities solely on media horror stories and several viewings of "Animal House" and "Legally Blonde"?
Because while fitting into a school's social scene is important, sorority stereotypes are just that: stereotypes. Sure, some sorority girls are evil, backstabbing harpies; and sure, some greek scenes are alcohol-soaked pits of date-rapey despair ... but in many cases, greek life can simply be a vibrant community of like-minded people, not an evil dictatorship for Queen Bee Beyotches. And since you love this school in all other regards, you should do the diligence and make sure you know what's what. College review sites are a good start, but they're also a magnet for bitter people with a bone to pick, so go a step further: look to people within your network—friends and family of your friends and family—who went there and can offer some insight. Or talk to the admissions office about scheduling a visit where you'll have a chance to chat with current students, or even spend the night in a dorm with some students who will be thrilled to share their honest opinions with you, and perhaps show you a frat party firsthand.
Of course, all of this may only further convince you that sorority life is definitely not for you. (For what it's worth, it wasn't for me, either; I didn't apply to a single school that had an on-campus greek scene.) But no matter what, you'll have the information you need to make a decision—and not only that, I bet it'll be forehead-slappingly obvious.
Are you in a sorority/fraternity? Do you go to a school with a big greek scene? Tell us all about it!
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