Life After Formal Sorority Recruitment: The Social and Financial Realities

Bid Day is the final day of the exhausting, two-week formal recruitment process. Not only is Bid Day the end of recruitment, it is also the beginning of a whirlwind experience that is joining a sorority. It is the first day in the journey of becoming an initiated, life-long member of a national organization. If you are like me and signed up for formal sorority recruitment on a whim–without any family members who had ever participated–you are probably feeling completely overwhelmed in the weeks following Bid Day.
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I began thinking about signing up for sorority recruitment during my first semester when I felt nostalgic and missing my girlfriends from home, who I had spent endless hours with rehearsing and performing. It occurred to me that a sorority might be a way for me to replicate that community of girlfriends that I cherished. I loved high school because of friendships with older girls I admired and then becoming that person who younger girls looked up to. In other words, I wanted to be someone’s little, and then be someone’s BIG.

That right there was the extent to which I thought through the decision to sign up for sorority recruitment. I didn’t ask questions about how much it cost. I didn’t ask questions about the new member process. I was completely unprepared for being a member of the Greek Community.

What I wish I had known as a first-year student going Greek:

The Costs

According the most recent data, the average new sorority member will pay $1,280 per semester.

  • $1,280 x 7 semesters = nearly $9,000 over the course of four years
  • I need to earn $80/week during the 16-week semester to pay for it
  • Some chapters have payment plans and additional scholarships – for example, my friend washes dishes to help pay dues.
  • The reality: The majority of students are not paying their Greek life dues on their own. There is limited socioeconomic diversity.

Financial barriers

Our campus should be sensitive to the fact that access to participating in Greek life is limited to those who can pay for it. If you have a friend who may really have wanted to try Greek life, but cannot afford it:

  • Only 11% of Ohio State is Greek! Encourage your friend to seek out involvement that provides a similar community – you can find incredible friends in other student organizations.
  • Invite her to hang out with your friends in your sorority. My best friend from freshman year did not go Greek but I take her as my date to different functions and she was always welcome at my sorority house.
  • Be careful with how you paint your experience and be aware of your friend’s feelings. It’s important to share the exciting moments as well as the overwhelming ones. A sorority experience is not a perfect one.

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The realities of sisterhood

  • A sisterly bond is stronger than friends, right? That bond does not form overnight. You become sisters with 100 girls and getting to know them takes time. It might take a whole semester just to learn names. Be patient. I wasn’t sure if Greek Life would be for me until my sophomore year when my sisters became some of my best friends.
  • Go to your new member meetings! The New Member educator’s primary responsibility is to care about your transition to the sorority. The New Member educator cares that you feel comfortable–talk to them.
  • Not everyone who goes Greek drinks alcohol. In fact, it is an expectation that as a member, you act responsibly and represent your chapter well. There is a team of sober monitors to enforce the rules at every event with alcohol present. In my sorority, the other sober monitors dress up in ridiculous outfits like footie pajamas! If you feel pressure to drink to make friends, or feel that a majority of the experience is drinking, talk to your chapter advisors and executive board.
  • It’s unrealistic to think you are going to be best friends with every girl in your chapter…or even want to be. This is where that sister component comes in. Sorority sisters should value each individual and respect them regardless if you like them.
  • The reasons you join are different than the reasons you stay. Look out for the reasons that make your sorority a really positive influence in your life.

Lastly, keep in mind that sororities that fall under PHA are just one branch of Greek life. Members of multicultural Greek organizations, academic Greek organizations, and fraternity men go through this transition into their chapters as well. No branch of Greek life is better than any other; support and honor your fellow Greeks!


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It’s all Greek to Me!

While many people know today as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, or a day to relax because Ohio State is closed, to nearly 1,000 women who have been participating in sorority recruitment, it’s also known as Bid Day. The day women receive an invitation, known as a bid, into a sorority.

While I’m a proud sorority woman and advisor to one of our chapters on campus, I realize that Greek life can seem a little mysterious to those outside the community. I also realize we see many more jokes about the Greek community than real information, so I’m here to bust some stereotypes, shed some light on what can seem like secretive and elite groups, and share lessons in Greek Life 101.

Lesson One: What are Greek organizations?

Some of the oldest Greek letter organizations began as secret societies where members discussed and debated philosophy, politics, and current events. Over time, these societies became more social in nature and by the late 1800s, several groups were founded as Greek letter fraternities and sororities. Many of the organizations share similar founding goals around brotherhood/sisterhood, leadership, service, and academics.

Where it gets confusing at a place like Ohio State is that there are some Greek letter organizations on campus that are not part of the social Greek community. There are academic honoraries, co-ed service groups, and major specific clubs at Ohio State that have Greek letters. The best way to confirm which ones are social fraternities and sororities is to look at the chapter list on the Fraternity and Sorority Life webpage.

At Ohio State, over 4,000 students (approximately 10% of the undergraduate student body) are members of a Greek organization. In total, there are over 65 organizations governed by four councils: Interfraternity Council, Multicultural Greek Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, and the Panhellenic Association.

Lesson Two: What do those letters mean, anyway?

One of my college friends referred to my chapter as “A – backwards 7 – triangle”  because he could never quite remember the Greek letters. And before I joined a sorority, I never knew any of the letters or how to pronounce them. In case you aren’t of Greek heritage or haven’t yet completed that study abroad trip to Athens, please see the handy guide below for the Greek alphabet.

Lesson Three: Don’t believe the hype

We all know there are stereotypes about fraternity and sorority life. In fact, these stereotypes have entered our vernacular when we call something a “total frat move” or reference crouching women in pictures as doing the “sorority squat”. You’ve also probably heard other things about the Greek community like:

  • The organizations only care about partying
  • All chapters engage in hazing
  • Members are buying their friends
  • The men are fratty douche bags and the women are sluts

While there may be some individuals who reinforce these stereotypes of Greek life, I have interacted with many more individuals who are student leaders on this campus, who deeply value the founding ideas of their organization, and who are building valuable interpersonal skills and experience to use in the real world.

Lesson Four: Know your facts

I credit my experience in a Greek organization for helping me grow and develop during my college years and for giving me a competitive edge when I started my first job search.

But beyond my personal experience, there are many others who have documented the benefits of Greek life on our own campus:

  • For the past 33 academic terms, the all-Greek GPA has exceeded the all-undergraduate student GPA on our campus. This fall (autumn 2013), the average GPA for Greek students was a 3.24 while the average for all students was a 3.09.
  • In the past year, Greek students have completed over 50,000 hours of community service and raised over $500,000 for charitable organizations.
  • Graduation rates for Greek students are 20 percentage points higher than non-Greek students.
  • Since 1825, a majority of our U.S. presidents have been members of a fraternity. (Herbert Hoover: how did you get elected?)
  • 85% of Fortune 500 executives were a part of the Greek community.


While membership in the Greek community can sometimes be misunderstood or colored by stereotype and misconception, I hope Greek Life 101 has answered a few basic questions. To find out more, talk with the great staff members in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. If you’ve decided Greek life isn’t for you, that’s okay. Maybe you now understand just a little more about those other students walking around in matching jackets (although to be fair, some of them may just be playing Humans vs. Zombies). And to our first-year students who have decided to go Greek, congratulations on starting a transformative, lifelong experience!