Nearly one year ago I made the unruly decision to pledge. It was a decision I'd been contemplating for over two years. Naturally it made sense: the president of my scholarship association at that time, who was simultaneously my most cherished mentor, was a member. My grades and involvement in activities both on and off campus trumped the membership criteria; I was more than qualified to join such a prestigious organization, yet my stomach churned at the idea of an initiation process.
You’d hear rumors about what initiation entailed but everything was still ambiguous. In the days leading up to the rush–the main event to show your interest and retrieve an application–I had second thoughts, doubt. So many things ran through my mind that paying attention at the program was far from a reality.
However, I filled out my application and made the deadline. A few weeks after my interview, I was officially extended an opportunity to join the sorority. Yet, again, it was a bittersweet situation that resulted in my pledging.
Since joining, I have advice for those who are currently in a similar predicament. This list is not in any particular order; all points are equally important.
You should be able to answer the question why? If you are having trouble, reflect on the reasons you gravitated towards this particular organization in the first place. Everyone’s reasoning varies, but make sure yours are based on something more sustainable than just popularity. It is natural to become acquainted with something because everyone is doing it, but remember that just because that is the case it doesn’t mean that needs to be the case for you. If it helps, ask people why they did it and if they feel if the experiences have fulfilled their expectations. Do internal and external research on the matter.
History –Past & Present
In addition to finding out why people join, research the organization and learn about it itself. What are the founding principles? Do you feel the organization in present time lives up to them? If so, how? If not, why? They reveal a lot about the organization’s procedures and government. And what your commitment is going to entail should you join. Can you handle a dysfunctional chapter? Ask yourself these questions. Also, what about the synergy? Is there really unity among the organization members? Find out the extent of their sisterhood or brotherhood. It might even be easier to talk to people who have already graduated seeing how they tend to give out more information. These are all things you can find out prior to determining whether or not you want to pledge.
Credentials – Addition or Subtraction
College is an opportunity for you to brand yourself. Everything you do is either going to add to your already impressive resume or take away from it. Will this extra involvement be beneficial or a distraction? Is this the missing piece to a possible job offer? It might sound very selfish, but it is important to figure out how the organization is going to help you just as much as you will help it. It is a give and take situation and you must see that from the start or you will be in the losing end of the metaphorical boxing arena that is life.
I referenced three areas that are very important in making the final decision to join a Greek organization, all of which should weigh equally in your decision whether or not to pledge. Everything might seem a bit overwhelming, but remember that whatever you choose to do, it should be a true representation of you.