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If you’re a college student just starting out in your first year, or even one that’s been there but is now looking for new ways to branch out, there’s a good chance you’ve thought about joining a fraternity or sorority. While the media tends to show us only the negative sides of hazing and partying, Greek organizations offer many great benefits to the college student.

Tips for Joining a Fraternity or Sorority

For some though, the process of joining can seem a bit daunting. How do you get in? When do you start? What requirements are there? You also want to make sure you pick one that you fit into and that meets your idea of what a group of friends should be. For those unsure about the whole process of joining a fraternity or sorority, here are some easy tips to fill you in and get you started on the right path.

1. Look for Rush advertisements – At the beginning of the semester, fraternities and sororities will hold a Rush period. There’s a good likelihood that you’ll find flyers advertising their events all over campus. The Rush period is the time when those interested can visit different organizations and the organizations in turn can get to know new people who’ll make a great addition to their group. Rush events are meant for fun and social interaction, so choose as many as you want to get a feel for the different groups on campus. You’ll meet a lot of new people and there’s no pressure for you to choose one group over the other. Figure out where you fit in, ask a lot of questions, and put yourself out there as someone eager to join up with the right fraternity or sorority.

2. Wait for a bid – Once the Rush period is over, the organizations will be looking at the people they think will fit the best into their own fraternity or sorority, and those who attended the Rush will be thinking about which ones they liked best. If you’ve made a good impression and found yourself clicking with several of these groups, you’re likely to receive bids from them. A bid is an invitation to pledge the organization. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll get in, but it’s the first step toward becoming a full fledged member. You may get several bids if you attended several different Rush events for different groups. Decide which one appeals most to you and accept the bid from that group. Don’t worry about hard feelings with those you decline. It’s a given for them that not everyone will accept their offer.

3. Begin…and make it through…the Pledge period – Pledging can last several weeks and is the period of time when the fraternity or sorority decides who will join them as members of the organization. When the media tells stories of hazing, it is usually during this period that it occurs. Many fraternities and sororities have made headlines by making their pledges do things considered humiliating and dangerous. The truth is, while there are a few organizations that haze, the pledge period is not always full of horrible moments that are going to send you home crying. Many campuses and individual organizations have established “No hazing” policies, relying on your academic and social behavior to decide if you’re right for the group instead. Keep in mind that if you are made to do something you’re uncomfortable with, you can quit the pledge period at any time and re-rush another organization the following semester.

4. Be inducted and enjoy your new friends – If you make it through the pledge period, be proud! Not everyone does for one reason or another. By offering you membership, the fraternity or sorority is telling you that you have the qualities that they’re looking for to represent them on campus. The induction ceremony is usually a formal event and one that fraternities and sororities take very seriously. Once you’re a member, you’ll become part of the Greek family and will be given your own letters to wear proudly around campus.

The whole process isn’t intimidating once you know how it works, but it can be time consuming for those trying to balance studying and perhaps a job. However, for those who really want to be part of the organization, the time is well worth it. You’ll make some great friends, have some great experiences, and have memories of your days as a Greek to carry with you way past college graduation.