I remember sitting in the living room with my parents watching TV and wondering about my future as an incoming college freshman. I was a junior in high school researching and applying to colleges. I had everything set from preparing my resumes, to online applications, FAFSA forms, etc. But the biggest question I kept asking myself was how I wanted to be involved on campus. In high school, my focus was on sports and music. I played lacrosse and joined the school choir for three years, but sports, alone, took so much of my schedule that I didn’t have time for anything else. I only had one year of high school left, then it would be over for the rest of my life.
I knew college would be a fresh start and provided a lot of things for their students to get involved in, like clubs, volunteering and sports. But none of it seemed to catch my interest. It was then that I asked my parents what I could possibly do to get involved and they suggested joining a sorority. I was shocked at first. I thought my parents would tell me to join a club or continue playing sports or volunteer, but joining sorority life? I would never think parents would even talk about joining a fraternity or sorority, let alone encourage their child to join. I was surprised yet interested at the same time.
The Support of Friends and Family
Their suggestion stems from the fact that I come from a family of fraternity and sorority members. My dad and uncle are members of a Latin fraternity, my mom is a member of a Latin sorority and my aunt is an alumna of Sigma Delta Tau. All of them were very supportive of my decision to join a sorority, because they knew it would give me amazing opportunities.
I asked my parents some basic questions like, “What did you guys do for your sorority and fraternity, and how will joining a sorority benefit my college career?” My mom told me how she made incredible, lifelong friendships with her sisters, took on a leadership role, connected with other students in the fraternity and sorority community and made some incredible memories throughout college. My dad said the same thing. To this day, they both still keep in contact with their brothers and sisters. They both emphasized how the connections and leadership roles were crucial. That’s what sold me. I wanted the same experience they had. Creating lifelong friendships, developing leadership characteristics and making my mark as a sorority woman.
To this day I thank my parents for not just suggesting sorority life, but for joining and understanding the opportunities and experience membership can give a student. If not for them, I would not even be a sorority woman. My parents were so proud of the roles I took on, the connections I made and the everlasting sisterhood I found. And that is what they always reminded me – that it is a sisterhood for life.
But, some families or caregivers might not be as familiar with the fraternity and sorority community. For those that aren’t, I would suggest doing some research. Find out what sorority life is like, what benefits members get and what the expectations are. Check out your student’s campus and learn about when they host Panhellenic recruitment and what chapters are on campus.
From there, talk with your student. If you think she can benefit from the experience, tell her about it. Sit down with your student and read articles together about the sorority experience. Your support and guidance could lead her to find a supportive community on campus and for the rest of her life.
If you are familiar with the community, share your experience with your student. Tell them the benefits and opportunities just as my parents did. Your experience can help your student decide if the experience is for her. You might also learn about how the experience has changed. This will help you better support your student as she goes through the recruitment process.
These steps are a great place to start. Also, ask your student how you can help. You and she might both be confused on where to start. Luckily, if you’ve made it to this site, you are starting out on the right foot.