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Bear Perspectives: Why I joined a Panhellenic sorority, and you should too

Savannah Smith '23 throws the hand sign for Alpha Delta Pi during Bid Day in fall 2019.
Savannah Smith '23 throws the hand sign for Alpha Delta Pi during Bid Day in fall 2019.

Bear Perspectives is a series of first-person essays written by upperclassmen students at Mercer University about their experiences in college and what they wish they knew as a first-year. Throughout the beginning of the semester, The Cluster will publish a variety of these essays covering various topics for the benefit of the class of 2026.

Coming into college, I never had the image of myself as the kind of person who had to be in a sorority. My decision to sign up for recruitment as a freshman amounted to a mere whim.

Three years into my college career, I can’t picture my life at Mercer any other way. I have held two executive positions in my chapter and count my sisters as my closest friends. However, while I have found several outlets for fulfillment in my chapter, sororities are not for everyone, and anyone considering going through recruitment should do their best to make an informed decision. 

Even though my choice was a halfhearted decision, my reasons for remaining an active and enthusiastic member of my sorority remain steadfast and can help anyone in deciding if taking on letters is for them. 

Pro: The Opportunity to Build Your Resume

I find the leadership opportunities in a sorority are like no other due to how much they sharpened my emotional intelligence and communication skills. Whether addressing a group of 100 women from different backgrounds or having a difficult conversation with a single member, you are challenged by your sisterhood to deliver a message with empathy, frankness and respect. 

While I do feel my soft skills have grown the most because of sorority leadership, the tasks demanded of you are also massive credits to a resume. Imagine being able to tell an interviewer that you managed a $50,000 budget or that you developed and executed a brand for your chapter’s social media presence. These are the opportunities that become available to you should you join a sorority.

Con: Sororities Aren’t Cheap

An obvious downside of joining a fraternity or sorority is how much it costs. As dues and other fees amount to hundreds per semester, this is no small consideration. Know that if you go through recruitment, it is valid to ask active members about the costs and what they feel they get out of it. 

Specifically for Panhellenic recruitment, you should be provided with financial information sheets by each of the chapters. If the figures seem unmanageable for you, there are many other organizations on campus that can provide a similar experience — remember: your college experience is what you make of it. Additionally, if you are still interested in a sorority, you can confirm the sorts of payment plans that might be available to you. 

Pro: Joining A Unique Community 

Both within your chapter and during the recruitment process, you will encounter like-minded women who are seeking a community that prioritizes academics, service and fellowship. 

By making a deliberate effort to enter a community that values these things, you ease the process of making friends who share a vision for their college experience and eventual entry into the professional world. In my sorority sisters and the panhellenic community, I have found my study partners, my dinner dates, my collaborators in community service and friends who support my goals, whatever form they may take. 

While you can definitely find similar friends outside of a sorority, a sorority’s values can hold your sisters accountable for being the sort of friend you would want to have.

Something to Think About: Prepare to Have a Full Calendar

A sorority is a very customizable commitment. You can be as involved or disengaged as you choose, but there can be an overwhelming amount of events to sift through during some parts of the year.

Furthermore, most sororities have mandatory events for which an unexcused absence will result in fines or disciplinary action. While varying degrees of involvement in a sorority is normal, it can be disconcerting if you feel like you aren’t able to put as much of yourself into a chapter as others can. 

Leaders in a sorority do want everyone to be as involved as possible, so you may feel pressured to do more. Ideally, you should be able to have a sincere conversation with members of your chapter about if you are finding the demands of membership to be too much. If this is already a concern for you, however, you can always go through recruitment and ask active members themselves how they manage their time. 

Pro: Embracing Tradition and Ritual

Ritual is the impetus for sororities and fraternities having a cult-like reputation, but I think it is one of the things that has kept me engaged with my sorority for so long. 

Beyond the traditions that we all get to enjoy as Mercer students, you can complement that experience with the traditions of a Greek organization. Though this may seem frightening, ritual amounts to — without disclosing any details — a solemn declaration of what an organization values and expects of its members. I have found it rewarding to reflect on these things each year and realign with the person I challenged myself to be by joining a sorority. The benefits of this are only compounded by the fact that it is a shared experience with my closest friends. 

I believe going through recruitment can be an informative and edifying experience for any freshman, even if they’re unsure if they want to join or not. It challenges you to think about the kind of person you would like to become throughout college, and it gives you access to a litany of experiences, role models, friends and cherished memories. 

Savannah Smith ‘23 is a member of Alpha Delta Pi and joined after participating in fall formal recruitment during her freshman year in 2019. She is currently the Vice President of Operations of her chapter.


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