True Story: I Was In A Sorority

This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting, challenging, amazing things.  This is the story of Laura and her experience as a sorority sister.Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m 23 years old and from Alabama.  I’m finally finishing up my degree in medical laboratory technology and am spending my last semester of school interning at a hospital laboratory.  Every day I get to practice analyzing bloodwork, running tests, and identifying bacteria.  In my free time, I’m perfecting my skills as a makeup artist, working on my blog, or trying out new beauty products.  I also play the ukulele and read tons of biographies.  I’m addicted to guacamole, magazines of any sort, and prowling through antique shops.What were your perceptions of sorority life before you got to college?  Had you wanted to be in a sorority growing up?
Being in a sorority was something I had NEVER considered, ever.  Nobody I’ve known really well had ever joined, so it was completely foreign to me!  My perceptions of sororities even when I started college were pretty stereotypical: sorority girls pay for their friends, do nothing but party, that sort of thing.What made you want to join a sorority when you got to college?
I transferred to a new school my junior year that’s in a bigger city, I didn’t really know anyone, and I wanted to meet some new people.  Initially I signed up for recruitment (AKA rush, a process to check out all the sororities and see which fits you best) out of morbid curiosity more than anything, just to see what might happen.  I didn’t really expect to get a bid or be invited to join, but I figured I would at least meet some interesting girls and have a weird new experience.

How did you choose which sorority(s) to pledge to?
Every girl interested in joining a sorority participates in recruitment.  The whole process is different at every school; my school is on the small side and we have four different sororities in our Greek system.  I can’t say how it works elsewhere, but at mine it was four days of different activity nights where each girl gets the opportunity to spend time with the members in each different sorority and figure out where she fits in best.  There are skits, philanthropy projects, slide shows, and plenty of time for conversation to discover what each sorority is all about.

You get a feel for who you click with and who you don’t, and after the second night you start narrowing down to your top two choices.  Meanwhile, the sorority members are doing the same thing!  They’re selecting who they feel would be a good fit and an asset to their chapter.

The women in charge of recruitment are there to help you make a decision if needed, answer any questions you have, and guide you through the whole confusing process.  It can definitely be overwhelming.  They kept saying all during the week, “You’ll find a place that feels like home.”  It’s kind of cliche, but it turned out to be true!

Before recruitment, I did a little research on my own about the four sororities on my campus.  I learned the basics about each of them, like their motto, symbols, and philanthropy projects.  One sorority in particular stood out to me more than the others, and it was the one I was invited to join.  I also felt extremely comfortable with every girl I talked to, something that I hadn’t experienced with the girls in other sororities.  It was like talking with genuine friends, rather than the awkward stiffness of an interview.  I wasn’t expecting it, but I really did feel at home with them.

Can you tell us about the pledging process?
There was absolutely no hazing!  The sorority members invited you to join, and they want you to stick around!  Pledging honestly wasn’t that different than being an initiated member.  We just weren’t allowed to attend rituals or vote for membership.  During the pledging process, we attended a weekly class to learn about the sorority’s history, our founders, what we stand for, and lots and lots of details about how everything works.  The hardest part was learning everyone’s name!

How did the people in your life react when you told them you were joining a sorority?
My mom was thrilled for me!  My friends were amused and teased me a little in good humor, but were overall supportive and intrigued.

Can you tell us about day-to-day life in a sorority house?
I wish I could answer this!  There’s some weird outdated city ordinance where my school is that states five or more women living together constitutes a brothel!  So a sorority house is technically illegal.  Who knew?!  All the sororities have their own suite though, which is like a huge living room and kitchen where girls can hang out, study, and have meetings.  We hold a weekly meeting called “chapter” where every girl has a chance to make announcements and keep all the members informed and updated on what’s going that week.

How have you benefited from joining a sorority?  Have there been any drawbacks?

Joining a sorority has honestly been one of the best decisions I’ve made with my life.  I’m an only child and have never had siblings, but I know I can count on my sisters for anything.  I’ve enjoyed being in a sorority WAY more than I ever imagined I would.  I’ve grown as a person and have been stretched out of my comfort zone.  I held an office in our chapter and had to learn how to adapt to different styles of management and work as part of a team.  I’ve learned how to organize and plan events and I’ve learned how to get along with lots of different personalities.

It got stressful and busy sometimes, but the benefits far outweighed the burdens.  I am so thankful for the support, encouragement, and love I recieve from my sisters.  I really don’t know where I’d be without them.   Even though I’m about to graduate and now live about two hours away from most of my sisters, I still see them pretty frequently.  I know that no matter where I go in life, there will always be a sister nearby.  The support network is incredible.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to join a sorority?

Do a little research about the sororities at your school in advance.  Don’t be intimidated, don’t try to be somebody you’re not, and don’t worry.  Even if you don’t get a bid from the sorority you wanted, be open to the sorority that does invite you to join.  You really WILL end up in the best place for you!  Once you join, get as involved in your chapter as possible.  You get out of it what you put into it.  Most of all, enjoy it!  Have fun with your sisters!  Be open to their encouragement to try new things.  They will be there for you no matter what.

Do you guys have any questions for Laura?  Were/are any of you in a sorority?

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16 Comments

  1. Samarkand

    I guess there aren't any sororities in other countries, it's a stricktly american thing?

    Reply
  2. Starling

    Laura, this sounds exactly like where I went to undergrad (UAB) – I remember the ordinance and the suites for each sorority. Although I wasn't in one myself, I remember the sorority atmosphere on our campus being really relaxed and positive. Howdy to a (possible?) fellow Blazer!

    Reply
  3. Morgan

    cool! i think a med lab degree would be so awesome!
    and she makes sororities sound fun!

    Reply
  4. Bloggin in PA

    Thanks so much for posting this! Many people have misconceptions about what being in a sorority is like. I have found people to be very judgemental when I tell them I was in a sorority in college- they just assume all the girls are dumb, ditzy, gold-diggers- you name it! Not to mention how sororities are portrayed on TV and in movies! I'm glad to see someone write about this in a positive way!

    Reply
  5. Kristina

    @ samarkand, there are fraternities and sororities in Europe too, but it is a complete different system. Especially in Germany. Wikipedia has a very interesting article about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studentenverbindung

    Reply
  6. rubybastille

    Our town had the same rule about "brothels," only we were in a teeny Oregon town! Honestly I'm glad we didn't have houses – I loved my sisters but I would have gone bonkers if I'd had to live with all of them. 😉

    PS Our body-positivity blog Average Fantastic did a similar interview a couple months ago, coming from the perspective of a girl who had just joined a sorority. http://averagefantastic.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/qa-a-sorority-girl/

    Reply
  7. Laura

    Starling: Yep! UAB! Huzzah from a fellow Blazer 🙂 how funny!

    I had no idea about sororities in other countries, I definitely want o check out that wikipedia entry.

    Thanks for all the positive responses! You guys are awesome 🙂 I definitely wanted to dispel some stereotypes, I'm so happy that came across in my interview!

    Reply
  8. Manda Jane

    I am a sorority girl myself. I love this post and how positive it is. I get really fed up with all the negative misconceptions about sororities. It was one of the best decisions I made in life – contrary to popular belief, there was no hazing, no body issues, all the girls were not rich and we weren't stupid or simply 'party' girls. It is definitely something I will encourage my girls to do when they enter college.

    Reply
  9. Starling

    Woohoo! Nice to know there are fellow Blazers in the Yes and Yes community 🙂 I miss UAB – they've done a lot of lovely things with the campus since I graduated in 2003.

    I also want to comment on an absolutely lovely thing about sororities that you mentioned – "no matter where I go in life, there will always be a sister nearby." That's such a comfort – so many of us move like crazy, and it's nice to have one or two folks nearby to help with that transition.

    Reply
  10. Mary

    I also have to agree, it is always refreshing to hear someone speak so well of sororities. Though it was such a giant part of my life, and helped greatly to shape who I am, the fact that I was in a sorority is never one of the first things I tell people when I meet them. It's heartening to know that the Greek system has had a positive effect on so many people.
    And yes, even being in a local sorority with only one chapter, I still have sisters all over the country and all over the world! It's amazing!

    Reply
  11. Christine

    I'm a junior at a small liberal arts college in Missouri (or at least I will be when school starts back up), and I was in a ADPi for about a year. I was CORed after recruitment was over (I never did recruitment), but ended up dropping the end of my second year (after I had already paid for the pin much to my mother's unhappiness). I dropped when I saw just how fake the sororities got during recruitment.

    I'm curious which sorority you joined and how recruitment worked at your chapter!

    Reply
  12. Aimee

    I'm also a sorority girl (a small, now-defunct chapter of a major national sorority), so it was interesting to read about someone else's experience.

    If I could do it over again, I'm not sure that I would join a sorority- I enjoyed the other clubs I was involved in more and I don't really keep in touch with many of my sisters. However, it did teach me a lot about getting along with all sorts of people. Rush was especially valuable as a learning experience…

    Reply
  13. Jacklyn

    It's interesting how sororities can be fake at one campus and amazing at another. There are aspects of sororities that I could do without, but overall, I feel as though my sorority has changed me for the better. I have found a group of women that has challenged me to be the best I can be. THAT is what a sorority should be about. 🙂

    Reply
  14. Paige

    I love that you guys wear really cute sun hats to football games! I’m a Troy Trojan that appreciates you girls’ classiness.

    Reply
  15. Anonymous

    Good to hear a positive description of greek life, although I was a bit surprised to see "I Was in a Sorority" as a heading under true life – it seems like a much more common experience than most of the stories in this series.

    Sorority men and women make up a huge number of CEO's, politicians, etc. today. Greek GPA's are often higher than all-student GPA's at many universities. Most fraternities and sororities require their members to participate in at least two clubs/campus activities and at least two community service projects per semester, plus each has their own philanthropy that it holds benefits and fundraisers for each year.

    Of course, each person's experience is different and I know that not all Greek experiences are positive, but I am happy that Y&Y has acknowledged that this lifestyle can be positive for many, even if maybe it is not relevant to many of this site's readers' college experiences.

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    is there a sorority thing in europe ?!

    Reply

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