It is almost everyone's dream during high school years to be popular. Senior year is an exciting and scary time for many, as they await the college experience. Some have already sneaked out for a college party or two, and can't wait to break into the scene. College freshmen often find themselves at a loss for their slowly achieved high school popularity, and are dying to get noticed or at least fit in somewhere.
Good Greek Life
Having a group of 'brothers' and 'sisters' to party with and a group to belong to seems like the best thing in the world to a lonely freshman far from home. Having the support of some earned friends that are supposed to stick by you because you have become 'one of their own' is a great feeling. Everyone likes to be accepted.
There are so many fun activities, parties, charity events, and meetings to fill up the time between classes. It certainly beats the boredom and isolation of not knowing anyone, and many people say that the pledging was well worth it.
No So Good Greek Life
Pledging can be extremely vigorous for many sororities and fraternities, particularly national ones, and it may be more than some people bargained for. Uniform dress, constant marching, and vows of silence are some of the minor forms of pledging that I have actually seen just walking around on campus. I noticed once, that a sorority had a girl carry a large 3-D display of the group's letters around with her everyday. She could not let it break and she could not be caught without it. You can almost always tell who is pledging.
On the dark side, hazing, other sexual encounters, and alcohol consumption, can be really harmful in the end. Some people are perfectly fine with the smoking, drinking, and partying all night, and are just happy to be away from their parents. With all the focus on partying, grades don't come nearly as high as the high school ones, if things get tot busy with the 'brothers' and 'sisters.'
Committing to a group might guarantee a certain superficial group of friends, and deny you connection with every other rival Greek organization. The competition can get ugly, and you might find yourself the object of automatic despise and held guilty by association.
To Rush, or Not to Rush, That is the Question
If grades are your number one priority, stay away from the pledging for the first year at college, at least. College is an entirely different ball game from high school, and you may be overwhelmed with the time management problems you will have trying to get to class, pay attention, study, meet deadlines, and spend time with friends. Use your freshman year to get to know a few different organizations and what they stand for. Check out how they act together, and see if you really want to associate yourself with them.
Holding off on the pledging will also give you time to get a handle on the crazy schedule, and I mean crazy schedule that you will have, and bring your GPA as high as possible. It you start with a high GPA, it will be hard to lower it when you take more challenging classes later on.
If your main priority is to have fun, rush, rush, rush. If your main focus is to be popular, rush, rush, rush. Just be careful who you talk to. If you tell the wrong person that you really want to get into a particular group, they will make it much harder for you to get in.
Consider the consequences of your actions and protect yourself. Don't pledge alone, if possible. Don't be afraid to quit if you are uncomfortable with what they ask you to do, or you have to lower your personal standards and beliefs to be a part of their group. There are thousands of other organizations on your campus, I assure you, that you can get involved in that will accept you just because you want to join. No pledging necessary.
Coming out of your shell and getting to know new people is the most memorable an exciting part of college life. Don't miss out on the social opportunities. Become a part of something special. Whether you pledge, join a club, or start a group of your own, do what is really right for you. Don't do things that you'll regret to look back on, and get your education. Classes have to be important at some point in your college career!