Are Fraternities / Sororities for Me?

“When I was searching around for the college where I was to spend my next, formative 4 years of my life, I had a few criteria in mind: Strong academic reputation, D1 sports, and a vibrant student social scene. One key factor I wanted to avoid was a big Greek life population.I wanted to feel comfortably surrounded by a student body that featured people like me, but in addition, a broad mix of different backgrounds. I didn’t want the pressure of having to join a fraternity of homogenous, privileged people to have a good time. Ultimately, I settled on the University of Maryland, after considering Boston College, Richmond University, and others, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

That being said, I don’t believe the decision would have been my best had I not been opening to altering my course. Remember the part where I said a major requirement for me was Greek Life not being a cornerstone piece of campus social scene? The same guy is talking to you now as a former Fraternity president, whose current job came from a greek life connection made while at school. By no means did I need to join Greek life at UMD, but I chose to, after consideration and consultation, and it made me into the man I am today. I was open to the idea that perhaps the fraternity stereotypes in my head were false, and I took the rush period to learn about the good things that I would then go on to do – fundraisers, community service, intramural sports, and leadership development trips. That being said, Greek life isn’t for everyone, and does have a decidedly negative stigma around it. My major point here is not that you should join a fraternity or sorority, but rather that you should keep an open mind, and certainly don’t make a school choice on something petty like preconceived notions of social scene.

Being open to trying new things is what college is all about, and while I wouldn’t promote being a “Yes Man”, I would say that before you jump to decline an offer to go on a school trip to a new city, or join a new club, give it a chance! College is a time for meeting new people, trying new things, and finding out what you like and dislike. Trial and error is the best method. Even extend this method into class selection. No matter your major, you should at some point in your 4 years, have the opportunity to take a class that interests you. Expand your horizons! Take a photography class, a classical music seminar, or contemporary philosophy! You might just stumble into something you love, and want to pursue. I entered school as a psychology major, being that it was all I knew. Both my parents were in the mental health field, and I just assumed I’d follow suit. Sophomore year, I took a business class, and was captivated. I added Business as a second major, and today I work in the corporate world, with the psychology serving to aid me, but the business background driving my role.

I guess my point in all this is that don’t stress too much over your college choice, and make sure you are prioritizing the right issues for you at that time. But to be honest, chances are, things will change. When you go to school, you will grow, whether that be in a totally different direction, or in strengthening your current high school senior values. Regardless, don’t be afraid to let the road drag you where it may, and enjoy the ride!”

Jake Barringer

Sales Management Associate

PepsiCo Beverages North America

(617) 459-2371

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