When I considered fraternity life, I took my decision seriously. I took in the history of each organization and I matched how the chapters on campus supported their respective national organizations. Fortunately, I also had a pretty good idea who I was. As a result, I have always loved the decision I made. I have even served as a chapter president on both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and I created the Black Greek Success Program to help collegiate Greeks identify how to use their letters for career success.
Any student who is serious about Greek life can use the power of technology, a little research, and good ol’ human intuition to pick the organization that is right for him or her. What makes a world of difference, however, is the guidance that he or she receives from mentors, faculty, staff, alumni, and professionals. Note that it is not about picking the best Greek-letter organization, it is about picking the best Greek-letter organization for the student.
Here are five tips to help that student make the most appropriate choice.
- Encourage him or her to READ. A student's first stop should always be the web site of the national organization to read history, understand the mission as well as the policies and initiatives of each organization. Also, suggest that students do an internet search on each organization to see the latest news stories on each one.
- Make it about the student, not you. NPHC organizations are strong because of members who know who they are. Students don't benefit from the Greek experience when others try to make decisions for them. Helping a student understand his or her personality will help that student understand how organizations mesh with their values. A simple personality test can help a student figure out which way to go.
- Encourage being a student first. All NPHC organizations have academic criteria. When students without the proper grades walk into interest meetings, it becomes a waste of everyone's time. The students with the highest GPAs get the most favorable looks from selection committees because it is clear that those students are taking care of business where it counts most.
- Meet the Greeks. Coach students on how to interview members. They can ask members what their respective organizations’ missions mean to them and for examples of how they have seen brotherhood or sisterhood displayed. Students should also ask members how their organizations are contributing to their development inside and outside the classroom in addition to other important questions that may come to mind.
- Help them check their attitudes. College students tend to expect perfection from those they admire, therefore, they can be harsh judges others. Encourage your student to figure out how to change the game if he or she feels a chapter does not perform up to the standards of the national organization. Likewise, a student should be challenged to figure out how his or her academic, social, and servant leader contributions will take a chapter that performs well to the next level. The more tenacious the candidate, the more positive the outlook of the chapter.
This is a revised version of the blog entry "How to pick the best fraternity or sorority...for YOU", which appeared on the HBCU Lifestyle blog.