Here’s a fact about me that may be surprising: In college, I was in a sorority .
Most people who know me now, as an adult, are quite shocked to find that out. I am decidedly “unsorority girl-like” (whatever that means). When I decided to rush, it was not a decision I took lightly. I was 18 years old, a freshman in college and I had already found an amazing group of friends. Why would I need a sorority? But a friend of mine and I had a nice, long discussion and we decided that we would try rushing to see what it was like; we could always drop out if it wasn’t for us.
Going in, I kind of already knew which sorority I wanted to get a bid from. It wasn’t an easy decision in the end because another one really made me fall in love with them but I ultimately did go with my first choice. I really didn’t know what to expect because I was the first one in my family to join a sorority (I had a cousin who was in a fraternity but we’re not that close as he is weird). I had an inkling about pledging and the social aspect but no one ever thinks to tell you about the financial aspect of going Greek so that was a huge shock to my system.
Since I want you or your children to be better prepared than I was, here’s some things you need to know, financially, about the decision to join a fraternity or sorority:
Dues. This is probably the single biggest expense. Dues, at least at my school, mainly covered housing costs (if you had a house or, in the case of my sorority, were trying to buy a house) such as rent, utilities, and food and membership fees that you must pay just for belonging. Dues were to be paid each semester and there was no discount for paying the whole year in advance. I always paid in full at the beginning because a)I don’t think we had a payment plan and b)I didn’t want nastygrams or to be prevented from attending events. Yes, our Treasurer was like a perky debt collection agency.
Clothing. When I joined my sorority, I had no idea how much clothing I would accumulate. There was a T-shirt for everything! Rush, Greek Games, Homecoming, and Anchor Splash (this is a dead giveaway for which sorority I was in, should you be inclined to figure it out) plus just buying clothing with letters on it (including “house letters” which all members were required to buy). By the end of college, I had enough sorority T-shirts to last a month without ever duplicating the shirt, which was nice because I hate doing laundry. However, those T-shirts were approximately $15-$25 a piece. That’s a lot of money for shirts that now sit in a pile in my closet.
Date parties/formals. I was initially going to include this in the incidentals category but I feel that it warrants its own category. Over my 3 1/2 years in my sorority, I probably spent more money on this than anything other than dues. From buying professional photographer pictures to the tickets for attending to the dresses and shoes (couldn’t wear the same thing twice!) to drinks to favors, the money spent on these were probably the best money I spent. You see, my husband was also my college boyfriend and he came with me to almost all of these events. It’s nice to look back on the pictures of the two of us and reminisce.
Incidentals. Good lord, the incidentals. There were so many. First, there was being a “Big Sister” and having to spoil my little during big/little week (this was pretty much mandatory). Then there was all the accessories–key chains, cups, pencils, hats, a windbreaker (don’t ask), car stickers; anything to show my sorority pride. Next came all the things I’m forgetting that I know I paid for. $5 here for a sister’s birthday, $10 here for a senior week gift, stuff like that. It wasn’t too bad considering this was the area where you actually have the most discretion as this stuff is all optional.
Fines. This is the worst one and perhaps the most ridiculous. We got fined if we missed something deemed mandatory like rush parties or school sponsored speakers. It wasn’t a big deal for me since my job ended at 6 pm every day but for some friends, it was hard. They had jobs that weren’t as flexible and would often have to miss mandatory events. One friend got fined more than she made in a shift! This is definitely something to take into serious consideration.
Please don’t mistake me being candid about the financial aspects of going Greek as discouragement from doing it if you (or your child) choose. It’s very doable, financially, if you know what you’re getting into and it’s budgeted and planned for. I didn’t want my parents, nor did I expect them, to pay for my sorority so I made sure to get a job that would pay for everything. My sorority was a bargain compared to some others, too. There was one sorority on campus that paid $900 per semester in dues. I only paid about $300. To this day, I wish I knew what $900 a semester covered.
Being Greek was both an amazing and horrendous experience for me. I don’t for one minute regret joining a sorority but there was some stuff, financially and otherwise, that I could have done without. I just wish I had been better prepared.
|For those not inclined to look it up, this was my sorority.