Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why Fraternities and Sororities Are Not Stupid: Reason 3

So, fraternities and sororities are not stupid. Know why? Because our members stay in school, that's why.

Reason 3: Membership in a fraternity or sorority increases first-year retention.

Based on state-reported data to the Integrated Postsecondary Data System, the national average for first-year retention is about 75%. Based on a multi-institution study by Robert DeBard and Casey Sacks, average first-year retention for fraternity and sorority members is about 94%.

We think that's pretty dang significant and impressive. Just like with grades, let's think about why our numbers are higher so that we can keep it that way.

First off, fraternities and sororities are founded upon brotherhood and sisterhood. So, by forming connections and families away from home, first-year new members are usually able to better adjust to their new environments. Think back to your first year of college. It can be super overwhelming when everything is new. When your new sisters and brothers join your organizations, it is your job as initiated members to make sure they feel welcome. A lot of that is just being their friend. Having friends somewhere makes you more likely to stay in that environment. Most of y'all seem to be doing a pretty good job of that.

In addition, sorority and fraternity members, whether formally or informally, serve as role models. Since our members tend to be more involved on campus, new members are able to talk to student leaders on a more intimate level, making them more likely to also get involved on campus. Questions about joining student government? New members can ask a sister who serves as Vice President. That new member who is not sure how to get involved in that service trip he read about? They can ask a brother who has been before. Even if our members are not involved in every organization, their involvement on campus helps them make connections to stay informed about other organizations.

Apart from friendship, sisterhood, and brotherhood, fraternities and sororities provide structured assistance when it comes to adapting to a university. Chapters' academic achievement programs, connections on campus, and knowledge of resources are invaluable to a first-year member's success. For students fresh out of high school, it can be daunting to figure out how to get help in an unfamiliar setting. Fraternities and sororities help their new members by being able to connect them with resources on campus before their problems get too big to handle.

So, by providing a home away from home, setting a good example, and helping our new members adjust to campus, our organizations are keeping our members on the path to success.

In other words, be cool; stay in school.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why Fraternities and Sororities Are Not Stupid: Reason #2

And we're back! It's one week later, and fraternities and sororities still aren't stupid. In fact, today we focus on exactly how not stupid they really are.

Reason #2: The Greek GPA is higher than the non-Greek GPA at the top party schools.

We recognize that the Princeton Review's rankings are highly subjective, but this report shows at the "Top 20 Party Schools" known for their party cultures and large fraternity/sorority communities, the fraternity and sorority GPA is actually higher than that of unaffiliated students. Fraternities and sororities form an academic support network to help their members succeed.

We've heard some really cool ideas from different chapters that succeed academically. Since we're such great friends, we thought we'd share.

  • Partner with academic resources on campus like the Writing Center, the Math Lab, or Supplemental Instruction. This one seems the most practical, but it's totally underutilized. They are on campus to help you succeed academically. Your sorority or fraternity is on campus to help you succeed overall. It's like a match made in Heaven.
  • Give your chapter members incentives to achieve. We already know that bad grades get punished: by the chapter, by the university, by your (inter)national organization, and any others who choose to shame you. But what if you recognize and reward academic achievement? Try small gifts at chapter to recognize achievements throughout the semester like A's on test or papers. Keep chapter members motivated throughout the semester so they can celebrate great things at the end. We're obsessed with the ones with catchy names like "smarty pants" involving free pants or "skippy award" involving peanut butter cookies for those that do not skip class.
  • Have coffee or dinner for your professors. This is a great way to get to know your professors and do something great and commendable on campus. Invite all professors on campus and let them get to know your chapter. Your chapter members are more likely to visit their professors when they need help if they've met them before. Not to mention your faculty will remember be able to make a connection between the organization that showed their appreciation and the students rockin' their letters in class.
So, now you know that fraternity/sorority members tend to have a higher GPA, and you have tips to keep it that way. Let's keep it that way so we can still mean it when we say we aren't stupid.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Why Fraternities and Sororities Are Not Stupid: Reason #1

How many people were skeptical of your decision to join a sorority or fraternity?

We've heard the phrase "From the outside looking in you could never understand it; from the inside looking out you could never explain it."

This new blog series based on 16 Reasons to Join a Fraternity is here to help you explain it. Plus, these reasons are all backed up by scientific research, so you know they're legit.

Reason #1: Fraternity and Sorority life builds better leaders and more active citizens

These findings are based on the University Learning Outcomes Assessment (UniLOA), a diagnostic tool used as a "dashboard indicator" of student growth, learning, and development. In its 2010 study with responses from about 5,700 male students, the assessment found that fraternity men scored substantially higher that non-affiliated men in the domains of citizenship and membership and leadership.

Some specific items where members scored higher than non-members were:
  • engagement in the political process through voicing viewpoints such as writing letters to the editor, engaging in debate, and contacting political leaders;
  • involvement in organizations relating to personal or professional interests;
  • leadership opportunities in important/expert areas;
  • and effective management of an organization, group, or club.
Think about those leadership positions in your chapter or council where you have to find the best way to run a committee or meeting. Yup, you are developing transferable skills that translate to leading a department or task force. The same skills you learn as a vice president of programming mentoring committee chairs will be used when you supervise individuals someday.

And those times when your sisters or brothers encouraged you to join organizations you were really interested in? It's definitely setting you up to be an involved professional with great networking opportunities within a field you're interested in. Involvement in organizations like the Pre-Medical Students Society or the Public Relations Student Society of America is a great way to network within a future profession while you're still in college.

And those times you had the courage to speak out in student government meetings or to the campus newspaper? Your engagement as an involved citizen spurs discussion that is instrumental to forming opinions on important issues in your community. As engaged citizens, your involvement today is a start to future civic engagement like holding positions on your local school board or even running for a political office.

So the next time someone asks why you made the decision to go Greek, here's just one reason you can give her or him with stories to support it.

You're welcome.