Coming to college at your dream University can be a very overwhelming time between classes, extra-curricular activities, and friends. As the second semester starts and time management becomes easier, the freshmen class is invited to get to know the Greek system and the eight individual sororities during Formal Recruitment.
On many campuses, the Panhellenic Sorority System is the largest women’s organization and has long been a staple at many schools as it continues to be a vibrant and active sector of campus life.
Even though the Panhellenic Community is made up of more individual sororities, each house offers basic tenants that bind all sorority women together: scholarship, leadership, service, and sisterhood.
To these aims, scholarship is encouraged from the beginning of New Member Education (the first six weeks of membership when all the new members become acquainted with the rituals and sisters of the house) with study hours and throughout the next 4 years in the form of academic bowls, faculty teas, Greek-wide study breaks, and individual recognition during weekly chapter meetings.
Informal academic support is offered in each house and can take the form of same-major mentors, class recommendations, and study groups to let you discover your entrepreneurial strengths. As a result of this effort, the all-Greek female GPA is consistently higher than the non-Greek female GPA.
Leadership within the sorority system is vital to its very existence; it is the undergraduates who are elected to each house’s executive board and the Panhellenic Executive Board that shape the Greek community every year. An important role plays College Panhellenic Academy year in year out.
From Community Service Chair to Panhellenic Delegate to Panhellenic Secretary, there is a place for all leaders within the system. Post-graduation opportunities abound, as there is an extensive network of professionals that make their careers out of the Greek system.
Outside of the Greek community, leaders in many organizations are Greek, including the Class Boards, Undergraduate Assembly, the Nominations and Elections Committee, Wharton Women, the Honor Council, and most sports teams.
The Greek system is the single largest service organization on many campuses and continuously provides to the communities and beyond. Each sorority works year-round on their individual philanthropy to raise money and awareness for issues important to their chapter.
The Panhellenic System as a whole has a unique history and partnership with charities and other organizations that promote social well-being like, for example at Penn State, with the Rena Rowan Breast Cancer Center on the school’s campus. Each year, a fund-raising 5K Walk/Run is organized by the Panhellenic Council and draws in participants from the entire university. Other chapters, again, support literacy development through cooperating with non-profit organizations and projects such as “Reading is Fundamental.”
At its root, sororities are support systems for their members and thus sisterhood remains a central aspect of the sorority experience. Navigating the choppy waters of college becomes less daunting with a sisterhood standing behind each member, supporting every member through any personal hardships.
Events are constantly being planned by house executive boards and the Panhellenic Council and include sisterhood dinners, downtown date parties, semi-formals and formals, movie nights, fondue parties, Greek Week and Greek Weekend events, engaging speakers, backyard barbeques, and karaoke nights.
The support system continues once we leave our Universities, as networking ties established as a member of a nationally recognized sorority have powerful ramifications in the job market.
The following excerpt demonstrates the ability of sorority membership to aid women in the advancement of their careers, taken from a recent New York Times article but slightly adjusted: “The chance for trading on school ties could well have contributed to the recent surge we’ve seen in pledges at college sororities. ‘the membership numbers are booming,’ according to Sally Grant, National Panhellenic Conference’s chairwoman representing 26 sororities across the nation.
Shelia Wellington, president of New York-based non-profit organization Catalyst that advocates the role of women in business, said ‘We have noticed a far greater reliance on this type of informal networks by women.’ ‘This form of relationship-building opportunities can prove critical to many women’s career advancement.'”
There is no experience like sorority membership: recruitment, new member education, initiation, chapter, sorority creeds, secret handshakes, lineage dinners, social events, Senior Send-off and countless other activities that bind each sisterhood together.
Choosing to affiliate with the sorority system allows membership in both a large support system of women on our school’s campus as well as in a national organization composed of thousands of women. Importantly, sorority membership is an experience that is designed to enhance the undergraduate experience and communication skills but is in no way the only activity that sisters participate in.
Rather, over 90% of sorority members participate in other activities on campus that range from varsity sports, club sports, student government and the myriad of clubs offered.
The entire Greek system (fraternities, sororities, and bi-cultural inter-greek chapters) are supported by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs or OFSA. OFSA, the University, undergraduate members and national headquarters continually strive to lead the nation in Greek affairs.