College Greek Life 101

A primer about fraternities and sororities

Most colleges and universities have fraternities and sororities. These are club-like organizations with Greek letters as their name. Sororities are for women; fraternities are for men. Here’s more basic information…


Each fraternity and sorority uses two or three Greek letters, such as Phi Kappa Tau or Kappa Epsilon. Often these are shortened to nicknames. For example, Delta Delta Delta is often called Tri-Delt or Sigma Epsilon is often called Sig Ep.


There is only one national organization with a particular name, but that organization has chapters at various campuses. For instance, there’s only one Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority but Kappa Kappa Gamma has chapters at 134 campuses throughout the United States and Canada.


If you wish to join a fraternity or sorority, it’s by invitation only and you may join only one (although if you quit one, you’re free to join another). Joining is called “going Greek” and you will occasionally be known as a Greek. People who don’t join are often called “independents.”

Greek life

By far, the most popular reason for students join a fraternity or sorority is the social life. The emphasis each Greek organization puts on service and scholarship varies.


Some fraternities and sororities have a residential house on campus or close by, usually displaying their name in big Greek letters on the front of the house. Some members live in the house, which usually includes a dining facility, but usually not all members live in the house.


Joining a fraternity or sorority commonly begins with “rushing,” the term used for visiting various Greek houses and headquarters to meet members. Rush usually happens sometime during the first half of the school year, within a certain time frame sometimes called Rush Week. Students who participate in rush are known as “rushees,” and for the most part, are first-year students. Some campuses or Greek organizations have a more informal rush period.


After rush, the Greek organization sends invitations to join, known as “bids.” A rushee may get none, or one or more bids. If the rushee chooses to join, he or she is “accepting the bid” and then becomes “a pledge” of the fraternity or sorority. During the pledge period, pledges learn even more about the organization and decide if it’s right for them.


The initiation is the formal ceremony when new members join the Greek organization.

Want to learn more? Visit "Is Greek Life for You?".


This article was written by Jane Schreier Jones

Jane Schreier Jones is a freelance writer whose work includes hundreds of articles in the field of education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/journalism from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.


  1. Ariel harris

    ok i go to an Art institutes school, i want to become A Delta Sigma Theta like my family members. How do i go about doing that while being at this school?

  2. Tenisha M.

    Right now I’m 21 and going back to school I always wanted to pledge in a sorority but the school im attending doesn’t offer this, so what can I do if I want to pledge a Sorority.

  3. Lauren Walker

    I watched this movie called Soroity Wars and I am determend to be a Delta

  4. I would also love to add when you do not currently have an insurance policy or you do not remain in any group insurance, you might well reap the benefits of seeking assistance from a health insurance agent. Self-employed or people having medical conditions normally seek the help of a health insurance dealer. Thanks for your article.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.