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College is a social whirlwind. Gone are the crammed hallways, homerooms, lunchtimes and little cliques of high school.

You are now off on your own in a seemingly giant new world, often submerged amongst thousands of strangers. And all of this comes with thousands of social choices to make.

One of those choices is joining a fraternity. There are many misconceptions and questions surrounding the incoming freshman’s mind about pledging.

Greek letters

Greek letters from uic.edu

Ask yourself what you are looking for.

People pledge for all types of different reasons. Some are looking for new friends. Some want the brotherhood. Others look for connections. Perhaps some just want to live in a sweet mansion with a bunch of other guys and create plenty of memories and stories.

Just make sure that you pledge the right fraternity for the right reasons. Perhaps some houses throw the craziest parties and are always talked about, but if you don’t fit in, you will be miserable.

Greek life offers lifelong bonds and connections, as well as memories (my time spent pledging was the most fascinating, life changing part of my life), but it all depends on your choice.

Take the time to check out your options.

Rush is a fun time, but it can be hectic. Sometimes, people can mishandle it and end up somewhere they regret. In fact, I know many people who ended up rushing and pledging one house exclusively and hated the decision.

Try to see as many different fraternities as you can, and make sure you fit in with the brothers and that they uphold the same standards as you do.

Some houses are very involved in philanthropy, others could be into academics, sports or partying. Most are a blend of all. Go to events, meet the brothers, and also get to know the other rushes, because you may end up being their pledge brother.

Once you decide to pledge, make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.

Pledging isn’t what most incoming freshman (myself included) think it is. Chances are, you won’t be eating mysterious concoctions, getting paddled, and drinking handles of cheap vodka by yourself every night.

The goal of pledging is to build loyalty and respect for the fraternity and your brothers, as well as learn the history and tradition of your house. It will certainly take time. You will most likely be at the house frequently.

Pledging is great for teaching time management skills (I managed my time much better during pledging than post-initiation). In fact, many of my brothers had their highest GPAs while pledging.

Pledging will also cost money.

Unfortunately, fraternities do come at a monetary cost. There will be dues and fees. Make sure you plan accordingly, and can meet your financial obligations. Ask during rush, and the brothers will usually be very straightforward with you. Many fraternities offer payment plans for those who cannot pay up front.

Lastly, always look to the brothers who were initiated before you.

They all had to go through it, and made it through perfectly fine. It will certainly be a unique, interesting time.

My pledge class as a whole agrees that it was a fun time, despite the struggle it was. But in the end, it is all worth it. The sense of pride from being a fraternity man (not a frat boy) and the bonds of brotherhood is incredible and I would suggest trying it to see what it can bring to your life.

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