To Greek or Not to Greek

For a certain percentage of students here at PSU, Greek affiliation has aided in both involvement and social growth, providing an outlet for fun as well as philanthropic motivation. However, many outside the Greek bubble have particular, shall we say, "reservations" about the intellectual capacity of fraternity/sorority members. The stereotypical view is generally negative, emphasizing the women as simple-minded and superficial, and the men as meat-headed and perverse. As a member of a sorority, I have always been curious about the genuine impact that such an affiliation has on one's mind and performance in academia. I decided to research the effects of Greek life on the brain, keeping in mind both the negative and positive aspects I have both heard and experienced. 

After sifting through what seemed like endless links of biased, affiliate vs. non-affiliate standpoints, I found a great article that had actual data collection from scientists who conducted a study of the cognitive ability that college students tend to exhibit after joining a fraternity or sorority. The results, I'm afraid, proved less than exemplary for fraternity brothers, as "men who were members of fraternities had significantly lower end-of-first-year reading comprehension, mathematics, critical thinking, and composite achievement than their peers who were not affiliated with a Greek organization." For sorority girls, negative correlations with Greek life were also prominent, though less pervasive than men. These results, unfortunately, were not as surprising as I would have liked, but I take comfort in the knowledge that stereotypes are not always factual. 

The study was conducted all four years of the students' academic careers, and though the men's cognitive growth continued to decrease, with "membership continu[ing] to exert small negative effects in the second and third years of college," sorority participation did just the opposite, with small positive effects being accumulated. Though not addressed in the article, one can infer that, perhaps, older women in the sorority begin seeking fulfillment in areas of the Greek system not directly related to the consumption of alcohol or party-planning, whereas men may still find a certain amount of enjoyment in maintaining such a lifestyle. Either way, I'm breathing a sigh of relief this evening, and feeling a whole lot better about being a female in the Greek system instead of a male. 

Works Cited: "The Impact of Greek Life on the College Brain." Reagan Charles Cook. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2013.

Picture Citation: Digital image. Http:// N.p., n.d. Web. Sept.-Oct. 2013. 


Although not exactly surprising, it is discouraging to see that there has been research proving negative effects on those in sororities and fraternities. Sitting through the information session last week and hearing how the average GPA of a sorority sister was higher than that of an average female student at Penn State got me even more excited to be rushing this coming week. It sounds like Greek life also provides you with a ton of opportunities and irreplaceable friends, however, is it worth the negative effects? An article I read in Seventeen Magazine which can be found here: also talks about the money and time that must be put into joining a fraternity or sorority. In the end, do you think that you get out of it what you put in?

As being apart of the greek community I do not doubt that these statistics are true; however, I do think what you put in is what you get out. There are tons of temptations in the college world, but if you do not become influenced or tranced by these temptations, you will do just fine! I honestly believe that your GPA can go up if you're in the greek community, because you have over 100 girls to help you out if you are having difficulties in a topic that one of them have to be studying as well. I also know many "Frat boys" who have 4.0's in engineering... It is all about the way you balance things. Sure, if you're out partying every day and night, not even worrying about school... You're not going to do well. But if you balance partying and putting time into working and studying, it is still possible to still achieve great grades! Many amazing universities, including Penn State, have mastered the studying and partying aspects, don't let stories and temptations take you away from living the college experience!

I admit that when I was in high school, I listened to and believed the stereotypes placed on sororities and fraternities. However, when I came to Penn State, I came in with an open mind. I decided not to rush, but my roommate did and really enjoyed it. The thing that I noticed most was her struggle to balance her schoolwork. So far she has been doing very well and with a few late nights (like tonight) she has managed to stay on top of everything. If I had to hypothesize, I would say that the reason men in fraternities had scores which dropped more than women's is due to their organizational and time management skills. I believe that girls are more willing to make sure they set aside time to get everything done and stay organized, while guys are typically more scattered. Basically, I don't believe that being in a sorority or fraternity is the downfall of many students' grades, but rather their organizational skills, or the lack thereof. I think it would be the "third variable" we talked about in class and should be examined by scientists.

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