Welcome to Guest Blogger, Jack Johnson (U of Cincinnati, ’17)
When I first entered college, I had no idea what to do with myself. I had more time on my hands than ever before and was looking for ways to make new friends and have a great college experience. Your first day of college can be very overwhelming, as it was for me, but there are ways to adjust to this new lifestyle and make the most of it.
I have found that one of the most rewarding decisions a young man can make in college is to join Greek life. As a graduating high school senior, most students have an incorrect perception of fraternities (as I did), unless they have an older sibling who has experienced it. I pictured fraternities as strong social scenes where drinking and partying were highly encouraged and college was all about having fun. This is a fair assumption, given that the media portrays fraternities this way, and that most people are not usually exposed to Greek life anyway. However, I would encourage you to think differently.
Through my experiences at the University of Cincinnati in joining the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity (PIKE), I have built a vast network of friends and professional contacts, maintained a strong spiritual and values-based lifestyle, built extensive leadership and communication skills, and thoroughly enjoyed my college years. PIKE and many other fraternities offer great opportunities for students to have fun together and become better leaders. Brothers, as members are called once accepted into the fraternity, are able to get very involved within the organization from their first day on campus, and many find that the more involved they get, the more successful they become outside the fraternity, too.
Joining a fraternity automatically increases the number of people you come in contact with throughout college, but it is up to you to take advantage of this and engage in meaningful relationships with others. I have found friends within my fraternity that I know will be in my wedding some day and will share memories with for years. I have met other friends all around campus through all-Greek events. I never walk to class without seeing someone I know on campus, often another Greek student. Also, my professional contacts have increased, and one of them helped me land my first college internship. In fact, both of my internships thus far have been highly influenced by my involvement in my fraternity. The alumni network is a valuable asset for brothers.
Fraternities are all founded on unique values and beliefs, but they all center around one goal: service to others. Philanthropy events, ritual-based ceremonies and practices, and chapter operations all develop and maintain a sense of spiritual belonging and motivation within a fraternity. Last year, our chapter recorded nearly 60 hours of community service per brother throughout the year. There are endless ways to make a difference in the community and develop the values that the fraternity emphasizes most.
Leadership development comes in many forms, but perhaps the most important one is how you communicate and treat other people. The recruitment process teaches brothers how to look for talent in others, as well as how to teach success to another person. Brothers run for chairmanships and positions within a fraternity, too, which teaches them how to be accountable, take charge of responsibility, and plan events and activities for large groups of people. I have found huge success here as a result of getting involved in positions and recruitment.
Of course, fraternities are labeled “social organizations.” If you are not having fun within the fraternity, it may not be a good fit for you. You need to connect with other people around you and share similar values together. Parties and social events are planned regularly, but this is only a small fraction of everything a fraternity accomplishes.