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How to Decide if You Should Live in a Fraternity or Sorority

Joining the House Was One Choice; Living There Is an Entirely Different Question

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Caucasian friends hanging out
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You may have joined your fraternity or sorority a few weeks after you arrived in college, or you may have waited a year or two before you signed on. Regardless, now that you're part of that community, you may have the option of moving into the house. With so much to think about, how's a student to decide if living in a fraternity or sorority house is right for them?

Luckily, the decision may be easier than you think. While the opportunity may be unique, it still requires going over the same basic fundamentals you should consider for any college housing option.

Consider the Financial Implications

Every school has its own setup for living in a fraternity or sorority. At some schools, doing so may be cheaper than the residence halls; at other places, it may be much more expensive. What will the cost be for your room? For food? Will you still need a campus meal plan if you're spending most of your time on campus? What are the food options? Will you need to consider commuting expenses if your house is far away from where your classes are? Will you need to buy a bike (and lock and helmet)?

Additionally, many fraternities and sororities offer scholarships for students who are experiencing financial hardship. There may, in fact, be money available for students who want to live in the house but can't afford it -- money that, most likely, would not be available to you if you chose to live in the residence halls or a separate, off-campus apartment. Make sure to explore your options.

Consider the Social Implications

Being a part of a fraternity or sorority can be a fantastic social experience. The friends, the support networks, the activities -- what's not to like?

If you're considering living in your house, keep a few things in mind when it comes to the social scene. Will your time commitments/obligations increase? Are you already at max? Will it be harder to sit down and study when you're in a house full of people you want to hang out with (instead of a hall full of people you may or may not know)? On the flip side, too, there may also be benefits: Will more people be around who you have things in common with? Will you be able to be a more active member by living in? Will living in help you be more social if that's something you've struggled with in the past?

Consider the Academic Implications

As much fun as college and Greek life is, it's important to keep your eyes on the prize: if you don't make progress toward your degree, you can't stay and enjoy everything that college life has to offer. On that note, pay serious attention to how living in a fraternity or sorority will affect your academics. Will it help by helping you focus and having more studious people around? Will it be too tempting to have so many things going on in one place (all of which you're probably interested in)? Are there mentoring opportunities (e.g., are a lot of science majors in the house, and you just declared as biology)? Are there scholarships available to members who live in and who do well academically?

Consider the Personal Implications

This may the most important aspect to consider, so make sure you're honest with yourself. What kind of experience do you want to have while you're at school? What works best for you - as a student, as a person, as someone interested in a particular career? Are you worried about some aspect of living in a fraternity or sorority? Or does something in your gut say it's a great idea? How do you handle being tempted with so many things to do, with so many people you enjoy, and with so many time commitments? Do you thrive or get overwhelmed?

Having a quick conversation with yourself, with your fellow fraternity or sorority members, and with other friends should help clear things up. Before you make any decisions, though, be honest with yourself about whether living on or off-campus (or even living at home) is the best choice for you. At the end of the day, you are the only one who can judge what will work best for you and your time in school. So enjoy!

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