By Brynne Mack
There are many reasons people want to join college fraternities: networking, giving back to their communities, a sense of belonging, and, most prevalently, scholarships. Adults returning to school may think that their opportunities for joining one of these organizations has passed them by. Let’s face it: we’re not eighteen anymore. Our binge drinking, partying days are behind us as we have developed or been forced into becoming mature, responsible people. If you are looking for another option, here’s five types of fraternities that won’t make you feel like you’re someone’s dad coming to crash the party:
1. Honors Fraternities. Most fraternities place a strong emphasis on academics, but there are some that base their membership solely on high academic achievement. Some honors fraternities are by invitation only. If your school sponsors one and you have a high GPA, odds are you will automatically get an invitation in the mail. If you don’t and you believe you qualify, you can contact your Student Life Office to get in touch with the head of the organization. From there, you may be able to request an invitation. Other honors societies are open to applications, but will still require the high GPA. The oldest honors fraternity is Phi Beta Kappa, offered at many four-year institutions. Their little brother, if you will, is Phi Theta Kappa. Phi Theta Kappa is offered at many two-year institutions. Their scholarships present an opportunity for funding for those transferring to four-year schools, along with all the other benefits of being in a fraternity such as community service, seminars, and networking opportunities for life. If inquiring at your Student Life office doesn’t yield results, a great place to find credible honors fraternities online is the Association of College Honor Societies.
2. Professional Fraternities. Like honors societies, professional fraternities may require a minimum GPA, though the standard is not necessarily as high. The purpose of these organizations is to promote and help those interested in a particular field of study. Therefore you will have to have made a definitive conclusion on what you want your major to be before considering this option. Many professional fraternities require a pledge process, but since their main objective is the integrity of their profession your odds of reliving a scene from Animal House are slim. Professional fraternities are generally exclusive, meaning that if you’re studying medicine you’ll only be able to join one professional medical fraternity. This makes doing your research on the fraternity you want to join extremely important, as it will effect your network is for the rest of your life. Once you decide which organization you want to join, you may have to forge a friendship with someone within that fraternity to get an invitation, or just pledge during rush. A unique aspect of these organizations is that the equivalent of your “big brother/sister” is likely to be a mentor. While you may have opportunities to participate in leadership roles or service to the community, the conferences you go to will have topics more specific to your field of interest than “leadership” or “community service.”
3. Fraternities with Community Membership Options. Some fraternities offer membership to community members. These organizations are less likely to be about the social life and more likely to be about community service and leadership. One such organization with a myriad of scholarships is Epsilon Sigma Omega. They cite other reasons for joining their fraternity, such as beefing up your resume or having a built in network of friends if you move to a new city. Enrollment in such fraternities is usually open to application instead of invitation.
4. Purely Service-Oriented Fraternities. Purely service-oriented fraternities usually have a majority of their membership who have already met maturity. Those who join this organization are looking mainly to give back and have a communal brother/sisterhood with their fellow members. Not as many of these offer scholarships, and are not likely to get professional benefits from joining, but you will get the satisfaction of contributing to your community on local and national levels along with getting to know a bunch of new friends. These groups are usually not associated with colleges and are not academic in any way.