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5. Join a School Sponsored Club. You can opt to forgo the letters all together. The same people at your Student Life Office that can help you find a fraternity can help you find a school sponsored club that fits your interests or major. You will still have opportunities to serve in leadership positions, make new friends, and include an extracurricular organization on your resume. All this without having to pay membership dues. The downsides to joining a school-sponsored club versus a fraternity include the fact that you will not have the national network to rely on, community service may not be on the club’s agenda, and scholarships are not usually offered as a benefit of membership.
Other Things to Consider When Joining a Fraternity. Make sure the organization is legitimate before paying any dues. If you have never heard of the organization and it is not sponsored by your school, do additional research and try to talk to members who are not in leadership positions about their experience with the group. Consider the time required (many collegiate organizations do not require any time commitment from their membership, but will reward it,) versus the time you can realistically allocate to your new group.
You will also need to decide what your priorities are and what you are willing to forgo. Community service may have to give for professional interest. No membership dues usually mean a smaller network. A more mature fraternity can equal less opportunities for scholarship, and an honors society may mean more time at the books.
Don’t let the opportunities these organizations offer pass you by because you feel that you are too old or because common stereotypes lead you to believe all their events are house parties. They have a lot to offer, and you and your unique set of experiences have a lot to offer them.
Brynne Mack is a mother and student studying Educational Interpreting. Upon graduation, she will work as an Interpreter for the Deaf for children in educational settings. In the meantime, she maintains a blog, Femme Frugality, about how she is saving money while a student.
See also, The Promise of Professional Organizations.