In its simplest form, a sorority is an organization for a group of women who share common goals and values; bonded by secret rituals.
But we, as collegiate or alumnae sorority women, know that there is so much more to it than that.
Each of the 26 NPC sororities, value five main pillars, or virtues, or standards. While they each value these five ideals, they each have a different way of approaching them. This is what makes each organization unique.
Do you remember our #SororitySpotlight on Twitter? These five pillars were prominent in all of the tweets from current sorority women. They love sororities because of the foundations they are built upon and treasure their own affiliation because of a personal connection with one of the pillars.
So what exactly are these five pillars we’re referring to?
- Sisterhood: So you’ve heard sorority women calling each other sisters, big, and little, right? Well sisterhood is a special bond that the women in a particular sorority share. You go through struggles together, you celebrate successes together, and you are a part of a long standing tradition. Have you ever said to someone, “you just had to be there to understand,” when explaining a story that happened with a particular group of friends? This is something that you, more often than not, will feel from events with your sisters to the outside world. This is why once you’ve graduated you start to develop connections with all sorority women, regardless of their affiliation, because you just “get” each other. Without even saying it, you respect her because you know she made sacrifices to better an organization, she was held to a higher standard than her peers, she excelled in academics, she probably planned an event or two, and she was unfortunately judged and stereotyped by someone just for wearing letters; and she respects you for the same reason. This is sisterhood.
- Philanthropy/Service: You probably had to do X number of community service hours in high school before you could graduate. Maybe it developed a new passion of yours. Maybe you didn’t really get why you were doing it at the time, but you will in a sorority. According to the NPC 2011 Annual Report, a combined effort by the 26 NPC sororities gave 1,817,970 hours of their time devoted to philanthropic efforts and community service by sororities and college Panhellenic associations; and $3,327,108.41 raised from philanthropic events in 2011 alone. There is no denying that sororities make this world a better place!
- Scholarship: Your number one reason for being in school is to graduate, get your degree, and make a better life for yourself because of it. A sorority will help hold you to that standard. The grade requirements for each sorority differ, but there is always a GPA standard associated with joining and maintaining membership in a sorority. If you fall below that standard, you will be offered help and your sisters will push you to refocus and get your grades up. Sororities also offer hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships to members to help them achieve their graduation goals.
- Leadership: You are bound to become a leader in one way or another by joining a sorority. A leader is not necessarily only those women who sit on the executive board of your chapter. Every organization has those “quiet” leaders, too- the ones encouraging the members and helping keep the morale of the chapter up. Regardless of your current leadership capabilities and style, you will gain leadership experience which can be directly applied to jobs after college. You automatically have more experience than any other applicant who didn’t join an organization in college; you’ve shown that you can manage your time effectively, carry out goals, multitask, and much more. If you hold an officer or committee position in your chapter, you have learning and growth experiences to discuss in an interview right away, instead of just “I learned this in my MKT 304 class…” scenarios to share.
- Social: You don’t have to be a social butterfly to socialize in a sorority. The very experience of formal sorority recruitment alone will introduce you to tons of new people and force you out of your comfort zone. By the nature of sororities and fraternities, you will meet women from other chapters on campus and men from the fraternities. You will be offered opportunities to attend regional and national conventions, where you can meet women from your sorority who live all over the country, or the world. You will work with alumnae from your chapter who will help you begin to network. The shy cannot hide- you will be brought out of your shell!
Within each of these five pillars, there is room to grow, room to express creativity in carrying out the standards, and room to prioritize these values. Regardless of all this flexibility, a sorority will push you to become a better you. You will stay up late laughing with your sisters for far too many nights. A sorority is a wonderful blend of struggles and triumphs; through those experiences you will learn a lot about yourself. A sorority can push you to your limits, but when you come out on the other side we guarantee you will be a better person then when you came through on Bid Day.
Casey, Kate & Rachel
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