What is a Sorority?

Mary McMahon

A sorority is an association composed of women who have common interests or who share a common trait. One of the most famous types is the North American college sorority, although similar college groups can be found in other regions of the world as well. Women can also form social associations outside of the college framework. The primary goal of such groups is to create a bond among the women through their common membership. Though these associations are typically composed only of women, some do allow men to join.

A sorority is an association composed of women who share common interests or common traits.
A sorority is an association composed of women who share common interests or common traits.

In college sororities, prospective members usually attend events during a period early in the semester that is designated as “rush week.” During rush week, people can visit different groups to get a feel for each one's members and style. If a student wants to join, she submits an application, and the existing members vote on the applications at the end of rush week, using their interactions with prospective members as a guideline. Many also have academic requirements, such as a minimum grade point average.

The most popular type of sorority in the US is the college sorority.
The most popular type of sorority in the US is the college sorority.

Once accepted into the group, new members undergo initiation to become full members. Initiations at sororities and fraternities are infamous, and some colleges have enacted rules designed to protect student safety in initiations. Dangerous hazing activities are often explicitly banned, and pledges are informed that they have the right to refuse to participate in initiation activities that conflict with their safety or religious beliefs. Despite this, initiation can be dangerous or traumatizing for some initiates.

Sorority sisters may become close friends, including sharing meals and a living space.
Sorority sisters may become close friends, including sharing meals and a living space.

Most sororities are identified with Greek letters that are often linked with their mottoes. Some examples include Alpha Delta Pi, the oldest sorority, along with Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Gamma Delta, and Alpha Kappa Alpha. Though these groups traditionally only accepted women, some do accept men as full members.

Members are often called "sisters," and they are entitled to certain benefits, including residence in a sorority house, access to scholarships, and the ability to network with current members and alumni. Many women also enjoy the support network of a group of women who share common bonds. Sisters also work together on projects, most notably charity projects.

Sorority life is often stereotyped by people who have not participated in one, and members are sometimes dismissed as airheaded or stupid. In fact, these groups typically do a great deal of good for their communities and members, and members are often extremely intelligent and motivated women who excel in leadership, sports, and academics.

Involvement with a sorority can help build social relationships.
Involvement with a sorority can help build social relationships.

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Discussion Comments


I just joined a sorority after rushing three times. Well, I'm about to join. I think people can really make what they want out of it.

I'm a little nervous because I'm not the girl who has a ton of dresses or knows how to walk in in my 4.5 inch heels, yet but there are a ton of nice girls. I'm also a little worried because most people who join are probably insecure and need friends, but I don't know. Hopefully, it'll be good.


@SurfNturf - I personally don’t have a negative or positive view of sororities because I think that it is up to the individual student to see what they want to do.

I know that sorority membership can be a positive influence on employers because it shows leadership as well as teamwork potential. On top of that if the interviewer was a member of a sorority, you would definitely have an advantage over the other candidates.

I think that there are individuals that participate in extreme behavior but, I don’t think that you can fault a whole sorority for it. There are many successful people that were products of sororities so unless you have firsthand knowledge of being in one, I don’t think that you should criticize the experience.

I know a lot of people think of sorority hazing and think that all sororities do this but that is not true. Hazing is illegal and against the law.


@Oasis11 -I agree to a certain degree that this girl probably lacked a little maturity but a lot of the sororities that I have seen do have a huge focus on drinking.

As a matter of fact, there have been many sororities hazing occurrences as a part of the sorority recruitment ritual. I don’t understand why an organization that is supposed to do so much community service has to inflict pain and humiliation on people in order to be accepted.

I know plenty of people that were members of sororities that now have a drinking problem because of all of the excessive drinking that they did in college. It is really a shame and I know that not all sororities have such negative effects on people and maybe I am biased because of the experiences that I have seen, but it just seems like the peer pressure and excessive drinking is what turns me off about sororities.

I feel like college should be about educational development not competing to fit in.


@Bhutan - What a shame that your friend did not live up to her potential, but you can’t blame the sorority because she made the choice to join it.

No one twisted her arm. I think the problem especially with gifted students is that the take their intelligence for granted and sometimes develop very poor study habits which was probably your friend’s downfall.

College requires a certain amount of maturity that you need to have in order to be successful and sorority recruitment has nothing to do with the success or failure of an individual student.


I know that a lot of people that have been involved with the Sigma Kappa sorority, the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority, or even the Alpha Phi Sorority that talk about the experiences as mostly positive. They feel that these connections have served them well throughout their college years and many of these girls remain lifelong friends.

However, I also know people that have had very negative experiences with sororities that it makes me have very mixed feelings about them. I had a friend that had a full scholarship that decided to join a sorority and ended up being placed on academic probation and then was expelled from the university.

This was a gifted student that ended up partying too much and did not focus on her education. She is now a full time cashier at a grocery store that her husband manages. It was really a shame.

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