a few fraternity questions

Well, rush week approaches, and I’m looking for an honorary fraternity. I don’t know how to identify which one is which, but it looks like we may have a:
Alpha Chi and a Gamma Phi Beta (Not even sure if they’re frats or sororites, the site has all honor organizations lumped together), and also: Phi Sigma Kappa, Phi Lambda Chi, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Sigma Tau Gamma, Theta Xi
Alpha Kappa Alpha, Alpha Phi Alpha, Delta sigma Theta, kappa alpha psi, Zeta Phi Beta, Omega Psi Phi, and phi beta sigma. (sorry about the long list)

Anyone have any experience with any of these, and can you recommend one or eliminate some based on the fact that I want one that stresses academics more than anything else (I’m not big on service, either… sorry.)

I can’t speak for any of the others, but Sigma Phi Epsilon is a social fraternity, not honorary.

Keep in mind that many fraternities will differ from campus to campus; just because a group is highly academic at one school does not mean the same fraternity will be the same everywhere. The better national organizations try to inculcate an uniform Fraternity “Culture”, but that’s easier said than done when dealing with undergraduates.

In general, each chapter of a fraternity is going to be different. For example, Sigma Phi Epsilon (“Sig Ep”) was something of a party frat at the school I attended, but probably didn’t hold a candle to even the lamest of social frats at a huge state (or “party”) school. Theta Xi’s national chapter stresses leadership and your chapter will almost certainly be washing cars and feeding the homeless on weekends, and then having parties afterward to unwind. These might be keggers, or they might be a quiet backyard barbecue at a row house with mixed drinks and maybe something mellow on the stereo.

I suspect that when you say “honorary” fraternity, you mean honor societies. Their membership is not decided during rush week – it’s honorary. You earn membership at the end of a semester based on your academic performance and willingness to pay dues. It’s like making the Dean’s List, but as far as I could tell, you pay your dues for the privilege of including the honor society’s name on your resumé later in life.

Anyhow, the fraternities you listed above sound like social fraternities, which will have focuses ranging from leadership and community service to, well… bitchin’ keggers. There are some fraternities like Beta Theta Pi which stress excellence in academics and exist as a “helping hand” for their freshmen, but finding an academic social frat can be tough, and the rewards (as I saw them) weren’t great; I got better academic advice and assistance from my social circle (a cappella and theatre people) than most of my peers got from their fraternities.

One last note: some academic fraternities “help” you by making you do the sophomores’ homework sets for/with them in addition to their own workload. It teaches time management, and you’ve seen the sophomore classes when you finally have to take them. Sophomores are freed up to help with juniors’ work, juniors help the seniors, and seniors have more time to apply for jobs and grad school and run rush week. I’m not saying this won’t help you learn your craft, but it may not be what you’re looking for.

Quite a few of those are social fraternities…

For definition of terms, let me lay it out for you…

Honorary Fraternity - invited to join, based on grades/standing in class.
Social Fraternity - invited to join, based on your interest, and acceptance of your personality by the active membership. This is your “traditional” fraternity, much maligned (only partly wrong on this) in such cult classics as Animal House.

I for one, am a member of Phi Kappa Sigma (and the current Chapter advisor, though soon to be another SDMB member holding that position for us) at U. Mass Lowell. This is a truly social fraternity, part of a national group.

My advice if this is the type of fraternity you are looking for is simple. Rush all of them that you may have any interest in. Find the one that most fits your type of folks, and you are most compatable with the ideals to which they hold, and it’s members. Don’t be afraid to show up just to “look around.” That’s how they got me, and 14 years later, I’m still involved.

If you get a bid (invite to pledge/join), it’s YOUR decision to accept, or not. It’s not for everyone, but for those that are into that sort of thing, it can be a great experience.


(If you do join, and get through pledging, I have one more piece of advice… get involved in EVERYTHING. The experience you gain is worth a boatload in the “real” world)

well I used to member of a Phi Sigma Kappa interest group (colony). They are purely social. I won’t get into my take on the Greek System in general, but I would say that they have lofty goals and some work hard to benefit the community and school. I’m not trying to classify all like this, b/c I’ve read where some have done some excellent things for the community and school, while on the other hand some have not. Anyway, from a guy who has wasted his money and time in a Greek organization, I would tell you to look around a lot and perhaps even join an RSO like College Republicans or something more benefitial like that. Again this is just my take on things and I’m sure they vary widely from campus to campus. Then again, I don’t know a damn thing when it comes to what honorary fraternities do so best of luck there.

Alpha Kappa Alpha, Alpha Phi Alpha, Delta sigma Theta, kappa alpha psi, Zeta Phi Beta, Omega Psi Phi, and phi beta sigma.

Some of these are fraternities, some of these are sororities. All of them are traditionally for black students. You may express interest in the fraternities (assuming you’re male), but unless you’re black I don’t know how much you’re going to enjoy the experience or how much interest they will have in you.

I speak from the point of view of someone who was a chartering member of a social fraternity at my university who happened to have 3 black room mates who all went through the pledging, initiation, and membership into Kappa Alpha Psi and Phi Beta Sigma.