How Greek Life Compares at Big and Small Colleges

Greek life is something closely intermingled with daily life on many college campuses. The overall dynamic of Greek life, though, is something which is vastly different depending on the size of the campus.

With five sororities and six fraternities, being involved in Greek life here at Albion doesn’t mean you belong to just one specific house, but rather an entire Greek community of like-minded men and women.  Given that sorority women at Albion are not required to live in a house together as they are at larger universities, they have the ability to grow close with members of other sororities. In addition to the size of the campus, philanthropic events like Anchor Splash bring Albion’s sororities and fraternities together, allowing them to bond over something which also benefits others.

“Since we are such a small campus, we have the great opportunity of being close friends with the women in our houses as well as women in the other houses,” said sophomore Sunny Kim, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta from Midland, Michigan. “One of my close friends from high school is in a sorority at a larger university, and she always [says that] since the sororities are so big, the women aren’t particularly close with every single woman in their house.”

In a top 50 ranking of college Greek life throughout the nation, Albion ranked tenth according to a 2013 Best Colleges Reviews report. This was mainly due to the fact that the average GPA for both fraternities and sororities is an impressive 3.31, and 53 percent of all students are involved in Greek life. The majority of schools ranked on the list are smaller schools that offer similar advantages in terms of their Greek life.

“At smaller colleges, there are fewer people in each chapter,” said junior Jesse Revenaugh, a member of Grand Valley’s chapter of Phi Sigma Sigma. “I think a benefit of this is knowing more people in your sorority and forming close bonds. I also think that rushing is a lot less intimidating at a smaller school, and there is less of a chance of hazing new members.”

Grand Valley State University has 32 sororities and fraternities whose members make up about eight percent of the total student population, which is approximately 1,750 students. Meanwhile, Albion has around 50 percent of students, which equates to about 750 students, involved in Greek life. Although GVSU is considered a medium-sized school, Greek life at Grand Valley more closely mirrors that of a small school rather than a large school given the fact that the number of people involved is similar to small schools.

In a sharp contrast to Albion’s and Grand Valley’s setup for Greek life, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan have over 60 Greek letter organizations which encompass roughly just 17 percent, or 8,500 students, of undergraduate students. Being involved in Greek life on larger campuses may not allow students to be as close with members of the Greek community outside of their own houses, including all fraternities and sororities, but it does afford them other unique opportunities.

While some small schools, Albion included, only have recruitment in the spring, many large schools give students the opportunity to go through recruitment in both the fall and spring. In these instances, fall recruitment is typically much larger and more hectic than spring recruitment, so students who might find fall rush overwhelming have an alternative option. At larger universities, where more students are involved in the recruitment process, the potential for rush to be overwhelming is even more likely.

Having more people involved in Greek life isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. For example, when it comes to philanthropic events, having a bigger Greek community to get involved is monumental.

“Bigger schools make more money for their philanthropies,” said Revenaugh. “I think this makes them have a larger impact on their campus.”

The opportunity to make more money for a given philanthropy is a definite perk of joining a sorority at a larger school if philanthropy is something which is important to an individual student. Given the fact that philanthropy is an imperative part of Greek life, being able to raise more money for a given philanthropy is a huge accomplishment.

In the end, it is up to the individual to decide what type of Greek life he or she prefers. Each comes with its own set of pros and cons, but it seems that the overarching majority of men and women in Greek life at Albion love the benefits of going Greek on a smaller campus.

“My favorite part is that Greek Life at Albion is that it’s incredibly unique,” said Kim. “We are a small campus, we work closely with other Greek Life members and we can create friendships with other houses.”

Disclaimer: Jesse Revenaugh is the writer’s sister

Photo courtesy of Albion College.

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