Note: FWIW, Mitch knows of my Will Truman identity and could be reading this.

Greeks have it good:

Researchers at Gallup believe they found a formula for a good life after college, and students in fraternities and sororities are more likely to follow it than most.

The polling firm interviewed tens of thousands of college graduates about their well-being after college. They found a few steps students can take in college that predict whether they will be thriving financially, socially, and in the workplace after they graduate. Put simply: “Find professors who excite you and make you care. Get very involved in an activity. Find a mentor. Get an internship. Work on a long-term project.”

Students who were in fraternities and sororities were more likely to do all five — and more likely to say they had a sense of purpose at work, that they had strong connections to friends and family, and that they like where they live, Gallup said this week.

You always have to worry about confounding factors, even if they control for the most obvious ones. This definitely strikes me as one of those cases where the confounding factors may not be measurable.

Even keeping that in mind, though, I believe it. Fraternities and sororities can often encourage the type of participation that sets people on the right course.

One of the surprises when we went to Clancy’s ten year reunion was that there were people there who not only knew of me, but had stayed in my house! Specifically, they were friends of my brother. When we were out of town, they had stayed in our place in Estacado for some reason or another. It was none-the-less strange at the meet-and-greet party when someone said “Dude, this is Mitch’s brother!”

Indeed I am. Small world.

Apparently, he was a part of the crew at Mitch’s bachelor party, and that was how he knew me by sight.

Mitch was never as socially awkward as I was, but he became someone else entirely aRightly or wrongly, I credit a lot of that to his joining the fraternity in college. The fraternity he joined is not actually a very big deal at the University of Deltona (DU), where he attended. I’m not even sure they even still have a house there.

His fraternity is, however, a really big deal at Southern Tech. It is one of the most well-known and is kind of infamous. It’s the sort of fraternity that I never would have gotten into… except for the leg up I might have gotten by virtue of having a brother who was not only a member (at DU) but was its treasurer. I don’t know how well that would or would not have translated into membership at the Sotech chapter, but I sometimes think it would have made a huge difference.

I am not particularly “fraternity” material, in many respects. My saying “it’s not for me” would surprise nobody. But my brother did invite me to various fraternity events at DU and I had a whole lot of fun. I did like to drink! I did enjoy being in the company of ladies.

Even so, the very thought of joining a fraternity is well outside my comfort zone. Before he thrived in one, I would have guessed the same of Mitch. Which is sort of the rub. Perhaps pushing me outside of my comfort zone would have spurred enormous growth. It might have expanded my comfort zone to the point that I would be a different kind of person with a more society-preferred public persona. I might be less the kind of person that says things like “society-preferred public persona” and more like a non-alien that people are more comfortable around.

A lot of what I am thinking about by people, of course, is girls. Especially as I used to think about it before I found my happy ending. These days, though, it has less to do with that and more to do with the difficulty I find in meeting people more generally.

I sort of chose my path, and my path was along the lines of “weird dude.” Bird of rare plumage. Different drummer beatmarching. However you want to put it. Which maybe it was always supposed to be. Yet though it often doesn’t feel like it, I have a lot in common with my brother who turned out very differently from me.

Were our differences always there? Or did I just never join a fraternity?

Category: School

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8 Responses to Greeks, Not Geeks

  1. Vikram Bath says:

    One of our friends in college joined a fraternity his second semester. We never managed to do anything with him after that. It felt vaguely cult-like because he *always* had a fraternity-related event. It only occurs to me now that that might not have been such a bad thing. Fraternities are associated with a lot of negative behaviors, but there are some “nerd” fraternities out there, and it might have been good for me to find a group to establish a sense of shared identity with outside of my high school friends. I went to a huge university, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I had a few options for what flavor of nerd to pick from.

    • trumwill says:

      Mitch’s fraternity doesn’t really fit that mold. Clancy was in a sorority, though, that was very much geared towards techie types. I probably would have done better in the male equivalent, though that’s still a different track than the one Mitch went on.

  2. fillyjonk says:

    I confess: Sororities always seemed kind of creepy to me. All these girls, pretending to “love” each other like sisters….I spent enough time growing up not-having-female-friends to know that most of those girls probably secretly hated each other.

    A person I knew in college told me “You should rush; any sorority would be thrilled to have you, you’d bring their cumulative GPA up so high.” I’m not sure it works that way and anyway I didn’t care enough about clothes and social opportunities and “networking” to want to do it. And I was a weird kid, I don’t think they’d have found me acceptable.

    By and large I’m pretty happy and successful as an adult. Maybe in some fields being Greek is more important but I have never met someone in the biological sciences who credits their work success to having been part of a fraternity or sorority.

    • trumwill says:

      Out of curiosity, on a scale of 1-10 on the introvert/extrovert scale, where do you fall?

      I’m probably around a 3 or 4. Deceptively close to middle, but just far enough that having a built in network might have been valuable. As it was, I was fortunate to have an extraverted friend and roommate.

      • fillyjonk says:

        I’m definitely an introvert in the classical sense of needing to be alone to recharge. (“Hell is other people” – maybe not, but Hell certainly is never being able to get away from other people).

        I can play at being an extrovert – I talk to people in public, I seem to make friends fairly readily. But I just prefer being able to close a door on the rest of the world at the end of the day.

  3. superdestroyer says:

    If you look at the book “Paying for the Party” that covers the influence on greek life at the University of Indian, the biggest take away is that many of the sorority types come from families that are affluent enough to get them jobs despite poor grades, weak majors, and a lack of real skills. What the book also covers is what a lousy influence greek life had on the blue collar women at Indiana University.

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