Despite negative misconceptions of Greek life being one big popularity contest and completely superficial, sororities and fraternities are some of the most rewarding organizations students can join, especially at a small institution like APSU.

Social media often exemplifies the notion that Greek organizations promote a “you can’t sit with us” attitude and teach students that popularity contests do not end, even after you graduate high school.

The first thing to understand about Greek life is it is nothing like the movies. For students who are not involved, the only perception they have are from what is displayed in the world of cinema, such as “Neighbors 2.” Chloë Grace Moretz is not showing up to APSU to host sorority parties anytime soon, and unfortunately Zac Efron is not just hanging around campus.

There are several benefits to students going Greek. Students who are friends with members of Greek organizations on social media know it appears to be the easiest way to ensure you will have fun in college.

They throw the coolest themed parties, wear the cutest T-shirts, never have to worry about eating lunch alone and the annual Sigma Gamma Rho Stroll Off is one of the most exciting events to take place all year.

This is not your typical “you’re paying for your friends” anti-Greek article, because let’s face it; college can be a lonely place. Greek affiliated students should not be criticized for seeking opportunities to meet other students who have similar interests and values.

Greek life teaches students more than how to pose for cute pictures. Being a part of a sorority or fraternity is hard work. Aside from making lifelong connections with other students, these members are excelling academically and learning how to become productive members of society. According to Stephen Dominy, coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, the cumulative GPA of Greek life students ranges from 2.49 to 3.48.

According to the Spring 2016 Academic & Membership Data Report, Greek Life communities including Panhellenic, Interfraternity and National Pan-Hellenic councils at APSU raised a total of $85,493 for their individual philanthropies, including American Diabetes Association, Boys & Girls Club, MLK Memorial Foundation, St. Jude’s Research Hospital, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, The Arthritis Foundation, Z-HOPE, Red Cross and several more.

According to Dominy, students who are members of Greek life organizations are more likely to graduate on time, and have a higher percentage of graduating and being retained at APSU.

Students who are members of sororities and fraternities at APSU have a higher percentage of job placements and greater ability to network and to obtain internships and co-ops, according to Dominy.

So, how come more students are not going Greek if it is “the best decision you can make while in college?”

Students who are involved in Greek organizations are constantly encouraging others to go Greek. In fact, some often bring it up so many times in one conversation you would assume if they did not mention it repeatedly, a detonator might go off and they would explode.

It is understandable. These students are enhancing their college experience through Greek life, and they are just trying to share the joy.

Despite sororities and fraternities promoting academic success, personal development and lifelong connections, the exclusivity of these organizations can be intimidating. It is easy to look at these organizations and assume members are chosen based on image rather than similar interests, values and future goals.

College encourages students to get involved but knowing there is a possibility of not being picked by any Greek organization is frightening. However, just like many other student organizations, Greek life may not be for everyone. It is essential for students to keep an open mind if they decide to go through the Greek life process.

Students need to understand Greek life is not a popularity contest, and it is more than matching T-shirts and fun parties. These students are developing meaningful relationships, advancing in philanthropic efforts and serving their communities, and those ideals should not go unnoticed or misunderstood.

For student opinion on Greek life, refer to here.