The fall semester is well underway on college campuses across the country. By this time students have begun to settle in, started eyeing how they can get involved on campus, and setting goals for this year and their college careers. For young women this may include pursuing membership in a Black sorority. If this pertains to you, or a friend of yours, I would like to offer 5 things you should consider if you are interested in pursuing membership in a Black sorority.
1. Get Good Grades
All students’ primary reason for being in college should be achieving an education. Though extracurricular activities are an important part of the college experience, they should not to take precedence over academic achievement. All of the historically Black sororities have a primary principle of scholarship. Black sororities are looking for potential members that don’t just have good grades, but great grades. Having a strong academic profile not only makes you a stronger candidate, but it shows your commitment to scholarship and belief in educational excellence. These are qualities that one should possess when considering joining organizations founded by collegiate women.
2. Community Service
Another common element found in Black sorority principles is that of service. Community service should be a part of your lifestyle, not a hobby you picked up for your resume a few months before rush. A lot of the work that these organizations do centers on service to others. This includes voter registration, literacy drives, mentoring, health screenings and awareness, and community clean-ups. You shouldn’t come to a sorority looking for opportunities to do service. Rather, your own practice of giving back should equip you with service ideas to contribute. Giving back to the community also indicates that a person understands the place of privilege they have been put in as a college student and uses that place of privilege to improve the lives of others. That is the kind of character, selflessness, and care for the well-being of others that sororities often find attractive.
Leadership is not something that being in a sorority teaches you. Leadership qualities are what you bring with you, and the sorority experience merely refines and emboldens those qualities. In what ways are you exhibiting leadership in your life? Are you leading academically? Are you a leader in your community or organizations of which you are a member? Have you taken initiative by starting a program or leading an initiative? If you are not in a formal leadership position, are you exhibiting traits commonly associated with leadership? These organizations not only desire leaders, but also members who know how to identify, respect, and support leadership. Individuals considering joining a Black sorority need to reflect on the ways in which leadership is exhibited in their lives.
4. Discretion Matters
Often when discretion is discussed, in respect to BGLOs, it is in regard to the membership intake process. However, being able to practice discretion is a trait that extends to much more than intake. Knowing what is information one should share and not share is an important skill to acquire. When you find yourself in the workforce, conducting research, or working on highly classified projects, discretion shows commitment, loyalty, and wise decision-making. Furthermore, one should remember that a sorority is a sisterhood. Often there will be times when your sisters will share personal information about themselves, their families, and their lives. True sisterhood respects the sensitive nature of such matter by creating a space where this information is safe and protected. Current members are looking for potential members who understand and practice this principle already. If you have a reputation for sharing too much information or confidential information and doing so frequently, or have a reputation for your own personal life being constantly on display you may want to reevaluate if these practices signal your ability to be trusted with things that are personal and sacred to others.
5. Character Counts
One of the biggest misconceptions of those interested in joining BGLOs is that if you merely meet all of the technical requirements (application, GPA, service hours, letters of recommendation, etc.) you automatically should be invited to pursue membership. Just like when you apply for a job, or apply to graduate programs, simply having the bare minimum does not guarantee admission. These are not mere organizations, but sisterhoods. They are a group of women who are bonded and exercise their collective power through a number of core principles. If you are interested in joining one of these organizations your character is an area which you should put effort in developing. What good is a 4.0 if you achieved it without integrity? What good is it that you are the president of an organization if you lack compassion and courtesy to those you lead? What good is it that you have discretion about personal matters if you don’t speak up for those who are being treated unfairly? There is an expression that, character is how you treat people who can do nothing for you. Sorority members are looking for potential members who do not simply exhibit the principles of their respective sisterhoods to gain membership, but rather exhibit these principles because it is their nature to do so.
Though these are five things to consider if you are interested in pursuing membership in a Black sorority, these are also five things to consider as you begin preparing for your collegiate and professional life. These principles are not limited to young women who want to join those who call themselves Greek. All undergraduate students should be striving to develop in these areas, because they make you a well-rounded person. And ultimately, being a well-rounded person will help you put your best foot forward in pursuing membership as well as reaching numerous goals you have set in your life.