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Parents guide to Fraternity and Sorority Life

As a parent/family, it's a good idea for you to learn about fraternities and sororities so you can help your son/daughter make the best decision about whether or not he/she should be part of a fraternity or sorority. Educate yourself by checking out this parents' guide to fraternities and sororities.


Fraternities and Sororities can help your son or daughter, if they work hard and commit themselves to being successful in the classroom. Fraternities/sororities expect each member to strive to fulfill his/her academic potential. They require a minimum GPA in order to maintain membership and if a member falls below the standard, additional resources are designed for the student. Our fraternities and sororities have educational programs, such as tutoring and study sessions, which can assist the entire chapter in excelling academically. Some chapters also offer members scholarships for their outstanding academic performance. On average, the all-sorority and fraternity GPA consistently exceeds that of the campus average.

Financial Responsibility

Each new member will have financial responsibilities when it comes to joining a fraternity or sorority. This financial commitment goes directly to services that will positively impact your student. In most organizations, there is a one-time new member/initiation fee as well as semester membership dues. Depending on which organization he/she wants to join will determine the amount of dues they will have to pay each semester. Some chapters have scholarships and flexible payment plans. Make sure your son or daughter has asked about the financial obligations of membership. Students should discuss this with their parents before deciding to join a fraternity or sorority.


In the past, fraternities and sororities have had a reputation for participating in hazing (any action taken that produces bodily harm or danger, mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, fright, or ridicule). Today, all fraternity and sorority policies strictly prohibit any type of hazing activity. In fact, the organizations have taken on a zero-tolerance stance on this issue. If you feel that your student may be participating in inappropriate activities associated with hazing, you should contact the Office of Student Life at 573-592-4239.


Although some parents who have knowledge about the system may not consider this aspect of fraternity/sorority life to be of high concern, many of the stereotypes that exist around fraternity/sorority life cause the issue of secret societies to be a concern for parents. For those with limited experience with fraternities and sororities, several aspects of the organizations' membership knowledge and traditions are unknown to the uninitiated. Fraternity and sorority rituals and secrets exist not to separate members of the fraternity/sorority community, but instead are designed to bring together shared values and common bonds.

Time Commitment

On average, your student should expect to contribute a few hours per week for meetings and mandatory activities. The first semester is spent going through the chapter new member education program. This program will give your student the opportunity to develop their leadership and time management skills, learn about the history of the organization, develop friendships, and allow them to become involved with other organizations. Each chapter has weekly meetings and other mandatory events (philanthropies, service, and initiation) throughout the year, but they are planned well in advance. The more members put into the organization, the more they will get out of being a member. Advise your child to ask questions regarding time commitments during recruitment.


Fraternities and sororities participate in many different activities. The kind of activities your student may participate in will vary depending on which chapter he/she joins. Possible activities may include:

  • Fundraising for charities
  • Tutoring elementary school students
  • Conducting environmental and neighborhood cleanups
  • Sponsoring blood drives
  • Organizing clothing and book collections
  • Volunteering at shelters
  • Participating in intramural athletics

If your child decides to join, you should stress how important it is to balance social activities and academics. If your student's grades start to slip, they may want to cut back on the activities in which they are involved, and their chapter will likely ask them to do the same as a way to encourage your student to refocus on academics.

Keep in mind that while fraternity/sorority membership is great for some students, it's not for everyone. You should discuss with your son or daughter what he/she would like to do and then support his/her decision. If your student decides that joining an organization is the right decision, make sure he/she researches the different chapters thoroughly.

What is my role as a parent?

  • Students need support throughout the process of recruitment and during their new member period. Be supportive and involved by learning as much as you can about Fraternity/Sorority life by asking questions of your student as he/she meets members in fraternities and sororities.
  • Keep an open mind...Fraternity/Sorority life is not for everyone. Just because you may have been a fraternity/sorority member does not mean that it is the right choice for your son/daughter. On the other hand, Fraternity/Sorority life at William Woods is a tight knit community and different from other communities. If wasn't for you during your college days, it doesn't mean it won't be right for your son/daughter.
  • Talk to your son/daughter beforehand about the financial obligation. Determine who will pay for what and where the limits are.
  • Do not become overly involved in the fraternity/sorority recruitment process. This is your son/daughters decision. There will be plenty of activities and events for you to attend or even help plan once your student joins one of our organizations.Too often, parents do not allow their students to "fight their own battles." It helps the student mature and gain some assertiveness when allowed to call various officers if they have questions or concerns about their decision to join a fraternity/sorority.
  • Keep the Office of Student Life contact information on hand. If you have any questions or concerns about fraternity/sorority life at William Woods, feel encouraged to contact our office.

Additional Resources for Parents or Students