You were so excited on bid day. You learned the hand signs, made a Pinterest page of sorority crafts and even got initiated. But then—something changed. You became unhappy. After bid day and big/little reveal, when you were showered in T-shirts and love, day-to-day sorority life lost its glimmer. Maybe you weren’t clicking with the girls, or maybe you began to think that perhaps you’re not cut out for this whole sorority thing.
Being in a sorority has its ups and downs, and for some, the cons outweigh the pros. Here’s what to do if you don’t like your sorority.
1. Think about why you joined in the first place
If you’re feeling tepid about sorority life, go back to your pre-rush mindset. What made you go through recruitment? Was it the prospect of finding future bridesmaids? Making awesome networking connections? Then, think about what initially drew you to the particular chapter you’re in.
“First, I think the woman should ask herself why she joined the organization in the first place, and then what is bothering her about the organization,” says Tessa, a former chapter president at The Ohio State University. Write down what you wanted in a sorority, and then write your hesitations. If you’re going to come to a conclusion about staying or going, it’s important to have a solid list of reasons before you make the decision. Once you drop, there’s no going back, and you won’t be able to join another chapter after you’ve been initiated.
If you joined for networking connections first and sisterhood second, it could be beneficial to stay in the sorority if the chapter has a proven track record of great opportunities. But, at the end of the day, you’re putting time, money and effort into staying in your chapter—and only you can decide if it’s worth being potentially unhappy for these benefits.
2. Speak up
If you’re unhappy with your chapter, talk to someone immediately. Your sorority’s leadership wants its members to be happy, so when you’re having doubts, let someone know. “[You] should contact a trusted older member of their organization,” Tessa suggets. “Perhaps a big, mentor or older friend who can give insight into her personal journey and give advice that is centered around membership.” Tell her your hesitations and see what advice she can give you—chances are, she’s been there too!
“I think that almost everyone has a period of time when they're not sure about their sorority,” says Alex Cardenas, founder of Bows, Pearls & Sorority Girls and an alumna of Texas A&M University. Being in a sorority is never totally smooth sailing, so rest assured that what you’re feeling is probably what many of your sisters are also feeling, or have felt.
Think beyond your big, though. “The [sorority’s] president can provide a big picture view of the organization and how this woman can or cannot grow from it,” Tessa says. “I think women also should utilize their option of speaking to advisors of the chapter. These are women who are removed from the collegiate experience and can sort through situations extremely objectively, while also speaking about how their membership has affected their adult life.”
Keep in mind that you’ll remain an alumna of your chapter for the rest of your life, so if you drop in the middle of college, you may lose out on potential connections. While it may seem scary to reach out to the president or advisors, know that they above all want happy members—they’ll appreciate that you are asking for advice instead of making a rash decision!
3. Reach out
If one of your main hesitations is that you feel like you’re not clicking with the girls, reach out to sisters you don’t know yet. “I didn't find my best friends the first year I was in my sorority, and it definitely made me second guess my decision to join on multiple occasions,” Cardenas says. “The best thing to do is to really put yourself out there. If you're going to grab lunch, text some sisters and see if they want to join, try to be outgoing, and say yes when another sister sends an invite to go and do something.”
Although this is easier said than done, you may be surprised after reaching out! According to Cardenas, you have to put in the effort to create those friendships. “If you want the experience of being in a sorority and having that sisterhood, then there is no wrong sorority—it truly is what you make of it and how you look at it,” she says. “It's not four years, it's for life.”
This worked for Isabelle*, a freshman at the University of San Francisco, who initially felt like she didn’t click with her sisters. “I think the reason I have trouble relating to a majority of my chapter is because I am more on the introverted side, and most of the girls in my chapter are very outgoing and have different interests than I do,” she says. “My grand big and I both love Starbucks, so I reached out to her by asking to go grab coffee at the beginning of first semester, and we realized we had a lot in common, so we became close almost instantly!” So even if your big or the girls in your fellow pledge class aren’t besties, chances are, there’s a sister out there who you’ll love!
4. Get more involved
If you’ve been in your sorority for a year or two and are past the new member period, getting more involved on a leadership level may make your time in your chapter more worthwhile. “They always say that the more you put into your sorority, the more you will get out of it,” Cardenas says. “I was constantly involved, whether it was volunteering to be a sober driver, decorating the house for recruitment, painting a banner or serving on my executive board. Find ways to get involved and it will remind you why you joined your sorority in the first place.”
Being a leader in your sorority may also be a great way to change the things you don’t like. “Your [sorority] experience is shaped by what you decide to do,” Lauren, a former chapter president at Purdue University, says. So if something is bothering you, fix it!
5. Wait it out
If you’re a new member, you may feel out of place in your chapter. Lauren advises that members wait it out for a bit before considering dropping—at least a semester. “Younger members often feel a little awkward in the beginning because they have so many new faces to meet and get to know,” she says. “They may feel intimidated by older actives and feel insecure in their voice in the sorority.”
Unfortunately, this can really only go away with time and additional involvement. “There have been days when I've felt like I didn't have any friends among my sisters (usually at chapter meetings where my closest friends don't show up),” says Lucy*, a junior at the University of California, Los Angeles. “It's not a good feeling. But every time, whether it's after a few minutes, a few hours or a few days, a sister reminds me why I joined and that I do have friends.” Usually, your doubts may blow over if you just stay the course and wait it out.
6. As a last resort, drop
If your differences with your chapter are irreconcilable, then resigning may be a good option for you. If, for instance, you can’t afford being in your sorority, or you’re struggling with the time commitment—these are great reasons to leave. Additionally, if the organization’s values are constantly clashing with your own, then you absolutely owe it to yourself to drop. “You should be happy/proud to be a member of your sorority,” Lauren says. “If you do not feel happy, you should not feel forced to remain.”
That being said, remember that dropping is permanent. “I think women should think very hard about their decision to drop their sorority,” Tessa says, “because there is a reason that they joined and went through with their initiation, and making a rash decision about your membership in this sort of organization can lead to a lot of regret in the future.” Make a pro/con list, talk to members of the chapter’s exec board—do everything you can to make sure your decision is the right one for you—because once it’s done, it’s done.
Each sorority has different processes for dropping—but if you want to start the process, speaking with the chapter president is a good place to begin. That’s what Emma, a senior at Kenyon College, did two years ago when she dropped her sorority. She deactivated her sophomore year, and while she does miss some of the traditions and the bonding opportunities, she is glad she made the decision. “I don't regret it because it had started to feel more like a job than something I wanted to be a part of,” Emma says. “I sent an email to the whole sorority explaining that it wasn't anything about them, that I valued our friendships and my time in the organization, but that I didn't feel like it was a good fit for me anymore.” For Emma, the cons outweighed the pros—but only you can decide what’s right for you.
If, after talking to your big, the chapter president and perhaps even alumnae, you still feel unhappy, now’s the time to turn in your badge. While being in a sorority can have its ups and downs, you shouldn’t have to be miserable!
*Names have been changed