The Differences between Professional and Social Greek Organizations

For many, joining a Greek organization is one of the highlights of college life. However, not all Greek life is built the same. Unfortunately, most Greek chapters are generalized as being all about sex, drugs, and partying. This is far from the truth, as not all Greeks are built the same. Primarily there are two extremely diverse aspects of Greek life: social and professional.

Many students are unaware that professional Greek organizations (usually called Fraternities, for their coed member base) even exist. Most assume that anything labeled with Greek letters cannot be taken seriously. Sometimes, the lines between what is considered professional versus social can be blurred, but there are several distinctions to define them.

1. Greek Houses

The majority of social fraternities/sororities are affiliated with a much larger national chapter, from which funding and support are ample. While professional organizations are supported as well, they rely on the fundraising of their members and donations from the community to fund their events. This amount of funding for social organizations usually includes a large house where many of the senior members reside, providing a common base for all members to congregate. 

2. Cost

Consequentially, belonging to a social organization can bear a much higher cost than a professional one. Aside from house fees, events put on by these social groups can be extremely costly. On the other hand, professional groups rarely require any monetary requirements of members aside from what the national chapter requires towards dues. Comparatively, a social organization can cost hundreds of dollars a month, while a professional one may cost less than a hundred dollars per semester. 

3. Rules of Conduct

It is true that many social Greeks host parties and socials for their members, and thus their rules of conduct for members can vary greatly from professional organizations. While parties can be a central part of the social groups, misconduct in one’s letters can have serious ramifications for professional members. In many cases, even drinking alcohol while wearing one’s letters is considered disgraceful to the professional image of the group. 

4. Recognition

Recognition for social and professional organizations can vary greatly. While social groups may be well-known around campuses, professional groups hold a special value for its members. For example, members of the American Criminal Justice Association – Lambda Alpha Epsilon – receive recognition in many law enforcement positions. This can help members get ahead in their professions after graduation. This is not to say, however, that social organizations do not hold some of the same benefits. Belonging to a social organization (as with a professional one) shows commitment and the ability to work as a team. The primary difference is that professional groups receive specialized recognition. 

While each of these types of Greek organizations vary, they can each hold different perks for prospective members. Many college students even go so far as to belong to one of each to fully broaden their horizons. Whatever the decision may be, it is important for prospective members to be aware of all of the opportunities Greek life holds for them.