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Judging by what happens in the movies, you’d expect Greek life to involve nonstop partying, pranks, and secret rites. The truth is a lot less scandalous — most fraternities and sororities simply provide a social outlet for students who want to study together and give back to the community. The percentage of college students in Greek life depends on the university. Some colleges lack fraternities and sororities altogether, while others embrace the concept.
Percentage of College Students in Greek Life
The United States has the most prominent Greek life programs, so that’s what this article will cover. However, there are also fraternities and sororities at some schools in the Philippines, Canada, and a handful of European nations.
The Highest Percentages
As of November 2021, the U.S. college with the greatest number of students in Greek life is Washington and Lee University, with 79% of male students belonging to a fraternity and 70% of female students in a sorority. The runner-up is the University of the South, with 57% and 72% of students in fraternities and sororities, respectively. It also has the highest percentage of students belonging to a sorority.
The Lowest Percentages
Among schools participating in Greek life, the University of North Texas has among the lowest percentage of college students in fraternities — just 1% — but it boasts four times as many students in sororities as Portland State University, where sorority members make up only 1% of the student body.
There are several universities, such as the Catholic University of America, that have a Greek life program but didn’t report any data about the percentage of students enrolled in it. And, of course, many colleges simply don’t have a Greek life program. They include Harvard University, Rice University, Boston College, and the University of Notre Dame, among many others.
Overall, the 2021 data showed that the majority of male students don’t belong to a fraternity, with just seven schools being the exception to the rule. Only six universities had the majority of female students in a sorority.
Why Do Students Join Greek Life?
A Gallup poll of over 10,000 students found that 44% of students participating in Greek life reported having a professor who cared about them as a person, compared to just 27% of nonparticipating students. Eighty percent had been involved in an internship where they applied classroom learning, versus only 54% of nonparticipating students.
The survey found that Greek life students felt better supported at school overall. They were generally more active in extracurricular activities, organizations, and projects, and they felt better prepared to get a job right after graduation.
There may be other factors at play with these statistics, such as more outgoing or ambitious students joining Greek life clubs to begin with, so take these findings with a grain of salt. But it appears that students who join fraternities and sororities have strong social networks and enriched college experiences.
Greek Life Isn’t the Norm
According to the data, most college students are not in Greek life clubs. However, a few colleges are an exception to the rule, with over 70% of students belonging to fraternities or sororities at Washington and Lee University. If you attend a school with a strong Greek life presence, do your research and decide for yourself if you’d like to join a frat or sorority.