Fraternity Living: How to Survive Living in a Frat House

The advantages and disadvantages to living in college fraternities.

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To rush or not to rush? That is the question. For a lot of college students, the choice to join a fraternity comes down to living in a frat house. With all the myths and stereotypes out there, it’s not always an appealing prospect. In this article, we’ll try to dispel some of the misconceptions and give you the facts about living in a fraternity.

Contrary to what you might believe, it’s easy to get kicked out of a fraternity.

What to Expect If You Live in a Fraternity

Living conditions will vary from house to house, but there are some common traits. Basically, imagine what living with 20 to 100 other guys would be like, and you’ll get a good idea. It will be loud, it will be messy, and it will be packed full of testosterone.

Of course, it’s also likely to be the most vibrant and active social environment you’ll be a part of in your college career. On most campuses, frat houses are the social epicenters, where the biggest parties happen and the most people gather.

On top of that, it’s also a great place to make some lasting friendships and networks. Greek life emphasizes brotherhood, and you’ll quickly find yourself building lifelong connections with your fraternity brothers.

Food Service in Frats

In order to hire in-house chefs, fraternities have required meal plans. The number of meals per week varies depending on the house. Lambda Chi Alpha at University of Idaho’s meal plan has 10 per week, while Kansas State University’s Delta Sigma Phi chapter has 16.

Meals are usually served during breakfast and dinner, and it’s a good idea to hit the dining hall at the beginning of mealtime. Quantities are limited, and if you think your appetite is big, imagine that multiplied by 60.

Financial Aspects of Living in a Frat House

Frat fees typically average around $500 per semester. At Penn State, for example, dues vary from $100 to $800.

Unfortunately, though, the bulk of Greek life cost is room and board. In-house brothers at the University of Alabama pay $3,300 each semester, which is fairly typical. The average live-in cost at University of Oregon is substantially lower, averaging $2,300 per semester. That may sound like a lot, but at most schools, the cost of living in a frat house is actually comparable to living in a dorm. And, for most people, it’s a lot more fun.

Fraternity Rules

Contrary to what you might believe, it’s easy to get kicked out of a fraternity. If you get caught breaking the house rules, and it’s a serious enough offense, you will get kicked out.

One thing to keep in mind is that many frats have recently become dry. The reasoning is understandable; alcohol-related incidents reflect poorly on fraternities and their host universities, and can even result in banishment. In an infamous Kappa Sigma formal dance at Northwestern University, one brother dropped a flask into a beluga whale tank. After the laughter died down, Northwestern administrators banned the frat from campus.

The Downsides of Living in a Fraternity

Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding to live in a fraternity:

  • Do you like to live in a quiet, peaceful environment?
  • Do you need lots of privacy?
  • Do you prefer to keep your home and social lives separate?
  • Is cleanliness a top priority for you?
  • Do you prefer small gatherings to large parties?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, in-house Greek life is probably not for you. Privacy and silence will be at a premium, and you’ll be surrounded by dozens of other guys every day.

Of course, not every fraternity will be loud and messy, but with that many people living in the same house, the minimum level of noise and squalor will be relatively high.

Another concern with frat house life is security. Even if you buy a lock for your room, which you absolutely should do, theft is a constant risk. If you have a lot of expensive belongings, you might want to find alternate housing. Better yet, leave them at home. College is not the place for irreplaceable items in the first place.

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