A fraternity can be defined in many ways, but in most U.S. colleges and universities, this term refers to male students’ organization. This brotherhood is built on common interests and aspirations, paving the way to a commitment beyond the thresholds of school life! Fraternity members do not only share their efforts and knowledge towards a common goal but also form a lasting bond of friendship where they learn and grow together.
Many call fraternities a Greek organization, probably because fraternity names are often made up of Greek letters. In the late 18th century, the first fraternity, Phi Beta Kappa, was formed by liberal arts students in the College of William and Mary to secretly gather outside their classroom settings and take part in intellectual debates. Eventually, fraternities took on broader, more valuable roles, from enhancing moral to developing social and leadership skills. Most fraternities follow a set of codes that guide how members should act.
Most fraternities enshrine camaraderie. While there are many misconceptions on Greek life, often stemming from depictions of popular culture, fraternities offer a wealth of advantages to its members. Forget about hazing and wild parties; fraternities offer more than meets the eye. Many fraternities put forward values essential to academic achievement, leadership, alumni involvement, and even philanthropy.
Benefits of Being in a Fraternity
Students who are on the fence about joining a fraternity might want to check out its many advantages. Why should they consider joining a fraternity? Here are just some of the compelling reasons why:
Just like clubs and other school organizations, fraternities present a lot of opportunities for new members to connect with their peers who share the same values and goals. However, the connection they built at school does not end when they graduate. Being in a fraternity allows one to build a network with alumni and future members of their chapter. Fraternity alumni have strong ties with their organization and are often willing to offer tips or even help them get internships in their present company. These connections are vital in one’s future career.
In addition to connecting with a network of alumni, being a part of a fraternity could work wonders for one’s resume. Some employers might be affiliated with a particular chapter, giving one a greater chance of getting hired in the future. Most employers also appreciate your link and commitment to a fraternity, considering all the values and skills that these groups offer you throughout college.
Most fraternities are involved in leadership and community outreach events, which they might even be organizing themselves. Being in one will encourage members to learn new skills beyond their academic requirements. For one, they will be able to develop social skills as they help plan and launch events, from managing a budget, speaking in public, and heading meetings. They will meet new people and learn how to get along with them. Fraternity members would be able to step out of their comfort zones and build their confidence. Most importantly, they will be able to hone and showcase their leadership skills as they take charge in a particular event.
Community Involvement and Volunteerism
A lot of fraternities organize community outreach programs. They have philanthropy events that require members to participate in, living the spirits of volunteerism. Fraternities are known to give back to a cause, providing hands-on service to local communities. It can be in the form of being mentors or tutors for local organizations. They sometimes take part in cleaning parks, giving food support, and engaging with veterans. There are cases where fraternities raise funds for local charities, too. These are often done in a fun way, with events like athletic, baked goods sale, and even themed dinner parties.
Fraternities bring diverse students of various backgrounds. They often bond through the same values and goals. As members of a fraternity, students are given a chance to share their interests and learn from each other. They often support each other through academic difficulties and cheer each other on throughout their accomplishments. Members give each other a strong support system – one they can count on when the going gets tough.
Drive for Academic Excellence
One of the primary aims of fraternities is to provide an encouraging academic atmosphere to members. They have activities like peer tutoring, chapter study hours, and even upperclassman counseling. College is intense and rigorous, and students need every help and support that they can get to overcome the obstacles and succeed academically. Fraternities also give students a way to balance their academics and make the most of their university experience.
Here are the country’s top fraternities that are popular in colleges and universities, and known for their lasting impact on the members:
- Pi Kappa Alpha
- Alpha Phi Alpha
- Tau Kappa Epsilon
- Sigma Alpha Epsilon
- Sigma Phi Epsilon
- Kappa Alpha Society
- Sigma Chi
- Lambda Sigma Upsilon
- Kappa Delta Rho
- Sigma Nu
- Alpha Tau Omega
- Delta Chi
- Lambda Chi Alpha
- Beta Theta Pi
- Nu Alpha Kappa
Founded in the University of Virginia, Pi Kappa Alpha has been in existence since 1868. It has become one of the internationally recognized brotherhoods and one of the world’s largest organizations from its humble beginnings. They have always been dedicated to developing integrity, intellect, success, and high moral character. Nicknamed as Pike, the brotherhood is a Greek letter secret society made up of men who share common ideals, truth, honor, and loyalty.
Their roots could be traced back to Room 47 West Range, where Frederick Southgate Taylor and Littleton Waller Tazewell worked together to create a new fraternity. They were joined by several other schoolmates who formed the foundation of the brotherhood. Aiming to make their organization transcend the Virginia society and gain national recognition, the founding members worked tirelessly in 21 years. They were met with obstacles upon obstacles, most prominently from universities that banned secret societies’ presence. Despite the difficulties they went through, their efforts paid off, and they were able to expand beyond the gates of the University of Virginia. Chapters were opened in different universities, with Davidson College and William & Mary as the first two to join the fold.
One of PIKE’s distinguishing features includes cultivating a culture of excellence among its members. Many of their chapters achieve G.P.A.s that are above campus and Greek averages. New members are helped in adjusting to college life. They organize study hours, tutoring, and brotherhood mentoring.
They also make it a point to nurture the young members into well-rounded men who enshrine the pillars of integrity that the organization emphasizes. Most of them are an outstanding presence on the campus. While in Pike, they are provided with a unique experience that helps them build relationships and skills integral to their foundation as future leaders and professionals. PIKE members strive to set an example for their peers by embodying the brotherhood’s values as Scholars, Leaders, Athletes, and Gentlemen.
Existing figures say that Pi Kappa Alpha raised $2.125 million between 2014 and 2015 for philanthropies. They have also performed more than 300,000 community service hours in the same period.
Some of the most prominent PIKE members include A.L.L.T.E.L. Corporation C.E.O. Joe T. Ford, fashion designer Jason Alkire, Nike E.V.P. and C.F.O. Andy Campion, Union Pacific Corporation president, and C.O.O. Ike Evans, and many more.
Alpha Phi Alpha was established on December 4, 1906, at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. It holds the distinction of being the first greek-letter fraternity for African American-descent men. The organization was started by seven college students, including Henry Arthur Callis, Charles Henry Chapman, Eugene Kinckle Jones, George Biddle Kelley, Nathaniel Allison Murray, Robert Harold Ogle, and Vertner Woodson Tandy, who realized the need for a strong brotherhood bond among African descendants in the U.S. The founders are recognized as visionaries who aimed to create a study and support group for minority students who struggle against racial prejudice in their educational and social life at Cornell.
The founders and early leaders worked hard to lay out a strong foundation for the brotherhood, enshrining their scholarship, fellowship, and good character principles. The organization went on to develop leaders, promote brotherhood, and achieve academic excellence. Alpha Phi Alpha soon expanded, establishing chapters in other colleges and universities, mostly African American institutions. Their pursuits and goals include helping correct centuries-old injustices faced by African Americans, whether educational, economic, political, and social. One of their most prominent national programs is the “Go-to-High School, Go-to-College campaign, which strove to improve African Americans’ education level. They also made significant contributions to African American voting rights struggles, encouraging their fellow African Americans to register. Their commitment to the African American community is truly commendable. Even today, they contribute in significant ways through the fraternity’s Education and Building foundations. They provide scholarships and shelters to underprivileged families. Furthermore, they have spearheaded mentoring programs for the new generation of leaders.
The fraternity has produced some of the most notable figures leaders like W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King, Jr., Maynard Jackson, Thurgood Marshall, Jesse Owens, Paul Robeson, and Julius Chambers, among many others.
Built on principles of love, charity, and esteem, tau Kappa Epsilon has 121 years of rich history. It was first established at Illinois Wesleyan University on the cold night of January 10, 1899. The idea was borne out of a discussion on a new society that would regard men for their worth and character instead of their wealth, rank, or honor. Today, the organization has chapters in various universities and colleges, including Western Connecticut State University, Loyola University Chicago, and Texas Tech University, among many others.
The fraternity gives strong emphasis on character advancement and personal development. For them, personal growth is a way to unlock one’s greatest potential. To do this, the organization helps members in their mental, moral, and social development. They are given a wealth of opportunities to form meaningful connections and relationships that aid them in every aspect of their lives, from educational and professional to interpersonal and community success.
Some of the fraternity’s important programs include From The Blueprint to Province Forums and Regional Leadership Conferences. These programs aim to help members better themselves, fraternally, professionally, and personally. They also have a conference called Province Forums, an accessible one-day, drive-in event at minimal cost that gathers every Teke and even potential initiates to learn how to become better men. In fostering future leaders, the Leadership Academy provides members with tools and skills integral for their success. The academy is composed of workshops, small-group discussions, outdoor activities, and so much more.
Just like other fraternities, Tau Kappa Epsilon has their advocacies, too. They have established the T.K.E. Foundation, which is committed to establish and support scholarship and leadership training programs. It promotes academic achievement by granting more than $500,000 scholarships and awards throughout the years.
Some of the most renowned Tau Kappa Epsilon alumni include Honorable Bob Barr, Mayor Gabriel Brown, Conrad Hilton, George Halas, Terry Bradshaw, Ronald Reagan, William Fowler, James Kilts, Mike Huckabee, and many more.
The Sigma Alpha Epsilon has made its mark in history in many ways. For one, they are the first fraternity to establish a leadership education program. They are also known for spearheading the elimination of pledging and banning alcohol in all events and activities. The organization takes pride in providing a place for men to learn to become a better person. As one of the country’s oldest and largest fraternities, Sigma Alpha Epsilon started in the University of Alabama on March 9, 1856, at the initiation of Nathan Elams Cockrell, John Barratt Rudulph, Noble Leslie DeVotie, John Webb Kerr, Wade Hampton Foster, Samuel Marion Dennis, Thomas Chappell Cook, and Abner Edwin Patton.
Eventually, the organization has spread out and accommodated other chapters in different colleges and universities. In the present, the fraternity boasts initiating more than 300,00 brothers from its 200 plus chapters. The fraternity emphasizes the need to be a True Gentleman through exemplifying focused principles and strong convictions, rising above one’s peers to lead the way today and beyond. Sigma Alpha Epsilon offers various programs for its members, including the Phoenix Member Education Program that offers member onboarding, brother-to-brother lessons, and accolades.
The fraternity also has a strong spirit of volunteerism. Members get plenty of opportunities to share their personal and professional experiences with other chapter collegiates. They hold professional development workshops, attending recruitment events, and many more.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon has many renowned members, including Cecil Day, Tony Lama, Elliot Ness, Dave Campbell, Phillip Howlett, David Hobson, William McKinley, and Joseph Strauss, among many others.
Founded on November 1, 1901, at the University of Richmond (formerly Richmond College), Sigma Phi Epsilon has grown to be one of its most prominent fraternities. The 12 original founding fathers include Carter Ashton Jenkens, Benjamin Donald Gaw, William Hugh Carter, William Andrew Wallace, Thomas Temple Wright, William Lazell Phillips, Lucian Baum Cox, Richard Spurgeon Owens, Edgar Lee Allen, Robert Alfred McFarland, Frank Webb Kerfoot, and Thomas Vaden McCaul. These great men lived up to their ideals and set the standards for the succeeding brothers.
The organization holds the distinction of being the country’s largest fraternity. They have made their mark in various aspects, introducing and improving programs like the Balanced Man Scholarship and Residential Learning Community. Most prominently, the fraternity is known for their Educational Foundation, an initiative of founder and executive director, William L. “Uncle Billy” Phillips, that aims to provide a scholarship fund for undergraduate students amid the rising cost of tertiary education. Until today, the foundation still provides aid for scholarships, leadership programming, and safe, competitive undergraduate housing. They also established the SigEp National Housing, which supports the housing needs of the fraternity.
Sigma Phi Epsilon emphasizes the importance of strengthening one’s character, building leadership and interpersonal skills, and developing healthy and lasting relationships. Some of their most famous alumni include Tom H. Barrett, Wallace C. Doud, Kent C. “Oz” Nelson, Kelcy Lee Warren, The Honorable Armand Arabian, General James T. Conway, Conrad W. Hewitt, William L. Waller Jr., and many others.
Originally established in 1825, the Kappa Alpha Society took root in Union College at the initiation of John Hart Hunter, a free-thinker and lover of literature. The organization was meant to be a literary society of intellectuals. It is known as the first social fraternity in the country, focusing on helping its undergraduate members develop into better individuals while nurturing life-long friendships among its alumni.
The organization always made it a point to maintain its hold as a student organization instead of one controlled by its alumni. The Kappa Alpha Society, in its early days, encouraged the exposition of liberal ideas. They were known as an early exponent of “progress,” the core concept of U.S. development in the 19th century. Currently, the organization has nine active chapters. One of their main advocacies is education. The fraternity has established the John Hart Hunter Educational Foundation, Inc., which provides scholarships with amounts ranging from $500 to $2,000. The scholarship program aims to recognize outstanding undergraduate members based on their academic achievement.
The fraternity has many prominent members, including Robert R. Fowler, William John Bennett, Leander Babcock, Jesse O. Norton, James Dixon, and Gabriel Bouck, among many others.
Sigma Chi was born out of seven young men’s dream of establishing a better fraternity that would enrich their collegiate experience. It was founded in 1855 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. They stress the importance of fairness and honesty in fostering brotherly friendships. The organization believes in expressing different views and opinions and, despite the diversity, remains responsible, honorable, gentlemanly, and friendly.
The fraternity’s founding principles are deeply rooted in friendship, justice, and learning. These are referred to as the three great aims of their fraternity. They strive to be a brotherhood that brings forth preeminent leadership and character development in their collegiate life and beyond. They emphasize the need for personal growth through learning and coaching. To date, the fraternity has more than 255,000 living members. Throughout their 164-year history, Sigma Chi has initiated more than 350,000 young men. They have established the Sigma Chi Foundation, a charitable and educational tax-exempt organization that secures financial resources and provides stewardship to Sigma Chi. The foundation has given more than $30 million in grants and scholarships. They also head the Sigma Chi Leadership that gives leadership certificates to undergraduate students. The organization cultivates volunteerism among its members through facilitating events and leadership workshops.
Some of their most notable alumni include Brad Pitt, David Letterman, John Wayne, Grover Cleveland, Joe Cella, and David Viviano.
Lambda Sigma Upsilon traces its roots to Tillett Hall at Rutgers University. It was 1979 when 20 Latino men gathered together in fighting for minority students’ rights. Their regular gatherings led to the forming of a brotherhood that they called Latino Social Fellowship. At present, the brotherhood strives for diversity and inclusivity. The organization is culturally diverse, all composed of knowledgeable men who value individual growth, social justice, equal opportunity, and excellence in education. While they promote friendship and brotherhood, the fraternity also puts forward the need for academic excellence and cultural awareness promotion.
Lambda Sigma Upsilon is one of the many fraternities with a strong sense of philanthropy and community service efforts. Some of their national advocacies include H.I.V./AIDS Research and Awareness, Live Safe Campaign, H.Y.P.E. Program, and the L.S.U. Foundation.
In particular, the H.I.V./AIDS Research and Awareness is established to honor one of the organization’s founders who succumbed to H.I.V. virus complications. Annually, they donate thousands in proceeds by hosting banquets, fundraisers, tournaments, raffle, and many other philanthropic programs. The L.S.U. Foundation, on the other hand, is a non-profit educational foundation that aims to provide high school and college Latino students opportunities for educational advancement and leadership development in the form of grants and scholarships. They are also responsible for organizing fundraisers for social and community awareness, including H.I.V./AIDS-related philanthropies.
Living by the motto, “Honor Super Omnia,” Kappa Delta Rho has been in existence for more than a hundred years. Its story began in Middlebury College on May 17, 1905, when three young students decided to form a new, more closely knit fraternity group. Their primary aim was to promote fellowship among their members and advance truth, justice, and virtue. The fraternity’s social life originally centered on music. They aimed to achieve a new set of standards that define manhood and brotherly love, with these ideals serving as their guidance through life.
Kappa Delta Rho stands by the principles of dignity and respect. Members are encouraged to pursue their education with vigor and to seek knowledge as a lifetime endeavor. They are also guided to engage in the service of humanity through various community outreach and activities. The organization always makes it a point to ensure that the commitment to Kappa Delta Rho continues even after graduation. They have established the Kappa Delta Rho Foundation, a charitable and educational corporation that serves as financial support for the educational, leadership, and character development programs under the National Fraternity of Kappa Delta Rho. It grants to support programs including Williams Leadership Academy, Quill & Scroll, Leadership and Educational Manuals/Publications/Materials for the Legion, Undergraduate Intern Program, and many more.
Their educational programs have a lasting impact. Every August, the Williams Leadership Academy holds sessions emphasizing to K.D.R. brothers about effective leadership both in their chapters and the professional world. Some of the most prominent members of Kappa Delta Rho include Robert J. Sinclair, Colston E. Warne, Archibald C. West, C. Edward Ackerly, Chuck Ealey, Greg Manusky, and John S. Fisher, among many others.
Founded in 1869, Sigma Nu traces back its roots to the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington. Its proud and colorful past began when three cadets at the institute decided to radically depart from the system of physical abuse and hazing of underclassmen by forming a “Legion of Honor.” Soon, it was renamed Sigma Nu Fraternity. It remained a secret until the first day of January when the founders finally made its existence known to the world. In 1970, the fraternity started to expand, establishing a chapter at the University of Virginia. Later on, another chapter opened at North Georgia Agricultural College. At present, the fraternity boasts over 166 active chapters and colonies throughout the country, initiating 235,000 since its establishment.
With the vision of “excelling with honor,” Sigma Nu aims to shape men of character who will become ethical leaders guided by the principles of love, honor, and truth. They also foster lifelong friendships and commitment to the fraternity. Their impact is not only felt within the organization. Over the years, the fraternity has raised more than $1.5 million for charities and logged over 350,000 community service hours. They also take part in various philanthropies, including the Amazing Snake Race. The organization emphasizes philanthropy and academics.
Over the years, they have also produced some of the most prominent alumni, including Harrison Ford, Ellie Manning, Paul Rudd, Bob Barker, Joe Buck, William Daniels, Zane Grey, Johnny Long, Dumas Malone, Al Michaels, and many others.
The Alpha Tau Omega fraternity was borne out of Christian-not-Greek-principles. It was founded at the Virginia Military Institute by Otis Allan Glazebrook, Erskine Mayo Ross, and Alfred Marshall in 1865. Every year, it ranks as one of the top 10 national fraternities in terms of the number of chapters and membership. Currently, the organization has over 250 active and inactive chapters with 200,000 members, 65,000 undergraduates. They are known as America’s Leadership Development Fraternity because they strongly emphasize the need to prepare their leadership roles in campus and community. They pride themselves on being a foundation rooted in a strong values-based foundation.
As part of their advocacy, the fraternity has set up the A.T.O. Foundation, which provides more than $150,000 annual scholarships to its members. They stress the importance of a meaningful leadership experience. Their grants support various programs that help members become better leaders in their chapters and community.
Alpha Tau Omega is also one of the country’s leading fraternities offering development training programs for college students and young professionals. The various leadership, citizenship, spiritual, and educational programs build lifelong skills that bring out the competent leaders in each member. They created the LeaderShape Institute, Inc. in 1986.
Of course, the organization has some of the most brilliant men in its membership. Prominent personalities who are part of the Alpha Tau Omega brotherhood include Keith Jackson, Len Dawson, Jack Kemp, Joe B. Hall, Terry Donahue, Curt Gowdy, Everett Dean, and Frank Rush, among many others.
Established at Cornell University on October 13, 1890, Delta Chi Fraternity boasts a storied past borne out of the desire to establish a second law fraternity at Cornell. Delta Chi’s core values are friendship, character building, justice, and education, with a membership that lives by the four most important words in their preamble – Promote, Develop, Advance, and Assist.
Since its foundation, the Delta Chi Fraternity has always upheld its core value and expectations of diversity, equity, and inclusion. They have now added a D.E.I. (diversity, equity, and inclusion) workgroup that reviews the organization’s law and resolutions.
The Delta Chi Educational Foundation was established in 1954. It is a non-profit foundation that holds leadership training programs and offers scholarships that include Graduate Student Scholarship, Washburn Scholarship, Duane and Mary Meyer Scholarship, and many more. There is also A’s Academy, a curriculum focusing on leadership development and goal setting, which is usually attended by chapter presidents by invitation. It is a huge opportunity for many undergraduate leaders.
Some of the Delta Chi Fraternity’s most prominent alumni include Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Costner, Fred Clark, Benjamin Harrison, Jim Banks, William S. Sessions, Henry Hartsfield, and A. J. Preller, among dozens of others.
It’s unclear whether Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity was founded in 1909 or 1911. It is said that a meeting on November 2, 1909, a plan to reorganize the Cosmopolitan Law Club—a Boston University society of law students—into a Greek letter society ended up with the formation of the fraternity. A second version says the founding happened on November 15, 1911, when the new fraternity’s constitution was signed by the four founders Warren Cole, Ralph Miles, Harold Bridge, and Percival Morse. The fraternity has soon expanded to other universities, with chapters opening at the Massachusetts Agricultural College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania State University.
At this fraternity, men are accepted regardless of their background and differences. The organization aims to empower members to become better versions of themselves by leading with loyalty and purpose. For them, the ideal men are those who pursue a life of respect and inclusion for all. Members are expected to exemplify loyalty, duty, service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. These values are exemplified in the fraternity’s operations, from recruitment and education to meaningful ritualism.
Lambda Chi Alpha also believes in diversity in race, ethnicity, sexual identity, religion, class, and cultural background. They also established the Lambda Chi Alpha Educational Foundation to fund, develop, and support educational programs for personal growth, leadership, service, and fraternal relationships.
Currently, there are more than 180 Lambda Chi Alpha chapters. It is one of the country’s largest fraternities of more than 300,000 members, with around 9,000 showing active involvement. Some of the most notable Lambda Chis include F. Duane Ackerman, Dr. James Beckett, Dr. Martin Abegg, Sergio S. Balanzino, Kevin Brady, Harold A. Blackman, Dean Jagger, and Dr. J. Michael Bishop, among many others.
On August 8, 1939, eight young students at Miami University met in the Hall of the Union Literary Society. It marks the founding of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Known for its entrepreneurial spirit, the organization is recognized as the first college fraternity in the west of the Allegheny Mountains. It is also known as the first to conduct a general convention. A lot of firsts are interspersed in its storied past. The fraternity aims to develop men of principle for a principled life. They live by their core values of mutual assistance, intellectual growth, responsible conduct, integrity, and trust to build a lasting friendship and brotherhood bond.
One of the fraternity’s most pivotal moments is the establishment of the Men of Principle initiative. This step led to the launch of ambitious efforts for cultural change, advancing Beta’s inter-fraternal leadership and focusing on its members’ performance in leadership programming, G.P.A., recruitment, accountability, and volunteerism. Due to the rising racial tensions across the country, the organization also established a new Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The move gave way to the appointment of the first black initiate, Bill Lowry, as chairman.
As for philanthropies, Beta Theta Pi is also an advocate of education and social awareness. They have the Men of Principle Scholarship, which recognizes unaffiliated male students on college campuses of chapters and colonies, rewarding them for epitomizing values that the organization holds dear, such as mutual assistance, intellectual growth, and integrity. Members are also encouraged to volunteer in facilitating events such as the Keystone Regional Leadership Conferences and sessions of the Wooden Institute and Leadership College at the General Convention.
Since its inception, the fraternity has initiated more than 200,000 brothers. Many of them went on to become influential men whose impact on society is nothing short of commendable. Some of these notable members include John Wooden, Sam Walton, Richard Lugar, Shahid Khan, John Turner, Bill Bowerman, and Bruce Nordstrom.
Known as the largest Latino-based fraternity, the Nu Alpha Kappa fraternity was formed on February 26, 1988, at California Polytechnic State University. The organization was established to help Latino students overcome culture shock in a predominantly Anglo university.
The fraternity strove to distinguish itself from the conventional male organizations. It is committed to the ideals of academic excellence, cultural knowledge, and true brotherhood. While they faced many detractors, NAK overcame the obstacles and became one of the most respected campus organizations. They later expanded, growing to 26 chapters throughout the states of California, Nevada, and Colorado. The organization runs the National Leadership Development Conference for each chapter’s leaders, gathering them for a weekend of professional development. There are also the NAKFest, an athletic event, and the National Sports League.
NAK has established the National Alumni Association, which grants academic scholarships to deserving NAK undergraduate and graduate brothers. Since 2014, it has raised more than $170,000 in scholarship funds.