Higher Education Ph.D. Dissertations


Membership and the First Year of College: A Comparison of the Academic Achievements of Social Sorority and Fraternity Members Who Joined During Their First Year of College and Students Who Never Joined

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Robert DeBard (Advisor)


The possible effects of involvement in social fraternities and sororities on college students have been debated for nearly as long as these organizations have existed. Both anecdote and conjecture have been common in the printed debate, but little has been done in recent years to study the academic outcomes of the students who have chosen to become involved. After controlling for pre-college academic achievement, this study investigated whether or not there were differences in the career academic outcomes of students who joined a social Greek organization during their first year and students who chose not to affiliate during their entire college career. Data related to nine years worth of incoming cohorts were gathered from institutional records at Bowling Green State University. These records included institutionally predicted grade-point averages, term and cumulative grade-point averages, yearly retention information, term credit hours earned, graduation rates, and time to degree were analyzed. Stratified random samples of non-Greeks were compared to the sample of Greeks described above from each of these nine cohorts yielding several significant and important findings. The results of this study are important for two reasons. The analysis of findings demonstrates that becoming a member of a Greek social organization does not have a deleterious impact on first-year grade point averages, cumulative grade point averages and term credit hours earned. Furthermore, there is a significant benefit in terms of retention and graduation rates for both men and women members compared to non-members. The implications of these findings are synthesized in the final chapter for the improvement of both policies and practices of Greek life at institutions similar to BGSU.