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Being an undergrad is a wonderful time to learn important lessons, and take away a great deal of life experience in a relatively short period of time. Now, I’m not simply talking knowing the limits of your liver (God rest its soul), or how many girls is an acceptable amount to sleep with in one week. Those are great undergrad lessons, but unless you’re planning on actually being Don Draper post-grad, you probably want to take a few more applicable things away from your time with the chapter other than “Hey, I can kill a box of Franzia on my own!” Not that being able to do so isn’t an amazing feat of undergraduate alcoholism, but that’s beside the point. This is something, sadly, that the average try-hard may miss. Here a few important takeaways any of us can relate to.
The alumni are worth more than the beer money they drop for tailgates.
A chapter that doesn’t take care of, and keep in contact with, its alumni is a chapter that will be dead in the water in ten years. While we can pool our collective wealth for some truly heinous debauchery on the weekends, the alumni are the guys that will help ensure that the undergraduate chapter is something that stands the test of time. I know that one day, should I have a son looking to attend a good state school, I would love to see him have the opportunity to pledge the same chapter as me. It builds tradition, and tradition is something that helps hold families and societies together.
Your alumni can also be great job resources. You’ll hear it from day one of rush, how alumni are capable of making your job search incredibly easy after school. This is not bullshit. From firsthand experience, I can tell you that you want those contacts in this job market. A good alumni connection can sell you as a candidate for a job you aren’t necessarily qualified for.
It’s important to actually interact with the alumni. Don’t just call them up for favors and money. Alumni need brotherly love, too. Keep in contact with them, invite them out to a chapter hosted happy hour now and then, or go for a round of golf. It’s in every chapter’s best interest to have them around for big events, and to do one or two events a year that cater to them specifically. It’ll pay off in the long run. Plus, how are you going to pass down the best stories and traditions if you don’t hear them from the guys that created them in the first place?
Being a “fratstar” in college is great, but make sure you actually learn shit, too.
If I hear one more person say they’re “too frat to care” about something really fucking serious with idiotic irony, I’m going to shank someone. Yes, giving no fucks is many times warranted and perfectly fine, however, when it comes to graduation time, you actually do have to give a few fucks in the real world, especially if you want a decent job. Does that mean you have to turn into the world’s lamest sack of shit as soon as you walk the stage? Fuck no. You have your 20’s ahead of you. That is arguably a time with more potential for mischief than all of undergrad combined. You just have to play your cards right. This means taking your last year (hopefully the 5th if you did it right) seriously, and buckling down. You’ll reap the benefits pretty quickly.
So, as much as it might pain you to attend classes and take the important ones seriously, it’s difficult to land a job if you can’t even have a coherent conversation in your interview. That said, that A-type, alpha male persona you’ve perfected in college? It gets results. Go in calm and confident and nine out of ten times you’ll land the job.
Actually take some time to reflect on your organization’s values.
All of our organizations have the stated goal of working to create gentlemen. Now, I know we’ve all done some un-gentlemanly things, but that’s what your time in college is for: learning, and getting that stuff out of your system before you’re actually expected to act like adults. Hell, I know I fucked up big along the way. Several times in ways that I personally would have a hard time forgiving myself for, were I in the other person’s position. People forgave me though, and I learned. Take some time, preferably when you’re not on a three day bender, to reflect on the values that your fraternity strives to instill. This doesn’t mean you need to get all emotional, or become a paragon for your Greek life office, it just means you need to understand your chapter’s values in the context of your life. Figure out what you stand for, figure out how the fraternity has influenced that, and figure out how you can use it to be successful and better this great nation.
Our fraternities give us a lot in our time in college: our college family and lifelong friends, a great social experience, a network that even the most well-connected independent would kill for, and a time of great personal development that one cannot find outside of Greek life, save military service. Reflect on what you’ve learned, reflect on your values, and use all that to make you a better man. That, along with all the fucked up fun and crazy adventures, is what your time on campus is all about.