There are dozens of movies depicting collegiate sorority life as a kind of highly organized clique with ridiculous initiation rites and borderline anti-feminist requirements. There are some truths to this perhaps, but these do not paint the complete picture as there are other components that make up collegiate greek life. Some of these sororities have been around for a long time, have notable alumnae, and have renowned philanthropic efforts.
Each sorority offers a distinct sorority life. The best college sororities offer opportunities for college students to establish life-long friendships and take part in philanthropic activities. This is the cherry on top when it comes to choosing the best sorority to join: consider your sorority's advocacies and philanthropic activities, and make sure that they match with yours.
The seven sisters
In the US, some of the best college sororities have been around for more than a century. They are called the seven sisters. These are considered the most elite of all sororities in the US and even in Canada. They have been known to be extremely selective with their potential members. Membership in one of the seven sisters is indeed a privilege.
Pi Beta Phi
Pi Beta Phi, often shortened for Pi Phi, is an international sorority. It was first founded in 1867 at Monmouth College in Illinois. The sorority was initially established as a national secret college society of women modeled after a men’s fraternity of the same name.
Pi Beta Phi’s philanthropy includes education, literacy, and the preservation of arts and crafts. Some of their projects are Arrow in the Arctic, Champions Are Readers, Read Across America, First Book, and Read>Lead>Achieve. All of these endeavors aim to increase literacy in the US and other parts of the world, as well as improve the quality of education in the US for the next generation. They also have a foundation, the Pi Beta Phi through which college students can apply for scholarships.
Pi Beta Phi currently has 143 active chapters. From these chapters of the sorority emerged some impressive women: Grace Goodhue Coolidge, Moira Forbes, Margaret Truman, Faye Dunaway, Jennifer Garner, and Jenna Dewan.
Kappa Alpha Theta
Kappa Alpha Theta, often shortened as Theta, was founded in 1870 at DePauw University in Indiana. This is the first Greek-letter fraternity for women. Aside from that, this is the first women’s fraternity established at four Ivy League Universities. They currently have 147 chapters at various colleges and universities in the US and Canada, 200 alumnae chapters worldwide, and more than 250,000 initiated members.
As one of the best sororities in the continent, Theta facilitates the development of young women and the establishment of their relationships. Theta is notable for their state-of-the-art housing where college women can live safely and bond with their sisters--which means you will not need to worry about getting along with your roommate. They encourage their members to continue their sorority’s legacy of excellence in their respective professional fields. This is evident in the scholarship and grant opportunities from the Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation.
Philanthropy is also a crucial part of college sorority life at Kappa Alpha Theta. Generations of Thetas have worked with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) which helps children who were neglected or were victims of abusive homes to find safe and healthy homes. Thetas’ support for their sisters also extends beyond college. The sorority established The Friendship Fund which gives gifts for Theta alumnae who are experiencing financial hardships.
As an added bonus, Kappa Alpha Theta chapters have some of the best sorority houses so their members are sure to have the best sorority life in college.
Notable thetas include Tory Burch, Melinda Gates, Ann Margret, and Claire Mccaskill.
Kappa Kappa Gamma
Kappa Kappa Gamma, also called Kappa or KKG, was founded in 1870 at Monmouth College in Illinois. This sorority is a founding member of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), the umbrella organization that includes 26 sororities in the US.
Kappa Kappa Gamma’s philanthropy program is called “Philanthropy 1-2-3” because of its three parts. The first branch is for the Kappa family. The Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation provides funding for scholarships and educational programming. The Rose Mcgill fund provides emergency financial aid to sisters in need. The second branch is for the local community. Sorority members are encouraged to volunteer and raise money for charities. The last branch is their participation in Reading is Fundamental, which promotes literacy in children nationally.
KKG is one of the largest sororities in the US, having a membership of more than 260,000, 140 collegiate chapters in the US and Canada, and 307 alumnae associations throughout the world.
Some notable Kappa Kappa Gamma alumnae are Ashley Judd, Kate Spade, Jamie Chung, and the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle.
Delta Delta Delta
Delta Delta Delta or Tri Delta was founded in 1888 at Boston University. The sorority aims for its members to develop a strong friendship, to develop a strong and more womanly character, to broaden their moral and intellectual life, and to assist its members throughout life. At present, there are 141 Tri Delta chapters, 18,500 collegiate members, and 218,000 alumnae.
Through the Tri Delta Foundation, the sorority raises and awards funds for undergraduate and graduate scholarships. They also assist alumnae and members who need financial assistance. Tri Delta also raises money and has volunteered for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
A good reason for choosing this sorority among the seven sisters is its focus on innovative education and leadership.
Some of Delta Delta Delta’s most notable alumnae are Katie Couric, Meryl Davis, Molly Sims, and Elizabeth Banks.
Alpha Phi, whose complete name is Alpha Phi International Women’s Fraternity, was founded in 1872 at Syracuse University in New York. It is one of the oldest sororities in the US. With 171 chapters, Alpha Phi has over 200,000 members.
True to its motto of “union hand in hand,” Alpha Phi aims to hone young women’s character and hone them toward charity. The sorority encourages their members to become progressive leaders and to strive for academic excellence. Their philanthropy is centered on healthcare, specifically, women’s heart health. Through the Heart to Heart Cardiac Care grant, the Alpha Phi Foundation pushes forward research on women’s heart health.
Furthermore, the Alpha Phi Foundation provides leadership training program opportunities for its members. This cultivates a sense of leadership in all members of Alpha Phi that gets carried on to the outside world after their members become alumnae. The sorority’s alumnae include Catherine Anaya, Jane Wells Schooley, Margaret Craig McNamara, and Kimberly Williams-Paisley.
Delta Gamma was founded in 1873, with the goal of doing good. It has since grown to have 151 collegiate chapters throughout the US. Delta Gamma has 250,000 members and 200 alumnae groups. As an organization, Delta Gamma aims to foster friendships, create a sense of social responsibility, and develop their characters.
Delta Gamma’s philanthropy focuses on Service for Sight, grants to the fraternity for educational and leadership purposes, and grants to individual members. Aside from monetary contributions, members of the Delta Gamma sorority volunteer to Service for Sight every year.
Some of Delta Gamma’s notable members are Mona Kosar Abdi, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Alice Ripley, Nancy-Ann DeParle, and Elizabeth M. Boyer.
Chi Omega was established in 1895 at the University of Arkansas. It is currently the largest women’s fraternity in the world. Chi Omega has 360,000 members, 181 collegiate chapters, and 246 alumnae chapters. The sorority’s main mission is friendship, personal integrity, service to others, academic excellence and intellectual pursuits, community and campus involvement, and personal and career development.
Chi Omega’s philanthropy centers on monetary donations. Chi Omega members are encouraged to donate to the Chi Omega Foundation every year. There are various venues and programs within the foundation, however they all support The Nancy Walton Laurie Leadership Institute of Chi Omega, scholarships and grants, Risk Management Education, Helping Hands Fund for Disaster Relief, Helping Hands Fund, Communication and Technology Infrastructure, and Chi Omega Executive Headquarters. Apart from these, Chi Omega also donates and volunteers for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Chi Omega made the news back in 1978 when the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy broke into the Chi Omega sorority house. He beat and strangled two members to death while two others were beaten but luckily survived the attack.
Chi Omega has many successful sisters like Harper Lee, Lucy Liu, Susan Athey, Christine Brennan, Angela Kinsey, and Blanche Lincoln.
The farmville four
Among the southern states, four sororities emerge at the top. They are called the Farmville Four. These four national sororities were founded at Longwood University (formerly State Female Normal School) where a clock tower was erected in their honor. The Farmville Four are Kappa Delta, Sigma Sigma Sigma, Zeta Tau Alpha, and Alpha Sigma Alpha.
Kappa Delta Sorority was founded in 1897 at Longwood University. There are currently 168 collegiate chapters and more than 200 active alumnae chapters. Kappa Delta Sorority aims to provide young women with experiences that will build their confidence and inspire them to action.
The Kappa Delta Sorority is involved in various philanthropic efforts in the national and local levels through the Kappa Delta Foundation. One of the Kappa Delta Foundation’s beneficiaries are the Girl Scouts of the USA, Prevent Child Abuse America Orthopedic Research Awards, and the Children's Hospital of Richmond Virginia. Kappa Delta Foundation has set up various educational and leadership scholarships for members and grants to enable chapters to better serve their communities.
Notable Kappa Deltas are Pearl S. Buck, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jennifer Lee, Ruth Johnson Colvin, and Trischa Zorn.
Sigma Sigma Sigma
Sigma Sigma Sigma or simply Tri Sigma was founded in 1898. This greek sorority was formerly exclusive only for teacher’s or educational colleges, but they now admit members regardless of major. They now have 125,000 lifetime members, 112 collegiate chapters, and 90 alumnae chapters.
Sigma Sigma Sigma emphasizes the importance of life-long friendship, a strong womanly character, and high standards of conduct. They instil these in their sisters through education and various philanthropic efforts.
Sigma Sigma Sigma concentrates its philanthropic efforts through the Sigma Sigma Sigma Foundation. Funds collected through the foundation goes to programs supporting women’s leadership, student grants and scholarships, as well as the Robbie Page Memorial (RPM) that offers play therapy programs for hospitalized children.
Sigma’s most notable alumnae include Carrie Underwood, Kristine Corrado, Mary Rhodes Russell, and Jennifer Grey.
Zeta Tau Alpha
Zeta Tau Alpha was founded shortly after Tri Sigma in 1898. ZTA has more than 257,000 members, 173 collegiate chapters, and 238 alumnae chapters. Through the Zeta Tau Alpha, members develop a strong bond of sisterhood and build a purer and nobler sense of womanhood.
The Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation, which was established in 1954, advocates for breast cancer education and awareness. However, they also have programs like the My Sister, My Responsibility that raises awareness on hazing prevention and confrontation, teaching social responsibility, sisterhood, safety and support, and Generation Rx.
Notable Zeta Tau Alphas are Ryan Carlyle, Brigadier General Margaret A. Brewer, USMC, Betty Nguyen, Shonda Brewer Schilling, and Dr. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich.
Alpha Delta Pi
Alpha Delta Pi is one of the Farmville Four. The sorority was founded in 1852 at Wesleyan Female College where it was first called the Adelphean Society. The Adelphean Society is the first secret society for women in the world, and it takes credit for forging the way for women fraternities. They currently have more than 260,000 members and 161 chapters.
Alpha Delta Pi has a foundation of the same name. The Alpha Delta Pi Foundation has partnered with the Ronald McDonald House Charities which focuses on the needs of children all over the world. The Alpha Delta Pi Foundation also provides essential resources for their members. Their endeavors span educational and leadership activities, scholarships, and grants for members (if you are planning on applying for their scholarship, you better have a well-crafted scholarship essay ready).
Notable members of Alpha Delta Pi are Jessie Gray, Sara Branham Matthews, Katherine Van Winkle Palmer, Carol Shields, and Maud McLure Kelly.
An emerging sorority:
Delta Sigma Theta
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., often abbreviated as Deltas or DST, was founded in 1913 at Howard University. Twenty-two collegiate women wanted to use their strengths to promote academic excellence and provide assistance for those in need. Detla Sigma Theta is a well-known sorority of predominantly Black, college-educated women. Delta Sigma Theta’s primary focus is on the Black community. Since 1913, there are now 200,000 Deltas, as well as 1,000 collegiate and alumnae chapters. DST has chapters in Canada, Japan, Germany, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and South Korea aside from the US.
Delta Sigma Theta participated in the Women’s Suffrage March in Washington, D.C. in 1913. The sorority has been politically active ever since, being a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). Delta Sigma Theta follows a Five-Point Program that centers on Educational Development, Economic Development, International Awareness and Involvement, Physical and Mental Health, Political Awareness and Involvement. All of these programs are aimed at the empowerment of Blacks.
Some of the most notable Deltas are Osceola Macarthy Adams, Sadie T. M. Alexander, Ph.D., Tina Allen, and Brigadier General Hazel Johnson Brown, Ph.D.
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