Sororities have a long, proud tradition of sisterhood and community service in the United States. According to San Jose State University, the first U.S. fraternities date to the 1770s, while the oldest sororities developed during the 1850s and 1860s. Yet if your parents were not involved in Greek life during their own college years, they might have little idea what to expect. Popular movies such as “Animal House” and “Revenge of the Nerds” have spread stereotypes about hazing, bullying and criminal activity, making some parents afraid to let their kids participate. Although modern Greek life bears little resemblance to the stereotypes, proper preparation is the key to successfully explaining a sorority to your parents.

Do Your Research

Each sorority is somewhat different from the next. Values, time commitments, campus events, housing options, community service and other factors vary according to the sorority. Getting to know girls who are members of the sororities you are considering not only helps you decide which one to join, but makes it easier to explain to your parents exactly what is involved.

Focus on the Positive

According to the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Greek Life for Parents and Families website, the benefits of joining a sorority include dedicated study hours, potential scholarships, leadership opportunities, a feeling of belonging to a small community within a large campus, and a strong focus on community service. In addition, networking opportunities can lead to improved job prospects after graduation. Fill your parents in on some of the ways that you believe the sorority will help you grow as a person.

Address Their Concerns

Listen respectfully to your parents’ concerns about sorority life, and work together to brainstorm solutions. Some parents are most worried about the financial commitment. Some are concerned about drinking or hazing. Some feel that Greek life is too insulating, making it harder to connect with people outside of the sorority. Find out where your sorority stands on these issues, and provide your parents with written information to back your claims.

Discuss Important Issues

Whether to live in the sorority house, how to pay dues, and how to balance sorority commitments with all the other commitments of college life are just a few big decisions that will ultimately affect your satisfaction with your college experience. Discuss these and other major decisions with your parents, and work together to develop a plan that is right for you.