Discuss your social organizations in terms of the service work they do.

This is more applicable to college students than high school students, since there’s really no high school equivalent of the Greek system of social fraternities and sororities. Simply put, social fraternities and sororities are primarily social organizations, but they also do a lot of charity work. Socializing is fine and dandy — everyone needs to do it. But it’s not particularly impressive on a scholarship application.

Charity work, however, is much more impressive. So if you decide to mention your social fraternity or sorority in your application materials, should you just tell the judges which house you belong to, or should you talk about the specifics of your charity work, and your particular role in that charity work? Which one is going to impress the committee more? Specifics of the charity, of course. Rule of thumb: Be specific. Don’t forget it.

As in the rest of the world, opinions vary on the value of Greek life. Most people who were Greeks tend to think highly of it; many of those who remained independent characterize Greeks in a variety of ways, some of them negative. Scholarship judges are no different — some are hostile to active Greeks, choosing not to look past the booze-soaked parties, hazing and occasional alcohol-poisoning death.

So how do you protect yourself against judges who are inclined to view the Greek system with disdain? Get specific about the undeniable positives of Greek life, namely your charity work. Paint a picture of your Greek life as one of service, and you’ll prevent hostile judges’ minds from wandering toward togas and date rape.

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