A new study that was presented at the American Economic Association’s annual meeting, titled “Greek Life, Academics, and Earnings”, suggests that students’ GPAs fall after becoming Greek life affiliated.
According to Inside Higher Ed, the study — which was conducted by economics professor William Even and assistant economics professor Austin Smith — suggested that affiliation with a fraternity or sorority can lower students’ grades.
Additionally, the study said that the negative effects on students’ grades were particularly prevalent around the “rushing” period, which is the time that students are being admitted into fraternities.
The study, which was conducted over a period of about 10 years, tracked more than 34,100 students’ academics, including factors such as their GPAs, whether they remained in college and what courses they enrolled in.
In an interview, Even and Smith stated that because the universities they conducted the study at did not allow students to join Greek life until the second semester of their first year, they were able to compare how students performed in their first semester when they were not Greek affiliated versus when they were entering a chapter and in subsequent semesters.
via Inside Higher Ed:
Smith said he noticed that chapters would often market a higher-than-average GPA compared to the rest of campus and believed that it was a disingenuous claim. Most institutions require a minimum GPA to join (the anonymous large, Midwestern public university that they studied demanded a 2.5 GPA or above) and Smith said if the Greek groups were only pulling from students with good grades, then they would always have a higher average.
The dip in academics was most prominent around rush, but generally, students in Greek life saw their GPA fall by an average of about 0.25 points compared to the initial semester in college, which to illustrate, could be almost the difference between a B and B-minus average. During the rush period, students also either withdrew from classes or more frequently decided to take easier courses than their first semester. The study did note, however, that on average Greek-affiliated students had a GPA between 0.1 and 0.2 points higher than non-Greek students, but the researchers attributed this to the minimum GPA requirement.
Additionally, Smith noted that Greek organizations were often the site of misconduct such as alcohol abuse, hazing, and sexual misconduct.
However, Smith did stress that he and Professor Even “were not wholeheartedly condemning Greek organizations”, as some Greek-affiliated students “do maintain high GPAs and find social and, later, career success from fraternities or sororities.”