They can be a great experience
or they can be a horrible evil
. I was in one (Phi Kappa Theta
). I loved it. I'll never forget those years. While there I served as Rush Chairman
of the house. During that term (and through out my years) I learned a great deal about fraternities nation-wide. Every house
has its shinning chapters, its no-hazing laws, its non-alcohol centered chapters, etc. Every fraternity also has its black sheep
, its trouble makers, its prodigal son
A certain fraternity can be exactly what you are looking for on one campus and the complete opposite on another. As much as the national boards like to believe that they are one harmonious group, they are not. Each chapter is comprised of its members and they are what makes the house a good well rounded house, a football house, an animal house, a geek house, or whatever.
I suggest joining a fraternity. Just visit as many as you can at the school you are going to. Ask friends that are already in college about fraternities. But most importantly get to know the guys in the houses you visit. Try to meet as many as possible. This will give you a better idea of what the house is really like.
Watch out for houses that give you a bid card right off the bat. They are looking for numbers. Take seriously houses that try to get to know you and see if you'll fit in with the current members. These are the houses that trying to make the fraternity experience a good one. Maybe you won't join one, that is your choice.
Good? Bad? Every house, every chapter, decides that on their own.
See sleeping wolf's writeup under fraternity also.