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Campus Overload
Posted at 10:37 AM ET, 08/29/2011

#College101: Keep an open mind about everything, including sorority life


Today’s guest blogger is Debbie Pearsall, a senior journalism major at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn. She has interned at a number of places, including Newsday and the St. Petersburg Times. This fall she will intern at Men’s Health magazine.

When I got to Lehigh University, the thought of Greek life was enough to make the little hairs on my arms stand on edge. It was a stranger. I was coming in as an athlete on the track team, so how was being in a sorority worth it to me? I thought it was just paying for your friends. (And those fraternities and sororities could never live up to the fun of Animal House, anyway.)
(Debbie Pearsall)

And then I got to know that stranger — and I liked it. I loved the look of the letters, the camaraderie, the history and the philanthropy (not to mention the pretty houses). After a few detours and a track and field career-ending injury, I became a founding member of Lehigh’s chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha, where I find myself among a large number of campus leaders, many who felt the same way about Greek life when they arrived in Bethlehem.

Of course, Greek life obviously isn’t for everybody. Everyone has different interests. But you never know what's out there for you until you get to know it and try it.

Maybe raising money for Relay for Life is what you truly enjoy, or writing sports stories for your campus newspaper makes you feel more involved. Perhaps you’ve never taken an acting or art class but have always wanted to, or you think the club ping pong team looks like a lot of fun. What about Habitat for Humanity? Get out there and get your hands dirty.

Don’t be afraid to try something you never thought you’d want to do before. You’ll discover all sorts of new interests in college. Just don’t knock something until you’ve tried it. Don’t diss the stranger until you’ve met them.

Because as the cast of “The Simpsons” sang in the fictional A Streetcar Named Desire musical in a 1992 episode, “a stranger’s just a friend you haven’t met.”

Every day in August (and perhaps some in September, too), Campus Overload will feature a 300-word-or-less essay centered around one piece of #College101 advice for the Class of 2015. To participate, e-mail Jenna at johnsonj@washpost.com.

By Debbie Pearsall  |  10:37 AM ET, 08/29/2011

 
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