Research in Higher Education

, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 203–227 | Cite as

Greek Organization Membership and Collegiate Outcomes at an Elite, Private University

Article

Abstract

In this study, we use detailed survey and institutional data from a prospective panel study of students attending a highly selective, private university to examine the effects of fraternity or sorority membership on a range of collegiate outcomes. Previous research has given insufficient attention to selection issues inherent in the study of voluntary associations, and thus prior work likely overstates the impact of Greek membership. We use propensity score matching methods to isolate a more appropriate counterfactual or control group and to provide a more rigorous test of the effects of being a Greek member. Among our primary results, we find that fraternity and sorority members are more likely to be white, have more advantaged social origins, and arrive on campus placing greater emphasis on maintaining an active social life in comparison to students who do not join Greek organizations. Although Greeks assign greater importance to being a social person and report a more prominent role of alcohol and drugs in their enjoyment of campus life than do non-Greeks, these differences are attributable to pre-treatment characteristics. After accounting for selection effects, we find that Greek membership leads to higher levels of involvement in and satisfaction with campus social life, and predicts higher graduation rates and degree persistence.

Keywords

Achievement Elite education Fraternities and sororities Selection effects Student involvement 

References

  1. Aikins, R. D. (2011). Academic performance enhancement: A qualitative study of the perceptions and habits of prescription stimulant-using college students. Journal of College Student Development, 52, 560–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anaya, G. (1999). College impact on student learning: Comparing the use of self-reported gains, standardized test scores, and college grades. Research in Higher Education, 40, 499–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Antonio, A. L. (2001). Diversity and the influence of friendship groups in college. The Review of Higher Education, 25, 63–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arcidiacono, P., Foster, G., Goodpaster, N., & Kinsler, J. (2012). Estimating spillovers using panel data, with an application to the classroom. Quantitative Economics, 3, 421–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Arum, R., & Roksa, J. (2011). Academically adrift: Limited learning on college campuses. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Astin, A. W. (1993). What matters in college? Four critical years revisited. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  7. Astin, A. W. (1999). Student involvement: A developmental theory of higher education. Journal of College Student Development, 40, 518–529.Google Scholar
  8. Bowen, W. G., Kurzwweil, M. A., & Tobin, E. M. (2005). Equity and excellence in American higher education. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.Google Scholar
  9. Carrell, S., Fullerton, R., & West, J. (2009). Does your cohort matter? Measuring peer effects in academic achievement. Journal of Labor Economics, 27, 439–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Charles, C. Z., Fischer, M. J., Mooney, M. A., & Massey, D. S. (2009). Taming the river: Negotiating the academic, financial, and social currents in selective colleges and universities. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Coleman, J. S. (1987). Families and schools. Educational Researcher, 16, 32–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Current, R. N. (1990). Phi Beta Kappa in American life: The first two hundred years. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Denson, N., & Chang, M. J. (2009). Racial diversity matters: The impact of diversity-related student engagement and institutional context. American Educational Research Journal, 46, 322–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. DeSantis, A. D. (2007). Inside Greek U: Fraternities, sororities, and the pursuit of pleasure, power, and prestige. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.Google Scholar
  15. Domhoff, G. W. (2005). Who rules America? Power, politics, and social change (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  16. Duke University. (2013). Fraternity and sorority life. Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://studentaffairs.duke.edu/greek.
  17. Ellis, R. A., Parelius, R. J., & Parelius, A. P. (1971). The collegiate scholar: Education for elite status. Sociology of Education, 44, 27–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Emsley, R., Lunt, M., Pickles, A., & Dunn, G. (2008). Implementing double-robust estimators of causal effects. Stata Journal, 8, 334–353.Google Scholar
  19. Epple, D., & Romano, R. (2011). Peer effects in education: A survey of the theory and evidence. In J. Benhabib, M. Jackson, & A. Bisen (Eds.), Handbook of social economics (pp. 1053–1163). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  20. Franke, R., Ruiz, S., Sharkness, J., DeAngelo, L., & Pryor, J. (2010). Findings from the 2009 administration of the College Senior Survey: National aggregates. Los Angeles, CA: Cooperative Institutional Research Program, Higher Education Research Institute, University of California.Google Scholar
  21. Gellin, A. (2003). The effect of undergraduate student involvement on critical thinking: A meta-analysis of the literature 1991–2000. Journal of College Student Development, 44, 746–762.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gelman, A., & Hill, J. (2006). Data analysis using regression and multilevel/hierarchical models. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Grigsby, M. (2009). College life through the eyes of students. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  24. Grubb, F. (2006). Does going Greek impair undergraduate academic performance? The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 65, 1085–1110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hayek, J. C., Carini, R. M., O’Day, P. T., & Kuh, G. D. (2002). Triumph or tragedy: Comparing student engagement levels of members of Greek-letter organizations and other Students. Journal of College Student Development, 43, 643–663.Google Scholar
  26. Heckman, J. J., Ichimura, H., & Todd, P. E. (1997). Matching as an econometric evaluation estimator: Evidence from evaluating a job training programme. Review of Economic Studies, 64, 605–654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Heckman, J. J., & Robb, R., Jr. (1985). Alternative methods for evaluating the impact of interventions. In J. Heckman & B. Singer (Eds.), Longitudinal analysis of labor market data (pp. 156–246). New York: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ho, D. E., Imai, K., King, G., & Stuart, E. A. (2007). Matching as nonparametric preprocessing for reducing model dependence in parametric causal inference. Political Analysis, 15, 199–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Horn, L., Nevill, S., & Griffith, J. (2006). Profile of undergraduates in US postsecondary education institutions, 200304: With a special analysis of community college students. Statistical Analysis Report. NCES 2006-184. National Center for Education Statistics.Google Scholar
  30. Horowitz, H. L. (1987). Campus life: Undergraduate cultures from the end of the eighteenth century to the present. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  31. Hu, S., & Wolniak, G. C. (2010). Initial evidence on the influence of college student engagement on early career earnings. Research in Higher Education, 51, 750–766.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hughey, M. W. (2013). Chasing shadows: From the power elite to a new paradigm. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 36, 237–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Imbens, G. W. (2004). Nonparametric estimation of average treatment effects under exogeneity: A review. Review of Economics and Statistics, 86, 4–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kaminer, A. (2013, January 11). Cornell withdraws recognition of a fraternity after a report of hazing. The New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/12/nyregion/report-of-hazing-leads-cornell-to-withdraw-recognition-of-fraternity.html?_r=0.
  35. Karabel, J. (2005). The chosen: The hidden history of admission and exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. New York: Mariner Books.Google Scholar
  36. Kimbrough, W. M., & Hutcheson, P. A. (1998). The impact of membership in Black Greek-letter organizations on Black students’ involvement in collegiate activities and their development of leadership skills. The Journal of Negro Education, 67, 96–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kingkade, T. (2013, June 14). Wesleyan ‘rape factory’ fraternity’s lawyers demand assault victim be named publicly. The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/14/wesleyan-rape-factory_n_3442328.html.
  38. Kuh, G., et al. (2004). Student engagement: Pathways to college success. Bloomington, IN: National Survey of Student Engagement, Center for Postsecondary Research, Indiana University.Google Scholar
  39. Lin, N., Fu, Y., & Hsung, R. (2001). The position generator: Measurement techniques for investigations of social capital. In N. Lin, K. Cook, & R. S. Burt (Eds.), Social capital: Theory and research (pp. 57–81). New Brunswick: Aldine Transaction.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Liu, A., Ruiz, S., DeAngelo, L., & Pryor, J. (2009). Findings from the 2008 administration of the College Senior Survey: National aggregates. Los Angeles, CA: Cooperative Institutional Research Program, Higher Education Research Institute, University of California.Google Scholar
  41. Manski, C. F. (1993). Identification of endogenous social effects: The reflection problem. Review of Economic Studies, 60, 531–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Martin, G. L., Hevel, M. S., Asel, A. M., & Pascarella, E. T. (2011). New evidence on the effects of fraternity and sorority affiliation during the first year of college. Journal of College Student Development, 52, 543–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Martin, N. D. (2009). Social capital, academic achievement, and postgraduation plans at an elite, private university. Sociological Perspectives, 52, 185–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Martin, N. D. (2012). The privilege of ease: Social class and campus life at highly selective, private universities. Research in Higher Education, 53, 426–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Martin, N. D., & Spenner, K. I. (2009). Capital conversion and accumulation: A social portrait of legacies at an elite university. Research in Higher Education, 50, 623–648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. McCabe, D. L., & Trevino, L. K. (1997). Individual and contextual influences on academic dishonesty: A multicampus investigation. Research in Higher Education, 38, 379–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McClure, S. M. (2006). Voluntary association membership: Black Greek men on a predominately White campus. The Journal of Higher Education, 77, 1036–1057.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mills, C. W. (1956) [2000]. The power elite. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Molasso, W. R. (2005). A content analysis of a decade of fraternity/sorority scholarship in student affairs research journals. Oracle: The Research Journal of the Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors, 1, 1–9.Google Scholar
  50. Nathan, R. (2005). My freshman year: What a professor learned by becoming a student. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  51. National Panhellenic Conference. (2013). Retrieved August 26, 2013, from https://www.npcwomen.org/about.aspx.
  52. National Pan-Hellenic Council. (2013). Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.nphchq.org/.
  53. Nelson Laird, T. F. (2005). College students’ experiences with diversity and their effects on academic self-confidence, social agency, and disposition toward critical thinking. Research in Higher Education, 46, 365–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. North-American Interfraternity Conference. (2013). Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.nicindy.org/press/.
  55. Pascarella, E. T., Edison, M. I., Whitt, E. J., Nora, A., Hagedorn, L. S., & Terenzini, P. T. (1996). Cognitive effects of Greek affiliation during the first year of college. NAPSA Journal, 33, 242–259.Google Scholar
  56. Pascarella, E. T., Flowers, L., & Whitt, E. J. (2001). Cognitive effects of Greek affiliation in college: Additional evidence. NASPA Journal, 38, 280–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pascarella, E. T., & Terenzini, P. T. (2005). How college affects students: Volume 2, a third decade of research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  58. Passow, H. J., Mayhew, M. J., Finelli, C. J., Harding, T. S., & Carpenter, D. D. (2006). Factors influencing engineering students’ decisions to cheat by type of assessment. Research in Higher Education, 47, 643–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Pike, G. R. (2000). The influence of fraternity or sorority membership on students’ college experiences and cognitive development. Research in Higher Education, 41, 117–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Pike, G. R. (2003). Membership in a fraternity or sorority, student engagement, and educational outcomes at AAU public research universities. Journal of College Student Development, 44, 369–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Pike, G. R., & Askew, J. (1990). The impact of fraternity or sorority membership on academic involvement and learning outcomes. NAPSA Journal, 28, 13–19.Google Scholar
  62. Portes, A., & Landolt, P. (1996). The downside of social capital. American Prospect, 7, 18–21.Google Scholar
  63. Pryor, J. H., Eagan, K., Blake, L. P., Berdan, J., & Case, M. H. (2012). The American freshmen: National norms fall 2012. Los Angeles, CA: Cooperative Institutional Research Program, Higher Education Research Institute, University of California.Google Scholar
  64. Robbins, A. (2002). Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and bones, the Ivy League and the hidden paths of power. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.Google Scholar
  65. Rockey, D. L., Beason, K. R., Howington, E. B., & Rockey, C. M. (2005). Gambling by Greek-affiliated college students: An association between affiliation and gambling. Journal of College Student Development, 46, 75–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Rosenbaum, P. R. (2002). Sensitivity to hidden bias. In Observational studies (pp. 105–170). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  67. Rosenbaum, P. R., & Rubin, D. B. (1983). The central role of the propensity score in observational studies for causal effects. Biometrika, 70, 41–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Routon, P. W., & Walker, J. K. (2014). The impact of Greek organization membership on collegiate outcomes: Evidence from a national survey. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, 49, 63–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Sacerdote, B. (2001). Peer effects with random assignment: Results for Dartmouth roommates. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 116, 681–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Sanday, P. (2007). Fraternity gang rape: Sex, brotherhood, and privilege on campus. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  71. Spenner, K. I., Buchmann, C., & Landerman, L. R. (2005). The black-white achievement gap in the first college year: Evidence from a new longitudinal case study. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 22, 187–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Stearns, E., Buchmann, C., & Bonneau, K. (2009). Interracial friendships in the transition to college: Do birds of a feather flock together once they leave the nest? Sociology of Education, 82, 173–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Stevens, M. L. (2007). Creating a class: College admissions and the education of elites. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  74. Stevens, M. L., Armstrong, E., & Arum, R. (2008). Sieve, incubator, temple, hub: Empirical and theoretical advances in the sociology of higher education. Annual Review of Sociology, 34, 127–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Stuber, J. M. (2009). Class, culture, and participation in the collegiate extra-curriculum. Sociological Forum, 24, 877–900.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Stuber, J. M., Klugman, J., & Daniel, C. (2011). Gender, social class, and exclusion: Collegiate peer cultures and social reproduction. Sociological Perspectives, 54, 431–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Syrett, N. L. (2009). The company he keeps: A history of white college fraternities. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  78. Thompson, J. G, Jr, Oberle, C. D., & Liley, J. L. (2011). Self-efficacy and learning in sorority and fraternity students. Journal of College Student Development, 52, 749–753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Wechsler, H., Kuh, G. D., & Davenport, A. E. (1996). Fraternities, sororities, and binge drinking: Results from a national study of American colleges. NAPSA Journal, 33, 260–279.Google Scholar
  80. Wilder, D. H., McKeegan, H. F., Midkiff, R. M, Jr, Skelton, R. C., & Dunkerly, R. E. (1997). The impact of Greek affiliation on students’ educational objectives: Longitudinal change in Clark-Trow educational philosophies. Research in Higher Education, 38, 151–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Williams, A. E., & Janosik, S. M. (2007). An examination of academic dishonesty among sorority and nonsorority women. Journal of College Student Development, 48, 706–714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Zucchino, D. (2013, February 6). Duke students protest frat party that mocked Asians. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://articles.latimes.com/2013/feb/06/nation/la-na-nn-asian-slurs-duke-20130206.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jay K. Walker
    • 1
  • Nathan D. Martin
    • 2
  • Andrew Hussey
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Economics and FinanceNiagara UniversityLewistonUSA
  2. 2.School of Social TransformationArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsUniversity of MemphisMemphisUSA

Personalised recommendations