A great way to meet people at college and to find a group of friends is by rushing a sorority or a fraternity. About 40% of American University's students go Greek. There are seven sororities for girls and nine fraternities for the guys, and it is obvious that they know how to have fun.

One of my friends here, Sam, is a sophomore and is rushing this fall. I am enjoying watching her sorority sisters decorate her room each day, making her feel really special. 

If I sat here and didn't tell you I was jealous that would be a lie! I want people to give me special attention and to want to get to know me. I want to have a group of friends who all have a common interest. Although I am involved in many aspects of school life, as a freshman I am still trying to figure out where I fit socially. I have become friends with many of Sam's sisters and they are some of the nicest people I have met so far. 

I was excited that I found a group of people I really liked. I was thinking that I would definitely consider rushing a sorority until my boyfriend, Will, provided a little bit of a reality check.  When I first told him I was thinking of rushing in the spring he didn't sound that excited. Confused, I asked him why? He helped me realize that I was not thinking this through.

Of course there was the concern about my ability to commit to sorority life and having to attend required meeting and events. But then he reminded me that a sorority costs money. I hadn't thought about this until I started asking a few questions.  

It costs $200 a semester to be a part of a sorority. And initiation costs $600. While I do have a job, it would really limit my spending money because so much of my money would be going to the sorority. That would be almost 30 hours or 6 weeks of my job just to pay each semester's dues. I do not want to limit myself and stop myself from doing something I really want to do, but the dollars definitely matter.  

So I started to think of other ways to get involved at American University. There are over 15 club sports teams. I played field hockey in 9th and 10th grade of high school and I really loved it. I also have a couple of friends on the team who are really nice. I started to think that playing a club sport would be a great way to get involved and make some friends. Did I mention it costs to play a club sport here, too? Yup, it costs $100 a year to play a club sport at American University. No free lunch! 

So what about other clubs? Well so far every club I have been interested in has a fee.  Everything costs money to join! You would think that by going to a school that costs mega bucks you would get a break on activity fees.  No chance! How annoying is that for the college freshman on a budget? 

I am really in a difficult position, but the good news is that I do not have to decide right now. Rush is in January. I can rush for $20, and if I find a group of girls I cannot live without, then maybe it is worth the money. I also do not have to make a decision on club field hockey until December.

Either way, I am going to have to look into my crystal ball (better known as a budget) and make some choices.  One thing is clear - debt is not an option. These are all really great choices, but they are purely options, not requirements. I definitely have to keep that in mind or I could fall into the trap of spending without thinking! 

Ariel Levin

Ariel Levin is a contributing writer for In College & Starting Out. She will be attending American University in Washington DC in the fall of 2010.  She knows being in a city like Washington will pose challenges and financial temptations. She will share her experiences as a college freshman who is just starting out and learning to manage her money on her own. Compensated CareOne Blogger.

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