by Erin Chatten
The Beatles had it right… all you need is love. But in this time where campuses come to life with the start of a new academic year, I think when we say, “all you need is love”, what were really thinking and saying is: “all you need is a friend”.
Think about it. This is some of the scariest few weeks that most college students experience. Especially freshmen. You walk into a new campus, new classrooms, and a new social scene –surrounded by new people – and all you are looking for are a few close friends.
I think we have forgotten that everyone is looking for the same thing as we are… a little love, a little friendship.
In some preliminary research that is currently being conducted with potential fraternity/sorority members across the country, the same message is being told time and time again. People join organizations, especially fraternity and sorority, because they want somewhere to belong on their campus. They aren’t wooed by the amazing t-shirts and banners your fraternity or sorority has on your house or around campus. They are won over already that your organization’s function is to help them find friendship and belonging.
We know from our retention studies that men and women leave their organization due to misaligned expectations and lack of connection. “Misaligned expectations” means simply “what you sold me in recruitment and what I received are not the same thing”.
Lack of connection is exactly as it sounds, if they don’t find at least one person they connect with, they will leave. In fact, men are more likely to leave their fraternity in the first semester of membership while women are more likely to leave after two years.
All they need is a friend.
Notice I didn’t say all they want is a friend, all they desire is a friend, or all they ask is for a friend. That’s because finding that friendship and finding that belonging is a necessity to retaining members.
We think that our organizations are designed in a way that everyone will naturally find their best friends and feel that belonging immediately, but it is easy for individuals to get lost in the crowd. Here are some ways we can improve our friendship making skills in our organizations with new and existing members:
If our chapters can be filled with fewer strangers and more friends, we can improve our retention and satisfaction within our organizations. It just takes a little bit of love, and some friendship.