When Weinberg sophomore Andrew Kang begins Rush week with his fraternity, he’s in for the usual – lots of handshaking and mingling with hopefuls, most of whom will not be offered a bid. Monday night is spent meeting as many potential “brothers” as possible. For those rushing Kang’s frat, this meet and greet can feel more like networking than idle chitchat. That feeling isn’t unfounded, since rushing this frat can feel, at times, like applying for a job. Kang is Vice President of Alpha Kappa Psi, Northwestern’s coed business fraternity, and admission can be as competitive as the current job market, with only 10-15 rushes offered bids.
Competitive as these fraternities are, however, many students are unaware of both the benefits they offer members and the Greek traditions they observe, thinking of them more as special interest clubs than brotherhoods.
Like IFC and Panhellenic Greek organizations, pre-professional fraternities have formal rush processes and selective membership. The payoff for members isn’t just social, however. These interest-based frats offer special benefits for members that can offer a leg up in achieving their long-term goals.
“We’re definitely looking for people who show ambition,” says Kang. “More than questioning about what they’ve done, we want to see if they have a plan for the future. We’re not trying to be business professionals too early, but we are trying to prepare.”
This preparation is a common theme throughout pre-professional frats at Northwestern. Members of Phi Alpha Delta, the coed pre-law fraternity, get help with the law school admissions process – from application workshops to discounted LSAT prep from test prep services – as well as the chance to attend panels with professionals working in law and politics. The most important benefit, though, is the community PAD creates, says Phi Alpha Delta president and Weinberg sophomore John Lee.
“I feel like, for many students here, there’s a huge econ focus, there’s a huge finance angle, and we provide the structure and framework through which students with different, likewise interests can come together,” he says.
Kang agrees that the community aspect is one of the biggest benefits for members of pre-professional fraternities. For AKPsi members especially, the opportunity to network socially with fellow aspiring businessmen and businesswomen is invaluable. Membership with AKPsi gives students access not only to the brothers and alumni of the Northwestern chapter, but to alumni all across the country. Kang says the organization has had more than 253,000 members in its history.
“In your career, you’re going to meet a couple of AKPsis,” he says. “Who knows if that might be the one connection you need to get the job that you want? It’s something you can’t get from just going to a good school or studying really hard.”
While Kappa Theta Epsilon, a coed co-op fraternity, is exclusive to McCormick students, most pre-professional fraternities are open to students of any major and gender. Still, those involved say the organizations tend, unfortunately, to fly under most students’ radar, despite the numerous social and professional benefits they offer.
“A lot of pre-professional frats don’t get as much notice and press [as IFC fraternities], and we really do provide great resources for students,” says Lee. “They’re untapped resources.”