When College sophomore and Delta Delta Delta sister Alyssa Montalto transferred to Penn from Villanova University this fall, she attributed one factor to making her transition “remarkably easier.”
“I can’t imagine the transition process without Tri Delt,” Montalto said. “The sisters have been reaching out since day one and have been so sweet, open and inviting. Transferring would have been a lot more overwhelming without a sorority.”
Each year, a small handful of transfer students join Penn’s chapter of a Greek organization where they had been a member at their previous school. This gives these students the opportunity to instantly feel part of a community, according to College senior and Panhellenic Council Vice President of Recruitment and Extension Alex Enny.
“It’s like coming to a school and having a safe haven and a family,” Enny said. “Since these students didn’t have the experience of meeting people at Penn freshman year, they automatically have a set of friends in their sorority.”
College junior and Kappa Alpha Theta sister Cher Lu had a similar experience when she transferred to Penn from Carnegie Mellon University in fall 2011.
“Being part of Theta opened me up to a social group instantaneously,” Lu said. “It made it easy to get involved and helped me make new friends.”
Lu, who is now the chief administrative officer for Theta, said her sorority provided a way to quickly gain a leadership position on campus, despite her not being involved in other student organizations.
“I held a small officership at Carnegie Mellon and I had a different outlook than the girls here,” Lu said. “I thought that I could bring what I had learned at Carnegie Mellon to Theta. It worked really well for me and for the sorority as a whole.”
Both Montalto and Lu agree that there are differences between Penn’s Greek system and those of other universities.
“Tri Delt is so much bigger here than at Villanova,” Montalto said. “But the girls seem to be really similar to the girls at Villanova, and we have the same philanthropy.”
While Lu does not believe that one school’s Greek system is better than the other, she acknowledged that “Theta at Penn is much more diverse and twice the size of Theta at Carnegie Mellon, and that took a little bit of adjustment.”
For transfer students looking to join their Greek organization here at Penn, the processes vary.
For sororities, the procedure differs for every chapter, although there are some essential steps. A student first needs to get in touch with Panhel. This is then followed by a meet-and-greet process, formal approval and then the transfer.
“The process is very relaxed and quick,” Enny said. “There aren’t many bumps in the road.”
Similarly, the process of transferring into fraternities differs for each chapter.
College senior and Sigma Chi brother Ryan Gittleson, who transferred to Penn from the College of William and Mary in his sophomore year, said living in the chapter house last year made him feel like a part of his fraternity and helped ease the transition to Penn.
“I would say that Greek life here is more interesting, but it is definitely more overwhelming,” Gittleson said. “The Greek system at Penn is far more expansive than at William and Mary and the brothers are from all over the country.”
Lu added that, at the end of the day, the Greek experience that transfer students will have depends on how much they invest themselves in the process.
“You really need to put an effort into transferring,” Lu said. “It’s not easy, but anyone who transfers will be able to find a group.”