College Transition Initiative

Welcome to the blog of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding’s (CPYU) College Transition Initiative (CTI). This site contains commentary on transitional issues, exploring research, trends and college student culture. For more information visit:

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Location: Elizabethtown, PA, United States

The transition from high school to college is a difficult one, and yet, it is a transition that is often overlooked. This site is to help college bound students, parents, and youth workers stay up to date on the latest research and trends in regards to college transition. Your comments are greatly appreciated. Join the conversation!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Goat: A Memoir Concerning Fraternity Life

Note to subscribers: There was something wrong with bloglet in the last two weeks and I didn’t notice it. There were no emails sent letting you know that the blog had been updated. You may have missed some good information on Spring Break, cheating, and where high school students go once they “graduate” from church youth groups. You may want to scroll down to see the posts, or you can get there faster by clicking here and here.

I also want to quickly highlight a helpful book that I just finished reading. The book is entitled Goat: A Memoir and is about a college student who pledged a fraternity at Clemson University. Goat takes readers on a journey into the heart and mind of a young man trying to find identity and belonging. The book is honest about the fraternity scene, exposing the reality of the social atmosphere on college campuses. While it vividly describes acts of sexuality, partying and violence, it doesn’t glorify these aspects of college culture. In fact, the book appears to have been written in the hopes of bringing awareness to these issues in order to assist others working on ways to find solutions to the problems associated with the partying culture in general and Greek life in particular.

An admirable feature of the book is a list of helpful discussion questions. The author seems genuinely concerned with the negative aspects of Greek life. Here are two sample questions illustrating the author’s intentions for writing the book (you can see all of the questions here):

Throughout Land’s memoir, many characters grapple with the difficulty of fitting in with their peers. What sorts of pressures do you feel are placed on young men and women? Where does this stress come from? What could be done to combat it?

In your opinion, is the Greek system in the United States a viable outlet for young men and women? Given the long, public history of hazing and abuses committed by some fraternities and sororities, do you feel the Greek system should be abolished? If not, how could conditions be improved?

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about Greek life and college student culture, especially parents, youth workers or campus ministers who may not know much about Greek life. Of course, this is only one person’s story and should not be considered normative for all student experiences. Not all students will share the same story as the author, and there are many positive aspects of Greek life, to be sure, but this book offers a window into the life of one student’s journey and transition to college.

For more information about the book, visit the author’s website here.

To read an insightful interview with the author click here. Here's a sample:

What is it about the need to belong that makes people go to such extremes to be a part of something?

I think there’s a great deal of pressure to belong, to feel that you are doing the right thing with your life, in your own eyes, in the eyes of your parents and the people in your town. Go to college, be well adjusted, get a job, sell something, make money, join the country club. I knew lots of people who thought about which sorority or fraternity they'd join while they were still in high school. It's a dangerous sort of pressure, I think, and it doesn't just come from friends; it’s teachers, parents, neighbors.


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