The Complete Guide to Surviving Sorority Recruitment
The time has come, high school is over and the new chapter of college is upon us. You’re thinking of going Greek and joining a sorority, but have no idea what you’re getting yourself into? Perfect! Then this complete guide to surviving sorority recruitment will be a lifesaver for you! You can stop your social media stalking of sorority girls you’ve never met (We’ve all done it!) hoping to gleem some sense of direction. While every college does recruitment a little differently, I’m hoping by sharing this knowledge you’ll feel much more prepared about what you’re getting into before rush starts!
Let’s do this!
Here’s the complete guide to surviving this wild experience known as sorority recruitment:
What you can expect:
1. You will feel overwhelmed
Honestly, I’m not going to lie - it is really easy to become emotionally unstable during rush week. Every college recruitment looks a little different, it may last three days or two weeks. My sorority rush experience was one week so that’s what I’ll write about in this guide. No matter how many days your college recruitment lasts, you will probably experience hunger, fatigue, and sport a few not-so-cute blisters from wearing heels and dashing from one sorority mansion to another. The quality of your rush experience has a lot to do with how you handle it. So come prepared: wear a watch, bring a granola bar each day, throw some flip-flops in your purse, pack a water bottle and IBuprofen, some mints, and an extra tampon just in case! I know, I’m sounding like a total mom now but you will thank me later!
2. Your personality is more important than your appearance
I really want to encourage you to go into this rush experience knowing you have a lot to offer. This is about you deciding which house is the best fit for you. Don’t come at this week with the mindset of walking into every room hoping they like you. Truly, I believe it is more important for you do decide if you like them. Yes, it should be a mutual connection but ultimately know you have a lot to offer and every house would love having you as a sorority sister. You do pay real money to be in a sorority, so think of this as an investment. Where do you want to invest your time and money? If it’s not a genuine connection from the beginning then it’s probably not the right fit for YOU. Personality and authenticity will take you farther than wearing all the labels. Remember, these houses are sometimes seeing hundreds of girls each night. You are more likely to be remembered for your personality and passion than for what you were wearing that day. That being said, do dress well each day. Personally, I would rather be overdressed than underdressed. Don’t worry though! Your Rho Gamma (just a fancy Greek word meaning your recruitment group leader) will let you know the dress code ahead of time. Above all, sorority recruiters will be looking for girls who are eager about making new friends, have a love of philanthropy and are willing to dedicate time to the house.
3. You want to keep an open-mind
Be sure to take good notes after each house visit. Write about memorable moments or conversations, anything that will help trigger your memory when you are trying to cut houses later that night. On the first day, I made the rookie mistake of writing “singing house” after my first house visit thinking that would help me remember which sorority I had visited. Soon, I realized that EVERY house sings as you are rushed in and out. Ha! On that note, I feel like I should point out here that is basically the only time we ever sang in the sorority. I remember really being thrown off by the singing factor when I was going through rush and worrying that I was signing up for some sort of college choir group. So let it be known, the singing part is just for recruitment and not a weekly requirement! Keep an open mind with each house. If you have your heart set on one house, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. Your opinions will change as you get to know each house and the personalities better as the week goes on. Also, don’t freak out that you don’t have a letter of recommendation and are just now hearing girls talking about it. Rec letters are more common for girls who have had a mom or sister in the same sorority. In my experience, it doesn’t make or break your chances of getting in the house. Ultimately, pay attention to where you feel most comfortable and what people you genuinely make a connection, not the sorority that has the best Instagram or is known as the “hot girls” on campus. Staying open-minded will guide you into the right house come bid night.
4. You’re not the only one who’s exhausted and nervous
The sororities you’re visiting have been working their rears off since last year to pull off a great recruitment. In my house, we all arrived one week prior to recruitment to clean the house and practice for every day of rush. It is a huge event for sororities, just know they want to impress you, too! They want you to love their house and to make the best first impression. It’s important to remember all the girls you are meeting have already gone through this same recruitment process. These girls know exactly what you are going through, and they really do want to have a good time with you and for you to feel comfortable in their house.
5. You’re allowed to be different than the “stereotypical sorority girl”
We’ve all seen the movies and even the crazy news stories portraying a “stereotypical” Greek experience. You may have some preconceived notions about going Greek. You may have had some people raise an eyebrow or judge you just when you mentioned going Greek. Or maybe you have zero Greek alumni in your family and you honestly don’t know if you’ll fit into the “stereotypical” culture of sororities. What if you’re not extroverted or into the party scene? It’s okay to wonder whether committing to a sorority is right for you! Sororities are a lot more multidimensional than the negative stereotypes. Going Greek offers something for everyone! There’s opportunity for friendship, philanthropy, leadership, post-grad connections and access to countless events throughout the year. Yes, there are college parties. But you won’t necessarily be forced out of your comfort zone. There are always positives to gain from joining a sorority, and very little to be lost. You will probably be surprised by the diversity of Greek life!
6. You need to be aware of the time and money commitment
Depending on your college, some sorority rushes last three days and others can last almost two weeks. The time commitment doesn’t stop after rush. I wish I had known the time and money commitment being in a sorority would require. That being said, I don’t regret going Greek at all! Once you begin sorority life, you’ll have chapter meetings, parties, volunteering and so many other events to attend that a really significant amount of your time each week will be spent in your sisterhood. Try to connect with someone who goes to your college about the sorority commitments before you rush. They will be able to give you the most honest and accurate representation of how Greek life operates on your campus. That being said, you’re never bored for lack of things to do!
What the heck do you talk about during recruitment?
Rounds 1 and 2
Keep it light. You’ll only be able to talk to each girl for a few minutes, and at first you’ll hear yourself talking about your hometown and your major so much you’ll think you’re going insane. If you can manage it, try to have a more interesting conversation—the girls will remember you and keep you around if your conversation was more interesting than everyone else’s. Bring up something interesting you did over the summer, or a club you’re involved in on campus; it’s an easy way to distinguish yourself and get noticed.
By now, you’ve learned a little about the chapter’s activities, philanthropy and structure, and you may have some questions. Feel free to ask them this round, and also make sure you get more into who you are and what makes you tick, including your activities and goals. Express your feelings about rush and ask questions about sororities in general, but don’t make any overt references to how badly you want to be in a particular chapter or talk about other houses. Through your conversations, you can convince girls that you would fit in at their house.
In the last round, the conversation should get a lot heavier. You should talk about what drew you to each chapter, why you think you would fit in there and how you feel about rush in general. Also, show the girls why you’d be an asset to their house by speaking intelligently and displaying your depth. This round is to seal the deal—you have one hour to show the girls who you really are and why you should spend the rest of your college experience with them.
What NOT to Say
There are five topics that are absolutely off-limits for rush, these are known as the 5 B's: boys, booze, Bible, ballot and bids. Gushing about a frat guy that you’re seeing when it turns out the girl who is rushing you used to date him will certainly hurt your chances at being invited back to her house, and bragging about all the shots you downed the night before doesn’t exactly showcase your poise and class to a group of women. As for religion and politics, these are way too controversial topics for recruitment—leave those conversations for when these strangers become your sisters. But the number one fatal flaw of rush is to talk about other houses, or ask outright if you can get a bid at a particular house. Resist temptation—you’ll find out where you belong soon enough.
Things to Keep in Mind During Rush Week:
Be aware of the weather! Rain or shine, recruitment must go on. So you’ll want to be sure to be prepared. No one thinks caring around an umbrella is sexy, but you’ll certainly wish you had brought one if scattered showers arise and you’re caught wearing a white dress!
It’s okay if you don’t end up in the same house as your friend. This is not high school anymore, there are no rival houses in Greekland. In fact, there are so many opportunities for Greek events you’ll be surprised how often you run into each other. This is a great opportunity for you to meet more people, too! Spread your wings and fly, social butterfly!
Greek life is what you make it. We’ve all dreamt of the Elle Woods "Perfect Day" sorority experience. We’ve also heard the horror stories of parties gone wrong and weird hazing rituals. Truth is, Greek life is what you make of it. So ask yourself, what do you want out of this four year experience? Sure, you can party your little heart out if you want. But you can also not love the party scene and still love sorority life. Greek life is an awesome place to build new friendships, as well as network and build your resume through philanthropy and internship experiences.
It is okay to change your mind. Truth bomb: No one knows what the heck they are doing! Somewhere between high school graduation and declaring your college major, there is this weird unspoken transition that says “you should have your life all figured out by now.” Heck, you’re eighteen - that means you’re an adult and you magically have all the answers now right?! Far from it! If anything, this is the first time in your young adult life where you don’t have a road map or parents telling you what to do. Of course it feels like you’re driving on the interstate blindfolded! So let’s set the record straight: it is okay to change your mind whether that includes your major, wanting to go Greek, or anything else you may be navigating in life. You can read all the guides and hear all about other’s experiences but ultimately you’re going to have to navigate life yourself. Good news, friends: there is no limit to how many times you reroute!
Here’s what my Rush Week looked like:
Round 1: Open House
An older sorority girl, who has temporarily disaffiliated from her chapter to be your guide (often known as a Rho Gamma or Rho Chi), will lead you and a bunch of other PNMs—potential new members—from house to house. When the clock strikes the hour, the door will open and you will probably see dozens of sorority girls lined along the staircase singing. A sorority girl will pair off with you and lead you to a chair. You’ll talk for about five minutes, and then another girl will come over, so you can talk to her instead. This will happen until you have talked to three or four girls. After about 20 minutes, the rush chair may make a short speech, or the girls may start singing again that ques the house visit is ending. You’ll wrap up your conversations and be kindly ushered to the door. At the end of the day, you’ll write down which chapters you liked the best and cut a few houses.
Round 2: House Tours
Round 2 activities vary by school—sometimes it will include a craft, a philanthropy presentation or a skit—but typically it will involve a tour of each house. By this round you have cut some houses, and some houses have cut you, so you go to fewer houses throughout the day and each round is longer, about 40 minutes. You will still talk to more than one girl—usually about three—before taking a tour of the house and learning more about the chapter’s activities and structure. For example, you may hear a presentation on the chapter’s national and local philanthropies, or learn about how much it would cost to live there. Again, you rank the sororities you saw at the end of the day and cut a few more houses.
Round 3: Skit Day
Again, Round 3 activities vary, and many schools do not do a skit. If your school doesn’t do one, this could be called the “Philanthropy Round," and in some cases house tours are during Round 3. If there is a skit, you will talk to two or three girls before watching some of the most talented members of each chapter put on a hilarious performance, often involving pop culture references and songs. This is a great chance to get to know the personality of each house, so you can gauge better where you’ll feel most comfortable. You’ll rank the sororities again at the end of the day, leaving you with only three houses.
Round 4: Preference Night
This round is the most serious, and you often only talk to one or two girls for the entire time. This round lasts an hour. This night is all about the traditions, principles and values of each chapter. You’ll hear from the girls about what their sorority means to them, and see a ceremony that emphasizes the essence of each house. Often there is a presentation involving the seniors. At the end of the day you “pref” two or three sororities in order of where you’d most like to pledge, and you are matched up through a computer system to a house.
This is the absolute BEST day and one of my favorite days of the whole year! At my college, we walked to central campus with our Rho Gamma’s in our recruitment group. When we arrived to central campus, each sorority was already there decked out in cute matching tank tops, all the swag you could imagine, and huge painted Greek letters. There were balloons and music and glitter! Can I get a “YAAAS!!” followed by a hands up emoji! I absolutely LOVED this day! It is so fun and carefree! All of our recruitment groups gathered in the middle of the lawn on central campus with the sorority girls in their own individual groups surrounding us. Soon our Rho Gamma’s handed us our Bid Day cards, a sealed envelope containing our name and our official sorority on the inside inviting us to join their house. When the campus campaniel clock struck noon we all opened our Bid Day cards and our new homes were revealed! *Cue the squeals of hundreds of fresh college girls* The Heavens open, the angels sing, and all the babies rush off to their new sisters! Bid day is basically a huge kickoff party to celebrate the new baby freshman and the upcoming school year. All of the babies follow their new sisters back to the sorority to continue the celebration.
Now the FUN of Greek life truly begins!
I hope this Complete Guide to Sorority Recruitment was helpful to you! I absolutely loved the friendships and experiences gained from going Greek. Be yourself and have fun! These years are going to be a blast!