Ah rush. Recruitment. Pledging. Whatever your school calls it, it’s an… experience. Even though one of my older sisters had been in a sorority and had bestowed her wisdom upon me before I drove off to my own personal hell, I had no idea what to expect. Really, the only thing I think I got right about it was that as a massive introvert, I would despise the entire process.
Here are the things I got wrong:
- I never thought I would join a sorority, not in a million years.
- I decided before rush that if I didn’t get a bid to the sorority I wanted, I’d drop.
- I tried to dress/present myself the way that those rooms would want me too.
- I thought that I could breeze by without acting like I cared, or by putting any real effort into it beforehand.
- I based the entire process off of preconceived rumors and stereotypes, which almost cost me one of the greatest experiences of my college career.
Good work, me! Now you’re probably asking yourself why you should listen to my advice or trust me whatsoever. Because… I’ve gone through the other side of recruitment (which I’ll say is 1,000 times less dreadful) two times now, and feel as though I have a decent grasp on how I should’ve approached it my freshman year. So listen up! And relax!
Preparing for What Lies Ahead
This is really freakin’ important. You’ll be in weirdly close quarters with hundreds of girls sharing germs and touching door handles and shaking hands and it is awful. Everybody gets sick, everybody ends up losing their voice, and feels like garbage afterwards.
Here are some tips to stay health throughout the week:
- Drink Emergen-C beforehand
- Drink a LOT of water
- Bring hand sanitizer
- Buy throat lozenges
- Bring snacks so you don’t get hangry
- Bring band-aids for inevitable blisters on your feet
Ok. This seemed stupid to me at first, but as an introvert it was so helpful to look at some basic conversation starters before I started a day of recruitment. I used to get a lot of anxiety at the thought of talking to 25+ new people each day for an entire week, but having some points to fall back on was really helpful.
Here are some examples that I like:
- What did you do over the holiday break?
- If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
- What’s your favorite class you’ve taken in college?
- What shows have you been watching on Netflix/Hulu?
- What do you like to do when you hang out with other girls in your sorority?
- If you could describe your sorority in three words, what would they be?
- What kinds of leadership opportunities do you get from your sorority?
- Is there a part of your sorority that you’re passionate about?
- Why do you think your philanthropy is important?
- What have you gained from being in this sorority?
And here are some general tips:
- Loudly introduce yourself. I mean, don’t scream at the member, but that room is going to be hectic and if you say it quietly she is not going to hear it and you’ll find her awkwardly trying to find your nametag during your conversation.
- Ask open ended questions. Nothing that can be answered with a yes or no.
- Ask follow up questions.
- Breathe while she’s talking. If you’re stiff and nervous, that’ll set the tone of the conversation.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about non-sorority things. Not every conversation has to be about the gamma beta delta lambda chi. One of my favorite conversations I had a a member was with a potential new member who loved to hike and ski. I do too, we had a really naturally flowing conversation, and I was dying to get her back in our room!
- Make eye contact
- And finally, don’t freak out. Let them talk to you. That’s their job. Now, don’t be a dead fish conversationalist who just sits there staring at the member like a deer in headlights. But she should be more nervous about keeping the conversation going than you, she’s literally been trained on how to.
Alright, so I hate the idea of emphasizing looks and appearances for recruitment, because it’s the exact superficial BS that I hated so much when I was rushing. But that’s just kinda how it works. You’re going to be making more first impressions in one day than you ever have before, and spending an extra half hour doing your hair and makeup goes a long way.
- Get your eyebrows done. Tweeze (but don’t overdo it!), thread, or wax- having your face looking clean and fresh makes a huge difference.
- Paint your nails, and get a pedicure if you plan on wearing open toed shoes. Some people will caution against crazy or dark polish colors, but I say who tf cares because if you can rock black nails why not.
- Touch up your hair color (if you color your hair) and get a haircut if it’s been a while.
- Drink lots of water and eat well the week before so your skin looks healthy.
Days and Outfits
Day 1: Open House
Open House is the most casual day of recruitment. You’ll probably hear door songs (terrifying and overwhelming but also impressive? See below.)
you’ll get to talk to a couple of girls, and be whisked away in a soccer-tunnel-type fashion somewhat quickly. Easiest small talk, and you’ll probably be the most nervous because it’s your first day.
What to Talk About: Ask about the chapter, what the girls are like, compliment the room/house/songs, talk about basic info like your name, major, hometown, etc. That last part is going to drive you crazy. You’ll talk to like three girls for two minutes each, and will likely say the exact same thing over, and over, and over, and over, and over again until you want to drop out of school and change your name.
Tip: Try to say something interesting that will make you stand out. As stupid as it is to try to accomplish in two minutes, those girls are going to meet hundreds or thousands (depending on your school) of potential new members throughout that day and you want to be a little different.
What to Wear: The most casual of the days. You’ll likely be given a t-shirt that you have to wear to open house, so try to give it a personal touch. My school just has one big building with a bunch of rooms instead of a row of houses and we recruit in January, so keep in mind how how much walking you’ll be doing/the temperature throughout the day. For example, we’re inside in hot rooms so even though the walk over might be chilly, don’t wear a huge sweater or anything because the bulk of your day you’ll be hot. And we don’t have to walk a bunch, so even though you’ll be on your feet a lot, heeled booties aren’t going to kill your feet.
Think: Going to brunch with your friends. Not in the sweatpants way, in the “we’ll probably take pictures” way.
Day 2: Sisterhood Day
Slightly less casual, but a very similar feel to day 1. Today you’ll hear about what kinds of events the sororities have and what’s important to them as a chapter.
What to Talk About: Ask about their events, what they do together, what their favorite part about their sorority is, and again, try to insert some interesting tidbits about yourself.
What to Wear: Again, just a little bit nicer than day 1. If you wore jeans or shorts, wear a skirt. If you wore a skirt, wear a casual sundress. Wear simple jewelry if you’re a jewelry person, and stick to sandals/booties depending on weather. Girls might start wearing wedges, and you can if you want, but save your feet for the next two days!
Think: Going on a somewhat casual date.
Day 3: Philanthropy
This was my favorite day of recruitment when I was going through it, and it still is as a member. I love talking about my sororities philanthropy, and this day is what made me start to consider the sorority I joined as being somewhere I could really fit in.
What to Talk About: Obviously, the philanthropy. This day will be a little more formal than the last two, so you’ll want to ditch the frillyness and match your tone and your conversation to the mood of the room.
What to Wear: Think dinner date. Regardless of recruiting season, you should wear a nicer dress and shoes with a heel. That can still mean heeled booties in the winter/spring, but will probably mean wedges for summer/fall recruiting.
Think: Going on a somewhat casual date.
Day 4: Preference
The nicest, longest, and most serious day of the week. I hate being on the member side of preference, not because I don’t love selling my sorority to potential new membs, but because I like to joke around and that’s not necessarily the vibe. Now if you and the girl you’re talking to are really going in the emotional direction that’s totally fine. But some girls will just start crying in the middle of the room and it’s a little unnerving like-
But if you’re a cryer, that’s totally cool too. Don’t feel embarrassed because again it happens a lot and doesn’t look out of place whatsoever. It’s actually kind of impressive sometimes. I just wasn’t one.
What to Talk About: Hopefully you have a girl you’ve talked to once or twice throughout the week, so you kind of know each other. Try to put more substance into the talk, not only because you want to actually get to know these people, but because this “party” is looooonnnnngggggg and basic small talk won’t fill the time like it has in the previous days. Ask about her best friends, her values, her aspirations- ya know, over-familiar stuff like that. Think: What the contestants on the Bachelor disclose to the leading guy on the first night. Too much for reality, but it’s a weird week.
What to Wear: Think what you’d wear to a high school dance (not prom, no ball gowns plz) and classy. So nice knee length/above dress, heels, jewelry. I’m not separating these into a winter/summer category because they’ll look the same regardless of season, just giving two categories.
Day 5: Bid Day
The best day of all recruitment days!!! The hard part is over, and now you just get to party. Depending on where you go to school, you’ll either run to the house (which sounds terrible) or you’ll run to some room in the building where you got your bid. When you get in there people will be yelling and somebody will throw a shirt at you and its fun. Girls will be crying because they’re happy, and some will be crying because they’re sad.
Once you get into your chapter room/house, somebody will announce your name and 300 girls will cheer and there will be loud music and snacks and pictures and it’s A LOT. But it’s a great little congrats for making through a week of hell.
What to Wear: Wear something that can be paired with a t-shirt that you’ll change into in front of a bunch of girls you’ve never seen or met before. You can be as casual as you want, but like still do your makeup and hair because like I said, so many pictures.
This’ll be really similar to the first day. Don’t be afraid to repeat pieces, nobody will remember what you wore because everybody will be *so* *tired*.
First off, Have an Open Mind. Honestly, the chances of you getting the house you wanted going into rush on the first day are pretty low. And I get it- you stalked the instagrams, you found the place that really just *felt* like it could be your home… but it might not work out that way, and it will probably be for the best.
I didn’t end up where I thought I would, and looking back, thank god for that. I LOVE my house, the girls in it, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else. But I didn’t figure that out until about three months in. Yeah. Three months. So give it time and be ready to adapt. It’ll be ok. Trust the Process (Eye Roll).
My next cliche is to BE! YOUR! SELF! (Eye Roll Round 2) I’ll keep this one simple because I’m sure you’ve heard it 1,000 times, but if you go through rush pretending to be somebody you’re not to get into some house and you get in? You’re going to be stuck somewhere that in a few months, when pretending gets old, you don’t fit in. And that will suck. I’ve seen it happen and it’s not pretty.
Just be authentic and you’ll end up somewhere where there are a ton of other girls like you, which is a good thing.
And Remember- You Don’t Have to Do This. This one’s important. If you don’t feel right about joining a sorority or you feel like your motivations are for the wrong reasons, don’t do it. You’ll make friends without being in a sorority, you’ll have a social life, and college will be just as fulfilling as if you weren’t in one.
If you’re going through rush and just calling BS and you hate the whole thing, it’s probably a sign. Sororities don’t make or break your experience, but I will say that they do enhance it. I love mine, and as much as I hated rushing, I’m really glad that I did.