Anisia is an editor for Society19. She studied English Literature…
Are you thinking about getting involved in Greek life during your freshman year, but don’t know anything about sorority recruitment? Sorority rush is a great experience, but there’s a lot of information you need to know beforehand. That’s why we have the ultimate guide with absolutely everything you need to know about sorority recruitment! We’ve put together the best tips and advice from sorority girls. I highly recommend looking into the possibility of joining either a sorority or fraternity at your school. Keep reading for everything you need to know about sorority recruitment and get out there and rush!
Important to know before all else…
Above everything else it is crucial to know that sorority recruitment is slightly different everywhere. Every single sorority at each school in different parts of the world are all slightly different in the ways they operate and the ways they handle sorority recruitment. (There is an especially large difference between the northern and southern schools in the US.) That being said, there is some universal information that is important to know. So although your school might differ slightly from the information in this article, it is important to be aware of the “generalized” ways of sorority recruitment.
Important Recruitment Vocab To Know
The group of students who were accepted into the chapter at the same time you were. “Pledging” or “pledged” is when a student decides to officially join a particular sorority or fraternity. During sorority recruitment, you are with members of your future pledge class, you just don’t know who they are yet.
Example: “I pledged Alpha Phi.”
Each school’s different sororities or fraternities are the different “chapters”. While there are the same sororities and fraternities all over the world, each college has different “chapters” for that sorority or fraternity. For example, one Alpha Phi sorority in New Hampshire might be called “the Eta Alpha” chapter while another Alpha Phi sorority in California is called the “Beta Delta” chapter. It is simply an easy way to differentiate between all the sororities and fraternities in existence, even though they are all under the same sorority name.
Big & Little
This happens after you have been accepted into a Greek life chapter, after sorority recruitment. Everyone (fraternities and sororities) and encouraged to take a “Little” once they have been in their chapter for at least a semester. Usually, a Little is a younger student who has joined the same chapter after the Big, but they could even be older than their Big in some cases (just a later pledge class). The purpose of being a Big and having a Little is like a mentorship program. In the early stages of joining a chapter especially, it is helpful to have an older brother or sister to call on for advice, hang out with, show you the ropes, etc. The Big and the Little have to mutually choose each other.
Big Little Week
This will be the best week of your life. For a whole week you receive gifts and treats from your Big (although sometimes the identity of your Big is kept secret until the week is over)!
During Big Little Week you will have your own “wall” (better known as your own personal shrine). Sororities differ with their “walls” and sometimes beds/rooms are decorated instead. Each wall has a theme, and the secretive Big leaves new presents under the wall each night for the potential Little to receive the next day. Anything from baked goods to sweatshirts to key chains, it is like Christmas morning each day!
Big Sis Reveal
At the end of Big Little Week there is a “reveal” where your Big is revealed to you. Every chapter does this differently, some pop out of large boxes wrapped up like presents, while others are more casual about it. You usually have a pretty good idea of who your Big is because she is someone who you picked anyways, but it is still fun to keep it a secret…plus, you never know…
A fancy word for a charity. Each chapter has their own particular charity, awareness, foundation, or cause that they focus on year after year. Each chapter hosts events to raise money and awareness to this cause multiple times a year. This is taken very seriously at every chapter, everywhere. Millions of dollars are donated each year from sororities throughout the US.
A “legacy” is a sister who is somehow related to a current or past sister of that same chapter. (Mom, Grandmother, Aunt, Cousin, Sister…etc.) A legacy can also be a potential new member who isn’t part of the sorority yet, a current sister, or an alum. It is customary and tradition for a legacy to have special attention during sorority recruitment out of respect for their family member who was already in that sorority. Usually, but not always, the legacy is actually supposed to be offered a bid to the sorority by default. (Unless of course, she does not want to join that chapter) which does happen sometimes.
Example: “Susie Johnson is going through sorority recruitment this year and she is a legacy of Mary Johnson, so make sure we introduce her to the president.”
Each chapter has an “Exec” board. Students from the chapter are elected by the chapter members to serve on this board, usually each year. This is a wonderful opportunity for leadership experience because there are usually multiple positions a student can take to help maintain their chapter. (President, Vice President of Marketing, Panhelenic Delegate, etc., to name a few positions…) Some chapters even have a “Sunshine Chair” who is responsible for making sure everyone signs cards or gives gifts to sisters who might need a little extra support, etc. There are plenty of leadership positions in sorority chapters, many of which are on the exec board.
Recruitment or Rush
Sorority recruitment can last from one day to several weeks depending on the school. Rush is another word for “recruitment” (same thing). AKA: Spring rush or spring recruitment. But it can also be used as a verb.
Example: “I rushed Chi Omega and loved it.”
PNM (Potential New Member)
A potential new member. Everyone is a PNM during recruitment until they receive a bid.
“Pref” or “Pref night” is one of the days of recruitment where everything is a little more formal than normal. It is usually close to the end of recruitment, and potential new members are usually more aware of which sororities they want to join. This is a chance for the students who are almost positive on which sorority they are going to choose to have additional conversations with members to help make their decision.
Once you are accepted into a sorority you are given a “Bid” (piece of paper saying you are a new member of the sorority). You probably aren’t an official member yet…that comes later with initiation, but you are definitely “in.” Bid Day is when every potential new member receives their bids and joins the chapter members (old and new) to celebrate and meet each other.
Once you are no longer a potential new member, you are a new member (but not an official sister yet). You are definitely a part of the sorority you were offered a bid too and this can’t be revoked unless you drop out, but you are not an official sister until you are sworn in through that chapter’s initiation ceremony. Every initiation is different and very secretive. Initiation ceremonies are hilarious because they are usually practiced the same way they have been since the chapter was founded years ago. Just be patient and roll with it.
Each school’s chapter is part of a whole string of chapters which is overseen by “nationals.” Usually the members of the nationals team were once a part of the sorority or fraternity themselves, and step in to help schools with philanthropies, recruitment, etc. Serving on nationals can be a paid career or volunteer work.
Rho Chi, Rho Gamma, Rho Psi
There are different names for these students, but they all have the same job. They are sisters who are already established sorority members who help guide the PNMs through recruitment and keep it a secret as to which sorority they are in until recruitment is over so as not to be biased. Think of it like having an un-biased camp counselor to help guide you through recruitment. If you see faces covered with sticky notes in pictures around the sorority houses you visit, this is most likely a Rho Psi, not someone everyone hates.
(Not to be confused with a pledge class or “pledging”.) Every chapter has their own pledge, almost like a mission statement, that has been around ever since the sorority or fraternity was established. Usually the pledge is old fashioned and silly but you love it all the same because of tradition. The pledge is usually repeated before house meetings and sorority initiations.
The framed compilation of every chapter member’s professional photograph. Usually these are hung up all around the chapter’s house and you can see them during sorority recruitment. It is fun to look back to a 1978 composite, for example, and find a current sister’s doppelgänger.
Panhellenic Counsel or “Panhel”
The Panhellenic delegates are members of each Greek chapter per school. Usually they meet together at least once a week to discuss and raise awareness to each sorority or fraternity’s events, philanthropies, fund raisers and relevant news. During sorority recruitment you may see some of them in the house and can ask them about their position on the board exec board.
Every chapter is different, but in most, merit points are awarded and taken away from each member for different reasons. Members receive merit points for various different reasons, such as holding a position in the chapter, participating in community service projects, receiving good grades, or even cleaning up the communal living areas in the house! Merit points can be taken away for various reasons also, such as drinking while wearing your letters or any inappropriate behavior that could make their chapter look bad as a whole. It is important to have as many merit points as possible because the more merit points a sister has determines certain factors such as who gets to pick their room first in the housing lottery, who gets to have a parking space if there isn’t enough for everyone, etc.
Example: “We are asking for volunteers for sober sisters to drive the seniors to the bars tonight. 3 merit points each to whoever wants to volunteer.”
Letters / Wearing Your Letters
Pretty self-explanatory. Each chapter’s sorority’s name is abbreviated by letters of the Greek alphabet. You can wear these letters proudly on a T-shirt, hang them in your room, or hoist them up in pictures. Just don’t get caught acting inappropriately while wearing them, like drinking in them. Sororities wear their letters proudly during sorority recruitment, especially.
House Meeting(s)/Formal House Meeting(s)
Usually each week a chapter will have a “house meeting” for all of its members to discuss events and anything that is currently happening in that sorority or fraternity at that time. The Exec board will host these meetings, and each position on the Exec board will announce their news for the week. Sisters who don’t have leadership positions can also speak at these meetings. Sometimes the house meeting is formal, so formal attire may be required.
Sleeping “On Deck”
Some chapters, (but not all) have a large room in the house where many (but usually not all) members sleep! Think: the dwarfs’ room in Snow White or in the book Madeline. Although my sorority did not have this type of sleeping arrangement, my friends from other sororities experienced it and said they didn’t mind. Usually if deck sleeping is the case, the beds are in a large room that is kept quiet constantly while their belongings/desks are in a separate room so they can still talk in their own private living space.
Why Go Greek?
1. You will make a lot of friends. Guaranteed.
It isn’t easy for anyone to immediately make best friends in college. This takes a lot of trial and error to find your special niche, or at least it did for me. Joining a sorority or fraternity is a fool proof equation for building wonderful, lifelong friendships. Not only are you in an organization together, but you usually live together, socialize together, party together, participate in events together…you get the point.
2. You will get involved on campus. Big time.
What better way to become more involved on campus?! There are endless events going on around campus that are hosted by or facilitated through Greek organizations. Constantly. I promise you, you will never not be involved.
3. You will make a difference in your community (and world).
People don’t understand how big of an impact the philanthropic work of Greek life chapters creates worldwide. Not only are large amounts of money raised each year for many charities and organizations, but the awareness is circulated too. If a particular awareness or foundation is important to you, research if a Greek chapter represents it and if they are available on your campus.
4. You will have amazing access to networking.
During college I was able to connect with so many people from Greek life who helped me with academics. More often than not there will be a fellow Greek life student in your class(es). After I graduated college and was on the infamous “entry-level job search” I can’t tell you how many sorority alumni I contacted asking for advice or references. You will definitely appreciate how many people you know who can introduce you to other people and give you advice.
5. Going through sorority recruitment (and ultimately joining) looks great on your résumé.
This will transform your résumé from: “I attended college for four years” to “I attended college and served as the recruitment chair at the ___ chapter of Alpha Chi Omega for a year, represented my chapter on the Panhellenic board for a year, raised awareness and annual profits to the Women’s Heart Health Association and served on the Executive board for three years as VP of Marketing for my chapter.” Notice the difference?
6. Participating in sorority recruitment and becoming a part of Greek life looks good to your professors.
This was a huge surprise to me. I actually assumed that being a part of a sorority would look somewhat bad to my professors. (I was scared they would judge me based on the movie stereotypes and think I was only into partying and socializing.) However, on more than one account, a professor reached out to me to ask about our sorority’s philanthropy and one even said “I know you have a lot of responsibility being in a sorority, so…”
7. You will always find opportunities to demonstrate leadership.
I had no idea what “meeting minutes” were before I was elected to serve on the Exec board for my chapter. You will experience countless opportunities to practice leadership and learn many important life skills for any potential leadership positions in your future careers.
Example: It might not seem like it, but practicing publicly addressing your chapter each week at house meeting is the best experience for addressing your future boss at your future job’s next board meeting.
8. You are never alone.
Literally and figuratively. You will always be surrounded by people in your chapter. If you are ever bored or lonely you can knock on anyone’s door or plop down on a couch in the common living room to watch TV with friends. If you need some extra attention there are always countless people you can seek out for advice or help.
9. You won’t have to live in a dorm or cramped apartment.
You will probably have to wait until your current living situation’s term has ended, but you will most likely have the option to live in the sorority house! Usually these houses are amazing. My house had 4 floors including a basement (with washing and drying machines), kitchen (with a chef, fridge, salad bar), its own parking lot (with assigned spaces), kitchens on each floor, a wrap-around front porch, an apartment for the house mom to live in connected to the house, a mail room with each member’s mailboxes, an office for the house mom and president, a chapter room with desks so you can get your homework done in peace and quiet, a living room with flat screen TVs and photo albums, comfy couches and chairs, (a mini living room with more seating areas), two large communal bathrooms with showers on each floor, endless rooms ranging from singles to “quads,” and a suite on the third floor with another TV and couches and chairs. But you could choose to live in a tiny dorm room if you’d prefer…?
10. You will have endless learning resources and help.
Think of everyone in the chapter as your personal tutor. No one is going to deny you the extra help if you are struggling in a particular class, and many fellow sisters (especially those who are older than you) have probably already taken the class you are in! Not to mention some chapters, like mine, had a closet with binders designated to particularly “hard” courses filled with past homework assignments, notes, even old exams, that we could use to help us study.
Common sorority recruitment myths:
You’re buying your friends by joining a sorority
You will be forced to drink
You will get hazed
You need to be rich to join/It’s too expensive (there are individual payment options and even scholarships)
Girls in sororities are mean
The sororities hate each other
Greek life is all about partying
What it’s actually like to go through sorority recruitment (and stick with it)…
(As told by sorority alumni students…)
I was curious, so I asked some of my friends from different sororities exactly why they decided to join Greek life. Hopefully these true accounts give insight to anyone on the verge of deciding whether or not attending sorority recruitment is right for them!
“I joined a sorority because I was very close with my family and home friends. I wanted to have people in college that I felt this same close connection with.” – Alpha Phi
“From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it. Go Greek.” – Kappa Delta
“To anyone intending to go Greek: Be yourself, stay true to who you are. It’s an exciting thing to join and to be a part of something bigger than yourself. If you stay true to your values, you will find the right fit and create long lasting friendships with people who will be a part of your life long after school ends.” -Alpha Chi Omega
“I joined Greek life to get to know a group of people with similar interests as me…kind of like the sports teams I was a part of in high school! I got to join an organization that not only helped to shrink the size of an overwhelming campus, but also helped me to connect with some of the most amazing friends I’ve ever known.” -Alpha Phi
“Greek life really helped me prepare for the profesional world. Being around so many people taught me how to work with different personality types and manage a large group of people.” -Alpha Xi Delta
“I wanted to join a sorority because I was always on sports teams in high school and loved feeling a part of something bigger than myself; a community. I always love to be close to family and friends and wanted to have this same feeling when I went to school. If I never joined a sorority I would have never met such amazing, loyal friends and am forever grateful for them.” -Alpha Phi
“I had a fear of public speaking all my life, and especially in high school. I knew I wanted to be successful one day, and to do so I had to get over this fear. I joined a sorority and ran for a leadership position. I am no longer afraid to speak in public.” -Tri Delta
“I went Greek because I knew it would look good on my resume. In order to be a part of Greek life, you have to maintain a high GPA on top of volunteering and participating in monthly philanthropic events…But why I stayed Greek ended up being much more important to me. I met people I loved, people that challenged me, and people that changed the way I approach situations. The Greek life I was a part of was a community of individuals, each with a different story to tell and a different reason for joining. Greek life was our home base for finding ourselves and growing up.” -Alpha Phi
“I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in a large house with all of your sisters and also make a difference in your community?”- Pi Beta Phi
“Students who weren’t in Greek life used to make fun of me and say I “bought my friends” by joining a sorority. I don’t even know what that means, but I do have a lot of friends…?”-Alpha Phi
Sorority Recruitment process in general…
Again, every sorority at every school is slightly different in the way they handle their recruitment and new member pledging process….
Therefore, it is slightly difficult for me to venture into too much detail about the recruitment process. However, the mainstream recruitment process for sorority recruitment most often includes students visiting each sorority house and speaking with as many members as possible to gain a better feel of where they could potentially see themselves and who they would be in a sorority with. Usually groups of PNMs are led by students who are part of Greek life already but keep their affiliation a secret to be fair. (Mentioned above as Rho Psis/Rho Gammas.)
At first, the sorority recruitment tours will probably be casual and easy. Later on in the sorority recruitment process the recruitment will most likely be more formal. At the end of the recruitment time period, it is time to finally decide where you think you will fit in the best. You can only choose one house! If there is a mutual connection between you and this particular sorority, they will have already offered you a bid.
Once (and if) you accept your bid, you will meet all of your new members who joined with you that same day, as well as the established members. You may have to wait a few months before there is a formal initiation to your chapter. If you deny your bid or drop out you are not allowed to rush that same sorority again in the future.
Sorority Recruitment process for southern schools…
Sorority recruitment differs greatly depending on which region the school is in. Sorority recruitment in the south is a whole different animal than sorority recruitment in the north. I asked my friend who is in a sorority at the University of Alabama (the school in the US that has the largest Greek life presence) to give me some more insight to the basics of the recruitment process in the south. Depending on which school you go to in the south, you may have to do some or all of the following:
You need at least 1-2 recommendation letters for each house
You have to look at a Greek guide to tell you what you have to wear that day
Be prepared to wear a lot of Lilly Pulitzer
“It’s sometimes so humid you feel like you’re gonna die” so definitely check the list online to see what to bring (a fan, water, makeup blotting wipes, a pen for notes)
Make sure you take notes because you will forget things, just jot down a few key points after every house
Don’t listen to stereotypes as much as you can and don’t read Greek rank, it’s not accurate at all
Keep an open mind
You don’t need a rush coach-some people will tell you you need one but you don’t…
“Non contact period” is from May 1st to bid day so you literally CANNOT talk to any PNMs via real life or social media whatsoever and vice versa (sororities get fined so much for that and it’s serious)
Don’t talk about boys or alcohol
Bring comfortable shoes to change into during breaks
Be aware of what you post on social media before rush
Remember that it’s totally worth it
Tips for anyone considering sorority recruitment:
1. Remember who you are, don’t try to change or fit into any mold.
2. Only bite off as much as you can chew.
3. Make sure to smile. If your face hurts from smiling too much, that is a good sign.
4. Be polite to the house chef and house mom.
5. Try to get to know the older students in the sorority, especially the older students.
6. If you are torn between more than one house, choose the one where you would feel most comfortable looking your worst and just hanging out casually.
7. If you like a sorority way more than all the others, let the current sisters know during recruitment, without hurting anyone’s feelings.
8. If you are joining a sorority, invest in a pair of black and nude pumps. You will need them for various events.
9. Don’t ask about fraternities or boys.
10. Don’t be rude/speak badly about any person or sorority.
11. If you don’t know what to talk about, ask questions.
12. Wear as comfortable a pair of shoes as you own. (While still looking fashionably appropriate.)
13. BE YOURSELF!
14. Ask if they have any paperwork with important information (house fees, etc.,) so you don’t forget.
15. Make sure your social media profiles are private/appropriate.
What to Wear
Again, some school’s sorority recruitment attire is more formal than others. Be sure to research past photos/information online of what pnms normally wear at your school. When in doubt, remember to dress as you would for an interview, but try to stay true to your own style and fashion identity. Just be smart. Don’t wear a low cut shirt or see through blouse. Make sure your dress is long enough to cover yourself appropriately. Wear comfortable footwear as long as it is not too casual.
For more in depth information on what to wear for sorority recruitment, check out this article!
What’s the deal with hazing?
First of all, hazing like you see in the movies during sorority recruitment shouldn’t exist and if it does I am not sure how the sorority is still practicing those hazing methods and getting away with it. I think the issue surrounding hazing is that the word itself sounds so evil and scary. I am not saying there haven’t ever been any horrific hazing stories in the past, but what people think “hazing” is at one sorority could mean the opposite of what it means at another. Nowadays, there are professions and even hotlines to help sisters in sororities should they ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe. (Which you should call if you ever feel this way, it’s never worth it to risk your safety…)
I never experienced hazing at my school, but from what I hear from my friends at other schools they actually enjoyed being “hazed” because they were never actually in an illegal or dangerous position and it ultimately promoted a strong no-sister-left-behind bond between them and their sorority. Rumors that you may hear during recruitment about other sororities hazing are most likely just that, rumors. Don’t let the media and rumors scare you into not trying something new. Worst case scenario you can always back out later if you feel uncomfortable, but chances are this hopefully won’t happen.
What am I paying for when I join a sorority?
I can’t stress it enough that every single sorority recruitment is different in terms of how they manage their membership fees. That being said, there are some aspects of sorority life that are included in these fees across many different chapters. These may include, but are not limited to:
sorority dues (pays for socials, events, recruitment)
room and board (usually just as much as school housing anyway)
philanthropies/community service events & promoting them
networking and social events
groundskeepers, house cleaning services, repair services
house mother’s salary
in house chef’s salary
household essentials (toilet paper, paper towels, handsoap, etc.)
whatever else is necessary for your chapter…
What else should our readers know about Greek life in college? Comment below and share this article with anyone considering Greek life or already in Greek life!
Featured Image Source: nymag.com
Anisia is an editor for Society19. She studied English Literature and Journalism Media at the University of New Hampshire and Regent's College London, UK.