So you’re thinking of rushing a sorority at JMU. Beginning your college years at a large school like James Madison University can be extremely nerve wracking and overwhelming. With almost 20,000 undergraduate students and a decently large campus, many girls decide to jump into sorority recruitment to meet new people and hopefully find their home within the JMU community. Whether you’re on the fence about it, or you’re already picking out your pref night dress, my best advice is to go into it with an open mind and trust the process. There are many rumors and misconceptions about the recruitment process that can make it seem super intimidating, but the most important thing to remember is to form your own opinions because these girls will become your sisters, and this will become your home.
Hopefully you decide to push beyond your comfort zone, and try it out because it can be an amazing, rewarding experience by the end of it. If the pre-recruitment nerves are kicking in, remember that every other girl is feeling the same way, and it can be helpful to know what to expect. So let’s get real about rushing with this guide to break down exactly what happens during sorority recruitment at JMU.
1. Confusing Recruitment Lingo
Luckily, I had an amazing Rho Gamma who taught my recruitment group the ins and outs of recruitment greek lingo, but I know a ton of girls who were totally lost on it. Here’s some terms you should probably familiarize yourself with before recruitment begins:
- Bid = an official invitation from a chapter to become a new member
- Bid Cel = the final day of recruitment when bids are given out (the most thrilling day ever)
- Party = each time you visit a house you are invited to; each sorority throws their own party for invited PNMs to attend
- PNM = potential new member AKA all of the women who have registered to go through the recruitment process
- Pref = Preference Night, or the last round of formal recruitment. Pref night gives a glimpse into the sorority’s ritual, and is typically more serious than previous nights.
- Rho Gamma = recruitment guides that disaffiliate from their chapter for weeks, or even months. Each recruitment group gets a rho gamma to help every girl make an unbiased decision; she’ll be your go-to during recruitment for any advising you may need.
- Round = a specific day of recruitment; open house round (days one and two), Philanthropy Round, Sisterhood Round, and Preference Night.
2. So Much Sweat
Not only will you be outside in the blazing heat of late August during bi-rounds and between parties, but recruitment will have you sweating bullets during open house basement rounds. Your first two days of recruitment make up Round 1, where you’ll get to meet all twelve sororities over the course of two days in each chapters’ basement. The first round is exciting because first impressions are established, but being boobs-to-back with the girl next to you in a cramped basement isn’t exactly ideal.
3. Semi-Creepy Chanting
God I wish someone warned me about the chanting. At the start of each party, each house will sing and chant as the PNMs enter the house. It’s intense. Hundreds of loud women banging on the windows, all smiling and staring at you. It’s a little creepy, and by the end of recruitment I guarantee you’ll have at least four chants memorized.
4. Blistered Feet
Do your feet a favor and wear flats or sandals for the first few days until the rounds get dressier. Trust me, your feet will have plenty of time to get bloody, bruised, and blistered during the Sisterhood Round and Pref Night when you’re walking back and forth between houses in heels for hours on end.
5. Lots of Screaming
Remember the crowded basements I mentioned? That’s only one obstacle of the open house rounds. Cramming ninety girls in a basement also means you literally cannot hear what the person you’re talking to is saying. You will definitely go home that night without a voice, and questioning whether or not you heard someone correctly. Luckily, each round gets smaller and conversations move to other rooms, so tough it out the first two days and you’ll be good.
6. Repetitive Small Talk
You will never repeat your name, major, and a fun fact about yourself more than you will during sorority recruitment. Naturally, its an easy conversation starter, but it definitely gets old the fifteenth time around.
7. Rush Crush
This term usually applies on the other side of recruitment, when a sister falls in love with a PNM who is then appointed her “rush crush.” However, it totally happens on the PNM side, too. She’ll be someone you meet and just instantly click with, want to talk to forever, get to know more, obsess over, likely Instagram stalk, and fall in total sisterly love with.
8. Disappointment & Doubt
Unfortunately, there are times during recruitment that are unbelievably disappointing, and might leave you questioning yourself, your decisions, and whether “sorority life” is for you. Maybe you didn’t get invited back to a chapter you loved and felt great connections in, or didn’t get invited back to as many houses as you’d hoped to. You’re bound to see some tears during recruitment, but keep your head up because the recruitment process is meant to place you in your best fit chapter. If you’re feeling iffy on the sororities you did get invited back to, give them a chance! Your feelings and perspectives on each house are guaranteed to change from the first to last round.
9. Awkward Pauses
Like I said, there will be some repetitive conversations, and even some that just aren’t clicking for you, and that’s okay! If you find yourself in an exchange with some awkward pauses and lagging conversation, try asking about their philanthropy events or sisterhood events. Don’t judge an entire sorority on one conversation. Instead, try to find out more details about the chapter itself.
Emotions are high during recruitment, and it’s okay to let it out! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, a great outlet is your Rho Gamma. She will give you completely unbiased advice and will remind you to trust the recruitment process!
11. Soulmate-Like Connections
It’s so amazing to see the connections you will make in such a short amount of time. Walking out of a house with confidence about all the great connections you made is one of the best feelings. You will undeniably meet a few girls during recruitment where it all just clicks, you have a ton in common, and basically want this girl to be your BFF from now until forever.
12. Decisions, Decisions
It can be hard narrowing down your list of preferred houses, especially when it comes to ranking for pref night. Go with what your heart is telling you, and consider houses you could really see yourself potentially being a part of.
13. Sweet Relief
All of the pressure and nerves will be worth it come Bid Cel! You will never be more nervous than when you’re waiting to tear open your bid envelope in Wilson Auditorium. Running out to your new home is the most rewarding feeling ever at the end of recruitment. There’s so much anticipation and excitement, and even more glitter!
Deciding to go through sorority recruitment is a great way to meet new people, and gives you the opportunity to be a part of a community of women within JMU who share the same values as you. Hopefully this list of insight to the process can prepare you for what’s to come, and keep in mind that all of these factors are what make sorority recruitment at JMU so worth it by the end. Before deciding “sorority life” isn’t for you, give recruitment a try; you might unexpectedly find your home.