Every fall and spring thousands of girls participate in formal sorority recruitment at the University of Florida to try and find their home away from home. This process can seem unbelievably daunting; the clothes, the hair, the makeup, the conversations, the massively important decision you have to make…it’s overwhelming (and to think that we willingly put ourselves through this). At the end of the week, however, you will finally understand why you did this craziness as you run home to the girls that will become your sisters and your best friends. Going through sorority recruitment at University of Florida myself, I can give you some insider tips on how to survive this week of insanity.
1. Clothes and hair and makeup, oh my.
Each day requires different attire, as the rounds of recruitment get increasingly formal. UF actually has a board on Pinterest for each day of recruitment with suggested outfits! Round one is two days and is more casual. UF, and most other universities, will provide you with shirts for these two days, so I would suggest playing up the shorts, shoes, and accessories. Round two is also two days and still pretty casual. Try to remain casual and classy, wearing sundresses, rompers, skirts, or a cute pair of shorts and blouse. Round three is one day; think about what you would wear to a nice dinner with family. A classy sundress, more understated accessories, and wedges are now appropriate. Round four is referred to as “preferentials”, as it is the last and most formal day of recruitment. I suggest heels, a formal cocktail dress, and simple hair, jewelry, and makeup. For Bid Day at UF, unlike most universities who will give you a themed shirt at your new home, you should wear a sundress or romper; think round two! Plan your outfits ahead of time so that you don’t have to worry about it during this hectic week. Although it’s overwhelming, it is completely doable!
2. Anne Hathaway had to learn etiquette in The Princess Diaries, and so do you.
You will be walking into these beautiful sorority houses with hundreds of perfect looking girls before you who are welcoming you into their homes. The standard is the same at each house at UF; you will either stand in alphabetical order or wait under the tent at each house and a girl will call your name for you to join her inside. She will ask for your bag, which seems weird, but by the end of the week you and your shoulders will be grateful for this. She will offer you a cup of water, which you should take! Gainesville in August is like walking on the sun, plus you’ve been talking all day, so before you pass out, just accept the water. The girls will let you walk ahead of them as a courtesy, even though you don’t know where you are going, but she will guide you! Remain polite and courteous to the girls, after all, this is their, (and maybe someday your) home!
3. The chamber of secrets or tent talk?
Tent talk is a common thing throughout recruitment that is hard to overlook. While you wait to go inside the houses you will sit under a tent and your fellow PNMs (potential new members, who knew there was vocabulary to learn, too?) will start whispering about all the houses, the girls, and their opinions. I know it’s hard to believe that teenage girls will be gossiping, but it’s so important that you aren’t influenced by others. You need to find the house and the girls that fit YOU because this sisterhood is for a lifetime.
4. Yes, you are basically flirting with these girls.
You will never talk so much about yourself in your entire life. You are selling yourself in a small amount of time to these girls who will talk to hundreds of other PNMs that week, so you need to stand out! Tell interesting (but PG) stories from your summer, show admirable qualities, explain why you’re rushing, don’t be negative or talk about other houses, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! It will give both of you a good idea of whether or not that house is the right fit. You essentially will be flirting with sorority girls for a week, so just embrace it…we’re supposed to try new things in college, anyway, right?
5. Seuss was right, “There is no one alive who is you-er than you”
“Be yourself” is the cheesiest advice anyone could give you, but it’s the one that you need to follow the most. Although joining a sorority seems like a trivial college girl thing, it is a commitment where you will meet your best friends, you will make beneficial connections, you will work with philanthropies, and you will have the experience of a lifetime. You don’t want this time to be with people that you don’t enjoy being around, so be yourself and you will end up where you belong.
6. The glass slipper didn’t fit everyone, and recruitment might not be for you.
With all this being said, Greek life isn’t a requirement for an enjoyable college experience. It might not be for you, and that’s okay! I accepted a bid from a house that ended up just not being the right fit for me. I lived freshman year as a GDI (God-damn independent, someone not in the Greek system) with best friends in all different sororities and fraternities, and I still had the best freshman year I could’ve asked for. It may be hard to find your niche at first, but do what makes you happy, you only have four years here! Plus you can always go through recruitment again, as long as you don’t go through initiation. I, in fact, will be participating in it again, so really I’m just a pro now.
7. Take advantage of those beautiful, short-lived, miracles that are called breaks.
You have about an hour and a half for lunch, but eventually as you start narrowing down the houses you are visiting you will have more time in between. Take advantage of this precious time! Find an air-conditioned building, sit down, take your shoes off, freshen up your makeup, pretend you haven’t been sweating for 72 hours, drink copious amounts of water, call your mom and tell her how ridiculous this whole process is and ask her why she didn’t stop you from doing this (it’s worth it, don’t worry), and EAT SOMETHING. UF has the most wonderful Jimmy John’s staff (think Hermes, the Greek God with winged sandals), it’s cheap and fast and will give you the necessary energy to brave the heat and the mad week we all willingly participate in.
8. Pi chis or life counselor?
Pi Chis, as they’re referred to at UF, are the panhellenic counselors. They are girls who have disassociated from their sorority for some time in order to help you, without bias, through this process. They will tell the most absurd stories, you will question their sanity and energy (seriously, how is it possible to be that energetic?), and you will fall in love with them. They are there to guide basically your entire life this week, from leading you around, to helping you figure out which house is right for you. All the girls are gorgeous, the houses are all mansions, and every girl is going to be nice to you. It will become a blur, so take DETAILED notes of each house in the pamphlet they give you or in your phone, try to remember the girls name or the conversation you had to help you narrow it down.
9. Take a lesson from Mary Poppin’s purse.
Recruitment is an all day and night affair; therefore, you need to have all the essentials on hand to get you through the day! You can even leave your bag under the tent with the Pi Chis, and take a smaller bag into the house. If you invest in any item for this week, it needs to be one of those handheld fans–trust me, you’ll thank me as you’re walking through the barren dessert that is Gainesville. As a girl you probably already travel with these things in your purse, but think about bringing mints, water, perfume, deodorant, powder, portable charger, hair ties, and hairbrush/mirror.
10. Gainesville is called the swamp for a reason.
You will never find a place hotter than Gainesville, FL–welcome to the gator nation!! The lack of breeze, the increased humidity, and the stifling heat that you will face every day makes recruitment comparable to a death march at times. In the first 3 days of rush I walked 30 miles, wearing outfits that stuck to my body from the sweat and carrying a purse that was heavier than your sixth grade backpack. Drink water and accept the coffee filters that your Pi Chis pass out to you (the best oil/sweat blotters known to man). The falling eyelashes, fluffy hair, blushed face, and shimmer of sweat will soon become your normal Gainesville attire so just get used to it now.