Ok yes, I know it's not called "rush" anymore....I was in college in the early 90's so it's hard to change my ways. "Sorority Recruitment" as it is known today can be exciting but very stressful - but don't worry I have some tips to make it less intimidating! For the sake of this blog post I will stick with "rush", but basically I realize that I'm calling butter "oleo" here....
These tips are very broad and general so I certainly don't know it all and make sure you find out exactly what your school does and needs from you! This is my bid day pic from 1992....I remember this day like it was yesterday!
HOW TO PREPARE
First thing you will want to do is research your University's Panhellenic website! It will have most all of the information you will need to get started.
Now that you have the details, list the sororities that are at your school (not all sororities have a chapter at every school). Keep in mind though that there may be some chapters that don't apply to you....for example there may be a specific religious sorority and unless you meet the criteria you can skip that one, etc.
Put the dates of recruitment on your calendar as soon as they are available! Some universities have recruitment the week just prior to the fall semester, some do it a week after classes start and others don't do it until the spring semester - so be sure you know what yours does and what to expect!
Start finding ladies to write you recommendations for each sorority. These are women who were initiated into those sororities when they were in college. These can be family friends, teachers, coaches, your friend's moms, etc. MAKE A LIST and make sure you have every single one covered. Moms, you have more connections than you think! Ask around and even post it on Facebook if you need to. You never know who was in one and can help!
Once you have all sororities covered, ask those nice enough to write you recs if they want your information digitally or as a hard copy. Most sororities now accept (and encourage) recs to be submitted online through their sorority websites but some "old school" folks still want the packets to physically mail to the chapters. By each person's name put "digital" or "hard copy" so you don't waste money printing materials for those who want all info digitally.
MAKE YOUR PACKETS! Whether you do them digitally or printed, the same information applies. You will need the following:
1. Cover Letter with your information and physical address or web link of the sorority's chapter. It's good to also put a line in there about "it has been recommended that I have my recommendations submitted no later than ____(date)" so they don't sit on it too long.
2. Your resume of all high school leadership positions, extracurricular activities, academic awards, employment, community service, family greek affiliations, etc.
3. Copy of your SAT or ACT score.
4. High school transcript (you'll probably have to go get this from the school after graduation)
5. Some great SENIOR PORTRAITS! Usually 2-3 (headshot, full body and maybe a half body - depending on what is required). If you provide them a hard copy, 4x6's are good and be sure to put a sticker on the back of each one with your name and hometown in case they get misplaced from your packet at the sorority house. If digitally sent then be sure you name the jpg files your actual name.
6. Also, if you are making a hard copy packet then be sure to provide the person writing your rec a large envelope that is pre-addressed to the sorority house for them with postage already on it.
If you do provide a hard copy then you can put all of these items in a cute folder with matching stickers, letterhead, etc. Some girls go all out with matching colors, monograms, etc. and others don't. If they are physically mailed to the sorority house just realize that the folders will be tossed quickly during the pre-rush process but it's cute and well, I did it for my daughter too...makes a good first impression if nothing else!
A GREAT place to find packet examples, options to order some and other ideas is SororityPackets.com and Etsy!
Write thank you notes to the ladies who write your recs! A great tip is that 2 weeks after you give them your information, send a thank you note. This is mostly because you should and it's the right thing to do, but also might be a reminder for them if they haven't gotten around to it yet! Those great thank you notes with your photo wearing your college T-shirt that you added to your order when you purchased your senior portraits work great for this! :)
WHAT TO EXPECT
Each day you will be given your list of houses to go to for that day. Day 1 you go to all of them (for bigger schools this may be split into two days) and every day after there will be fewer to go to because of your choices and the choices of the sororities that are matched up after you and they submit choices. You will rank them, and they will rank you...it's just the way it works but it's typically computer generated.
You'll need to be prepared for what to wear! Schools can be different so BE SURE you know exactly what your school does. But generally speaking this is how it goes...
Convocation (fancy word for registration and check-in for rush). Sometimes this is the night before it starts, and it may be the morning of the first day instead.
Day 1: Parties start and you will wear shorts and the "Go Greek" T-shirt you were given at convocation. You will go to all houses this day (or at big schools it can be broken into two days). Rest up and get ready for lots of chants!
Day 2: This is usually philanthropy day. All sororities have a philanthropy they serve and you will hear all about each one. You will typically wear a casual sundress and sandals.
Day 3: Parties will be longer and fewer - you will wear "church clothes" - not really dressy but more than the day before. This is usually Sisterhood Day.
Day 4: Pref Day/Night - think cocktail dress (but keep it classy!) and heels. Longest parties are this day and you may have only one but very few.
Bid Day! - This is the day you've been waiting for. You'll get your bid card and run to your new sorority house. You usually you wear shorts and a T-shirt and once you get your bid you will go to your new house! You will be welcomed with open arms (and usually a brand new T-shirt to change into with your new sorority letters on it). This is very exciting and moms you won't want to miss this!
First and foremost, KEEP AN OPEN MIND. This will be preached to you more than you will care to hear but if there is one thing I know to be true in this world, it's that. Every single sorority is made up of like minded girls and every single one will have some you click with and some you don't. Period. And in that sense they are all the same. Do not get wrapped up in "greek rank" or anything like that. It's dumb and all you need to be thinking is "who makes me feel welcome?" , "who do I seem to get along with most?" High school is over. Don't get wrapped up in a popularity contest.
DO NOT openly share your thoughts during the week! This means on the bus back to your dorm, in the cafeteria, etc. You really might change your mind about the houses several times over the course of the week so if someone overhears you say "I didn't really like the ___house" and that gets back to them you may just lose your opportunity for an invitation back....but the very next day it could become your favorite house ever! So keep opinions to yourself! (but call your mom when you can be private and spill the beans!)
Especially for rush in Texas: Make a small bag to carry with you to the houses with a small umbrella for rain or just shade, flip flops, no show deoderant, a small battery powered face fan, face blotting tissues, breath mints, etc. You may have a long wait after parties waiting on others and it is HOT in late August so anything you can do to not melt in between houses bring with you. You will have to leave your bag outside the doors of the houses but you won't want to feel or look like you've been in a sauna so come as prepared as you can within reason. This small purse - not a rolling suitcase!
Just FYI, you WILL NOT be allowed to have your phone with you. Moms, you won't get updates during the day so just let that thought go....but be ready for a phone call from a bathroom later that night :)
BE OPEN to doing this your way! If you go to college with a high school friend do NOT promise each other that you will pledge the same sorority if given the chance. This is your time to spread your wings...your friend deserves the freedom to do that and SO DO YOU!!! Just because you don't wear the same letters on your shirt does NOT mean you can't still be friends! YOU DO YOU and let her do her!
Being greek is NOT everything. Yes, it's a great way to have a group to belong to when you get to college which is wonderful. Some of my pledge sisters became very good friends of mine! But if it's not for you THAT'S OKAY TOO!!! It doesn't mean you won't have a fantastic college experience, it doesn't mean you won't make amazing friends otherwise! During the rush process you might be disappointed so make sure you can put on your thick skin and know that no matter what you are gonna be great!
Now I'm gonna say this and realize that it's next to impossible to do.....DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY IF YOU DO NOT GET INVITED BACK TO A HOUSE!!! You have no idea what all goes into it. Some sororities have strict GPA guidelines they have to follow, all have limited spots to offer, others will take more legacies (daughters or granddaughters of alumni) that take up open spots, and others really just may think you didn't want to be invited back, etc. It does NOT necessarily mean they don't like you! Honestly, it can very well be any variety of reasons that have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with how amazing they know you are!
I'm not gonna lie and say this is an easy process. You WILL get your feelings hurt, you WILL be exhausted and you WILL wonder during it if the process is really for you.....
BUT you also WILL make friends, you WILL learn a lot about yourself and you very well may find amazing friends and your new home during college! The girls you become friends with just may become lifelong friends - and in my case, the bridesmaids in your wedding :)
JUST FOR THE MOMS
I've been on both sides....I went through rush as a freshman in college and I've also been the mom of a daughter going through rush. I will tell you without a doubt, being a mom knowing your daughter going through is harder than being 18 and hopeful. I'm just gonna be real. Your daughter may call you crying one day and screaming with excitement the very next. It's a rollercoaster of emotions so buckle up but be excited about a great adventure beginning in college...after all they weren't meant to stay home forever. Breathe.
By the way, I can still recite the greek alphabet. :) Here's the song we learned to sing as a pledge class. It will get stuck in your head forever too. You're welcome. :)
NEED SENIOR PORTRAITS? Well I can definitely help you out there!
Here's an example of great photos to use for rush. A full body and a close-up: