Sorority recruitment—or sorority rush—can be one of the most stressful times of the semester for potential new members (PNMs) and active sisters. It’s a time filled with hectic schedules, often intimidating social commitments and tough decisions. As a PNM, it is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed, nervous and even tense about the situation. After all, in just a few short days, you’ll be expected to choose a sorority that will become your sisterhood—a house that will become your home.
But being anxious will only lead to mistakes that can negatively affect your rush experience. Here are a few of the most common mistakes PNMs make during rush and how to avoid them.
1. Don’t set your heart on any one sorority until you’ve had time to interact with all of them
Snap judgments or preconceived notions can not only be misleading but also unfair. Just like you would want every sorority to give you a fair shot at introducing and proving yourself, so too do the girls in each house who have worked hard to plan all of the events.
Alyssa Damato, a junior at Illinois State University, says, “A common mistake PNMs make when going through recruitment is researching the sororities ahead of time.” Alyssa finds that “going into recruitment with prior opinions of each house can lead to choices that don’t truly reflect your best interest.”
Be open-minded about your preferences for as long as possible. Remember that both you and your preferred sorority have to agree on your placement. You are not guaranteed a bid to your first choice sorority.
2. Be mindful of how heavily you weigh outsiders’ opinions
Like Alyssa mentions, many PNMs enter recruitment with some prior knowledge of the sororities they are interested in and those that they aren’t. But this becomes even more problematic when your own opinions are tainted or influenced by things like campus reputation, online gossip or social media followings. Chloe Castleberry, a senior at the University of Missouri, warns that, “at the end of the day, you are trying to find your sorority and not anyone else’s.”
Base your decisions solely on your perceptions of each sorority, after engaging with them. Consider questions like: Do I feel welcome here? Will my values be respected? Am I passionate about their philanthropic missions? Will I be proud of my new sisterhood?
You will quickly realize that most college rumors about sororities are actually far from the truth.
3. Avoid comparing your recruitment experience to someone else’s
This is especially risky if you are going through recruitment with a friend or roommate. As much as possible, try to avoid swapping notes at the end of each round. No matter how close the two of you are, it is important to choose your preferences independently, just like each sorority will be expected to evaluate you independently. If your friendship is sincere, you will remain friends even if you don’t end up in the same sorority together.
Isabel Calkins, a junior at New York University, recommends going through the process alone for this exact reason. “I went through recruitment last year with some friends, but it’s better to go through it alone. In the end, I got accepted to some sororities that my friends didn’t. It made them feel bad and made me feel guilty.”
Remember that choosing a sorority is a very personal decision. Do what’s best for you.
4. Try not to be too reserved
There’s nothing wrong with being naturally introverted, but during rush, you only have a few minutes at a time to make an impression and learn as much valuable information as you can about each sorority before making a decision. Shying away from spontaneous, friendly conversation will inevitably affect your overall enjoyment of the experience as well as the impressions you make on potential future sisters.
Meredith*, a recent graduate of UCLA, says, “Unfortunately, you have to fake being comfortable even if you’re not, but mostly you have to go in knowing you can do it. Know that any chapter would be lucky to have you.” Meredith explains that she actually went through rush twice, noting that a more optimistic and confident attitude really helped her find her way the second time around.
“The sad truth is that you cannot afford to be shy or awkward during rush, because you have five minutes to connect with a girl,” she says. It’s better to allow yourself to be swept up in the fun and excitement of it all.
5. …but still be yourself
So much can go wrong if you are not true to yourself during rush. Most importantly, you risk pledging a sorority that is ultimately not an ideal fit for you, causing you years of discomfort and dissatisfaction. You might also miss out on more meaningful connections you could have made with both active members and recruits during rush.
Ultimately, rush is what you make it, so don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. The last thing active members want is a room full of generic girls with all the same hobbies and interests.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
This is one of the biggest mistakes PNMs can make. Active members going through rush should be approachable and welcoming, but PNMs should also show initiative and interest in the process by asking thoughtful questions. For example, you might ask:
- Can you expand on your sorority’s philanthropy and what it means to you?
- Is there a Big/Little program?
- Do you provide opportunities for academic support?
- How can a new member become more involved?
- What are you most proud of as a member of your sorority?
Not only will active members appreciate and remember your enthusiasm, but you will also be better prepared to make an informed final decision.
7. Remember to prepare a few conversation topics beforehand
Rush events are a lot like networking events. You will be expected to have engaging, one-on-one conversations with two to three active members at each event. Avoid awkward silences and lulls in the conversation by practicing some light conversation starters. It is advisable to steer clear of topics like politics and religion, as these often lead to arguments. But just in case, be sure that you are aware of major current events.
8. Dress classily but comfortably
Each round of sorority rush will require a slightly modified dress code but, for the most part, you’ll want to look your best. Cute, classy and well put-together outfits are a must, but so are comfortable shoes! Isabel warns, “You might say that you’ll be fine in heels but seriously, your feet will thank you if you wear flats.”
You’ll notice almost instantly that most sorority girls sometimes wear wedges at these types of events for the perfect combination of style and comfort. Pumps and flats are fine as well, as long as you can walk in them for extended periods of time without pain or discomfort.
9. Know—and adhere to—the rules
Sorority recruitment, like many of the rituals within Greek life, is not without rules. These can vary across campuses and will most likely be communicated very clearly to you at the start of your rush period. For example, to avoid partiality, PNMs are sometimes prohibited to hug active members and vice versa until bid day.
It is absolutely imperative that you pay attention to and follow these rules, including codes of ethics and conduct. Contrary to popular belief, these rules are not meant to be restrictive, but to promote a sense of community, discipline and respect for the organization and for each other.
10. Don’t be too hard on yourself
It’s easy to feel discouraged or rejected during rush, especially if your preferred sorority doesn’t ask you back in the early stages. But you shouldn’t let these feelings consume your thoughts; they will only hinder you further. Meredith’s* advice is to ignore your insecurities. “Only you can see them anyway,” she says.
Remember that rush is just the beginning—a rite of passage that all of your sisters have survived and that you will too. Your new sisters will tell you that joining a sorority has been one of the best decisions of their college careers. The experience will provide you with a lifetime of meaningful friendships, college adventures and unforgettable memories.