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Rushing a sorority can be more nerve-wracking and confusing than taking a calculus test. Instead of dealing with derivatives, you’ve got to put yourself out there and impress girls you just met 30 seconds ago. You have a million questions and don’t know who to ask about them: Do I eat the snack they gave me? Do I tell them I don’t like my roommate, or should I pretend that I do? How do I sit on the ground in this dress without flashing someone?

Luckily, there’s no need to have a panic attack and give up on rush altogether—we may not be able to help you with calculus, but we’ve got you covered when it comes to sorority rush. We talked to collegiettes who are in sororities, so you can be assured that you’re getting the best advice out there. With these insider tips from girls who have gone through the process and came out alive, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at rush and know what to do (and what not to!) to get the bid you want.

1. DON’T talk about how blacked out you got during Welcome Week

“I would say girls should definitely avoid talking about drinking, drugs and partying,” says Rachel, a recent grad of the University of Michigan and the former Social Chair of Chi Omega. “We are all in college, we’ve all seen the same type of parties and it makes you look like you are trying to bond for the wrong reasons.”

Allie, a recent grad of the University of Michigan and the former Vice President of Recruitment of Alpha Chi Omega, agrees. “While you may talk about partying with a best girl friend, recruitment is not the place for it,” she says.  “When a first impression is all you have to offer, you want to put your best foot forward. It is fine to talk about how much fun you had with your friends at a party, just be discreet about it.”

In other words, you don’t have to hide the fact that you go out—it’s good to know that you are a fun-loving person who knows how to enjoy herself! For example, if you went to one of the big welcome parties and you’re asked about it, by all means say you went and had a great time. But avoid the details, such as how much or what you drank, how drunk you were, and what ridiculous intoxicated shenanigans you got yourself into. A fun girl is a plus, but “THAT sloppy, hammered chick” won’t be first on anyone’s bid list. The same goes for drugs—just don’t talk about them.

2. DO say something unique or memorable about yourself

Be aware that the girls rushing you are also rushing tons of other people, and it can be hard to keep track of them all. The conversations are short and all start to blend together, so your best bet at standing out in their minds is to say something unique about yourself. Then, when they’re telling their sorority sisters about you, they can say “she was the one who went scuba diving in the Galapagos this summer!” or “she’s the marathon runner!”

Dropping a quirky, noteworthy fact about yourself also shows that you are an interesting person, which is obviously a plus. Whereas talking about partying is best to be avoided, your interests and passions are at the top of the list of good conversation topics because they give others a sense of who you really are and what you can contribute to the sorority.

“This may sound cheesy, but we want girls who want to make our chapter better and are determined, hardworking, motivated and smart girls,” says Becca, the Rush Chair of Tri Delta at Union College. “We want to know if they volunteer, play sports or do other extracurriculars, because we want them to get involved and show the administration at our school all of the positive things we do for the community.”

So, without bragging, make a point to reveal some of your hobbies, passions and memorable experiences. Added bonus: when you’re talking about stuff you love to do, you will naturally sound enthusiastic and engaged!

3. DON’T mention the guy you went home with last night

Like partying, sexual escapades can be added to the list of things you should avoid talking about with strangers. Yes, the girls you are talking to may be your future sorority sisters who you will tell everything to, but dishing about your sex life right off the bat can give the wrong impression.

It can also get a bit awkward. Katie*, a collegiette in a sorority at a Midwestern school, says that when a girl she rushed brought up the size of her boyfriend’s package, things got weird fast. “I was just really taken aback and uncomfortable…I had just met her three minutes ago!” Katie says. “It was definitely TMI and it sort of made me question her judgment.”

Allie adds that name-dropping a specific guy could be trouble because there’s always a chance that the girl you are talking to knows him (or is related to him, or dated him, or hates him for something he did to her friend—you get the picture).

So, bottom line: save your boy woes and hookup stories for post-rush dinner with your friends. “In the end, it’s about sisterhood, not catty boy drama,” says Becca. 

Need a reminder of the “don’ts” so far? Allie boils them down to three “B’s” to avoid: booze, blunts and boys.

4. DO look presentable

Choosing what to wear to rush can cause a bigger headache than choosing your first-day-of-school outfit, but we have some guidelines to ease the pain. Every school’s recruitment is different and you may be told specific things to wear on each day of rush. Regardless, you want to look clean and put together. We know you might still be getting used to doing your own laundry, but a coffee-stained shirt is probably not your best look.

“Present yourself like you are going to meet your friend’s parents for brunch,” Allie says. That means to avoid excessive cleavage, barely-there shorts and skirts and flashy (distractingly so) jewelry. “Your appearance should show that you care about being at the house you are in, but that you are comfortable in what you are wearing. Put time in and make sure you feel confident,” Allie says.

Be conscious of your makeup, too—lipstick-stained teeth are pretty hard to ignore when you’re talking to someone who is two feet away from you.

5. DON’T gossip or talk smack about others

Gossiping can be dangerous for several reasons. First, as Allie pointed out, the girl rushing you could very well know who you are talking about, so you risk getting yourself into an awkward situation or even offending someone. And the girl may tell someone else in her house or another house, making matters worse.

Additionally, gossiping can make you seem catty, superficial and two-faced—not the qualities of an ideal sorority sister. You want the sisters to realize you would make an amazing friend, so be the amazing friend that you are! Instead of launching into a conversation about how annoying this girl in your class is, talk about how you and your friend signed up for a Zumba class together or how going to camp for six years has prepared you for living with 50 other girls. Leave the gossip for Serena and Blair.

6. DO act like you want to be there

When you’re going through rush, it can be easy to forget that you’re not the only one being assessed. The girls rushing you are being evaluated too—by you! They want you to like them as much as you want them to like you, and they’re looking out for girls who are clearly excited to be there.

Rachel explains that when a girl seems to lack interest, rushers may not be able to get a good sense of her and will write her off. “When a girl acts uninterested or seems like she thinks she is above the process, it’s going to be a lot harder to get to know her in the five minutes that we have,” she says.

So be engaged in conversation. Ask questions, make eye contact, nod, laugh and sound enthusiastic—basically, everything you were told to do doing a college interview. Compliment the house (if they have a house) and any decorations they have up, and respond to the information given during presentations to show that you were listening. For example, if a presentation is given on the chapter’s philanthropy, ask the girl rushing you what kind of involvement she had in their annual fundraiser last year.

There’s no need to go over the top and gush about every little thing (OMG, the embroidery on those pillowcases is really amazing, please tell me everything you know about it!) but showing genuine interest in what you are being told about the sorority is super important.

7. DON’T say something negative about another house

You may think that bashing another house could help prove your loyalty to the house you are being rushed at, but this is definitely something you should never do. Once again, you have no idea what connections the girl you’re talking to may have to that house (for example, her biological sister or freshman year roommate may be in it).

Not only that but talking about another house takes time away from learning about the house you’re actually at and showing your interest in it. Your attention should be solely focused on that one house for the time that you’re there, so you may as well pretend that no other sorority exists until you walk out the door and move on to the next one.  

8. DO be yourself

This one may seem trite, but it’s the most fundamental advice of all. “Being genuine is the most important thing you can do during rush,” Rachel says. “You want to end up in a house that is the right fit for you, and you and the rusher can only know this if you are being yourself.”

Allie echoes this advice: “Find a place where you can be yourself and where you feel at home!”

If you’re pretending to be someone you’re not (and don’t want to be) just to get into a particular sorority, you’re only disserving yourself because you’ll probably end up being surrounded by girls who don’t mesh best with the real you.

While many aspects of rush do resemble a college interview, keep in mind that you’re talking to girls your age, not a middle-aged woman in a pantsuit who wants to hear you spin your weaknesses into strengths. So feel free to loosen up and joke around. It’ll showcase your sense of humor and establish a connection between you and your rusher. The livelier the conversation, the more likely it is to be remembered positively.

“The best conversations will be the ones you remember laughing in, and enjoying that girl’s company. They will be natural and relaxed,” Allie says.

All of the do’s and don’ts aside, don’t sweat rush too much—take a deep breath before you enter every house and present your best, true self. More often than not, the process has a way of working out well for you in the end. We promise you’ll live to tell the tale!

*Name has been changed.

Sammie is a student at the University of Michigan where she is pursuing a BBA. A foodie since birth, she enjoys cooking, eating, smelling, looking at, photographing, reading about, and playing with any and all types of food. Her idolization of culinary delights is complemented by her active spirit- she enjoys running, swimming, barre classes, and even spontaneous bursts of interpretative dance if the mood strikes her. She has completed two triathlons and a half-marathon and plans to tackle more races in the future. She also dreams of traveling the globe, saving the world, and marrying James and/or Dave Franco. 
As the Senior Designer, Kelsey is responsible for the conceptualization and design of solutions that support and strengthen Her Campus on all levels. While managing junior designers, Kelsey manages and oversees the creative needs of Her Campus’s 260+ chapters nationwide and abroad. Passionate about campaign ideation and finding innovative design solutions for brands, Kelsey works closely with the client services team to develop integrated marketing and native advertising campaigns for Her Campus clients such as Macy’s, UGG, Merck, Amtrak, Intel, TRESemmé and more. A 2012 college graduate, Kelsey passionately pursued English Literature, Creative Writing and Studio Art at Skidmore College. Born in and native to Massachusetts, Kelsey supplements creative jewelry design and metal smithing with a passion for fitness and Boston Bruins hockey. Follow her on Twitter: @kelsey_thornFollow her on Instagram: @kelsey_thorn