‘Twas the night before bid day and all through the house, all the rushees were stirring and fretting about. After all, they were about to know which sorority would become their home for the next four years on campus.
Picking which sorority to join is one of the most stressful decisions of the first week of college; you’re choosing your family for life. When you “pref” houses during each round, you want to make sure that you’re picking sororities with women that fit who you are. College sorority women share their 11 tips on how to know if a house is right for you.
1. You feel comfortable
This is the number one tip from college women: feel comfortable with the sorority.
“I would advise incoming freshmen to pick a house that they feel comfortable in. One that they know they can be themselves in,” says Hannah Wren, a senior at UCLA who is in the sorority Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi. Hannah was previously a member of two Panhellenic sororities, and she knows that feeling like you belong is really important in choosing your new family.
Her sorority sister agrees. “No matter what type of sorority you are rushing, the most important thing to consider when picking a chapter is to get a feel for where you feel most comfortable and where you have a genuine connection with the women of that chapter,” says Anasazi Levy, President of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi at UCLA. “That connection is what makes the sisterhood of a sorority so life-changing.”
If you’ll be spending multiple nights a week bonding with these girls, make sure you can picture yourself chilling with no makeup on or celebrating at a club when finals are over.
2. The women are your role models
Pick a sorority with girls you look up to as role models and want to surround yourself with. “That’s why I picked Sigma. I felt really comfortable, they enjoyed the same things I did and I looked up to them,” Hannah says.
Jillian James, a junior at the University of Central Florida, chose to accept a bid from her sorority because it seemed like a natural fit. “You want to join a sorority whose values align with your own and whose members are girls that you look up to as role models,” she says. “The girls in my chapter held important leadership positions on campus and seemed like a group of intelligent and driven women.”
Surrounding yourself with smart, empowered women will not only inspire you to be your best self, but also provide you with a support system of sisters. They can advise you about internships, career moves, classes and relationship problems, so it’s good to join an organization full of people you can look up to.
3. The sisters remind you of your friends from home
A good sign that you’re in the right place is when the sisters act like your BFFs from high school.
“Think about what people you’ve talked to, and if they remind you of your friends from home or other best friends,” says Ashleigh Lalla, a senior in a sorority at Illinois State University. Picture yourself walking around in sweats and no makeup—would you feel at home around all the girls? You should!
4. You can visualize yourself in the house
Is this where you want to spend the next four years? If you’re torn between houses, try to picture yourself living there.
“Every conversation that I had during recruitment was substantial and also felt very natural and easy,” Jillian says. “I could see myself fitting right in with the girls in my chapter, whereas I couldn’t see that so much with other houses. My best tip is to visualize yourself in every house you visit. If you can easily see yourself assimilating into the chapter and easily making new friends, then it’s probably a good fit.”
Get a feel for how well you fit in and think about where you feel most at home.
5. You have the best conversations with them
You won’t necessarily know which house is “the one” right away, but throughout recruitment, one sorority will most likely stand out to you because of the interactions you have with the sisters.
“During recruitment, I felt at home at my sorority chapter because the conversations I had with sisters felt the most genuine and memorable out of all the houses I visited,” says Darcy Schild, a junior at the University of Florida. “I felt comfortable enough to ask sisters deeper questions about the chapter (questions about diversity of sisters, what the climate is actually like, etc.).”
Darcy knew that the best choice for her was a chapter full of diverse girls who were down-to-earth and easy to talk to. “I’m lucky that I found that during recruitment,” she says.
6. You’re not doing it because of prestige
You may want to avoid joining a sorority simply because it’s cool or prestigious. The house with the best parties isn’t going to be a good fit for everyone. Know your priorities from the start; it’s better to choose a home with amazing people over an amazing Instagram account.
“If you feel like you’re acting like someone you’re not when talking to the girls, then it probably isn’t the house for you,” says Gabby Mahamood, a senior in a sorority at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She advises you not to choose a house based solely off reputation or ranking.
Everyone has something to say about every house—good and bad—but don’t let that influence your experience with each one. “Use your own judgment, and you’ll see where you fit in. Every house has something special to offer,” Gabby says.
7. The sorority fits your personality and values
Though it’s not required to find a perfect home, having the same taste in clothing or music is a great way to be sure you’ll have a connection with your sisters outside of the sorority. You can go to concerts together or get advice on outfits. Some Greek organizations are based on interests, which can be great for finding like-minded individuals with the same passions. For example, UCLA has Greek organizations for band members, students interested in Judaism, business majors and students passionate about making films.
Ashleigh says, “Do you share the same values?” Having things in common, like sharing a hometown, will pave the way for more intimate conversations and a deeper understanding of one another. It’s just another factor to consider if you’ll fit in and make lifelong friends.
8. It’s not based solely on rush week activities
Remember that rush week activities are just a sliver of what a sorority is really about. Chapters want to look extra impressive during rush week. That doesn’t mean recruitment activities don’t give you any insight into the chapter, but joining a sorority is about the other 50 weeks of the year, too.
Anasazi knew her sorority was right for her because she felt that the women were people she could truly become best friends with—not simply because of activities during rush week, their social media presence or their “rank.”
If a sorority recruitment event dazzles you, that’s great—enjoy it, but take it with a grain of salt. The same can be said if one event is more low-key, but you still feel like you bonded well with the girls. Don’t let the type of activity influence your decision too much.
9. The sisters treat each other with respect
If you see any subtle digs or sass between members of a sorority, that’s your cue to think twice about joining.
For Anasazi, she felt the connection to her chapter was cemented during one of the rush week activities, which was a hike to the Hollywood sign. “When some of the girls were feeling really hot and tired, instead of splitting up or pushing the tired girls to keep going, the whole group decided to go get fro-yo instead,” she says. “We had so much fun laughing and talking, and the sisters made a huge effort to really get to know us.”
It’s important that you watch how the sisters respect one another, like not pushing each other beyond physical limits. That will be you soon enough, and you want sisters who lift you up.
10. You’ve considered the price
If money is an issue, then make sure you ask the chapter about dues and other fees. You don’t want to commit and then realize later that it’s too expensive.
“It’s very important to consider factors such as cost and chapter size when going through recruitment. Don’t choose the house on campus with dues that are $1,000 higher than the other chapters if you can’t afford it,” Jillian says.
Though it’s not a fun topic to think about, money matters. Joining a sorority costs a lot, and the price tag should be one factor of your decision.
11. You don’t talk to your friends about their decision
You’ll meet a lot of new friends during sorority recruitment and it’s tempting to all want to join the same house to stay together. “Try not to talk to your other friends about their decision,” Ashleigh says. “It’s easy to get persuaded and it’s important to make this decision by yourself!” You might not all be invited to the same houses, either.
So, what about your rush friends? “Either way, you’ll still remain friends if you end up in different houses, and each of you will make your own friends, too,” Ashleigh says. Remember that this is a personal decision, so go with your heart. It has to come from you.
“My best advice for anyone going through recruitment is to follow your instincts and tune out negativity from other girls. Do what’s best for you!” Darcy says.
And remember, even if you get dropped from a house that you loved, don’t fret! Jillian says there are bound to be women in every chapter on campus that you can form friendships with that you may not have even met during recruitment. Every house has something special, so weigh these factors and join the sorority you fall in love with.