When I got to college, I was unsure if I wanted to go through recruitment. I had read horror stories online of bad experiences, and knew I wanted a solid community in college. However, as days past, the draw toward joining a sorority grew. I inevitably decided to go through the process, and to this day it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Looking back, I definitely wish I had a guide on how to survive the process. It would’ve been a life saver to hear of all the ins and outs and how I could prepare myself best (outfit and all).
So this, friends, is that resource for you. I hope it serves you well.
If you’re rushing next semester, it’s important to take the days of your break to prepare. For mental preparation and to get your thoughts in order, I would really take some time to write down what you are looking for in a sorority. What kind of vibe you want and what people you want to be around are key to consider, because every sorority is different.
I’ll note that if you are a legacy somewhere, it doesn’t automatically mean you will vibe well with the girls. You never join an organization for the name, instead, you join for the people. Make sure you consider the people first.
You do not need to blow a budget for recruitment. I wore a lot of items that were already in my closet beforehand. Look at what you have first, and then see where you can fill in the gaps.
Make sure you accessorize well to add your own personal flare. This could be a cute, bright necklace, or even a headband. Just make sure it shows a little bit of your unique character.
And lastly, choose clothes that you feel amazing in. If you don’t wear something you feel confident in, it will show, and you won’t bring your best self to the process. Since no one person is the same, this will look different for everyone. I might feel best in a dress, while another girl might feel best in a comfy cardigan. Know your style and roll with it.
Due to my excessive preparation tendencies, I planned my outfits as precise as I could. But even with these plans, I worried in the back of my head whether the options I had were going to work. So I really relied on my friends fashion advice.
And because of this, I want to advise you with a few outfit suggestions based on what kind of style you associate with most.
1. Edgy Style
If you take pride in your edgy style, feel free to pair a leather jacket on top of dark, neutral colors.
2. Preppy Style
If you love your plaid and stripes, take some ideas from above.
3. Simple Style
These ideas are perfect for the girl who wants to keep it minimal and simple.
4. The I-Don’t-Have-A-Style Style
If you’re unsure of what your “style” is (which don’t fret if that’s you, you’ll find out someday!) then here are some options to play it safe.
5. What Not To Wear
Make sure you stay away from any of the sort: low cut, short, tight, workout attire, and leggings. Modesty is the best policy here. And if you’re questioning it, it’s probably a sign that you shouldn’t be wearing it.
Rush is different at every school. Your rho gamma or members of Panhellenic will assist you in what to wear for each day of the process.
Each round will require different outfit dress codes. Again, members of the system will tell you what themes to go for each day.
Last year at my school, we started with Welcome Round, which required accessorizing the tee-shirt they give you. Second was Philanthropy Round, which was cute-casual. The third was Sisterhood Round, where you’d wear business casual. And the last was Preference Round, the most formal round, where you’d dress up.
The first round starts with around 15 minutes at each house, and then afterwards you narrow down your choices, while the sorority narrows down their choices of PNMs (potential new members). The next round is longer, and you continue and they continue to narrow down choices. This proceeds until the last round, where the final decisions will be made.
What to bring:
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I recommend a big bag that you can throw almost everything in. I had a brown tote from JCrew that was perfect, and it was big enough to fit everything I needed.
- Extra pair of shoes: Because we rushed in the winter, we had to wear boots in-between rounds to get through the snow. Due to this, I brought a change of shoes in my bag for when I’d arrive at the round. But from personal experience, I learned you should actually bring two pairs of shoes in your bag. Before preference round, I was looking for my heels to throw on and they were nowhere to be found. I had left them at the last round, which was clear across campus. But thankfully, the round I was at was 5 minutes from my freshman dorm. So, little Ashley me was running at the speed of light in a dress to grab a pair of heels. Though I didn’t notice, I can’t imagine the many weird looks I got as that “one sorority girl running in the snow”. When I got back to my round, I was completely out of breathe and girls were already in line. Additionally, I realized I didn’t smell too hot after that sprint. So take it from me here and bring another pair so you don’t make the same mistake I did.
- Water bottle: All that talking can get really exhausting. It’s smart to bring water so you stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Gum/ mints: You don’t want your breathe to smell bad while you’re meeting new people. Chew on a piece in-between rounds, but in order to stay professional, make sure you get rid of it before going in a round.
- Extra makeup: I had a makeup pouch that I stuck mascara, an eyelash curler, concealer, and lipstick in for little touch-ups in between rounds.
- Brush: Your hair could get a little tangled after all of those rounds. Bring this just in case.
- Snacks: I don’t know about you, but I can get incredibly hangry. That’s when your hungry, so you get angry, and cry and lash out on things for no apparent reason other than the fact that you just need a granola bar. I brought a whole box of Nature Valley granola bars with me so I could survive between rounds and keep my cool.
- Paper and pen: I brought these just in case, but I mainly used the notes in my phone. It’s important to be able to write down your experience with each chapter right after getting out of a round. This will be crucial when you are making decisions to narrow down your options.
Get to know your recruitment group
At first, it might be a bit uncomfortable with the girls in your recruitment group. But with time, these girls will become very close to you. You can all lean on each other and support each other through the crazy process. I still talk with many of the girls in my recruitment group, even if we didn’t join the same sorority. And one of the girls in my group is one of my best friends and roommates today. Just because you might not join the same chapter, doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly!
Remember you should never change yourself for the sake of a sorority. If you try to be something you’re not, you’ll likely join a chapter with girls you don’t truly click with. If you focus on being your quirky, unique self, then the right sorority will spot that and embrace the wonderful person you are. Cue inspirational and relevant CS Lewis quote:
You will talk a lot during recruitment. It will look a lot like this:
What’s your name?
What’s your major?
And it may get a little repetitive, but that’s okay. I actually loved this part, because I love meeting and talking with new people. But for those of you who don’t enjoy talking to random strangers, I’d advise for you to come up with a group of questions you can turn to if the conversation ever gets dry.
Just make sure it doesn’t revolve around any of the forbidden 5 B’s: Bush (politics), Bible (religion), Boys, Bucks (money), and Booze (partying). If the girl you’re talking with wants to talk about one of these topics, you can give it a go. But for the most part, you want to stay away from controversial topics, and instead focus on talking on a just-getting-to-know-you level.
Some of the conversations I had revolved around careers, interests, hobbies, favorite books/movies/shows, and campus clubs. These topics scratch the surface about a person, but once you get into a sorority you’ll be able to discuss topics more in-depth.
Don’t set your mind on one sorority
Maybe you love the philanthropy, or know a bunch of girls in the chapter, and maybe you are just obsessed with the colors. But do yourself a favor and keep an open mind. Learning more about each one might reveal to you that one sorority fits you better than the one you thought, and that’s okay. When you keep your options open, you will give opportunity for the right sorority to come into your life.
Don’t choose based on your friends
Your friends might have different fits for them, and that’s okay. My friends and I chose to not tell each other which sororities we were going to choose so we would all end up where we were supposed to. And because the system works itself out, almost all of my best friends joined the same sorority as I did.
I’ve also heard stories where people followed their friends into a chapter, but ended up having a bad experience because it wasn’t the right choice for them.
Make sure you choose based on where you feel most comfortable, and all the cards will fall into place. And if your friends join different sororities than you, this doesn’t mean you will be doomed. I have besties who are in different sororities, and it doesn’t hinder our friendship whatsoever.
Dealing with Rejection
Because you’re being authentic, it’s likely that a sorority will see that and see that you are different from their chapter. Very few people have a “perfect rush”, which is where you aren’t cut from a single sorority. But I was cut, and you might get cut too. And it can sting.
I want to remind you that it most likely has nothing to do with you and everything to do with how well you’d fit in the sorority.
If they didn’t choose you, then that chapter clearly wasn’t the right one for you. Everything happens for a reason, and you don’t want to be somewhere where you aren’t wanted. So go where you are celebrated!
After each round, it doesn’t hurt to take out your phone and write detailed notes about your experience. I’m not kidding you, I wrote legit paragraphs. This could be because writing comes naturally to me, or because I was so excited I didn’t want to stop writing about my experience. Others only needed to write short bullet points to get their thoughts across.
These descriptions are a direct reminder of how the sorority makes you feel, and this will come in handy when choosing which sororities to keep and which to eliminate.
Chances are, this process will be pretty exhausting, so make sure you are taking good care of yourself. Eat well and go to sleep early. You’ll thank yourself later.
How to make the final decision
When making the final decision for your top choices, go with your gut. Don’t choose off of your friends or whether you’re a legacy, instead choose where you feel the most loved.
When I had trouble deciding between two different sororities, I remember hearing this advice:
“Say you left your coat in one of the chapter rooms. Which one would you rather go back to?”
Now, this might sound a little dramatic. But this shows where you feel most comfortable, and also where you would feel most excited going back to.
If you don’t get your first choice
This is okay! Give this other option a try. Usually, the system works itself out, and you end up where you are supposed to. If you give it a chance, you might find girls that are exactly like you and will love you for you. Embrace this opportunity to try something new.
If you don’t get a bid
Rush is not for everyone. And it’s okay to feel bad if you did not get a bid from a sorority. It’s a huge to step to try something that may be uncomfortable for you, and that’s worth giving yourself a pat on the back.
As wonderful as a sorority can be, it’s not the only place to find wonderful community. Join other organizations that interest you and will embrace the wonderful you. In college, there is a place for everyone.
You’re around all these girls you don’t know, and the possibilities are endless. Do your best to branch out, get involved in the chapter, and meet as many people as you possibly can.
My sorority has given me some of my very best friends. I am so grateful for the living situation I am in, where I get to live with three goof-balls in a hall with girls I know and love.
So potential new members, good luck to you. Don’t be too hard on yourself, show your style, embrace your lovely personality, and know that everything happens for a reason. You got this.
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Do you have any tips on how to get through recruitment? Comment below!