what to expect during sorority recruitment

Hello everyone!

Today starts the first part of a two part blog post I'm doing this week on sorority recruitment. I know many of you will be rushing soon, and I wanted to give y'all a rundown of what to expect and how things work. Friday I will be sharing outfit ideas for rush, so be on the lookout for that post. I've only been through recruitment on the side of a PNM (potential new member), so I will solely be giving advice on that end. I still am learning the ins and outs of recruitment as a sorority member, and I am excited to be on the other side of rush this year. I absolutely love being in a sorority, and I highly recommend going Greek. If you aren't sure if Greek life is for you, just go through the rush process and decide during rush whether or not you want to join. Rush is a great way to meet new people and make friends! This post will probably be longer than usual, but I really want to make sure it is beneficial to anyone going through recruitment. I've tried to break it down into the most logical structure, but I do have categories if you want to skip over a certain section. Recruitment will vary from school to school, so my experience might be completely different than yours. The advice I give though can hopefully carry over no matter what university you will be rushing at.  Let's get started! 

// at my school //

At my school (Furman University), there are 7 sororities. Each has its own unique vibe. We don't have "tiers" or "ranks" at Furman because each sorority has great attributes that make it a distinct sorority and sisterhood. Recruitment is in the spring at Furman (also called delayed recruitment) as a way for PNMs to adjust to college life before joining a sorority (which can definitely be a big time commitment especially during new member period). About 50-60% of girls join Greek life at Furman, so Greek life is definitely a big aspect of campus life but not the sole way to be involved. Greek life at Furman is social, but it is more than just social sororities. Each sorority is involved in its own philanthropy (both a local and national philanthropy). During the fall, Furman Panhellenic hosts many events that allow PNMs to get to know sorority women and the sororities as a whole better, such as Greek BBQs, Panhellenic Pop-In parties, and sort of "preview" nights. Sororities will give presentations about their own sorority. At Furman, you will get assigned to a Pi Chi group (a group of PNMs and two Pi Chis, sorority women who have disaffiliated from their sorority for the semester to help you go through recruitment unbiased). Your Pi Chi leaders will help you with all the info you need before recruitment, such as outfits, what to expect, etc. At Furman, recruitment is in 3 rounds: Open House/ Philanthropy, Sisterhood, and Preference Tea. The next day after Preference Tea is Bid Day, where you will hopefully receive a bid from a sorority. Since this post is more about sorority recruitment on a whole, I won't go into recruitment at Furman anymore. But if you are an incoming Furman student and want more info, you can always message me or contact Furman Panhellenic!

Also to keep in mind for delayed recruitment- there might be specific rules you have to follow as a PNM during delayed recruitment. At Furman, sorority women cannot follow PNM's on social media, party with them, visit their room (and vice-versa). Panhellenic should tell you these rules at your school, but just keep them in mind. 

// terms to know //

bid- a formal invitation to join a sorority

legacy- to be a certain family relation to someone who was a member of a sorority (each sorority recognizes the extent of legacies differently, so double check with a specific sorority if you have questions)

PNM- potential new member; a woman who is eligible to participate in recruitment. By going through recruitment, you have the potential to become a member. 

New member- a person who has accepted a bid but has not become an official member of the sorority yet 

snap bid- an option for chapters that do not fill their quota. Chapters can offer bids to PNM who did not receive a bid or dropped from recruitment. Snap bids might be offered during recruitment, or after, depending on the school. 

Continuous open bidding- a less formal form of recruitment where chapters that did not reach their quota can extend bids after recruitment (different process for different schools)

Quota- the number of PNMs that a chapter can offer during recruitment 

suicide bidding- when a PNM only puts down one sorority preference after preference tea, limiting her options to only the sorority she puts down

// structure //

Recruitment is set up differently at each school, but there is an overall structure that I think is followed at all schools. As a PNM, you will be put into a group of other PNMs, with a recruitment counselor (or two) leading your group through recruitment. The recruitment counselors are called different things at different schools (such as Pi Chi, Rho Gamma, Gamma Chi, etc.) but they all are doing the same job- helping PNMs throughout recruitment by giving advice. You will start out recruitment by visiting every sorority. After each round (basically days of recruitment, such as Open House, Philanthropy, etc.) you will select your favorites to move on to and choose which sororities you would like to drop. Recruitment is a mutual selection process. Let's say I go to a school with 7 sororities. The first round at my school I might have to drop two sororities. Say I put down Tri Delta, Alpha Phi, Chi Omega, ADPi, and ZTA and drop Tri Sigma and Phi Mu. If all the sororities I put down to keep selected me to go to the next round, I would go the parties of each of those sororities the next day. But let's say ZTA dropped me. I would then be going to the sororities that mutually selected me as well as a sorority I dropped but they selected me. This sounds really confusing, but it's honestly not as confusing as you might think. Basically, if you select a sorority and that sorority selects you, you will move on to the next round with that sorority. If you select a sorority and they drop you, you will not go to that sorority's next round. If you drop a sorority but they select you, you might have to go back to that sorority's round the next day. The sororities' decisions is usually what guides the recruitment process, so even if you drop one, you might be going back to that sorority if they express interest in you by keeping you for another round. By the end of the process, the goal is to have narrowed it down to 2-3 sororities that you will have Preference Round with. I'll explain Pref Round and choosing a sorority further on in this post. 

open house

The first round of recruitment at most schools is Open House. You will attend this at every sorority at your school, as this is an introduction to each party. This round will probably be the shortest round, which could be about 30- 45 min depending on your school. This round is the most informal and most surface level. The main focus is to get you talking to as many girls as possible and familiarize yourself with the sorority. The conversations will be very basic, such as where you are from, your major, asking about your roommate, etc. The sorority women are looking for similarities in the conversation and are just wanting to get to know you. It is crucial for you to be open to conversation with the women and ask questions. Make sure your answers aren't just one worded answers or yes/no. The sorority women want to get to know you as best as they can in the short amount of time that you are in the party. This round is a great chance for you to ask basic questions about the sorority, such as their service, dues, events, etc.

philanthropy round

At some schools, philanthropy and open house round might be combined (such as at Furman). However, Philanthropy round is a very important round for sorority women as this is their chance to show you all about their philanthropy. The sorority might have a craft relating to their philanthropy for you to do, might play a video about it, etc. The main focus of conversation in this round is the sorority's philanthropy as well as what you as a PNM are looking for in a philanthropy and what you are passionate about. The conversations get slightly deeper here as the sorority women might ask you about your passions, volunteer work, and more. Be sure to continue to ask questions about the sorority, especially asking the sorority girls' experiences with their philanthropy. If you have a personal connection to the philanthropy, share it at this time. 

sisterhood round

Sisterhood round is much deeper than the first two rounds. This round focuses on the bonds the sisters share and the values the sororities hold true. The sorority women might ask you what your values are, what you value in a sorority, etc. This round you should also ask the sorority women what they love about their sorority, their favorite memories, functions and events, etc. Conversation should really be flowing during this round, as you are probably at sororities that you could potentially see yourself joining. A general rule of thumb, even though conversation is getting deeper, is to avoid certain conversation topics. Avoid politics, religion, boyfriends/dating life, alcohol and partying, and anything super controversial or polarizing. Of course if a sorority woman brings one of these topics up and you feel comfortable answering, go for it. But don't bring these up in normal conversation with them. In one round I told a sorority women that faith is important to me because she said that her sorority valued that. Bringing that up was relevant and not inappropriate as we were both on the same page. If one of these topics slips up (either by the sorority woman or you) don't obsess over the conversation, as sometimes things slip. Just move on and continue to talk about appropriate things for the round. This round is all about forming more meaningful connections, so be yourself. Also ask the sorority woman about her experience in her sorority, so that maybe you can relate with some of her experiences. 

preference tea

This is the last round of recruitment. At this point, you will narrow the sororities to 2-3 sororities. At this point, the sorority has probably asked you to this round because they see you in their sorority. They think you could be a good fit, and are now displaying certain rituals and songs from their sorority to potentially "win you over". This is not the right wording, but it's hard to explain. The sorority is basically influencing you to choose them at this point, because now it is up to you to decide.  During this round, you will probably be speaking to one girl (or two) that you have met and made a connection with during recruitment or someone you knew prior to recruitment.  This is the longest round, and can be emotional. Some of the members will give speeches about how the sorority has impacted them, and songs will be sung. This round is very formal, as the sorority is performing some of its rituals for you to show their interest in you. During this round, the women might ask you if you could see yourself in their sorority. At this point, you need to be honest with them if you see yourself in the sorority. They cannot bid promise to you (saying "we want you" or "we see you in our sorority"), but you are allowed to tell them how you feel about their sorority. Of course, if you aren't sure, that's ok. Just express how you are feeling. If you don't want to join a sorority that you are preffing, you can be honest but just remember that they invited you to pref tea because they could see you in their sorority. Be respectful and mindful during this round. 

After preference tea, you will need to pick your top sorority and your second sorority (and if there is a 3rd sorority you will need to drop that one). If your top pick selects you, you will receive a bid from them. If you select your top house but they don't select you, you will either get your second house (if you selected them as well) or another house based on the recruitment algorithm (confusing but your recruitment counselors can help explain). You will generally receive a bid from those two that you put down. I'll explain.

Let's say I put Tri Delta as my top and Phi Mu as my second. If Tri Delta selects me, I will receive a bid from them. If Tri Delta does not select me but Phi Mu does, I will receive a bid from Phi Mu. If neither Tri Delta or Phi Mu selects me (which is very rare) I will receive a bid from another sorority. Putting two sororities down after Pref Tea will guarantee that you get a bid from a sorority. 

Now here is another situation. Let's say I really didn't want to go Phi Mu, so I only put Tri Delta (suicide bidding). If Tri Delta selects me, I will get a bid from them. If Tri Delta does not select me, I will not receive a bid at all. This is because you are limiting your options to one sorority. It is best to maximize your options by putting both sororities down on that final choice.

Here is another situation. Let's say I was dropped from more sororities than sororities available for pref tea. So I only attended one pref tea. This is totally ok and normal. So let's say I attended the pref tea for AOPi. If I put down AOPi on my final selections, I will get a bid no matter what. I will either get a bid from AOPi (if they select me) or another sorority. This is maximizing my options. 

// bid day //

So you put in your selections (and hopefully didn't suicide bid). Now what? It's time for BID DAY!! One of the most exciting days of the year. Hopefully you will receive a bid from your top choice, but if not, please be respectful. Do not bash the sorority you receive or be upset in front of the sorority women. They have invited you to their sisterhood, which is a special privilege. They see something in you that makes you worthy of membership. Try to enjoy bid day, whether or not you got the sorority you wanted. Bid Day is exhausting, but it also is a great way to start forming connections with your sorority and meet all your new sisters! And also get a killer photo for Instagram!! Go ahead and put those letters in your instagram bio girl! 

// advice // 

Sorority recruitment can be an incredibly exhausting, tiring, emotional, and stressful time, but it is so rewarding in the end. My biggest word of advice for you is to trust the process. You will hear this a million times, but it is so true. You might not end up with the sorority you were hoping for, but maybe this is because you will fit in better with the sorority you end up with.

  Be open minded. You might hear stereotypes and reputations of certain sororities (and trust me, that is especially true if you rush in the spring), but sometimes those stereotypes don't apply to every single sorority girl and sometimes the stereotypes are just mean rumors. I remember going through recruitment and being genuinely surprised at how much I liked a sorority I swore I would never go. With this being said, if you do have your own opinions formed about a sorority and you feel that those opinions are held true during recruitment, trust your gut with which one you choose. If you see that a sorority does not jive well with you, drop them.

Don't let other people's opinions change yours. I remember hearing what people would say after certain rounds about a sorority, and sometimes they were so critical of that sorority. You need to choose a sorority based on your own opinions, not those of anyone else. This is ultimately your choice. Don't go a sorority just because one person you really love is in it, or because your best friend is going it as well. Be selfish with your choice. Also don't join a sorority just because a family member or friend from another school wants you to. Your mom might have been a AChiO at another school, but AChiO might be different than your mom's chapter at your school and/or you might not fit in with the sorority. Choose a sorority because you want to, not because of anyone else.  This is entirely your own and can make or break your college experience.

Don't read Greek Rank. Just don't do it. While some of the "reviews" of the sororities are helpful and accurate, sometimes the comments are hurtful to the sorority and not true. Another word of advice, don't worry about social reputation and ranking. Everyone wants to join the coolest sorority, but do you really think that everyone is going to fit perfectly with that sorority? A sorority's social ranking should not matter to you. What should matter is the sorority's values, philanthropy, and sisterhood. 

Don't take things personally. If you are dropped from a sorority, don't think they hate you or don't like you. Sororities are supposed to choose girls they think will fit in best with their sorority, so they will drop you if they think you will fit in better in another sorority. Don't get upset if you are dropped by one you liked or one you had good conversations with. The sorority women are trained and know what they are doing. Just trust the process. 

If you talk to one person and do not jive well with them, don't completely take that sorority off the table. You might not jive well with everyone in your sorority (that's pretty normal). If one person you talk to is incredibly strange (or insert any other adjective) but you like everyone else, choose the sorority because of everyone else. Same goes for if you talk to one person you really love in a sorority, but everyone else you don't jive well with. Don't choose or drop a sorority because of one person. If your experience and conversations were overall good with a sorority, keep them on your list. If your experiences and conversations were overall really bad (even if you had one stellar conversation) this might be a sign you won't mesh well with the sorority and you should probably drop. Obviously trust your gut, but just keep this in mind. 

Back to the topic of conversation no no's earlier, I just want to reiterate some things not to talk about: religion, politics, alcohol and partying, sex/boyfriends/dating, other sororities or members of other sororities, and also money. These topics should always be kept off limits, unless a question warrants an answer. So let me give some examples that are ok/ not ok.


Sorority girl: Are you involved in any clubs?
PNM: Yes, I do College Republicans.
This is ok because you are active in a club and it's an interest of yours

Sorority girl: What are some things that are important to you?
PNM: Well, I'm really passionate about politics. I'm a Republican and a really big Trump supporter.
If you are passionate about politics, you can say it. But it would probably be best to not mention your political beliefs and/or who you support. 


Sorority girl: What are some of your values?
PNM: Religion and family are important to me.

PNM: So what religion are you??
PNM: Are you a Christian??
PNM: Is this sorority pretty Christian-based??
As in any of these topics, don't flat out ask the sorority girl about any of these.


PNM: So I am worried about paying dues. Could you break some of them down for me and the best way to pay them on a budget?

PNM: So do you have to be rich to be in this sorority??
PNM: Do you pay your dues by yourself or do your parents pay them??
PNM: Does everyone in this sorority wear (insert brand of clothing)??

This list could go on and on, but hopefully you get the idea.

Don't drop names. Don't talk about other sorority members, or anyone at the school in general unless the sorority woman asks you about someone (as in, who is your roommate?? Do you know anyone that goes here??). Don't gossip or talk badly about anyone. It would be best just to avoid names in general. If you know someone in the sorority that you are talking to, go ahead and say that, but avoid talking about anyone else. Talk about yourself- the rounds are so short anyways!!

Keep a good attitude throughout recruitment. Don't show that you are tired, over it, or bored. Be respectful towards the sorority women, and don't just give up on the last round of the day or put on a bad attitude in a sorority's party that you don't want to join. Keep the same attitude throughout every round and act like you want to be there. 

Don't drop recruitment all together. If recruitment is going badly, please try to stick it out until the end. If you get to Pref Tea and are very unhappy with the sororities you have, at least attend the Pref Teas and then drop after if you absolutely could not see yourself joining them. If you do go through pref and select sororities but then don't get what you want on bid day, be mindful that you might have signed an agreement saying you cannot accept a bid from another sorority until next recruitment. This is a membership selection agreement that your recruitment counselors will explain to you, but just be aware that dropping entirely might cost you an entire year until you rush again. And if you decide to drop entirely, it's ok! Sororities are not for everyone, so don't be ashamed if you drop. Just be aware o the consequences of dropping, especially if you were dead set on joining a sorority. 

Be confidant. Be yourself. Make sure you are putting your best self on display in recruitment, and talk confidently (obviously not overconfidently, but have confidence in yourself and your answers). If you feel like you are forcing conversation or making up answers just to make the sorority woman like you more, you might not fit in this sorority. Conversation should feel good and comfortable with the sororities (if you jive with them).

// conclusion //

This post is long. Probably way too long, but I hope you get something out of it. My best word of advice to you is to enjoy recruitment and trust the process. This experience is weird. It's emotional. But it's so rewarding. You have the chance to join a sisterhood of incredible girls that you might become best friends with.  If you have any more questions, please feel free to shoot me an email! 

To read about my personal recruitment experience, click here



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