What to Expect from Sorority Rush

The sorority rush period is typically brief and concentrated, usually spanning less than a month. Many schools, particularly those in the South, have a formal rush process in which participating women are required to visit every sorority house. Not all schools employ this requirement, however, allowing women to choose which houses they want to rush.

During the sorority rush, the first rush "events" (that is, parties) are brief, simply providing opportunities for women to meet, mix, and mingle with the sorority sisters in a casual environment. As the rush period wears on, the parties become longer and more directed, with sorority sisters spending more individualized time with individual candidates.

Eventually, you will likely be asked to have a 10- to 15-minute substantive interview with one or more of the sisters in the sorority. During this interview, the sisters will typically ask you questions about yourself, your general academic and nonacademic interests, and your views on certain subjects.

You're smart to ask a lot of questions and get to know a lot of people in the house during rush. If you are serious about joining, make sure at least a couple of people know who you are and know something about you so they can speak up for you when the organization is deciding whom to offer bids to.

When this process is complete, rush period ends, and "bids" will be offered to a certain numbers of candidates inviting them to "pledge" the house. You can only pledge one house at a time (hence the word), so if you receive more than one bid, you will have to choose from among them.

Whether you're required to rush every house or just those of your choice, the best advice is to be yourself. There will always be a temptation to try to be "cooler" or more "hip" than you actually are in real life, by dressing, talking, or acting differently in an effort to curry favor with those who would judge you.

Don't.

Pretending to be someone you're not may well fool the screening committee, but even if it does, the outcome will place you in a house full of sisters who actually do not share your values or outlook — and the most common result of that bad fit is dissatisfaction with the experience down the road.

Although the rush process can feel dehumanizing, remember that the purpose of it is to find a group of peers with whom you identify and want to spend time. Go with your gut feeling about which group of women "feels" like the right fit to you. Forget about which houses are perceived to be "cooler" by others on campus. Those reputations shift and change from time to time. You should also not be beholden to your mother's or older sister's sorority unless that sorority also feels like the best fit to you when you attend rush events there.

If your approach is to focus on the house or houses where you honestly feel you are a good fit, chances are that the connection will be noticed and reciprocated . . . but it does not always work out that way. Good faith and good luck figure in the process, and keeping a clear perspective is very important in case the rush process doesn't go the way you had hoped.

Remember that a sorority provides a mechanism for you to meet people and establish bonds with classmates. You can do this within the Greek system or outside it. Don't allow the outcome of the process define who you are or affect your sense of self-worth.