Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Sorority Recruitment

Hello, beautiful! Over the long weekend, I participated in a truly eye-opening, life-changing experience known as sorority recruitment.

Here at Boston University, recruitment is a four-day experience that takes place over Presidents' Day weekend every year. Girls sign up in the fall and then eagerly await the spring semester, when they endure the amazing but grueling process known as recruitment.

Personally, I didn't expect recruitment to be as emotionally or physically challenging as it turned out to be. I couldn't have anticipated how physically and mentally exhausted I would be, how much my feet and hair would hurt from the near-constant abuse I put them through or how much self-reflection I would have to do on who I am as a person.

But, if sorority recruitment was easy, then who's to say it would still be worth it? Finding your forever home shouldn't be easy - it should be a process that forces you to examine yourself, your values and what you're looking to get out of your sorority experience!

Now that I'm a part of Kappa Alpha Theta (cough think theta cough), I've already met so many amazing women that make me happy and proud to have gone through the formal recruitment process. However, as someone who recently went through the process, I can also attest that it's stressful as all hell.

Luckily, reading articles and prepping yourself beforehand on what to expect is one of the most helpful things you can do prior to recruitment. You're in for a long, crazy couple of days, so who can really blame you for wanting to be as physically and mentally prepared as humanly possible?

That's precisely why I put together this ultimate guide to going through sorority rush! Not only will you get to hear my own personal advice from going through sorority recruitment, but I'll also be linking you up with some of my favorite bloggers from around the web, so you can read their articles and get their take on what to expect from this crazy process.

Disclaimer: I went through sorority recruitment at Boston University, which is a completely different experience than going through rush at a Southern school or big state university! Everything from how many chapters you'll talk to, to what to expect from day-to-day, will ultimately vary by college, so it's best to ask someone from your school for the nitty-gritty details of recruitment!

Part I: Sorority Recruitment Dictionary

If you're not a chapter woman, listening to a group of sorority girls speak about recruitment might sound like a completely foreign language. There's a lot of confusing abbreviations, like "PNM" and "ICS," and I remember feeling just as confused at first as you probably are right now! So, here's my brief explanation on what each of these terms mean.


Rush is a slang term for recruitment among PNMs. Rush gets its name from Bid Day, when girls open up their bids and "rush" home to their new chapters. Chances are, you won't hear any chapter women using this term - at our recruitment at least, they weren't allowed to say the word "rush"! However, rush is still a pretty popular word with PNMs. You might also hear it used as a verb - i.e. "I rushed Sigma Kappa" - to describe attending a particular sorority's parties in hopes of becoming a member.

Example: I'm rushing AEPhi or I can't believe rush is next weekend!


Think of it this way: the sorority is the overarching organization found at college campuses around the country. Meanwhile, the chapter is the group of girls involved in that sorority specifically at your university. You'll probably also hear the word "chapter woman" used to refer to a woman who's already been initiated into a sorority.

Example: She was a part of the Alpha chapter of Delta Gamma. 


Short for "Panhellenic," this term can refer to a couple of things. However, during my recruitment, we used it to refer to the Panhellenic Council, which is the governing body over all ten chapters at my school.

Example: Sign in with a Panhel representative when you arrive at recruitment.


That's you! As you are going through the recruitment process, you'll be referred to as a PNM, or "potential new member." This is a technical term that basically means you're in the process of going through recruitment, and haven't committed to an actual chapter yet. It's also used to differentiate you from the chapter women, who have already been initiated into their sororities.

Example: When I was a PNM, I was so excited to find the perfect chapter for me! 

Pi Chi

Pi Chi stands for "Panhellenic Counselor," only we use the Greek alphabet instead of the Latin one because we're sorority girls! Your Pi Chis are temporarily disassociated from their chapters so they can guide you through the recruitment process without affecting your judgment. This is called being "silenced," and means they can't wear their letters or be seen in public with more than three women from their chapter at once. So, at our bid day, the Pi Chis had a super fun reveal where we got to find out what chapters they belonged to as they ran home! Generally, you're assigned to a Pi Chi group with at least two or three Pi Chis, so you'll always have someone to talk to about the recruitment process. (Side note: some schools also call these Rho Gammas, Gamma Chis or something else entirely!)

Example: I talked with my Pi Chi before I made my selections.


I'm honestly not sure if this is the same at all universities, but for us, this was the name of the software we used to make our selections at the end of each night of recruitment. Basically, every day we'd get called back to a certain number of chapters and at the end of the night, we'd choose the chapters we wanted to return to using one of my Pi Chi's computers - aka "make our selections" - and rank our lowest choices in order of preference.

Example: I just finished making my selections on ICS.


During sorority recruitment, a "party" probably isn't what you think it is! Our recruitment was held in a hotel where each chapter had its own conference room that they decorated every day with a different theme. Then, when we were called back to each chapters, we got to visit their rooms, or "parties," and speak with chapter women about their experiences.

Example: I was invited back to the Gamma Phi Beta party on the second and third days of recruitment.

Bid Day

Arguably the most important day (or night, if your school is like mine) of recruitment, Bid Day is the day you find out what sorority you get to call home! On bid day, you'll gather with your Pi Chi group to receive your bid card. (A "bid" is an official offer of membership from a sorority.) Then everyone opens their cards at the same time and runs home to their new chapters! (This mad dash is the reason why people often refer to formal recruitment as "rush.") Our Pi Chis also had a super cute reveal at our Bid Night ceremony, where they ran home to their chapters after being silenced for several months leading up to recruitment. At last, you'll be taken back to your chapter to celebrate with all of your new sisters!

Example: I was so nervous on Bid Day to find out what sorority I was in.

For more on speaking srat....

by Hannah with a Camera

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by Sorority Sugar

Glossary of Sorority Terms
by JennaBenna & Co

Part II: What to Expect

Sorority recruitment is an overwhelming (but exciting!) experience. I promise there's nothing to be scared of, but you definitely want to do your research before diving into the process headfirst! Not only will I teach you the basics of what to expect, but I'll also link you to other blog posts around the web so you can gather as much information as you need before going through this crazy week.

Not all schools are the same, but personally, my recruitment lasted 4 days, followed by Bid Night.
Just to repeat the same disclaimer I gave before, I go to school at Boston University, where sorority recruitment isn't nearly as crazy an experience as it is at some Southern and big state schools.  That being said, every school's sorority recruitment runs differently, so not all schools might follow the same schedule or have the same themes every day! However, just so you get the gist of it all, here's how it worked during my recruitment:

Day One: Go Greek Round

Go Greek Day is what we called the first round of recruitment here at BU. On this first day of recruitment, we visited all ten chapters here at BU (some schools might have more or less, but generally you'll be visiting all the chapters your first day of recruitment). Thus, every girl in the same Pi Chi group follows the same schedule of what sororities to go to, and you're pretty much sticking with your group the entire time. Also, because we had to visit so many chapters in one night, the parties were just 15 minutes long each! During the parties, we were matched up with a sister in that sorority and got to chat for those fifteen minutes about whatever we wanted. At the end of the night, we chatted with our Pi Chis and made our selections for the next day. That night, we had to choose our bottom two choices and rank them in order of which we would rather go back to if we had to. The rest of the chapters were ranked in no particular order to say that we wanted to return the next day!

Day Two: Philanthropy Round

Philanthrophy Round was the second day of recruitment. Since it happened on Saturday, this was our first full day of recruitment with no classes or anything beforehand. For Philanthropy Round, a maximum of eight out of ten chapters could call us back to their parties (based on a process of mutual selection - i.e. you choose the sororities you want to return to, and they choose you back). However, my Pi Chis said four or five chapters was around average. I got called back to four, and because my parties were later in the day, it meant I was able to stay home and get some homework done before arriving at the hotel where our recruitment was held. For Philanthropy Round, instead of traveling in our Pi Chi groups, we got a schedule of what parties we were called back to and were led to those parties by a different Pi Chi every round. As a general rule, parties get longer every day of recruitment; by this round, the parties were 30 minutes long. Each party was a little bit different, but generally most of it was spent talking to sisters, listening to officers speak and watching videos about each chapter's philanthropy, or charity. At the end of the night, we got to choose a maximum of five parties to go back to and, if you had more than five, rank your bottom choices. However, since I had fewer than five chapters, I selected all of them in no particular order to maximize my chances of getting called back.

Day Three: Sisterhood Round

A lot of my Pi Chis said Sisterhood Round was their favorite day of recruitment and to some extent, I agree! After the parties on day three, you really start to get a deeper sense of what chapters you have made a special connection with and where you might be able to fit in. During our Sisterhood Round, a maximum of five chapters could call you back; I ended up going back to just three of them. Just like the day before, everyone had their own unique schedule, so Pi Chis led us to our parties instead of traveling with our groups. Each of the parties during Sisterhood Round was 45 minutes long. At each of the parties, we got paired up with a sister or two to speak with - sometimes someone we'd already met; sometimes somebody new. Usually, there was also a video giving us an insight into each chapter's activities and chapter officers would speak about the sisterhood in their organization. For me, Sisterhood Round was one of the most revealing nights of recruitment, since it was the first that I really started to think theta! Finally, at the end of the night, we chose a maximum of two chapters to return to for Pref Night the next day and eagerly anticipated the last night of recruitment!

Day Four: Pref Night

Pref was my personal favorite night of recruitment, because it reveals so much about your values and those of the sorority you're about to call home. Each of these parties is an hour long, and recruitment starts later in the day, because each girl can only get called back to a maximum of two parties. For pref, each chapter you get called back to will pair you up with a sister who you've already met to "pref" you - aka talk to you during the party and guide you through a special ceremony. Every sorority has its own special traditions that are unique to that chapter, and pref night is the night you get to experience one of them for yourself. (If you're anything like me, you'll cry after your sorority's pref night party.) Then, at the end of the night, you'll choose just one sorority you'd like to call home! If you got called back to two chapters today, you'll have the option of preffing just one sorority, saying you'll only accept a bid from that one, or ranking your two options, saying you'll accept a bid from either one, but that you'd prefer a bid from your top choice.

Day Five: Bid Day! 

Technically, Bid Day at BU is more like Bid Night, since it doesn't happen until 7pm after class. However, the nerves and excitement of getting my bid definitely lasted me all day! On Bid Day (or Bid Night), you'll receive a bid, or offer of membership, from one of the sororities you preffed the night before. When you arrive, you'll meet up with your Pi Chi group and receive your bid card. Until it's time to open them, you'll be asked to hold it behind your back. Then, when it's time, the whole room opens their bid cards together and runs home to their new chapters! (At my Bid Night, we also had the Pi Chis run home to their sororities in a big reveal.) Afterwards, you'll probably go back with your sorority at their house or another place around campus (we don't have sorority housing at BU) to celebrate... TBH, it's going to be a long night, but it will be one of the most magical and memorable of your college experience! 

I know, I know. You're probably thinking that's a lot - and honestly? It is! However, if sorority recruitment wasn't the grueling, tiring process that it was, I might never have found my forever home at Kappa Alpha Theta. So, just look for the light at the end of the tunnel throughout this whole ordeal, which is that at the end, you get to find your sisters and letters for a lifetime!

Even so, thinking positive only gets you so far when it comes to hunger, blisters and pure exhaustion - so, here is some general advice to keep in mind that might just make your experience a little bit easier:

  1. Pack slip-on shoes. While I understand those Steve Maddens might be the perfect heels to wear for pref night, don't wear your sky-high stilettos all day - your feet will regret it. Bring a pair of slippers or moccasins instead, and take advantage of the downtime to change out of your painful shoes. You'll thank me later for all the blisters you avoided from bringing that second pair! 
  2. Bring snacks and homework. You might think you're going to be busy 24/7 during recruitment, but in reality, it's a lot of breaks. During that downtime, you're going to want to blow your money on Panera and spend your breaks scrolling through Pinterest - DON'T. Instead, bring plenty of snacks and do your homework while you're there! Trust me, it will save you a lot of time, money and agony down the line.
  3. Plan out your transportation ahead of time. Don't do what I did, which was decide to take an Uber at the last minute at midnight, only two have two drivers cancel on me and get charged $5.00 in fees. If your recruitment will be held off-campus (as was mine), know where all the public transportation stops are relative to where you're going and plan out your weekend accordingly. If your recruitment will be held on-campus at sorority housing (which BU does not have) or another location, know where it is relative to your dorm, practice walking there in your shoes and make sure you have a buddy to walk with you late at night! 
  4. Don't talk about chapters or selections with friends. This is a Panhel rule our Pi Chis tried to enforce throughout recruitment, but honestly it didn't work out so well. One of my best friends and I started the recruitment process together, and we always found time to chat about the chapters under our breaths. However, I honestly wish I had followed that rule more closely because it really impacted the way I viewed certain chapters. My friend would occasionally comment that she could see me in a certain chapter, and I would suddenly start to see myself there - or, she would make negative comments about a chapter that called me back and I started to second-guess myself. All of these things can really shake your confidence in your choices, which is why this rule exists in the first place! So, do your Pi Chis (and yourself) a favor and actually follow it. 
  5. Keep an open mind! You'll likely hear this phrase repeated so many times during recruitment that it gets annoying, but I cannot emphasize how true it is! If you walk into recruitment with preconceived notions or pursuing only one or two chapters, you'll narrow your options - or, maybe you'll wind up somewhere that's the perfect fit for you, but not be able to appreciate it. This actually happened to the friend who I started recruitment with: on pref night, she withdrew because she only got called back to one chapter, and it was a chapter she didn't like because of it's reputation. Personally, I wish she would have ignored the stereotypes and kept an open mind, because sorority life is an amazing experience that everyone should get the chance to experience. But, the most I can do now is encourage you not to make the same mistake! 

For more on what to expect....

Part III: What to Wear

One of the hardest parts of sorority recruitment, for me at least, was getting ready every morning. Don't get me wrong, I love fashion and beauty - but during the day, I'm normally the kind of girl who likes to throw on her leggings, put her hair in a topknot and go through her day bare-faced. So, naturally, getting up at 8 AM to put on makeup and heels was a bit of a struggle for me!

Something that really helped me a lot throughout the recruitment process was planning out my outfits ahead of time. Weeks in advance, I had a general idea of what I was going to wear each night of recruitment. Then, I'd lay out my outfits the night before so when I woke up in the mornings, getting dressed was always a breeze! 

However, if you're not familiar with how the sorority recruitment process works (which, I honestly wasn't), figuring out what to wear each night can be tricky. I was lucky that my Pi Chis reminded us every night what we should wear the next day, but not everybody might have that same experience. So, as a general rule, here is a rough guideline of what you should wear for each day of sorority recruitment - remember, not every school is the same, so be sure to double-check with your Pi Chis before rolling up in the wrong attire!

Go Greek Round: Casual


Day 1 is by far the most casual day of recruitment. As a general rule, every day following Go Greek round will get dressier and dressier as the week goes on. However, just because Go Greek round is casual doesn't mean anything goes! Throughout the whole recruitment process, you should ensure that whatever you're wearing is classy, appropriate and parent-approved. So, double-check your hemlines before you leave and avoid wearing anything too grungy! Remember, you're trying to make the best first impression you possibly can - still, that doesn't mean you have to dress like someone you're not. Whatever you choose to wear, make sure that it is a genuine reflection of who you are!

Philanthropy Round: Dressy-Casual


Day 2 is still casual, but notably more polished than the day before. That means if you were wearing jeans on Day 1, you might want to up your game with a cute and colorful dress or skirt. Bright pops of color and fun patterns will keep your outfit casual while still giving you a polished appearance. Again, be sure to give your hemlines a quick test to make sure you can stand up/sit down/bend over in whatever you choose to wear. One Pi Chi I know even took her mom shopping with her for all of her recruitment outfits to make sure they were appropriate!

Sisterhood Round: Business Casual


Day 3 is the first night of recruitment that you have to significantly dress up. Sisterhood Round is business casual, which can be a bit of a tricky term to unravel. As a general rule, business casual means anything you would wear to an internship, but less formal than what you would wear to an interview. Work pants, black jeans and mid-length skirts are all fair game! On top, pop on a blouse or blazer - or, do what I did and wear your most official-looking dress. If you're struggling to put together a business casual outfit that's true to who you are, spice it up with a fun pop of color or a favorite accessory that shows your personality. Though it may not seem that way at first, there's actually a lot of room for creativity with business casual!

Pref Night: Cocktail Attire

Day 4 is finally here! Today is more of a serious occasion, since you'll be experiencing at least one chapter's special ceremony and selecting the sorority you'd like to call home. So, in accordance with that, pref night is much more formal than the previous nights of recruitment. While we were told to wear "cocktail attire," I just took this to mean a nice dress and heels. Additionally, it's especially appropriate that your outfit today is 100% parent-approved. I was told to wear what you would wear to a nice family dinner or holiday party, which just about sums it up! 

Bid Day: Casual Tank Top

HAPPY BID DAY! For the final day of your recruitment experience, what you wear isn't as important, as Bid Day is pretty casual. So, throw on the cutest leggings, jeans or shorts you own and head on down to open your bid! The most important thing is to wear a tank top or something else you can change out of easily, since you'll most likely be receiving a Bid Day shirt from your new chapter. You should also keep in mind that there will be TONS (and I do mean tons) of photos taken of you tonight, so wear something you're comfortable being photographed in! Finally, make sure to put on sensible footwear, as you will literally be running home to your sorority - and you don't want to be remembered as the girl who wore sky-high wedges and tripped on her way to ADPi.

For more on what to wear....

Part IV: Recruitment Dos and Don'ts

A common criticism of joining a sorority is that it's an unnatural way to make friends. While I personally don't think that's a valid reason not to join one, I have to admit that it's true: sorority recruitment can be awkward and uncomfortable at first, especially if you're not familiar with the process! 

Do: Mention your involvement.

Don't be shy about mentioning your achievements and involvement! You want to give the best impression of yourself possible, so this isn't the place for modesty. If you're passionate about something, allow that passion to shine through - these are your sisters, after all, and if you're in the right sorority, they'll be nothing but supportive of all your endeavors. 

Do: Ask lots of questions! 

A lot of sorority recruitment will be based on the sisters asking YOU questions, such as "What's your major," "Where are you from," "Why did you decide to go through recruitment," "What do you love about your school," etc. However, sisters love to talk about their chapters, so you can never go wrong by asking them their favorite things about being in a sorority, their favorite philanthropy event or what being in their chapter means to them! 

Do: Trust the process.

You'll probably hear this phrase so many times over the course of recruitment that you'll grow to hate it a little - but as a new member who loves her chapter, I can attest that it is 100% true! During recruitment, you'll have a lot of doubts about the selections you've made and the chapters you've been called back to. Some girls will even start to drop out as they receive results they're unhappy with - but I think if you keep and open mind and throw all your trust into the recruitment process, you'll be happy no matter where you end up! So, even though this weekend is long, tiring and anxiety-inducing, stick with it and I promise you will find your perfect home. 

Don't: Mention other sororities by name.

This is especially true when you're at another chapter's party! During the week, you might be asked how your day went, or what your parties have been like. Just know that it's okay to answer if it's a sister asking you, but that you should always avoid mentioning any chapters by name when you're at another chapter's party. You don't want to say anything that would reflect badly on another chapter, because that in turn reflects badly on you as a sister and a friend! 

Don't: Talk about boys or booze. 

This might seem obvious, but boys and booze are completely off-limits during recruitment (so are politics, religion and anything else that might start a controversy). Not only is recruitment a formal occasion, but it's also an officially-sanctioned one, meaning whatever you or the girls in that chapter say during the party is a reflection of that sorority and its values. So, be respectful of that and avoid any topic you wouldn't want a professor or parent to overhear you talking about!

Don't: Accept a "bid" from another sister.

Chapter women are absolutely NEVER allowed to offer you membership or give you the idea that a bid is "guaranteed" from their sorority throughout any part of the recruitment process. This is called "bid promising," and it's completely against the rules instituted by Panhel. So, if you experience this at any point, talk to a Pi Chi or Panhel member right away!

For more on recruitment dos and don'ts....

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