For many universities, sorority recruitment is right around the corner. My school’s rush is during the summer, the week before school starts (also known as the hottest damn time of the year), so I’ve always been a bit envious of ladies who get to rush without humidity-frazzled hair, shiny (read: sweaty) skin, and melting make-up.
But whether you rush during the summer or winter, there’s one universal truth: Many college women are freaked out before recruitment! Sure, I’ve met many girls who enthused how oh-my-god excited(!) they are, but in all honesty, you know they’re just as nervous as the rest of us. Aside from worrying about what the sorority sisters will think of your haircut, clothes, GPA and personality, the biggest stress comes from the unknown: You don’t know what to expect because the whole process is so secretive.
Of course there’s a lot of variation in recruitment procedures from school to school, but here are 5 universal tips and truths that should help any Potential New Member feel better about rush:
1. Smile! Smile endlessly. You may feel foolish, but as someone who personally suffers from “bitch face,” I can’t stress enough the importance of a smile and pleasant face. You may not realize it, but girls are watching you. More girls than just the one you’re chatting with. Much like a job interview, recruitment is all about the first impression, and if someone sees a girl that looks miserable or mean, they’re going to assume she’s, well, miserable and mean. There goes your invite back to the house. Everyone needs to put conscious effort into maintaining a natural-looking half-smile (think the closed mouth look of a sweet demeanor) for times when they’re not talking, but listening or walking inside or watching a skit. Have a friend snap a picture of you while you’re watching TV; now, avoid that zoned-out, mouth-agape look at all costs! You want to be a good listener and also appear to be a good listener. Check yourself out in the mirror and practice maintaining a pleasant casual face and smiling with your eyes (or smeyes, as Tyra would say.)
2. Have five fall-back topics of conversation ready to go. Key word: Fall-back. Just be natural with the sorority sister you’re talking to. Let her lead the conversation, but be engaged. Remember conversation is like a game of tennis: You have to hit the ball she sends your way back to her over and over or the game ends. Conversation is something we all do in our everyday lives, so it’s nothing to stress over. The only thing to worry about is when you get stuck with a dud sister. Maybe it’s the last party of the day, and she’s just dead-tired, or maybe you have zilch in common. The conversation stalls. Here is when those five back-up topics come in handy to revive the conversation. Don’t use the standard (and boring) questions about her major or hometown as your back-ups. Those will likely get covered in the first 20 seconds of your chat. Keep in mind that you know virtually nothing about this person. Now there’s a lot to ask about, right? Prepare some questions about her background, her experiences at your school, and her experiences in the sorority…
3. …But stay away from any questions about guys, partying, gossip or ritual. Not the time! Think of rush as a fun job interview. You should be bubbly and friendly, but you shouldn’t venture into controversial territory. If you bring up boys or booze within 10 minutes of meeting someone, that girl is going to assume it’s a major part of your life and interests. No sorority wants a woman who is simply boy-crazy or joining to party hard. I avoided these rush sins during my own time as a Potential New Member, but looking back, I do remember getting flustered and falling back into easy and comfortable topics for me: Shopping and socials. I was interested in socials because I wanted to be a social chair someday and live out my love of partying planning. I had also just moved to a new town and was curious where to find the best duds. But from the outside perspective of someone who doesn’t know me, it’s easy to assume I was merely superficial and had superficial interests. I cringe thinking about that now. Learn from my mistakes!
4. Stick with classy and comfortable outfits. When I say comfortable, I don’t mean yoga pants and your boyfriend’s oversized sweater. You want to look polished, stylish, and classy, but keep in mind that the glow of your adorable outfit will instantly fade to black if you’re constantly adjusting a too-tight shirt or look in pain from a too-stiff pair of heels. On my first day of rush, I made the mistake of wearing a denim miniskirt in lieu of shorts (because I thought shorts looked bad on me; in reality, that tight A&F skirt looked bad, and it didn’t even represent my style) and I put a belt over my t-shirt at my natural waist to add some definition and style. Bad decision. I stood out in the mob of rushees for all the wrong reasons, and I felt constricted all day. Always go for classic and simple over trendy and flashy. Don’t go overboard with labels. Sorority girls have the stereotype of being brand-obsessed, and honestly, there’s a grain of truth to that, but wearing your wealth on your sleeve is tacky. People with good taste will recognize your J.Crew flats without needing a giant label to tell them, “These were expensive!” In my next post, I’ll offer specific outfit suggestions.
3. Do your research. Find out some facts about each organization before you go through recruitment. I do not (NOT!) mean search stupid Greek gossip websites for salacious tidbits or ask your older friends about the reputations of each house. It’s tempting to do this, but just DON’T. It will tarnish your experience. Why do research then? Knowing a bit about each house, like their symbols, history and philanthropy, will give you some confidence when it comes to discussing the chapter with active sisters. You’ll feel more prepared to ask questions about their philanthropy if you know ahead of time what it is. You don’t have to let on that you know these facts, rather it can help you take a mental break when you’re exhausted from talking and can’t think of much else to say. Being prepared just helps with the stress of the whole experience.
2. Keep an open mind. I can’t stress this enough! Ideally, every PNM starts recruitment with zero knowledge about each organization so she can make her own judgments. That rarely happens. It’s truly sad because some times women go with a chapter that they didn’t sincerely love as much as another because chapter B has a better reputation than chapter A. Or maybe they don’t even pay attention at chapter C because they’ve heard all the members are sluts, and they don’t want to be associated with them. Or maybe they are intentionally rude to a sister at chapter D because they want to get dropped by the “nerdy girl” house. While I was rushing, I overheard fellow rushees grouped up in corners sharing dirt and every negative impression they had. Don’t do this! Don’t discuss your feelings about specific houses, especially not your negative impressions! The sisters known for being scholastic rockstars may have seemed stuck-up to you, but to your roommate, they may have acted like best friends. You don’t want anyone to second guess their initial feelings because of your opinions. Go with your gut, and go with the chapter that feels comforting, fun and warm. Sisterhood is for life, and it has the power to change your life. But not if you drop out after 3 months because you don’t have anything in common with your new sisters.
1. Be true to yourself. Don’t wear something that isn’t you simply because you hope it will impress the sororities. Don’t agree with statements or say things in conversations that don’t accurately represent you because you want to fit in and be accepted. Don’t ignore your love for a chapter or your discomfort at a chapter — even if the house you love isn’t the “best” or the house you loathe is “top tier.” None of that matters. You will find the best place for you by being yourself through the whole process, 100%.
Good luck, ladies!