What to Know About Rushing in College

What to Know About Rushing in College

By Steve Bailey

Published on August 12, 2021

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Many first-year students enter college with the same question: What is "rushing"? Rushing, also called recruitment, refers to the process of seeking membership in a fraternity or sorority. Greek life can offer many benefits, including lifelong friendships, networking opportunities, and chances to engage in meaningful community service.

However, rushing a fraternity or sorority can also require a lot of work and a significant time commitment, so you should know what to expect before you get started.

Prepare to Make a Good First Impression

During rush week, fraternities and sororities host events and give new students their first chance to meet members. To make the best first impression, be respectful and personable, make eye contact, and try your hardest to remember the names of the people you meet.

One of the best ways to make your mark during fraternity or sorority recruitment is to ask a lot of questions. Greek life members want to share their experiences with you. At the same time, be prepared to answer their questions, share points about yourself and your interests, and demonstrate that you've done your research about the organizations.

You'll likely find yourself talking to a lot of people when you go through Greek recruitment. Members of a fraternity or sorority will meet later to discuss who they want to admit. You may need to make a good impression with a dozen people or more during the recruitment process in order to be offered an invitation to join, also known as a bid.

In general, sorority rush features more structure than fraternity rush. Sorority recruitment often involves several rounds of meetings or events with each chapter, which can feel like a series of interviews.

As you go through this process, remember to relax, have fun, and be yourself.

Keep an Open Mind

Many students who rush Greek life end up joining a different fraternity or sorority than the one they initially liked best. With this in mind, keep an open mind to all possibilities when rushing in college.

As you consider your decision, figure out which organization you connect with the most and try not to let others influence or pressure you. While you may find it helpful to ask friends or family members for advice, try to choose a fraternity or sorority that has a good reputation and engages in activities and service projects that interest you. Think about which organization will help you achieve your goals.

While making friends and having fun are important, it's critical that you do your research to determine whether organizations have been subject to school sanctions or involved in any legal issues in the past. Also, consider each organization's alumni networks and what members have accomplished after graduation.

Consider the Time Commitment

Depending on the organization, fraternity or sorority rush can last up to several weeks. While it may be a lot of fun, it can also take a toll on your mental health and make it difficult to keep up with your academics and extracurricular activities. You'll need to block off a considerable amount of time to focus on rushing.

Missing an event that a fraternity or sorority is hosting could affect your chances of receiving a bid from that organization. Members look for candidates who will remain active over the next four years, and typically look to weed out those who may be too busy to participate in Greek life.

You can still get work done when rushing a frat or sorority by staying organized and choosing a manageable class schedule.

Weigh the Pros and Cons of Greek Life

For many students, membership in a fraternity or sorority is one of the most memorable parts of their college experience. That said, there are many factors to consider before deciding whether Greek life is right for you.

On the positive side, rushing gives you networking opportunities that can propel your career after you graduate. Greek organizations can help you connect with businesses and professionals as you search for summer internships and employment opportunities after college.

Fraternities and sororities also engage in community service. These experiences can be incredibly fulfilling and allow you to make a difference.

On the other hand, hazing activities are often part of fraternity and sorority rush. While the practice is officially prohibited — and Greek life leadership has curbed hazing in recent years — hazing still happens. The ritual can be physically, emotionally, and mentally difficult, not to mention downright dangerous.

Membership in a Greek organization can also be expensive. Dues alone can run thousands of dollars per semester.

Do your research and consider the factors involved in rushing a frat or sorority.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rushing in College

Why is it called "rushing"? true

The concept of rushing a fraternity or sorority dates back to the 1800s when members of a Greek organization would "rush" to the train station when incoming first-year students arrived on campus. Fraternity members would pin their colors on potential members. Many fraternities and sororities today use the term "recruitment" instead.

How do I survive rush week? true

You can survive and thrive during fraternity or sorority rush week by staying organized, being prepared, keeping an open mind, and remaining focused on making a good impression. Make time for your classes, homework, and studying — and try to get enough sleep.

How can I stand out during rush? true

You can stand out when rushing a fraternity or sorority by asking thoughtful questions, being personable, and sharing your knowledge of the Greek organization you would like to join. Members want candidates who they will get along with and who demonstrate a commitment to the organization and its activities.

What is "dirty rush" and what happens if I do it? true

"Dirty rush" refers to sororities or fraternities engaging in prohibited activities when recruiting new members. These include hazing, sending or receiving gifts, spreading rumors, and other university-banned activities. If you participate in dirty rush, you may not be able to join a Greek organization and may even face academic consequences.

Feature Image: OlegAlbinsky / E+ / Getty Images

Learn how to stay safe at a college party, while still having fun. Use these tips to create a safety plan so you can get home in one piece. Fraternities and sororities offer many benefits, although they're not for everyone. Find out if Greek life is right for you. It's normal for college students to feel some level of stress, but burnout can lead to poor academic performance and serious health issues like depression.