First let's start with what to call it. It is not called rush. If you are under the age of 25 and a member of any NPC group, you should never ever call it by that dirty four letter "r" word. Even though your active sisters still use that word, your headquarters and International Council frown upon it. If you are over 25, do me a big favor and just make that little vocabulary adjustment please. It's a dirty bird of a word. It has negative connotations. It's a reminder of days when things were less than kosher.
That being said, things in the Greek world, especially with women's groups, are very much on the up and up. I know many parents worry about their daughters getting caught up in hazing and drinking and horrible activities that are depicted on Lifetime movies. That's not even remotely close to reality. I have countless friends who were in nearly ever NPC chapter across the country and not a single one had to traipse through a college campus naked, kiss random boys, scrub floors on her hands and knees with a toothbrush, or any other crazy scene from a TV movie. Once you become a New Member (formerly known as "pledge," which is also a dirty bird of a word now and never used in NPC chapters), you are welcomed into a chapter with open arms. There are plenty of requirements. Make no mistake, there are obligations. This is not a club that revolves around booze and boys. You will be required to meet (likely) several times a week to become educated on your new sorority and eventually be tested on that background information. Things like your purpose and founders and other important chapter information. It's both important and fascinating to learn. I mean, you should know the history of your great organization and have a reason to associate with those letters. You might be required to assist with a seasonal philanthropy project or chapter project. You might be invited to eat dinner with your new chapter or participate in a sing-a-long or chapter retreat or pumpkin carving or ice cream social. You will get to know your fellow New Members and feel like a rock star as all the older sisters clamor to get to know you. You will develop a special relationship with your Sister Mother (some groups still say Big Sister) and will get showered with all sorts of cute prezzies covered in your new letters and colors. You will find your home away from home. A place to relax away from the smelly dorms. A group of amazing and diverse women who you will grow to love over your next four years. A group of amazing women who will be your bridesmaids and throw you a baby shower and be there during all of your Steel Magnolia moments in life.
Being Greek isn't just a southern thing. Oh sure, the Greek system tends to be different in different regions of the country. In the south, things are often done BIG. All the frills. In New England, it's pretty much the polar opposite. Jeans and t-shirts and sneakers are the norm. And the mid-west is usually sort of somewhere in between. But Greek systems play an important role on campus. Walk into any Student Government meeting on a campus with a Greek system and ask for a show of hands on who is also a member of a Greek chapter. My guess is that the majority of hands will fly up. Homecoming, alum donors, philanthropy, community relations and more are all dominated by Greeks. Not because they are pushy or think they are better. Simply because they are the students who chose to get involved.
But regardless of where you go to school, there are so many benefits beyond matching t-shirts and TV show buddies. As an undergrad, you have the benefit of study files. What are study files? It's better than the internet! They are all the notes and back tests of the sisters who took the class before you. Tips for various professors, four books of notes instead of one, last year's text book that might cover materials from a different angle and so on. Not to mention being able to study in your own home with several other sisters who are in the same class, never having to get out of your pajamas. You will also be able to learn such a wide variety of leadership roles that might otherwise never be discovered. Just because you are a math major doesn't mean you don't also have amazing marketing (recruitment), philanthropy (non-profit organizations), event planning (socials), or organizational (operations) skills. Just to name a few. Your resume will be so well developed upon graduation after your experience in a sorority. And contrary to popular belief, being a part of a Greek organization is very highly regarded by potential employers. Not to mention the mad networking skills you will possess after four years of meeting older sisters and alum who remain active. I cannot tell you how many references I have given out lately for my collegians. Two most recently to students applying to med school. Academic advisors love knowing that a student is well-rounded and not only about what's between the book jackets. Women who tend to be more introverted will learn to come out of their shells a bit more. And women who tend to be all about the party will learn that there are GPA requirements to remain in good standing in the chapter. Study hours are a must and really help New Members to find time to focus on studies.
But let's back up just a bit and talk about Recruitment. I know for many young women, the thought of actually going through Recruitment is terrifying. To that I cannot relate. I actually loved going through Recruitment both as a Potential New Member and as a sister. And even as an advisor. But I know I am completely in the minority there. For most, it's scary. Intimidating. Overwhelming. So if you are in that boat, I recommend that you break it down into one day at a time. You should be given some type of agenda or schedule of events. It will greatly depend on the individual campus as to the layout. But I think most Recruitments last about a week. A different event each night. They typically start out fairly casual. But as a rule of thumb in life, when in doubt, dress up rather than down. So unless it specifically states "jeans and t-shirt" as attire, I would kick it up a notch with a sundress or at the very least a skirt and polo shirt. We all know how important first impressions are in life. It's true that you never want to just a book by it's cover, but the cover is usually what makes you pick up the book in the first place. Make yourself look your best within your own comfort zone. If you are like me and just don't feel your best while wearing heels, don't wear them. If you are wearing something that just isn't "you," you will spend the entire event thinking about your discomfort and unease rather than the conversation. The events are short. At some schools the first round is less than 15 minutes long. You need to make sure you focus on ever word said and unsaid to be able to make a decision on that chapter. As the week progresses to the final Preferential round, the attire gets dressier. I hate to use the term "cocktail attire" when speaking to teenagers because they often confuse that with scantily clad. But a classic black dress and pearls will never lead you down the wrong path in life! I always tell my girls that a dress must always meet or exceed your fingertips in length when your arms rest at your side. And to dress as if they are going to church with their grandmother. I their Granny would approve of club attire or jeans at church, then dress as if you are going to church with my grandmother.
The best overall advice I can give is to simply be yourself. If you are not into sports, don't say you live for jogging every morning and playing basketball every evening and hiking every weekend. That's not you. And there is no good reason to not be your fabulous self! You will find a chapter that is perfect for you. There really is a place for everyone if she allows the system to work. Decisions are made based on both what a chapter is looking for and what you are looking for. It's a bit like dating. You have to find the best match for both parties. It might not go exactly as you imagined. The chapter your mother told you to join just might not be the perfect fit. The chapter you think is the perfect fit after round one might take a pass on you. But please believe me that you will find your perfect chapter. You chapter that will become your pride and joy. Your chapter that will, in part, define you. Your chapter that will root for you when you are down and celebrate with you when you succeed. You will find your chapter. I promise! Just as you have to kiss a lot of cute frogs to find the perfect man, you will need to have a lot of identical small talk conversations to find the perfect sorority. But when you do....oh man...when you find your perfect chapter, your life will change. In amazing ways. Usually slowly. But there will be a day when you look up from your computer or coffee cup and realize that you are a part of this sorority and this sorority is a part of you. It's amazing and I wish this experience upon everyone!
I know that many parents have concerns about daughters joining a Greek chapter. Please feel free to email me as I would love to do my best to put your mind at ease. Joining my sorority was one of the very best decisions I made in life. I remain very active more than a decade after joining. I wouldn't be around this long if it was in any way a negative in my life.
Edit: First, I thought this published a day ago so I don't know why it up and published itself now. Whatever. Second, my apologies to the Service Fraternities. In my mind I was including them as they function very similar to NPC groups. As do many local women's fraternities. I only distinguished NPC groups when referencing vocabulary. Because I know they all use the word Recruitment but I do not believe that change is universal among non-NPC groups. But the benefits of joining any of the sororities, in my opinion, are positive across the board!