Greek Speak: So You Want to Join a Sorority?

[We scoured the country to find the ultimate sorority girl to share her expertise with you. After reading through tons of applications followed by hours Facebook-stalking all the candidates (which proved difficult thanks to FB’s privacy settings….), we found her. And now, with sorority recruitment under way at many schools across the country, she’s getting down to business and sharing some tried and true rules to ensure you make it from random PNM to adored active sister.]

As a die-hard sorority girl, I have no problem admitting that I know exactly what it takes to successfully join the sorority that is right for YOU. And trust me, there is one. It might not seem like it on the first day of rush when you’re being shuttled from house to house and having 3 minute conversations with tons of girls, but there is.  And when you get in there and connect with the members, you’ll know it.

But let’s get something straight. Everyone might be telling you how sororities are ‘values based organizations’ and members choose new members based on what’s on the inside.

And we are….
And we do….

Most of the time. But, much like in every other aspect of your life, first impressions are important. If you want to put your best foot forward/make that gorgeous old Victorian mansion your home for the next few years, be on your best behavior and avoid these 5 MAJOR don’ts for PNMs (potential new members). In Boilermaker Country, we call these no-nos the 5 Bs.

(Keep in mind, even if you don’t want to be in a particular house, it’s good to avoid these topics out of respect….or just to keep the convo from getting super awkward.)

1. Bush – Please, please, PLEASE don’t add your two cents on your political stance. A) Your luck, your overpowering and down right-scary obsession for the Democratic party is in total opposition of the woman rushing you, and B) how boring. There is no Panhellenic sorority based on political beliefs, so just avoid it. 

2. Buddha – Now, there are some sororities solely based on religion and believe me, they will let you know. For example, Sigma Delta Tau is historically Jewish, and it is important to them that they maintain a majority Jewish group of women in their chapter. It’s only when you are in a sorority like SDT that it is acceptable to bring up religion, because it is important to them, too. Make sense? It would be your best bet to look this up ahead of time before you begin the recruitment process.

3. Boys – Who doesn’t love them? But admitting to the members of a certain sorority that you recently hooked up with some guy on campus from a top fraternity isn’t going to get you in. Actually, it might hurt you. That hot guy (what was his name again?) that you hooked up with may be the ex-boyfriend of the girl rushing you. Ever think about that? Leave boys out of the conversation.

4. Booze – It is totally unattractive to talk about how wasted you got the night before in explanation of your current hangover. A) No one cares. B) That’s probably not the classiest thing you can say. If you feel like you need to make it a point of letting your rusher know that you like to have a good time, try adding in that you’ve noticed how fun campus is on the weekends. But really, if you are going through recruitment, she already knows that you are fun and outgoing.

5. Bucks – It might be your natural instinct to immediately talk about your (daddy’s) money as soon as you step foot into a sorority house. The houses are HUGE and decorated to the nines… every girl in that chapter HAS to be loaded, right?? Ummm no. Not at all. Sorority chapter houses are built from a variety of funds including chapter dues, alum donations and even chapter’s national funds. Talking about money might actually make your rusher feel awkward. Avoid it.

Now you know what not to do, but how do you get into that sorority that you have so desperately been trying to get in good with? (Side note: the week before MY sorority recruitment I noticed that ALL the sorority girls were gorgeous. I thought they must have gotten up at 5 every morning to curl their hair and do their make-up for class… so my roommate and I did, too. God we were naïve.) To get a bid to THE sorority that you HAVE to be in, I only have one word: don’t.

Don’t make up stuff to make yourself sound better than you think you are.
Don’t go out and buy all new outfits to impress the sorority women.
And don’t be intimidated by all the frills and craziness of sorority recruitment.

“Be yourself, trust the system,” are the two things that I was told over and over before I dove into the process… and it worked. By putting on a show, you’re only hurting yourself and pretty much guaranteeing that you’ll end up in a house with girls who are nothing like you. The sorority women want to have a REAL conversation with you and find out who you are, not who you’re trying to be.

Here’s the truth: I went into recruitment KNOWING what sorority I was going to be in. But I was wrong! Once I’d tried out all the other chapters and had really awesome conversations with the members – being totally myself – I went against my original plan and joined the chapter where I felt most comfortable. On the last day of rush, I looked around at the other PNMs rushing with me (Do this! It is your potential new pledge class!) and could see myself studying, partying, crying, laughing, and everything in between with those girls. And after all the long hours, conversations and late nights, I knew it was the house for me.

OK, enough of that sappy moment. What else do you want to know? Where are YOU going through recruitment this fall? Are you nervous about anything specific? Let’s talk sorority RECRUITMENT, women!

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    1. Emily says:

      As a member of a sorority at a VERY greek oriented school I have one albeit superficial tip to add. DO NOT overdo your makeup, hair etc. and DO NOT go "all natural" and go sans makeup. A good rule to follow try to look like your picture you sent in when you signed up for recruitment don't be more done up or try some crazy new hairstyle. The ugly truth, most of recruitment is based on your personality but its also based on how you look be the whole package and its much more likely to be a mutual selection process, i.e. you have a choice where you end up.

    2. Jenny says:

      As much as all of your recruitment counselors/sorority girls you know will tell you that it's a mutual selection process- it's not. As much as you may love your top sorority and however high you "rank" it, if they don't want you- you're out.

    3. Hlynn says:

      Jenny has a really good point. It is 'mutual selection,' but really, you can get dropped. For freshmen, it's a bit easier, I think, because they are young and the houses want girls for all four years. This is year number 3 in Greek life. I was also afraid I couldn't pay the dues. Dues can get really overwhelming, but don't mention money at all. If there are recruitment sisters or unbiased sisters, talk to them, but don't bring it up at the parties. I got really worried and dropped the #5 'never talk about' at a house. Not surprisingly, I got dropped from that house for the next day. Basically, if you want to be in Greek life, you will find a place for yourself. If you get into it, and it gets too much, plenty of people *do* change their mind.

    4. Actually, Jenny, it is very much a mutual selection process. A potential new member may believe that a sorority is the best fit for her, but that sorority also must believe that PNM is a good fit for the sorority — that's what makes it mutual. If every PNM automatically received a bid from her favorite sorority or every sorority got every PNM it wanted, the process wouldn't be mutual.

    5. Sorority Girl says:

      Norah- You are exactly right! Recruitment IS a mutual selection process! If the PNM is not a 'good fit' for the sorority, the members are almost doing her a favor by releasing her so that she will be able to make a connection with another sorority!

      Coming from a university that is home to the third largest Greek Community in the country, and being a member of our Panhellenic Association, I can say that I now completely understand the recruitment process! In the end (Bid Day) all the new members and the existing members of each chapter are thrilled with the choices they made- it all works out! To go off of what Emily said- just be yourself! Sorority members are looking for a well- rounded woman who is focused on academics, friendship, social activities, service, and MUCH more in a BALANCED way!

    6. Tamara says:

      I would never be part of an organization that thought it boring or unnecessary to take a political stance, as citizens, college students and women. Not caring about politics is a political position, and a very conservative one (that definitely explains the "don't show you're a democrat" part). So I guess it's not true that there is a sorority for everyone: there isn't one for commited progressist people.

    7. Greek Gril says:


      Actually the sorority I was part of was the farthest thing from not having a political position, in fact my sorority was played a huge part in Rock the Vote at my school, and every single sister voted in this past presidential election. And we have a mix of democrats and republicans. But because of our already established sisterhood we had no problem with the different political ideologies coming from one another. So there really is a "home" for everyone.

      What Sorority Girl is trying to say is that rush is not the time to get in a spirited debate about politics, or religion, or any controversial topic. A persons stance on politics should not have a voice on deciding to give a girl a bid. Rush is about getting to know a girl as a person in a very short amount of time, and things like religion, and political affiliation are menial in the grand scheme of things.

    8. misnomer says:

      Tamara, I think you miss understood. No, politics are not the purpose of most sororities, but that does not mean we want girls without opinions. Some of my sisters are very outspoken, and on different ends of the spectrum from each other. However, by speaking out about something as dividing as politics with people you have just met, you may be alienating them. You may want to rush a sorority who's majority of its members think the opposite as you, and that's ok. You don't want to act like you are making your choice based on the groups beliefs.

    9. Sorority Girl says:

      EXACTLY! Sorry if I offended you, Tamara. Of course sorority women are involved in politics (if they choose to be!) Greek Girl is exactly right! (AND snaps for you for getting your entire chapter to vote!!) Politics is just a topic that can make anyone feel uncomfortable, so we try to steer clear of that during the first 5 minutes of meeting anyone!:) Thanks SO much for ALL the feedback- I LOVE reading it!!

    10. GS says:

      Sometimes I feel like my college experience has been a huge disappointment. I didn't realize how big of a deal sororities were, I came from a small town so no one that I knew of had ever been in one. When I got to school I saw all these pretty girls all together with their letters. I was so intimidated. I wanted to be in one so bad, but really my parents couldn't afford it and neither could I. I considered rushing the next year (after getting a job!), but I kinda got on bad terms with a girl (well she ended up being on bad terms with everyone and was later kicked out of her sorority for too many standards violations), but I figured if I tried rushing I would just be laughed in my face. I transferred schools and I figured that I was too old for a sorority but one of my classmates invited me to a open bidding event and I was offered a bid. I hung out with the girls a few times but I never felt a connection and I ended up dropping. I know that was my chance right there but why stick with something when I wouldn't be happy with it? But now looking back I see that I wish I would've known about the whole Greek life scene from the beginning. I'm graduating soon and I don't feel like I had that great of a college experience. Am I putting too much on not being in a sorority? I think they are great and everything, but is it really as glamorous as it seems? I see all these girls that always have something fun to do and friends to be with. I still don't know that many people at my school so there are alot of times I am lonely and think about my regrets with rushing. Are there other people that feel this way too or should I just get over it?

    11. Tamara says:

      Thanks for all the polite answers; however, politics are a great deal for me, so I would definitely try to find out about a sorority's attitude towards the subject. I think it goes the same way if someone is super religious: you need to know if the girls are going to be open about it, and if you're going to have enough people on the same page than you are (for example, a super jewish girl might not want to be in a sorority that will throw parties and formals in jewish holidays when she must stay at her room or go to the temple). If the girls don't like me talking about politics, then it's not the place for me either.

      Oh, and I wouldn't be in an expensive sorority, not because I can't afford it, but because I'd like to live in a diverse environment in terms of class (not to be only around rich people). Do sororities offer "cutbacks" for super special girls?

    12. Sorority Girl says:

      Tamara, thanks for writing back! I want to tell you a little about my best friend in my chapter- a MAJOR political go-getter. Her name is Jenna, and every chance she gets, she is bringing up politics… and I LOVE her for it, and so does the rest of the chapter. We all embrace every member, Tamara for what they are because we are bound by the same fundamentals and core ideals of our sorority, despite religion, ethnicity, or political stand point.

      Every sorority has different dues that they pay on top of room and board each semester (if the chapter you join has a house). National and chapter dues are probably about the same form chapter to chapter, but the room and board can vary. For example, Purdue is home to the largest physical chapter house in the nation, our Delta Delta Delta house- and this house is also quite new. We could assume that (at lease in the beginning) room and board was quote high, because the house was still being paid for.

      There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with asking a member how much chapter dues are during recruitment- just try to be tactful, and remember that there is a wide variety of women in every house!

    13. Anonymous says:

      I'm so glad I'm not in a Sorority..sounds awful.

      1. Lexy says:

        Actually it is totally fun to be in a sorority, you can get to know a lot of people and make new friends and they throw the most awesome parties ever and as president of the Delta sorority I know, trust me it is great.

      2. Jessica says:

        Yeah I am also a president for my sorority and it is actually a lot of fun especially during spring break and I think that everyone should have the chance to be a part of sorority !!

    14. […] to class, but when you need to be class-y it will be your go-to wardrobe staple. Whether it’s your sorority banquet or dinner with your boyfriend’s parents, this dress (or a much cheaper version that is probably […]

    15. […] Our fave sorority gal gave us the 411 on the do’s and don’t of rush. All was not calm in sorority land, though, and a little political debate broke out in the […]

    16. Decor 2 Ur Door says:

      So… you've made it through rush following these great tips. Inititation days are ahead. Want to show your sorority pride… check out for hot new greek or sorority gifts, bedding, decor and more!

    17. […] protect the traditions and longstanding process, sorority rush is inherently shrouded in secrecy. Every chapter keeps their plans hush hush, current members […]

    18. […] Joining a sorority is a huge time, financial and social commitment. It’s more than choosing a place to live for the next school year; the chapter you join determines who your friends will be, what your social life will look like and even your life post-grad. (Seriously, I know so many girls who have gotten a foot in the door at their jobs based on connections they have through their sorority!) […]

    19. Anonymous says:

      I am currently going through recruitment and I have accidentally talked about money issues (basically asking questions and said my parents were wondering) on the scholarship and funding round. I don't think this affected me (of course I will see) as many of the girls who I have not met somehow know my name and say hi to me around campus. Maybe I just think it didn't affect me when it really did, and like I said, I guess I will see this week.

    20. Beth says:

      As an active sorority girl we actually don't mind hearing about your money as long as you're not bragging. Very few of my sisters are loaded but knowing that your parents can pay for you or you can pay for yourself is actually really comforting😀 It's something we look for, financial responsibility.

    21. Macy says:

      While Greek Life can be a wonderful experience, kind-hearted women will keep in mind that the recruitment process is not a good experience for everyone. I am the president of my campus Panhellenic, so I encouraged many young women to rush and saw them through the process. At the end of the process there were a significant number of women who were not matched to a sorority. As I am training the new Panhellenic Board we are making a special effort to be more open about the possibility of disappointment in the recruitment system. While you can still hear me saying "trust the process" 900 times a day, we all also have to admit that it isn't perfect and let women know that they can enjoy fulfilling college experiences without being a member of a Greek organization.

    22. sorority stumped. says:

      i went through fall rush and was SO excited to meet new people in college. My mother was a Chi Omega and my whole family was full of Chi O's. I went through rush with an open mind and loved 6 out of 8 houses and especially the Chi O's. I was asked to go back for another "visit" and then i found out that 6 out of 8 sororities had dropped me the next day. i was only asked back to the two that i disliked very much. it was damaging to me and i felt so worthless. i was wondering how i could be dropped from those houses if i was a legacy? why do they hurt girls like that? it was devastating when all i was looking for was a great group of friends that would turn into sisters. I'll be a sophomore next semester and think i'm ready to take it on again but how can i make sure i don't get dropped again?

    23. Elizabeth says:

      I feel like school is so boring. I don’t feel involved at all on campus. I want to rush a sorority but I think I might be too old. Im 22 and a senior but I have 1 1/2-2 years left because I changed my major. Should I try it or would it not be possible due to my age?

    24. Katie says:

      I've always wanted to join a sorority but I'm worried about not getting any bids. My school only has four sororities to choose from and I'm not very girly. During rush I want to connect with the girls. In high school I traveled and volunteered frequently should I talk about that? I guess what I'm asking is how do you make them remember you during rush?

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