Rush Whispers, Sorority
For parents of incoming freshman, you have probably started to hear whispers about sorority rush. The way rush is handled for sororities are somewhat different than fraternities, but I am glad to give you the parent perspective on both (check out our blog on fraternities). Either way, you will not find too many who love the process. But like it or not, Greek life does have its advantages, especially at a large college; and kids are probably not going to forgo the rumors about rush if it means not joining. So buckle up; the ride can get a bit bumpy. 2018 Rush is from August 18th through the 26th. August 18th is a mandatory day-long orientation.
My first child to go to FSU is a girl so I got to experience the sorority rush thing as part of my initiation to having my first child leave home. I was inducted via a somewhat nerve-wracking letter from the President of the University forewarning parents about the upcoming rush week events. This is not to say that we, as parents, were being warned about any chance of hazing, but rather we were told to prepare for potential disappointment as our daughters may not get the sorority of their choice and may, in turn, be very upset.
While this was already a haunting possibility, I suppose I would have appreciated a more positive gesture, but the reality is reality….and this is the reality of rush. While my daughter (and many of her friends) did get the sorority she was thrilled with, in the end, some do not. And those late night phone calls when daughters cry that they were dropped by the houses they thought were perfect for them are undoubtedly heart-wrenching. Most girls do find their place and live happily ever after; others may not get accepted to the sorority of their choice, but they too can live happily ever after as well. There are many alternatives to the social life sororities provide. To help smooth out the feelings of rejection, particularly if some of her friends got asked back, remind her of the many other houses (there are so many; the thing is that some girls would rather have none than the ones that they may receive bids for) or diverse clubs and activities outside of Greek life.
In preparation for the experience, first know that girls are kept extremely busy, particularly at the beginning so do not expect to hear much from them until the evenings. While they can use their phones between houses, there isn’t much time. While in houses, they are given clear bags for their things that rush counselor will hold during interviews. Rumor has it that an occasional YouTube video may pop up throughout the week showing the girls literally “rushing” from house to house – generally clad in ridiculously high heels and sundress and trying desperately not to allow their make-up to run despite the sauna-like temperatures (got to love Tally in August). In this regard, your daughter will get a shopping list before the rush to be sure she is appropriately attired for the rush as well. Include a battery-operated fan and Band-Aids on the list and start saving now.
Most going through recruitment already have heard about the different sorority houses at FSU. In their mind, they know which ones are considered the most popular and which preconceived labels go with each. That is exactly what makes this a difficult process because just like in the real world, rumors are based on idle chatter, not fact. If you have any influence at all, encourage your daughters to look beyond the Greek letters (all houses have a combination of them) and have an open mind. Hopefully, your daughter will be able to move beyond the process and focus more on finding like-minded young women and a place where she will fit in. I have witnessed girls joining sororities, because of specific Greek letters only to realize after a few weeks, their choice was not right for them. Remind them that each sister is not a clone of the others and they are made up of many different girls.
I have to say, I learned this from my daughter who started rush envisioning she would join the sorority most like everything and everyone she already knew from home. Instead, she made a bold decision to seek out the house that had girls she didn’t know at all. The house was beautiful, the girls’ outlook seemed positive and it appeared like something different. Metaphorically, I suppose, one might say, it opened doors to the world outside the one she grew up in and she didn’t have to leave the state (just go to its other end). She has since graduated and her sorority was one of the greatest experiences she had in college. It has also, and this is one of the advantages of joining a sorority or fraternity, provided her with excellent networking and connections in the world beyond college, in another city.
Don’t Judge Me, maybe?
So far I haven’t sugar-coated rush, so I won’t start now. Rush is based on first impressions, judgments, and appearances; certainly in the first few rounds where conversations last about 10-15 minutes. The Panhellenic Council tries very hard to promote the positive aspects of joining a sorority and takes it very seriously. I have heard of girls who have rushed more than once and gotten no bids and fair amounts that have dropped completely as their choices began to dwindle. Regardless, the feeling of rejection still stings. Yet, there are still many positives too.
In case you may be asking why would I want my daughter to subject herself to all this; keep reading. Personally speaking, while sorority life may not be for everyone, they do offer a lot of benefits including being extremely visible and active on campus, involvement in philanthropies, high academics, and the support to keep one’s grades a priority and most importantly, they make the massive size of FSU seem a little smaller. Sorority life can lead to lifetime friendships and great fun.
If I am speaking Greek, let’s address some of the particulars. Recruitment runs the week prior to the start of the semester (and yes, you may move your daughter into the dorm a week early for this). The days are very long, especially for the beginning rounds as they must visit every house. Each morning she will hear from her Rho Gam (a sorority girl chosen to take off her letters for the week to help others go through this process.) Their Rho Gam basically shepherds them from house to house and is there to answer questions and provide guidance. In each round, there will be fewer houses to go back to as your daughter will most likely not get invited back to every house. Bid day is incredibly exciting, a little terrifying and highly emotional, and is announced at the Civic Center after convocation, the day before classes begin.
Yes, there are judgments being made based on the brand of clothes being worn, disingenuous conversations, misrepresentations and social media. Yes, social media. Tell your girls to clean it up. They will be unofficially stalked. The advice I gave my daughter is to remain true to herself.
If you were in a sorority or your student has a sibling that was in a sorority, no matter the college, you can send a letter of recommendation. Click here for a list of all chapters and then click on the sorority you or a relative were in for the email address to send a letter of recommendation to.
There are a few other things I should mention about sorority life. Firstly, membership dues include a meal plan; which is great, although should be kept in mind if your daughter has a meal plan in the dorms too (so, in this case, go with the minimum dorm plan). Dues can get a little pricey; $2,300-$3,600 per semester, and a bit more if she has the opportunity to live in the house. Personally, I loved when my daughter lived in the house. It was far more cost efficient than living in an apartment and kind of nice knowing there was a house mother and a bunch of sisters always around if need be.
Many parents like to send their daughters a gift on Bid Day. We recommend holding off as they will be getting gifts from the sorority they pledge on Bid Day and continually going forward from tank tops to water bottles and everything in between. After my daughter was initiated, I did get her a sorority bracelet from Alex and Ani. Learn more facts about recruitment.