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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 UCF’s 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. UCF’s Spring sorority recruitment is in January. Not all sororities recruit in the spring and for those that do it is not as formal. Some are invite only. For a direct site with all the chapter’s information click here.
My first child to rush is a girl so I got to experience the sorority rush thing as part of my initiation to having my first child leave home. Having spoken to friends whose daughters rushed I was privy to both the great and nightmarish parts of the process. This is not to say that we should prepare our girls for potential 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. It’s rare, but it happens.
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. Some days the girls are clad in ridiculously high heels and sundresses and trying desperately not to allow their make-up to run despite the sauna-like temperatures (got to love Orlando in August). In this regard, your daughter will get a shopping list before the rush to be sure she is appropriately attired. Include a battery-operated fan and Band-Aids on the list and start saving now.
We have some outfit recommendations from some great shops courtesy of our sorority interns. Click here to get an idea of what they would wear.
Most going through recruitment already have heard about the different sorority houses at UCF and although there may be the same sorority in another college; somehow their reputations may change at each school. 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 leave the state. My older daughter 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.
If you were in a sorority or have another daughter or family member that was, no matter the university, you can send a letter of recommendation. Click here for a list of chapters and to find the name or email of where to send that letter. It is not a guarantee they will be selected by that chapter but it does allow them to take a second look.
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 don’t last very long. 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 UCF seem a little smaller. Sorority life can lead to lifetime friendships and great fun. Many girls have said that they made their closest friends through rush.
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 long, especially for the beginning rounds as they must visit every house. Their Rho Gam (a sorority girl chosen to take off her letters for the week to help others go through this process) basically guides a group of about ten from house to house and is there to answer questions and provide guidance. With each round, there will be fewer houses to go back to as your daughter will most likely not get invited back to every house and choose some she is not interested in as well. Bid day, which comes at the end of the week, is incredibly exciting, a little terrifying and highly emotional, and is, announced as each girl receives a card with the sorority she was accepted to. They all open them at the same time. There is usually a big dinner celebration as the new girls get to run home for the first time.
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.
There are a few other things I should mention about sorority life. Firstly, membership dues sometimes 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 but can range from under $1,000 to almost $2,000 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 more cost efficient than living in an apartment and kind of nice knowing there was a house mother (which not all houses have) and a bunch of sisters always around if need be. Getting a room in the house is different depending on the house; some work on a point system and others just require a sign-up.
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. We found some cute sorority merchandise here. Learn more facts about recruitment.
Learn more about UCF sorority life here.