Rushing Her Way
Why rush? For parents of incoming freshman, you have probably started to hear whispers about sorority rush. The way rushing 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 USF’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.
My daughter decided to go through rush for a couple of reasons. She wanted a way to make friends quickly and to find her “tribe”. Also, we as her parents encouraged her to at least go through the process in order to “put herself out there”. She can be a little shy at times, and we thought that the rush process would help her to open up. She is our first child to go off to college, so it was all new to us. 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. 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.
My daughter was one of those that did not get a bid from their first choice but accepted a bid from another sorority. She saw the positive in it and took a chance at something new. 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 have a wonderful Greek life. To help smooth out the feelings of rejection, particularly if some of her friends got asked back, remind your daughter 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. There are many alternatives to the social life sororities provide.
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 Tampa 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.
Most going through recruitment already have heard about the different sorority houses at USF 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.
A major consideration in having your daughter rush is cost. You just can’t get around it, and no one likes to get blindsided by bills that you aren’t prepared for. Rushing, and becoming a sister in a sorority, does add to the sometimes, overwhelming cost of college. Be prepared and budget for it early. The rush process alone has fees, and girls will be given a list of “suggested attire” for each day. That means shopping, and if your daughter is like mine, it means a lot of shopping! New members’ dues are higher at first to cover things like their initiation, new member activities, the very many t-shirts that they will get (don’t let them bring a lot from home because they will get a t-shirt for almost every activity) etc. If your daughter lives in a house, they can pay about a thousand dollars, to about $1400. You can find the details of each sorority here.
Let’s address some particulars. Recruitment runs from the start of classes, for about a week. Fall recruitment is a more formal one lasting 5 days. Spring recruitment is informal and more relaxed, lasting about 2 days. The days are long, especially in the beginning rounds.
As your daughter goes through each round, she will go to fewer sorority houses. She may not get invited back to every house; chances are likely that she will not; however, she will have options that hopefully are the houses she was considering. There are 10 chapters that she will be introduced to. There are a lot of girls, information, and traditions that they will get to know quickly.
The truth is, the rush is based on first impressions, judgments, and appearances. The Panhellenic Council tries very hard to promote the positive aspects of joining a sorority and takes it seriously. Why go through all of this, you ask? We have found that sorority life may not be for everyone, but they do offer a lot of benefits including being visible and active on campus, involvement in philanthropies, high academics (my daughter’s sorority requires study hours), and most importantly; they make the large size of USF seem a little smaller. Sorority life can lead to lifetime friendships and a lot of fun.
Bid day, which is the last day of rush, is very exciting, and 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 and then will run to their new houses.
Make sure your daughter has cleaned up their social media. Oh yes, even that will be taken into consideration. I have heard there are committees of sisters who stalk each girl’s accounts to get a glimpse of their activities and character. Misrepresentations on their social media can hurt a girl’s chances for a bid.
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. They will get things like water bottles, t-shirts (yes, even more), tote bags, and anything else with their new letters on it. Plus, different sororities have different rules about wearing anything with letters. Some don’t let you until you are initiated. After my daughter was initiated, I did get her a sorority bracelet from Alex and Ani. We found some cute sorority merchandise here.
Lastly, breathe. It’s just yet another first in your child’s growing experience.
Learn more about sorority life here.
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