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What I Wish I Knew About Sorority Recruitment

Dolly is an undergraduate student attending public university to study political science and history.


Sorority recruitment can be very intimidating, but take a deep breath and read over this quick rundown of all the things I wished I had known before going through recruitment. Relax; the sorority women are ecstatic to meet you. Get ready to find your home away from home!

Greek Life Vocabulary

There are so many words and lingo I did not know while I was going through recruitment. Here are a few common ones:

Formal Recruitment

If you want to join a Panhellenic sorority, you will have to go through Formal Recruitment. This is a word synonymous to rush, but Panhel has shied away from using the term rush since it tends to remind people of hazing which is not tolerated in Panhellenic sororities. (I have never been hazed by any sorority on my campus.)


I belong to a Panhellenic sorority. This means my sorority belongs to the "National Panhellenic Conference," which is an umbrella organization that helps govern separate sororities on the same campus. They help mediate all chapters during recruitment and make sure the sororities abide by university and Panhellenic rules.

Panhellenic Board

You will most likely meet women on the Pahel Board during recruitment. These are women who are current senior undergraduate sorority women at your campus have disaffiliated with their chapter to be a member of this board and organize/run recruitment.


This is what the women who are on Panhel or are Rho Gammas are considered because they have technically redacted their status as a member of their chapter temporarily to take part in the organization of recruitment. When recruitment is done, they will return to their chapters as regular sorority women. But, until then, you will not know their chapter as they keep it secret to maintain their integrity and status.

Rho Gamma

A Rho Gamma is a senior disaffiliate who will be your mentor throughout the week of recruitment. You will be assigned to a Rho Gamma, as will a few other Potential New Members (there were about ten PNMs in my group). Your Rho Gamma will act as your guide, your therapist, and your friend through recruitment. She is there to see you from Stage to Stage and chapter to chapter. She will answer any of your questions and help you pick the houses to return to for the next day.

Potential New Member (PNM)

You are a PNM. If you are going through recruitment, you are a potential new member. It is the formal title of any undergraduate woman who is going through recruitment and has not pledged to a specific house yet.


Since every sorority on your campus has more than one section of it throughout the nation (for example, there are at least five of the same sororities across my state's universities), each individual sorority on a campus is called a chapter. I am the Gamma Beta chapter of my sorority, which is the title we have that differentiates us from the other sororities across the country.


Rough Agenda for Recruitment

If you decide to rush, it is best to know how the week will pan out.

  1. There will be an info session of some kind on your campus. For me, I went into a ballroom with 500 other girls. Sat down and got a folder full of crazy finances I didn't understand. A group of women from each house gave a quick debrief, and I met my Rho Gamma.
  2. For Stage One, you will visit every single sorority on your campus. You will NOT be going to their homes. For my university, we used rooms in the student center, one room per sorority. We have seven Panhellenic sororities, so I visited all seven. Don't stress too much over this stage; it's basically the speed dating equivalent for recruitment. "What's your major?" "What did you do over the summer?" "Were you involved in clubs/sports during high school?" are all expected questions. This is also where finances will be explained.
  3. For Stage Two, you will head back to your top houses and discuss the chapter's philanthropy. Generally, there will be a brief presentation, and you will get to talk with all new women. (Some chapters will do a house tour on this stage as well.)
  4. For Stage Three, you will head back to an even narrower list of your top houses. Again, you will meet all new women. This is where you will get to see the homes of the chapters and discuss how you see yourself fitting into that sorority. Generally, a very heartfelt conversation with a sorority woman who will have things in common with you. (I talked with another history major, and we connected instantly.)
  5. Preference is the last stage. You will go back to two houses. This is a very serious and intimate stage. For many houses, they will show you a bit of their ritual; this is something to take very seriously. You will have the most in-depth and longest conversation during this stage. Unlike the previous stages, for preference, you will be paired with only one woman whom you have talked to before. (My pref was the history major from above.) In many experiences, pref will make girls cry because it is such a deep conversation, and most find this to be the time they find they have truly clicked with their future house.
  6. Bid Night! After preference, the only thing left to do is wait to receive your bid. On my campus, we finished with preference and left recruitment for a few hours. I went back to my dorm and napped. Later that night, at around 6–7 o'clock, we went back to the student center where info-night was held. My Rho Gamma gave each member of her group an envelope. Inside was a piece of paper from one sorority; this is your bid. You can either accept or decline. For me, I got my top house, so I accepted. Then, once everyone knows their new house, we met the president and vice president, who gave each new member a shirt with our chapter name on it.
  7. Running home. This is the last part of recruitment. For my university, all new members (about 150 girls) lined up on the baseball field on home base. Around the diamond was every single sorority, wearing matching shirts as the ones we were passed when getting our bid. A few at a time (3–5), new members revealed their matching shirts and ran to their sorority with open arms. When I ran home, I ran to the president, giving her a hug, and then I found my pref who welcomed me into the group. My house took us home and fed us and let us hang out at the house for a bit . . . before we had to go back to our dorms because it was a school night, lol.
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How Do I Pick a House/Get a Bid?

It sounds very tricky and nerve-racking to pick your sorority within less than a week. But the system recruitment is run by makes the week as stress-free as possible.

This is how you will choose your house:

  1. After each stage, you will end the night by talking the day through with your Rho Gamma one-on-one.
  2. Once you have digested your experiences that day, you will work with your Rho Gamma to make a list of chapters, from who you liked most to who you liked least.
  3. Your Rho Gamma will submit your list, and it will be matched to the sorority's own submissions. The chapters rate PNMs just as PNMs rate the chapters.
  4. The next day you will have a narrower list of houses to visit again.
  5. You are not guaranteed the top houses on your list. I had to go to my bottom house for Stage One, Two, and Three despite putting them dead last on my list every single time. This is due to how highly the sorority rated me on their list.
  6. After preference, you will sit with your Rho Gamma and pick your favorite house of the two you visited. When you get your bid, hopefully, you will get the house you ranked highest, but it is not guaranteed. You are not required to run home if you do not like your bid. But have faith in the system.

What to Wear

Picking out what to wear can be stressful; you're trying to impress hundreds of sorority women. But remember, these women know exactly what you're going through. They may look flawless, but the day before, they may have been wearing sweatpants and their boyfriend's old teeshirt.

That being said, you should still dress to impress.

  • Info Night/Stage One: For info night and stage one, it is generally okay to wear properly fitting jeans and a nice blouse with some ballet flats or wedges. Don't wear anything too dressy or flashy. Simple jewelry and natural makeup are best. No tears in your jeans too!
  • Stage Two: For stage two, I wore a nice romper with small black wedges. Some girls dressed a bit fancier than that, though, with higher heels. (I can't walk in heels, though.) Think, summer dresses, what you would wear on a date or to a birthday party. Keep jewelry simple and makeup natural.
  • Stage Three: For stage three, I wore a cute dress from Forever 21 and—shocker—my black wedges. (If you double up your shoes a couple of days, that is okay. The chapters will barely be able to remember your name, let alone your shoes.) Again, simple jewelry and natural makeup. Think Sunday best.
  • Preference: This is the most dressy stage. I wore a really nice romper that I wore for my high school graduation, some high heels (like four inches), and a string of pearls. For pref, you can go bolder with your makeup—maybe a smoky eye and lipstick, but I would still keep jewelry conservative. Think wedding attire.
  • Bid Night/running home: Wear a pair of athletic leggings or sports shorts, running shoes/ sneakers (you'll be running a little bit), and a teeshirt/sweatshirt (your Rho Gamma will specify which you should wear). Eventually, you will get a shirt with your sorority's name on it to wear, anyway. Whatever you feel most comfortable with when it comes to your makeup and jewelry.

A Few Random Tips

  • Don't talk shit about other houses in between rounds; you'll look catty, your Rho Gamma might be in that chapter, and girls around you might like them best. Every sorority has great (and not so great) women in it, and there is no use in trying to bring yourself up by bringing them down. Kindness is always most attractive.
  • Use your Rho Gamma as a tool to vent and lean on; if your Rho Gamma does her job right, she will be your biggest cheerleader, strongest support, and a wealth of knowledge for you on this journey. Regardless of what house she is from, her priority is helping you find your new home. My Rho Gam actually is from my sorority, which is INCREDIBLE; she is one of my best friends and the greatest thing that happened to me during recruitment.
  • Become friends with other PNMs! My best friend in my sorority was a girl from my Rho Gamma group. Three of us ran home to the same house from our Rho Gam group, and we have all been inseparable since. It's also a lot of fun to become friends with other PNMs who run home to other sororities, so you can have friends in all corners of Greek life!
  • If you do not want to live in the sorority house, don't even bother rushing; at least on my campus, our Greek life is pretty small- my sorority has the most girls at 100—so a big thing we look for when recruiting is who is willing to fill our house. If you don't plan on moving into our sorority house as an upperclassman, it's not even worth it. Also, if you're not planning to live in, why are you joining a social sorority, to begin with?
  • Despite how nice everyone seems, expect the girls you meet to show you a different side when you run home and recruitment ends. Recruitment is like using your customer service voice on steroids. We can't swear or talk negatively at all when recruiting but expect that to change after recruitment ends.
  • The three B's, there are some buzz words that are red flags when going through recruitment. If a PNM talks about Booze, Bud, or Boys, they will most likely not get asked back to that house. Keep it clean and classy. No swearing or talking about partying. All Greek life parties, don't worry; they will welcome you to that scene when you run home.


dashingscorpio from Chicago on August 26, 2018:

What I Wish I Knew About Sorority Recruitment...It's all B.S.!

Teenagers and young people love to "belong" and joining a sorority or fraternity helps one to feel like they are part of the "in crowd". Sure in the beginning you read about all the successful people who happen to belong to your same organization. You also hear about good things they've done in the community and other "feel good" stuff but the reality is you're joining to be (accepted), to party, and make some fun college memories.

There's another segment that pledges with the hope of establishing "connections" or possibly a fellow member will give them a break in their career simply because they both belong to the same sorority or fraternity. However you'll learn it rarely works that way. Best friends always come before strangers period.

Seriously when you're in your 30s 40s and beyond you'll look back on the hazing or "pledging process" and wonder why you ever subjected yourself to such foolishness.

The answer is to be a part of something that separates you from other people. We spend our lives trying to belong to something "exclusive", traveling first class, staying in 5 star hotels...

You're either "in" or you're "out" and when you're young and immature being "in" seems like the most important thing in the world. The vast majority of your (life) takes place after college!

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