Rachel Lewis, author of “Recruitment 101: An Insider’s Guide to Sorority Recruitment” and founder of SororityCorner.com.
Packing up their laptops and makeup kits, and then loading boxes of dorm room accessories in the back of Dad’s SUV, many college-bound young women will soon be heading to campus. As with thousands of others each year, many of these ambitious female students are planning to participate in recruitment, also known as formal rush, in hopes of getting a coveted bid for membership in a sorority of their choosing.
Why the clamor and excitement to be a part of sorority life? The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) will tell you that sororities help to fill a need of belonging. They can assist their members in developing leadership potential, and sororities also can offer philanthropic service opportunities. Then, of course, there are the friendships, as well as the social events throughout the year. The NPC, an advocacy organization, provides support and guidance for 26 member international sororities and women’s fraternities.
Sorority recruitment does not follow one set standard of rules, procedures and etiquette. In fact, colleges and the individual sororities on their campuses may have different grade point average minimum standards and varied requests for letters of recommendation. Some recruitment occurs before classes begin while others are held during the first few weeks of the semester.
Rachel Lewis, author of Recruitment 101: An Insider’s Guide to Sorority Recruitment, explains in her new book that recruitment is a major event with a sole purpose to assist chapters in selecting new members each year.
“When a girl registers for recruitment, she will be placed in a group in which she will visit all of the chapters,” Lewis said. “She will also be assigned a recruitment counselor to guide her through the recruitment process, answer questions and help in deciding which chapters are preferred and how to rank them for selection.”
The first step generally begins with an open-house round during which young women can meet members from every sorority chapter that is recruiting new members. After the open-house round, both the chapters and the women go through additional rounds during a week where they narrow their options and choices. At the end of the process, sororities send a bid letter to the girls of their choice. Not everyone is invited to join the sorority of her choice and each person can accept the bid and move forward or decline and drop out.
The formal sorority recruitment at the University of Mississippi in Oxford is generally held the first semester of each school year. The school’s Office of Greek Affairs website states that more than 1,200 women signed up to participate in formal recruitment in 2011, which was their largest group to date. On the website, recruitment is described as “a fun week in which the women going through the process get to experience a taste of sorority life and the chapters get to meet their potential new members!”
In Greek life at Truman State University, a liberal arts school in Kirksville, Mo., recruitment is referred to as formal rush. Truman has a recruitment team that assists during the process. Laura Bates, director of the Center for Student Involvement and assistant director of Student Union at Truman advises girls to keep an open mind during rush week.
“You will meet lots of new people, and it is important to find the best fit for you,” she said.
Lewis, who also offers information, consulting and other services through her website, www.SororityCorner.com, said she saw the need to assist girls through what some might consider a maze of information about sorority life and recruitment.
“As chapter president of Alpha Chi Omega at the University of Kansas, I realized that many female students did not know many details about the recruitment process,” she said.
The University Panhellenic Council (UPC) governs the 14 National Panhellenic Conference affiliated sororities at the University of Texas at Austin.
“I think the increase in interest in the sorority community at The University of Texas at Austin is driven by the desire to find a smaller community within the context of a large institution,” said Marcia Gibbs, publications and communications coordinator for the university’s Office of the Dean of Students.
Rachel Lewis said she believes that the decision to join a sorority is one that could have an incredibly positive impact, so making an informed sorority selection is very important.
“I joined a sorority because of their emphasis on grades, philanthropy, friendship and opportunities to participate in activities on campus,” Lewis said. “It was a very positive experience for me and I encourage college-bound young women to explore sororities for themselves, but not be afraid of the rules and requirements for recruitment.”
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