Fraternity and Sorority Rush - What Are They?

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Fraternities and sororities are undergraduate Greek-letter groups that are designed to offer social and academic and support. The organizations originated in the late 1700s with the Phi Beta Kappa Society. About nine million students belong to fraternities and sororities. There are 26 sororities that are members of the National Panhellenic Conference and 69 fraternities that are members of the North American Interfraternity Council. Along with these, there are many smaller fraternities and sororities not affiliated with these organizations.

What Is Rush?

College kids who are interested in Greek life typically go through a ritual called rush. Rush is a series of social events and gatherings that allow prospective and current fraternity or sorority members to get to know each other. Each institution has its own particular way of conducting rush. At the end of rush, Greek houses offer "bids" to the students they think are the best fits for membership. Rush lasts anywhere from a week to several weeks. Depending on the university, rush may take place before the fall semester begins, a week or two into fall, or at the beginning of the second semester.

Sorority Rush

Women usually have to visit each sorority and meet its members so that sisters in the house can get a feel for your personality and see if you're the right fit. Sorority sisters may sing or put on the show to welcome visiting potential members. There is usually a short interview and then they may invite you back for an additional meeting that might include dinner or an event.

If you're a good fit for the sorority, they might offer you a bid to become a member of the house. Unfortunately, some people who really want bids don’t get them and wind up with hurt feelings instead. You can always decide to rush again, or if the process feels too formal, informal rush usually takes place throughout the year during which you can meet the sorority sisters and get to know them without the pressure of rush.

Fraternity Rush

Fraternity rush is usually less formal than that of sororities. During rush, you get to know the brothers in the house and see if you get along. The frat may host events like playing football with the guys in the house, having a BBQ or throwing a party. After the rush, the fraternity gives out bids. If you accept, you are now a pledge. Most frats have a fall pledge class and another in the winter. If you don't get in, you can always rush again.

What Is Greek Life Like?

Greek life is portrayed as one big party in the movies, but in truth, there's much more to it than that. Fraternities and sororities, as of 2011, raised more than $7 million every year for a host of charities and participate in philanthropic work. They are also very focused on education and many require their members to maintain a minimum GPA to remain in good standing.

However, socializing is naturally a large part of Greek life with parties, formals and events throughout the year. The chance to meet new friends in an organized atmosphere is a big draw when students consider Greek life. In addition, older frat and sorority members can mentor new students who are adjusting to life on campus. That mentorship proves to be important as students who join fraternities and sororities have a 20 percent higher graduation rate than those who don't.