Fraternity and Sorority Rush—What Are They?

This "Meet-and-Greet" is the First Step In Going Greek

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

What Is Rush?

College kids who are interested in Greek life typically go through a ritual known as rush, which consists of 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 style for conducting rush. Rush lasts anywhere from a week to several weeks. Depending on the university, rush may take place prior to the beginning of the fall semester, a week or two into fall, or at the beginning of the second semester. At the end of this getting acquainted period, Greek houses offer "bids" to those students they feel would be the best fit for membership.

Sorority Rush

Women are usually expected to visit each sorority in order to meet its members so that sisters in the house can get a feel for their personality and determine if they are a compatible fit. Sorority sisters may sing or put on the show to welcome potential members when they visit. There's usually a short interview for prospective candidates and those who make the cut may be invited back for an additional meeting that might include dinner or an event.

If you're a good fit for the sorority, they will likely offer you a bid to become a member of the house. Unfortunately, some women who really want bids don’t get them and wind up with hurt feelings instead. You can always go through rush again, or if the process feels too formal, informal rush usually takes place throughout the year so you can have the opportunity to meet the sorority sisters and get to know them in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Fraternity Rush

Fraternity rush is usually less formal than that of sororities. During rush, prospective candidates get to know the brothers in the house and vice versa to determine compatibility. The frat may host some type of informal event, such as a touch football game, a barbeque, or a party. After rush, fraternities give outbids. Those who accept become pledges. 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 that participate in philanthropic work have raised more than $7 million annually for a number of charities since 2011. They're also very focused on education and often require members to maintain a minimum GPA to remain in good standing.

However, socializing is naturally a large part of Greek life, with parties and events scheduled 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.

Fraternities and sororities can also have an impact after students graduate and are moving on to the career phase of their lives. Connections made via fraternities and sororities can carry over when you're job hunting and are especially valuable for networking. Even sorority sisters and frat brothers from colleges other than the one you attended will feel at least some affinity for a job candidate who shares their Greek connection. It may not land you the job but it can often get you in the door.