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As you can tell from the above description of how rush works, there isnít a whole lot of time to trade every detail of oneís life with the girls you meet at each chapter. You pick up a few key facts, share an interesting story or two, but before the real bonding can begin, you are rushed out to the next house. Itís called ďrushĒ for a reason. Because of this, a lot of the decisions made on both sides of the process are made on first impressions. And like it or not, one of the key factors that go into a first impression is your appearance. So, it makes sense that to have the most successful rush possible, you should try to look as nice as you can. However, I preface this whole section by saying that none of this is required to get a bid. As many people will tell you, the recruitment process is about meeting people and getting to know them, not about looks. However, appearance is something that certain chapters at certain schools will definitely be looking at. So, why risk being cut over something you have control over? Following my tips and caring for your appearance just might make the difference when recruitment gets competitive.
First of all, rush is extremely tiring so itís important to get in shape the summer before if you arenít already. If you need to lose some weight to be really proud of your body, then do it! Use the summer before your recruitment to follow a strict diet and exercise program (approved by a doctor) to make sure you are the best you possible come recruitment time. In addition to looking great, making sure that you are fit and in shape guarantees that you will be able to take the exhaustion that recruitment can cause and still look cheerful when the last party of the day rolls around.
After your body is in shape, itís time to move on to skin and hair. Everyone looks better with a little tan, so enjoy your summer by spending it in the sun. If skin cancer fears are keeping you inside, there are several self-tanner options that are very realistic looking. I recommend the mystic tan option in which you stand in a shower-like stall and are sprayed with self-tanner. It creates a very even, realistic coverage. Other self-tanners are available for self-application, but be careful. Being pale is a whole lot better than being orange and streaky!
Your hair is one of the most important components of your appearance since it frames your face. You should get a haircut 1-2 weeks before recruitment begins. If your hair is colored or highlighted then you should do that at the same time you get your hair cut so you donít have any roots. You should choose a haircut that best suits your face and body. It should look classy and be a style you can easily replicate on your own. Although a bright green mohawk may be a great expression of your individualism, recruitment probably isnít the best time to let that show. If you donít know what style is most flattering to you, ask your hairstylist. And remember, you get what you pay for. A professional haircut may cost a little more, but it will almost definitely result better than your momís shears or the hair salon at the mall. Besides your hairstyle itself, you should make sure that your hair is well taken care of. Using a leave in treatment once a week or, if you feel like splurging, getting a protein treatment at a salon, will make sure that your hair is shiny and strong for all that pre-party primping.
Now that your face is properly framed, you can work on your face. If you have problems with acne, you might ask your doctor about some of the new prescriptions out on the market to treat it. A facial is another option, but since it can cause redness you should do this at least a week before recruitment starts. You should also get your eyebrows waxed or, if you trust yourself, pluck them into fairly thin arches. Any other facial hair should be completely removed. Once your skin is in good condition, you can put on makeup. The best look for recruitment is timeless and classy. If you donít have much experience with make up, you can always go to a makeup counter and have one of the salespeople teach you what shades look best on you. Although you donít need a lot of makeup for recruitment, the basics of blush, light eyeliner, mascara, and lip-gloss can keep you looking well groomed even late into the day.
Since recruitment involves meeting a lot of people, it also involves shaking a lot of hands. This means that you also need to get a manicure and pedicure before rush begins. Like the green mohwak, rush is not the time for bright purple nail polish, so stick to neutral pinks or French tip. If you have or are planning on getting acrylic nails put on, make sure you have found a place to get a fill in your new college city in case one breaks. Also, moisturize your hands with lotion each morning of rush, followed by baby powder to prevent sweaty hands. Summerís also a good time to start practicing your handshake. No one wants to shake a dead fish!
One of, if not the most, stressed over part of recruitment is what to wear. Unfortunately, even I donít have a firm answer for you. It all depends on where you are going through recruitment. What I can tell you is that rush is a time to look classy, trendy, cute, and letís admit it, like you spent a lot of money. When I went through rush I was amazed at some of the outfits I saw. I felt like I could have been trapped in a Neiman Marcus catalog. But it isnít necessary to spend thousands on your clothes as long as you look nice and know what looks best on you.
Usually, the Greek Affairs office at your college or university should be able to advise you on what type of clothing is appropriate for your rush. If you go to a small, laid back, midwestern college, it might be as casual as jeans on the first day. In contrast, denim is never acceptable at some of the larger Southern schools. Ask your recruitment counselor what she feels is average for your rush and try to have several outfits ready based on what she tells you. Listed here I have what I would consider pretty average for most mid to large size colleges who have rush in the fall.
Round 1- Casual skirt or nice pants/capris with a nice top. (think Gap, American Eagle)
Round 2- Nicer skirt with a simple top (Jcrew, Banana Republic)
Round 3- Summery dress, sun dress (Ann Taylor, Anthropologie)
Round 4-Nicer summery dress, (think BCBG, Laundry by Shelli Segal)
Pref- cocktail dress, black, pearls
These are the type of outfits that will work for most recruitments. However, certain areas of the country have different rules. In the South, for example, denim isnít acceptable, neither are spaghetti straps or thong sandals. In general the South is just more conservative, so it is best to avoid looking like you are going clubbing. Remember, the point isnít to get these girls to think you are sexy; itís to get them to think you are fun and interesting. For the Southwest, where it is brutally hot, spaghetti straps and generally lighter clothes are acceptable. In California schools, trendy designer clothes are more plentiful. In the Midwest, warmer more casual clothes are in fashion. The Eastern seaboard seems to wear business casual clothes a lot. If you debating between two outfits, pick the nicer one. Itís always better to stand out for looking great than for not being dressed appropriately.
Just as important as the clothes you wear is what you wear under them. Panty lines are just unnecessary so wear a thong. Similarly, there is never a good reason for your bra to be showing. Get a strapless bra if necessary. If you are wearing any light colored clothes then make sure that all your undergarments are nude in color. Also, if people still wear pantyhose with skirts where you go to school then stock up, because if youíre going to wear them, you canít wear ones with runs in them. If panty hose arenít really worn in your area of the country, then everyday you wear a skirt, put some baby powder between your thighs, it will help prevent sweating.
Shoes are an interesting conundrum. You need your shoes to be cute, but also comfortable. Basically you should be wearing nice sandals with heels every day of rush. This does not mean thongs. This does not mean thongs. This does not mean thongs. Get the picture? Your shoes should match your outfit obviously, but if your recruitment is after Labor Day, they should not be white. Cute shoes are great, but make sure they are comfortable too. You will be walking a lot. Also, break in your shoes before rush so that you wonít get horrible blisters the first time you wear them. Another option is carrying a pair of cheap sneaks or flip-flops with you to wear to and from parties if the chapter houses are a long way from your dorm. Your recruitment counselor can watch them for you while you are in the parties. And always carry a bandage or two in your purse just in case a blister rears its ugly head.
Jewelry during rush should be classy and simple. That said, you should be wearing some! Tiffanyís is a good choice, but donít try to get knock off. Someone will notice and itís better to have less expensive but still pretty jewelry than a fake. Donít wear more than one ring per hand and donít wear hoop earrings. Donít wear a watch either, as you will just be tempted to look at it during a conversation, which is rude. Pearls are always a good option, as are diamond stud earrings. Silver seems to be a lot more popular than gold these days, but it varies depending on your campus. Check out the girls on campus a few days before rush and you should get the picture of what works in your neck of the woods. As far as purses go, usually the sorority members will never even see them. Many schools have the recruitment counselors watch them while the potential new members are in the parties. If you find out that this is not the case in your school, then it might be time to invest in a designer purse. Purses are obviously designer or not. If you can afford it, buy one, if not borrow one from a friend or pick a simple trendy style. But donít get a fake! Just like jewelry someone will know the difference and you will come off looking bad. If you will be carrying your purse in, then most importantly, turn off your cell phone!
Preparation: Recommendations and Legacies
A recommendation is a letter written by an alumna of a specific chapter that profiles a potential new member. It can talk about anything from what high school activities a PNM was in to how rich her parents are; itís all at the discretion of the person writing. On the other hand, it can also be a letter warning the chapter about an undesirable PNM. A legacy is the relative of a member of a specific chapter, usually a daughter, granddaughter, or sister. When a legacy of a chapter goes through recruitment, her alumna family member should fill out a legacy introduction form to alert the chapter to the fact that she is a legacy. Legacies receive special consideration during recruitment and if the chapter is not at campus total (total is the ideal # of girls for each sorority. Panhellenic sets this # and if a chapter is under this number they can continue to take girls in addition to quota until they reach it) then they often can not be cut by a chapter. More distant relatives are called distant legacies and are not given as much weight. Both recommendation forms and legacy introduction forms can usually be found by an alumna member by signing into the member section of her sororityís national website.
Some schools, mainly competitive Southern schools, require recommendations for someone to have a shot at joining a chapter. This is never stated outright. Generally recruitment information says something along the lines of ďrecommendations are not required at XYZ University. It is the responsibility of the chapter to obtain a letter of recommendation for a potential new member if the chapter requires one.Ē What this means is that if you are totally outstanding, the chapter will find an alumna to write a rec for you. But if you donít wow them, lack of a recommendation might result in you getting cut. But why make it come to that? It is much easier to obtain a recommendation for every chapter at the college you will be rushing and have them submitted long before rush starts.
Many cities have a Panhellenic association in their town that you can contact to get recommendations. If you do this, you either fill our some forms or go to a luncheon to meet some ladies from your community who are alumnae of different chapters. They will generally provide you with at least one recommendation for every chapter at your school. If this is not an option for you, there may be individual chapter alumnae associations in your area who would be happy to meet with you and write you a rec. If you live in a really small town, then you should use all your personal contacts. Teachers at your school, women your parents work with, and women at your church or synagogue may all have been in sororities and willing to write you a rec. Also ask your parents if anyone in your family was in a sorority. Even being a distant legacy is a small advantage. Generally one recommendation is all you need, but the more the better. If you can get 3 or 4 recs for a certain house, then that just makes you all the more prepared.