One of the best ways I have ever heard recruitment described is that itís like a combination of a job interview and speed dating. You only have a few minutes to impress these girls, so you have to go in prepared with great conversation skills. This is one situation where being shy really isnít an option. With the right preparation though, there is no reason to be intimidated. And the best thing about rush is that once you have gone to your first house, you will totally have the hang of it. And if you do get really nervous, you can have the exact same conversation at every single party you go to; after all youíre meeting all different people!
When you first go into the party and meet the person you will be talking to, look into their eyes, shake their hand firmly, and introduce yourself. They will introduce themselves back. A good way to try and remember their name is by saying it back to them (ďNice to meet you, _________Ē) Even though the rushers will probably be wearing nametags, you should try to keep your rusherís name in mind in case her hair covers her nametag or something. Also, learning names will help you remember other details about each chapter. When you are seated and start talking, be sure and use good posture. You should be sitting up straight on the front half of your chair, knees together, ankles crossed, hands in your lap. Leaning forward a little and using your hands when you talk are both subconscious signs that you are interested in the conversation.
Now that you are seated properly and have been introduced, you can delve into other conversation. Your rusher will probably ask you a few introductory questions to get the conversation rolling. The first questions you should expect are things like:
Where are you from?
What dorm are you living in?
How are you enjoying rush?
How has your first week of college been?
Do you like your roommate?
What classes are you taking?
What did you do this summer?
This gets the conversation started. Most importantly, whatever questions are asked of you, try to give more than just a one-word answer. Instead of ď Iím from ChicagoĒ why not say, ďIím from Chicago originally but I really am enjoying my first few weeks here. Iím still trying to figure out where everything is though. How long did it take you to get adjusted when you were a freshman?Ē This gives your rusher something to go off of and keeps the conversation moving. Another good option is to find a way to tell a story. If your rusher asks you about your roommate, tell her a story about meeting the people on your hall or moving in. Stories are a great way to move conversations. Other good topics to talk about with your rusher are what activities you did in high school, favorite movies or tv shows, or your boyfriend, if you have one.
In addition to general conversation, itís also important for you to learn about the house. Your rusher will probably tell you some things, but you can always ask more. A few good questions are:
I know that your philanthropy is _________. What do you do to support it?
Is it possible for me to get involved in leadership positions in the house my first year?
What was your favorite social event from last year?
What made you join this house?
These are also good questions to keep in the back of your mind in case your rusher ever asks you if you have any questions.
Now that you have plenty of things to talk about, letís cover what not to talk about. Itís okay to say that you are interested in social events and meeting people, but itís not really a great idea to tell your rusher that you canít wait to get trashed and hook up with frat guys. Keep everything within the limits of discretion. Generally, the rushers themselves are not even allowed to talk about alcohol, boys, or the other chapters on campus. They also arenít allowed to do what is called ďbid promising.Ē This would be if a rusher said something to you like ďI canít wait to see you on bid dayĒ or ďYouíre definitely on the top of our list.Ē If your rusher tells you this, do your best to ignore it, and if it makes you uncomfortable, tell your recruitment counselor. Another thing that you should generally avoid is going to the bathroom in the chapter houses. Try to hold it till a break. Fair or not, in some places, this is considered a way of telling your rusher that you arenít interested in their house.
Once you start getting a little further along in the week, the rushers are trying to get a feel for what you think of their house. Itís a really good idea at this point in time to tell your rusher that you feel really comfortable in her chapter, that you feel like you could see yourself in the chapter, and other things along those lines. But, if you donít mean it, donít say it. The rushers are just as nervous as you are that they will get a good pledge class. Because of this, itís important to be honest especially in the later stages of rush. You also might want to work up some answers to the harder questions that they ask you in the later part of the week. These questions are along the lines of:
Why are you going through rush?
What are you looking for in joining a sorority?
Do you see yourself fitting in at this chapter?
All of these questions can be answered by talking about sisterhood for a while. Just make it heartfelt, and your golden.
Conversations are really the backbone of recruitment. And even with all this advice on what and what not to talk about, you still need to practice. Try talking to a family pet or the mirror to practice talking if it makes you nervous. You can have your parents or siblings help you or you can just use the summer to meet new people and practice that way. Practice makes perfect, so start early and youíre sure to be ready for recruitment.
Filling out your Rush Application
The first step to making sure you are on the road to a good recruitment is filling out your rush application in a way that will make the sororities notice. Many applications will ask for a picture. This is just so they can match a name with a face. If they ask for you to send a picture (or several pictures-one for each chapter) then itís worth the money to go to take some nice ones. If you can afford it, professional photos have a high quality touch, but a friend with a passion for photography can generally do the trick in a pinch. You want to look classy and fun in the pictures. Outdoor lighting is generally more flattering than indoor. Wear a solid color shirt, but not white, as you will look washed out. Do you hair and makeup the way you plan to do it for recruitment. Itís very important that you look the same way at recruitment that you do in your pictures so that you can be recognized. Write the name on the back of every picture you send out as well as your potential new member number if you were assigned one. Itís also a good idea to give a picture of yourself to everyone whom you ask to write a recommendation. A good picture is the quickest way to get you noticed before recruitment even starts.
As for the application itself, it will probably ask you basic geographic information, what activities you were involved in during high school, information about anyone in your family who was in a sorority, and possibly your high school transcript. Itís important to remember the distinction that you arenít filling this out to impress your grandmother. You are filling out your activities so that the chapters know what might be some good subjects to talk to you about when you come through their door. Yes, you might be in 7 different honor societies, but if you only have enough room to put a few things, only list one of the honor societies and include other activities you really enjoy participating in. If you really enjoy soccer but arenít on a team, list it anyways. If you love to sing but are terrible at it, list it anyways. The point is for the chapters to get a first glimpse at what makes you tick. Other good things to list are if you like to travel, where you have been and if you did any community service work in your hometown. For the family information section, really dig deep in your family tree to find out if anyone was Greek. Even if the chapters your family was in arenít represented at the campus you are going to, listing them lets the chapters know that going Greek is a tradition in your family.
Before you ever fill out this form though, take it to a Kinkoís and make a copy or two. Fill out a copied form first so that you make sure everything looks right and fits. Then have someone else read over your completed copy version to make sure everything is spelled right and you didnít forget anything. After a proofread is complete, fill out the real application carefully, using readable handwriting. (If you have terrible handwriting, get someone else to write it for you. If the chapters canít read it, all the time you spent was useless.) Make note of all dates and deadlines and copy down any important information or contacts before putting the application in an envelope and mailing it back. If the application included a postcard they could send back to you when your registration was complete, watch your mailbox. If you donít receive it, or your application didnít have a return postcard with it, call them after 2 weeks and confirm it made it there. Always better safe than sorry.
The Summer Before
Once youíre registered, the summer prep phase begins. Get your body in shape like we discussed before. Practice meeting people and having a conversation. This is also the time for the fun part: shopping! If you need to buy any new clothes, there are usually really good sales around the 4th of July and the middle of August. If you are planning on losing weight over the summer you might want to wait to buy any new clothes until closer to the end of summer. Try out all of your outfits for each day of rush with your hair and makeup done, and if you arenít very experienced at doing your hair and makeup, practice often. Break in your shoes, and get any tailoring done that you might need on your clothes.
Summer is also the time to learn about the place you are going to be living for the next four years. Get online and see what is located around your campus. Before you ever even think about leaving Mom and Dadís house, locate some of the services you will need around your new college. A dry cleaner, local mall, salon, grocery store, and post office are all good things to locate prior to your move. This way if you have any last minute emergencies before rush, you can take care of it.
As far as other recruitment preparations, relax. You donít need to investigate each house or try and meet anyone in the sororities. In fact, talking to members of any chapter at the school you are rushing before recruitment generally violates the Panhellenic silence rules. Most importantly, donít be tempted into asking your college friends their opinions about the sororities. Guys especially are bad at sharing their uninvited opinions. But donít listen to what other people say. Many times girls will recruit their boyfriends or classmates to tell any potential new members how great their chapter is over the others. Even though they arenít supposed to, they are just trying to impede your decisions. It is incredibly important, however, that you go in with an open mind. Ignore any comments you hear about the specific chapters, especially from fraternity members or college friends.
Summer is also the last chance you really have to spend time with your high school friends. Donít forget that over the next year, you will be meeting a totally new group of people, and itís sometimes hard to stay in contact with high school friends. Make sure to take time to cement those relationships and have fun before you all go off to different colleges.