College is often a social minefield, especially for a freshman trying to find his place amidst the overwhelming pressure of being “in.” So when talks of “rushing” come in while you are practically clueless about how it works, the stress of wanting to belong and being in the know can be pretty high.
“Rushing” is the term used to refer to a time, typically at the start of the spring or fall semester, when students meet with members of different fraternities or sororities. During this period, members decide who to invite, while students determine which groups they want to join.
It’s natural for you to get overwhelmed as you navigate many new things in college, but you don’t have to get stressed out. In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about rushing so that you’re ready to get the most out of your college experience.
What is Rushing?
Rushing is an event hosted and organized by college fraternities and sororities typically at the start of the fall or spring semester to meet new students and decide whom they will invite to join.
These events can last a few days up to a week and are usually casual and fun meetings in the form of mixers or parties.
How rushing happens depends on the college or university and the fraternities and sororities. Some are more spontaneous (like casual meet-ups), while others can be more structured and organized. However, typically, the fraternities and sororities at more prominent universities are known to be more structured than those at smaller colleges.
During a rush, it’s not just the members on the lookout for recruits or rushes, as new members are often called. Rushing is also a good opportunity for new students to meet the members, get a feel of the different groups’ atmosphere, and decide which ones they are interested in joining.
This way, you won’t just be rushing blindly into “Greek life.” Instead, you’ll know which house to join when the invitations come in.
What Is Greek Life?
“Greek life” refers to participation in and being part of social groups, fraternities, and sororities in college. Greek life can have many advantages, mainly when growing your social circle and making friends that can help make your college life fun and exciting.
While Greek life is an exciting prospect, it should not be your main focus when choosing a university or college. Participation in social organizations may make your academic life more fun, but the quality of education should be your primary goal.
How To Prepare for Rush Week
There’s not much preparation that you need to do for rush week, as this is simply a fun time to meet new people, get acquainted with the Greek community, and hopefully, gain friends.
However, if you want to make the most of rush week and make an informed choice about which house to join, here are some things you can do:
- Do your research. Chances are you already have a house in mind. Ask around about people’s experience in that house, their activities, and the group’s values. It’s easier to decide when you know what you’re getting into.
- Get acquainted with university policies. You’ll recognize when a house breaks the rules if you know the rules. You’ll know what to avoid and what to look out for.
- Make plans with friends. Rush week is best with friends. So, if you know anyone on campus, make plans with them instead of going to the events alone. You’ll probably make new friends rushing, but having someone already familiar with you will make these social gatherings less overwhelming.
- Just have fun. When the rush season starts, remember that this is simply a means for new students like you to become meshed into campus society. So remember not to overthink it. Just have fun!
Rushing vs. Pledging
The words “rushing” and “pledging” are often used interchangeably. While that is sometimes acceptable, there is a slight difference between the two.
“Rushing” is the process where new students get to explore their options among available social organizations. Rush also lasts only a week and is characterized by many fun social activities that students may or may not attend. There is no commitment involved, and there is no requirement or limit as to how many you should attend.
“Pledging,” on the other hand, is the period when rushes have just accepted an invitation to spend more time at a fraternity or sorority. During this period, pledges are acquainted with Greek life, taught the house rules, and are under observation to determine their ability to adjust to the new environment. It is essentially a probationary period that lasts up to six weeks and has some commitment involved on the part of the pledge.
During this period, members of the fraternity or sorority will size up the recruit and decide whether they get to become full-fledged members. If you seem uncomfortable with the group, constantly show up late, or miss meetings, the frat or sorority might not invite you to stay.
However, if it seems like you get along with everyone and can commit, you’ll probably be offered membership after the pledge period.
The activities involved during pledging can take up considerable time, so it is best to keep that in mind and manage your schedule wisely.
Also, because pledging can be intense, it’s crucial to join a group that genuinely interests you and has values aligned with yours.
What Is Dirty Rushing?
Now that we understand what rushing means, let’s talk about another term you will likely hear on campus: “Dirty rushing.”
“Dirty rushing” refers to any activity by any member of the Greek community that goes against the rules that govern how such social organizations recruit new students.
These rules will vary from university to university, but typically, it is a dirty rush if:
- You are guaranteed a spot on bid day.
- You receive gifts or other tokens from any member of the organization to make you feel obligated to join.
- A member tells you to send gifts or do favors for any organization member to guarantee a bid.
- A member tells you about recruitment activities before the actual rush period or event.
- A member tells you rumors about other students or members of other organizations to influence your decision about which house to join.
- Members of the organization engage in hazing or other illegal activities to recruit students.
Knowing what your university allows and prohibits before rushing season starts will help you be careful when choosing which organization to join later. It’s always best to stay on the safe side and avoid houses that conduct their recruitment activities contrary to university guidelines.
If they’re willing to break the rules, which are there to protect you, how can you be sure that you’re in safe company with them?
What You Get Out of Going Greek
Being part of the Greek community on campus is an excellent way for students to have a more meaningful academic experience. Going Greek has become a long-standing tradition in many educational institutions, and sometimes, joining a house feels like a social requirement instead of an option.
As with anything, becoming a part of a Greek community has its benefits and disadvantages. Regardless of whether you feel pressured to join or not, the choice is entirely up to you.
To help you decide whether to go Greek or not, here are some advantages for you to consider.
Expand Your Connections
When you join a house, you automatically become part of a community that has a decades-long history in many academic institutions. This established group of people can prove advantageous for your future career and even in your years at university.
You will have the opportunity to be mentored by other members, get guidance about extra-curricular events, and have access to support groups to help you in your studies.
Contrary to what makes it into the movies, sororities and fraternities are not all about loud party nights. These organizations are also concerned about their members’ academic performance, and members often help each other out to make good grades.
Of course, every house is different, and some will prioritize their studies more than others. The trick is joining a house that prioritizes the same things you want to focus on. That way, it will be easier for you to get along with other members and participate in the organization’s activities while ensuring that you accomplish your own goals.
Then, when it’s time to graduate, you’ll have a vast network of people who can help you get a headstart in your chosen career. Don’t underestimate the importance of knowing someone who knows someone. It might just land you your dream job!
Make Your College Resume Look Good
Social organizations such as fraternities and sororities have a strong community and social involvement.
If you’re looking to beef up your resume, going Greek is a great option. Having excellent grades will make your resume stand out, but having good grades and strong community involvement is more impressive.
Make sure, however, that in the pursuit of being a well-rounded student, you don’t get so caught up in the extra-curricular activities that you neglect your grades. It’s common for social organizations to have tons of activities year-round.
So, be wise about managing your schedule to balance your studies and extra-curricular involvement. Remember that you don’t have to be present at every event or activity (although some houses may require some commitment), so make sure you’re not biting off more than you can chew.
Also, it will be easier to give your time and energy to a house whose values and activities align with yours. If they do, all those events won’t feel like a burden on your schedule but will be instead fulfilling and fun.
Experience Belongingness and Camaraderie
Another great thing about joining a fraternity or sorority is the experience of camaraderie and belongingness that remains long after you have graduated. In your frat or sorority house, you will make friends that feel more like brothers or sisters to you.
Most students enter college feeling lost and out of place. So if you’re a freshman now and feel an overwhelming sense that you don’t belong where you are, joining a house may be just what you need.
College is stressful. You will meet lots of bumps on the road, which is why you’ll need as much support as you can get. In a frat or sorority house, you will be among people who will support you and help you grow not just as an individual but as a member of society who will make a positive contribution.
Even if you don’t end up joining a house, merely joining rush events is a great way to meet new people and strike up friendships with people.
The Cons of Greek Life
Of course, going Greek also has its disadvantages. Understanding these will help you better weigh your options and decide whether joining a house is worth it or if it’s best to pass.
Remember that every Greek community is different depending on what school you attend. And one person’s experience with joining a fraternity or sorority may not necessarily be the same experience you will have.
Still, it’s good to keep other people’s experiences (both good and bad) in mind when deciding to join Greek life because they can help you navigate it, adjust quickly, and even opt-out if you think it won’t work for you.
It Can Be Costly
As they say, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Being part of a house has many benefits that’ll last long after graduation. However, those benefits come with a cost, which is not cheap.
Houses usually require a membership fee from their members. This fee can go as high as $1,000 every semester! However, if you think that’s it, you’re unfortunately mistaken. Think of all the community activities, dances, mixers, social gatherings, parties, and so on that a house busies itself with throughout the semester.
Those activities need money to run, and that money comes from every house member. There can be memorabilia like house pins and T-shirts, which also find funding from the members’ pockets.
Membership costs usually include chapter fees, organization fees, and insurance. If you want to join an organization with relatively lower prices, you may want to avoid those with a known track record of breaking university policies. These organizations typically pay significantly higher insurance, especially if their past offenses have been grave.
Membership fees also depend on the school you attend. Those with longstanding Greek traditions may have higher prices than those with very minimal Greek involvement.
Since membership is not cheap, make sure that you’re joining a house that’s worth every penny.
It Requires Time and Commitment
Fraternities and sororities are social organizations. That means membership in these organizations will require your time, commitment, and participation.
The time commitment will vary from house to house, but most organizations will require a commitment of eight hours every week. You will get to know more about this when you receive a bid and proceed to the pledging phase, where you will get acquainted with all the house rules and obligations.
If you’re someone who wants to focus on your academics more than extra-curricular activities, joining a house may not work out for you. Being a member will fill your schedule with community engagements and meetings to organize events and plan activities.
Some people can multitask well, and in that case, balancing studies and a full extra-curricular schedule may work. However, the reality is most students juggle part-time jobs with classes, and that itself is already quite challenging (not to mention exhausting!).
If you know that you have a lot on your plate, you might want to step back and weigh your options before committing.
There’s the Possibility of Hazing and Other Illegal Conduct
One of the worst things about joining a house is that many sororities and fraternities have a reputation for hazing, abuse, and illegal conduct. While you can gain some fantastic benefits through membership, it has also led some people to have traumatic experiences.
Today, all social organizations are prohibited from engaging in hazing. However, some still engage in hazing and other illegal activities in secret.
Some organizations do not fully disclose how they run their house or what goes on in their meetings. Often, that’s part of the charm – mystery can be fascinating.
Still, this is why it’s essential to do your research. Ask around. Talk to people. Someone likely knows something because, ironically, these hidden activities have a way of leaking out.
Be careful about which house you’re joining, and ensure you’re not getting into something you’ll regret later.
Rushing is an exciting time that you should not pass up. Whether you’re seriously thinking of joining a house or just want to meet new people and have a good time, rushing can make your college experience more meaningful.
If you’ve made up your mind about going Greek, make sure that you’re prepared, informed, and mindful of Greek life’s pros and cons.