Sorority 101

Everything you need to know about joining a sorority.

Greek life may seem like a mystery to those on the outside. If you are thinking of joining a sorority but don’t know what to expect, this Sorority 101 guide is for you. From what to expect from rush to life in a sorority, this guide will answer all of your burning questions.

Rush (also known as recruitment)

Rush can take place during either the Fall or the Spring semester. At larger schools (especially in the South) girls will show up to school about a week before classes start to rush. The length of this process varies, it is usually between four and eight says, but can last up to two weeks at some schools. While it varies by school, each day usually has a different theme (such as sisterhood or philanthropy).

Much of the process involves talking to different girls in the sororities you are interested in. Some of these conversations may feel a little awkward, but they are an important part of rush. See our Sorority Rush Guide for an idea of what to expect from this stage.

The last day of rush is called “pref day.” This is the day when you narrow down your choices and go back to the one or two sororities you liked best. This part of the process is a bit more serious, where the sororities will perform a ritual (usually relating to the history of the sorority). After this stage you rank your choices in order of your preference. Rush is a mutual selection process, meaning that the sororities pick which girls they would like and individuals pick which sorority they would like.

Rush culminates in Bid day. Each sorority will have a different theme for this day (Great Gatsby, under the sea, etc.). New members will reveal which sorority they have been placed in and participate in a reveal celebration specific to the school they attend.

Some sororities don’t reach their maximum amount of girls during rush. They can use informal recruitment or continuous open bidding to hand out bids throughout the semester.

Dues will vary for each sorority and will be different depending on whether you live in the house or not.

New member period

This period generally lasts about six weeks. During this period new members learn about their sorority and get to know other members of their pledge class.

The big/little reveal also happens in the middle of this period. This takes place over a week, where “big sisters” give gifts and surprises to their little sister. At the end of the week there is a grand reveal where everyone meets their big.

The most important part of the new member period is initiation, which comes at the end of the period. This is the most “culty” part, where members wear all white and sing songs. During this initiation the existing members reveal secrets and traditions of the sorority to the new members.

Living in the house

Not all campuses have sorority houses. If a campus does not the sorority may reside on a certain dorm floor or it may not have any communal housing. There are certain advantages to living in the sorority house. They are generally very close to campus, the houses are beautiful, you are living with your closest friends, and living expenses include things such as a chef.

The number of girls that can live in a house varies, some can only hold around 10 but those at bigger schools can house up to 70. Newly built sorority houses are required to have a “sleeping porch” or dorm. This is a common room where everyone sleeps. Members will have a “day room” where they can keep their stuff and study, but everyone sleeps in the common space (this is for safety reasons, in case there is a fire at night everyone can be accounted for quickly).

Sorority houses also have a house mom who manages the operations of the house. This person could be a member of the sorority or an older, unaffiliated woman. They take care of the needs of the house such as paying utility bills and replacing broken items.

During the year

Sororities will have chapter meetings once a week during the semester. Additionally, each sorority has their own philanthropy (breast cancer awareness, Alzheimer’s association, etc.) and will hold fundraising events throughout the year. Members also have required volunteer hours each semester.

Sororities must follow specific rules regarding alcohol. Sororities cannot throw parties with alcohol involved (fraternities can, however). Further, sorority members cannot drink while wearing their letters since they are representing their sorority. This does not mean there are no parties. Once a semester sororities throw date parties and formals, as well as frequent mixers with different fraternities and club sports teams on campus.


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