We’ve all heard (and possibly rolled our eyes at) it a million times: From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it, but from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.
If you’re on “the inside,” you live and breath this. It makes sense. That’s why you’re here, on Total Sorority Move, right now. You’re a Greek woman and you get it. But what about if you’re on “the outside”? We all were, once. You’re looking in and wondering what the hell this Lilly print BS is all about. You want to understand. You want to get it. You want to know what brings generations of women together in monograms and letters. You’re intrigued by the idea of having a home away from home. You’ve considered going Greek, and even though you haven’t taken the leap, you’ve thought about it. But what if it’s too late?
I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of your columns on TSM and I was wondering if I could get your advice on sorority life.
I currently go to a community college but I’ll be transferring as a junior to a state school this fall and I’m considering rushing. Through reading a lot of articles on TSM and sorority blogs, I noticed that there seems to be a obvious pecking order in sororities, especially when most girls pledge as freshmen. Do you think it’s too late to join a sorority as a junior? I’d really appreciate any opinions or advice you might have.
Hey there (little) J,
First of all, cheers to you for starting out in community college. Trust me, your bank account will be forever grateful for that. Secondly, what a hard effing question. Now, I’m going to be 100 percent honest with you, because a bullshit answer won’t help when you’ve spent a lot of time, money, and energy rushing sororities that might not want you. The long and short of it is that recruitment is going to be much, much harder for you.
I wish it wasn’t like that. It would be great if they took girls for who they were despite their academic level, just like it would be great if they took girls despite their outward appearance. Neither of those will happen. It sucks and it’s shameful, but it’s Greek life, and it is what it is.
Sororities, as organizations, consider members an investment. Weird, huh? At the end of the day, though, Greek life is a business. They give sisters resources, connections, and opportunities that are unavailable to non-Greek members in exchange for cold, hard cash. Girls who join a sorority as freshmen are more likely to form bonds that keep them in the chapter, buy merchandise, and choose to be involved after graduation, which means paying those pesky alumnae dues. Basically, those who enter the chapter as freshmen will give the chapter more money. Kind of sad, huh? But it doesn’t stop there! There are more aspects than just “potential money” that chapters look at, and they will unfortunately hold those against you. Sorry.
Beauty: Yeah, looks. It’s high up there on the PNM checklist. The difference in rushing as a freshman and as a junior is that to get in a top-tier chapter at eighteen, you need to be pretty. To get in a top-tier chapter at twenty-one, you need to be freaking gorgeous.
Involvement: Despite the partying and events, sororities really do want involved and driven women. The more involved a girl is (be it in philanthropy, clubs, or sports) the more likely she is to be involved in the chapter. More chapter involvement means more funding. Fucking economics. As a freshman, chapters understand (and like) that you’re not involved, so they can help you become an outstanding and well-rounded Panhellenic woman. As a junior, however, they’ll wonder what you were doing for the past two years besides just taking classes. Make sure you have some really impressive involvement, and if you don’t, start making up some shit. It’s good practice for when you lie about your service hours, anyway.
Network: As with most things in life, recruitment is all about who you know. If you walk into rush having friends in the houses, you’re much more likely to get a bid than if you enter blindly. Take some time to build relationships with Greek girls so that you get a feeling for what this whole thing is all about. Plus, if they really like you, they’ll speak up on your behalf when it’s time to vote. And as a junior, you’re going to need that. Finally, check to see if your grandma, cousins, aunts, teachers, gyno, etc. were in a sorority back in the day. If so, have them fill out a recommendation and work your brown nosing skills. Trust me, it helps to have friends in top-tier places.
But who’s to say you need to be top-tier?
Being mid-tier or bottom-tier takes nothing away from the sisterhood, the bonding, or the experience. You’ll still have a big, formals, and plenty of opportunities to make horrible but wonderful decisions. I rushed my sophomore year and found my home in a mid-tier sorority, which turned out to be a perfect fit. Is that to say that I wouldn’t have been top-tier had I rushed as a freshman? I’m not sure. I’m pretty (and at eighteen, I was about ten pounds lighter), outgoing, and I knew plenty of people in Greek life. Some chapters will only take a few sophomores and one or two juniors. Some will take zero juniors. It’s a cutthroat environment, but at the end of the day, it’s not that big of a deal.
You change a lot between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, and most chapters don’t want you at twenty-one. They want you at eighteen. Can you do it? Hell yes. There have been girls who’ve joined Greek life as juniors who went on to be the president the next year. Then there have been girls who didn’t get a bid at all. If you’re serious about going Greek, you need to make them want you. Curl your hair, put on an extra layer of mascara, and be the charming girl I know you can be. If they decide that you’re not for them, then it’s their loss. You’re old enough now to know that the only thing that truly defines you is who you are as a person. Being Greek is great, but there are tons of great things that college has to offer. You’ll find the perfect group of sisters, lifelong friends, and opportunities whether they involve Greek letters or not..