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    What Does Rushing in College Mean?

    By Cece Gilmore

    Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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    and Savannah Dawson

    Prior to coming to Scholarships360 for her first internship in 2022, Savannah utilized her campus publications by joining various fashion publications that are offered at Ohio University. One of those publications is Thread Magazine, where Savannah has had the opportunity to work on articles related to world-wide related fashion news and events, as well as articles closer to home, such as a fashion piece on Athens hometown-hero Joe Burrow. This year, Savannah also had the opportunity to be a content writing intern for Aiken House, as well as a section editor for Southeast Ohio Magazine. In 2023, Savannah served as the Chapter President of her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta. These collective experiences, as well as her experience currently working for Ohio University’s Undergraduate Admissions, has led her to Scholarships360 and aided in her passion for helping students better understand the college admissions process and financial aid. In her free time, Savannah enjoys horseback riding, watching Formula One races, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family. Savannah will graduate from Ohio University in May 2024 with a degree in Journalism News and Information and a certificate in Italian Studies.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: June 20th, 2024
    What Does Rushing in College Mean?

    When students start college, they are sometimes confused about what “rushing” means. Rushing refers to when new students who are interested in joining a fraternity or sorority get to know the current members. This process is now formally called “recruitment”, although the term “rush” has stuck due to how well known it is. Now that you have an idea as to what rushing is, you likely have a million more questions about Greek life. Keep reading to learn more about Greek life in college! 

    What is Greek life?

    “Greek life” refers to the activities of fraternities and sororities on campus. A “fraternity” is a group of men who are a part of a brotherhood built on common goals. Similarly, a “sorority” is a group of women who are a sisterhood built on common goals. These common goals are generally built around philanthropy, academics, and values.

    Greek Life is made up of a variety of different councils that vary from school to school. These include the Women’s Panhellenic Association (WPA), which is the governing body for member sororities belonging to the umbrella organization – the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) in the US and Canada, the Interfraternity Council (IFC), including men’s fraternities, the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC), which contains both fraternities and sororities with a focus on specific ethnicities or cultures, and the National Pan-Hellenic Conference (NPHC), which includes the original nine historically black Greek-lettered organizations. 

    Greek life offers students:

    Volunteering opportunities 

    Fraternities and sororities are known for their philanthropy, or their charitable acts that help others. They typically raise money for certain causes by completing events such as car washes or selling food products. Each sorority and fraternity host signature philanthropy events during each semester to help them raise money for their particular cause. Every Greek Life organization has their own philanthropy that they focus on, and they include a wide variety of things– from fighting hunger, to fighting childhood cancer, to helping veterans. 

    Related: Top virtual volunteer opportunities

    Vibrant social scene

    In addition to their philanthropy, Greek life offers students a very social college experience. Fraternities and sororities host socials, formals, and date parties throughout the year for both members and non-members to socialize and have fun. Greek life definitely appeals to students who are looking to make close friendships and attend social events on campus. 

    Support system for new students

    Greek life can also be a great support system for students who are transitioning into the college lifestyle. Older members are able to serve as mentors and aid the new members who may be struggling to adjust to college life.

    Related: How to get involved in college

    Leadership opportunities

    Every Greek Life organization has an executive board and leadership positions where men and women can lead their organization, help it to grow, and have a say on what goes on throughout the academic year. These positions can be for philanthropy, siblinghood, recruitment, and much more. These positions can be great resume builders and help students to gain real world management experience before entering the workforce. 

    Sorority president experience

    Being president of my sorority is one of the most influential experiences of my collegiate career thus far. It has taught me how to be a leader, time management, and the importance of networking. This position has opened many doors for me that would have never been possible without joining my sorority.

    Savannah Dawson | Sorority president, Ohio University

    Further reading: Greek life: The pros and cons

    Keep an open mind!

    Keep an open mind during rush about all of the possibilities you have! Try to ignore any preconceived ideas you have about a fraternity or sorority and get to know the members on a personal level. Try to figure out which organization you connect with the most and do not let others, such as friends or family, influence or pressure you. 

    Student author perspective

    Going into recruitment with an open mind is one of the most important things you can do. You will see and hear things about different organizations that may or may not be true, so it is important to investigate for yourself and find where you are the best fit rather than listening to the opinions of others.

    Savannah Dawson | Sorority member, Ohio University

    What is rushing in college? 

    Rushing is also known as recruitment for a sorority or fraternity. Rushing is the period of time in which students check out the fraternities and sororities on campus. It is a two-way evaluation process for students to decide which fraternities or sororities they like and for the fraternities and sororities to determine which students they would like to join their group. 

    Also see: Top community service ideas

    When does rushing occur? 

    Typically, the rushing, or recruitment, process occurs at the beginning of the fall and/or spring semester. The rushing process will look very different depending on the college. Some colleges have a very formal rush process in which registration is required and many rules to follow. Other colleges may have an informal rush where the Greek life organizations host an event or two to get to know the new students. 

    Typically, rushing a fraternity will be less intense and formal than rushing a sorority. Many sororities also offer two recruitments a year– one per semester– with one of them occasionally being called “continuous open bidding”. This process is essentially when a sorority has open spots left, so they have the opportunity to informally recruit women when they are actively in a recruitment period. 

    What is pledging? 

    Once the rush period is over, the fraternities will meet to vote on which students they would like to “pledge” into their organizations. The pledge period is the time when potential fraternity members have received invitations to join, but have yet to be formally initiated. 

    This process looks slightly different for sororities, as this is called being extended a bid. At formal recruitment, this is a large event where all of the sororities across campus come together to announce which new members are going to which houses. This is called Bid Day, and it is a celebration of the new members. New members can choose to accept or decline their bids to a sorority. 

    Tips for rushing a fraternity or sorority


    Prior to rushing a fraternity, do some research on the Greek organization you are interested in. Find out if they have their own house, what their values are, and more! You can usually find this information by following these organizations on social media.

    You can also do this to prepare yourself for sorority recruitment, however, the point of recruitment is to learn about each house, the sisterhood, and philanthropy, so it can be more beneficial to go in with an open mind instead of doing tons of research ahead of time. It is important to note that although they share similarities, each Greek organization is different at any school you go to. 

    In addition to completing some background research, you should also prepare some questions of your own. One of the best ways to make an impression is to ask insightful questions to learn more about the Greek organization members and their lives and experiences at the college. This can allow you to avoid any awkward lulls in conversation and help make an impression on your peers. 


    During rush, fraternities and sororities host events to give new students the opportunity to meet members. In order to make a good first impression, follow these tips: 

    • Be respectful at all times
    • Make direct eye contact
    • Try to remember the names of the people you meet
    • Be your authentic self
    • Avoid talking about partying or alcohol, especially during sorority recruitment
    • Don’t talk badly about other organizations

    Remember, the rush period is all about getting to know new people! So be prepared to talk to a lot of new people and make a great first impression. 

    Keep an open mind!

    Keep an open mind during rush about all of the possibilities you have! Try to ignore any preconceived ideas you have about a fraternity or sorority and get to know the members on a personal level. Try to figure out which organization you connect with the most and do not let others, such as friends or family, influence or pressure you. 

    Student author perspective

    Going into recruitment with an open mind is one of the most important things you can do throughout the process. You will see and hear things about different organizations that may or may not be true, so it is important to investigate for yourself and find where you are the best fit rather than listening to the opinions of others.

    Savannah Dawson | Sorority member, Ohio University

    How do you become a member of a fraternity or sorority? 

    After the rushing period, fraternities and sororities send out bids or invitations to the students they want. The selected students are given the opportunity to either accept or decline their offer. Once a student accepts a bid, the pledging process will begin. 

    During the pledging process, pledges get to know the members of the organization as well as the organization’s values and history. At the end of the pledging process, the new members will be officially initiated into the chapter of the Greek organization. 

    Important factors to consider when choosing a fraternity or sorority

    Time commitment

    Joining Greek life is a huge time commitment. You can expect the recruitment process to take at least two weeks, so it is critical that you consider this prior to rushing. There will also be many Greek-related mandatory events throughout the year. The time commitment is what you make of it. If you choose to only attend the mandatory events, then the time commitment is not as large. You can still be involved in other things on campus, and most Greek organizations encourage that. 


    Most Greek chapters require members to pay dues either annually or every semester. These dues range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. This cost does not include the various social functions such as trips, formals, and other fees that could come up throughout the year. Therefore, it is important that you look into the cost of certain organizations and if it is worth it for you. Many organizations offer payment plans or special scholarships that only chapter members can receive, so it can be helpful to note which ones have those as you are going through the process.

    Also see: How to save money in college

    Is rushing right for you?

    Greek life offers students plenty of opportunities to make connections and develop long-term relationships. Remember, there are plenty of other opportunities to do the same outside of Greek life as well. Ultimately, if Greek life feels like it is the right thing for you, consider everything you just read, and good luck!

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • Greek life is not for everyone, but it can have a lot of benefits for those who are involved
    • Being a leader in a sorority or fraternity can be great for job opportunities and networking in the future
    • Philanthropy is a huge part of Greek life, so selecting a philanthropic focus that you are passionate about is important when going through the process
    • Greek Life can be expensive, but being a part of those organizations can also open doors for chapter specific scholarships and grants

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    Frequently asked questions about rushing in college

    Why is it called “rushing” for fraternities and sororities?

    The word “rush” literally refers to the idea of recruiting first-year students and getting them to “rush” over to a certain fraternity or sorority before another gets them to join first!

    What year of college do you rush?

    Rushing at most schools takes place at the beginning of the fall or spring semester during the first year of college. Some schools have rules about specific times when rushing is permitted, and do not permit first semester rushing at all. 

    What’s the difference between rushing and pledging?

    In simple terms, rushing is the exploratory period for both the fraternities/sororities and potential new Greek members. Pledging is the period of time between rushing and the official ceremony that welcomes students into the Greek organization.

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