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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.  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 rushing and 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. 

Further reading: Greek life: The pros and cons

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. 

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 mixers, formals, and 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

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 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. 

What is pledging? 

Once the rush period is over, the fraternities and sororities will meet to vote on which students they would like to “pledge” into their organizations. The pledge period is the time when potential fraternity of sorority members have received invitations to join, but have yet to be formally initiated. Every school has different requirements during this time, from simply waiting for the formal initiation ceremony, to cleaning the fraternity house bathrooms for weeks on end. 

Tips for rushing a fraternity or sorority


Prior to rushing, 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.

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

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. 

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. Rushing and pledging take up a lot of free time, so it is critical that you consider this prior to rushing. There will also be many Greek-related mandatory events throughout the year. 


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. 

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!

Frequently asked questions about rushing in college

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

What year of college do you rush?

What’s the difference between rushing and pledging?