As the senior class has started second semester, many students are beginning to consider what school they will attend next fall. One of the common decisions incoming freshman make is whether or not they want to be a part of greek life. Here is some frequently asked questions about joining a sorority answered from two LFHS alumni who are a member of greek life now.
What sorority are you in?
Elena Walker: Delta Gamma at the University of Southern California Santa Barbara
Jenny McKendry: Gamma Phi Beta “gphi” at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
How long was the rush process?
Elena Walker: The whole process takes a few months as you collect recommendations from older sorority women (moms, grandmas, sisters, etc.) Once I got to school, the process took six days, with each day starting in the morning and mid-afternoon.
Jenny McKendry: The rush process was two weekends. The first weekend we went to 9 houses on the first say, 10 on the second with a lunch break in between, and had 15 minutes in between each house. As each day goes on, you get a certain amount of houses back. It varies for every person depending on if you match with the houses you choose.
Did you know going into college you wanted to join a sorority or were you influenced by other people?
Elena Walker: I was sort of leaning away from greek life but my family and friends urged me to give it a shot. Especially since very few people from Lake Forest go to my school, I thought it would be a quick way to meet people.
Jenny McKendry: I always thought I would join a sorority but was never dead set on it. I’ve always been pretty independent so knew I would be fine without it but greek life goes beyond the social scene and that is what I really like about it.
What should you wear during rush week?
Elena Walker: What you wear during rush week completely depends on the University. For me it was super casual compared to other schools that have more prominent greek life. The first two days a lot of people wore jean skirts and cute tops with sandal-type shoes. In general it gets more formal each day, so girls step it up with rompers/ pants/ or a sundress, maybe with a slight heel. The last night is pretty nice, so girls wore sort of homecoming dresses and tall heels. Bid day is super casual and you gotta wear shoes you can run in!
Jenny McKendry: During rush week, you’ll get told a vague description for what to wear as in how dressy you should be, but it varies for every school. The first two days for open house, they supply you with a Panhellenic T-shirt and you can choose your bottoms (I wore J Crew shorts) and then for the first invite I wore an off the shoulder sundress with wedges. Second invite I wore a fancier dress, like one you would wear to graduation, and the last invite (third) I wore a tight black dress with heels (it was a dress I would have worn to a turnabout in high school and semi-formal in college). It’s honestly nothing to stress over because everyone is willing to share their clothes with you and help you pick out what to wear and if a sorority does judge you on what you’re wearing, you probably don’t want to join that sorority anyway.
How big of a time commitment is being in a sorority?
Elena Walker: Being in a sorority is as big of a commitment as you want it to be. There are girls who attend every event, and fundraiser, and hold high positions within the chapter. Other girls are involved in a lot of other things on campus so can’t always prioritize sorority events. That being said, it is fun to do things with your sorority, so girls can anticipate wanting to spend time there. I’d say that the time commitment is comparable to taking another class.
Jenny McKendry: The commitment part of the sorority really depends on how involved you get. There are always social events, sisterhood events, initiation rituals, and chapter meetings; however, everything is pretty optional besides initiation week and chapter (which you have to attend twice a month and there is four per month). I recently got an officer position in the house called internal social chair, which is basically in charge of scheduling our date events which include bar crawls (you can get into the bars at 19 in Champaign), our barn dances, and our semi formals, so I have had much more of a “time commitment” this year. Basically, everyone’s level of involvement is different and they are very understanding if you ever have to miss something because of school or work. From talking to my friends at other schools (Santa Clara, Boulder, Tulane, SMU, ect.) the rush process/ sorority life varies at every school. Some are super relaxed, some have little commitment, some aren’t that big of a part of their college experience, and some are–it all depends. Joining a sorority isn’t like a do-or-die type of thing but it does have lots of benefits (connections in the future is one of the biggest I’d say).
What advice would you give to girls who want to rush in the future?
Elena Walker: For girls that want to rush in the future, I would say to do as little research as possible beforehand about which sororities are “good.” That’s what rush week is for. It’s tempting to look at their Instagrams or Tumblrs and fall in love with a sorority, but you truly don’t know which house you will fit in with until you get to college. Keeping an open mind is so important in order to make a good and genuine decision. Also, being your truest and realest self is the best approach to ending up at a house that fits you. Trying to be someone you’re not will be very clear to the girls rushing you and you will likely end up in a house you don’t particularly fit in with.
Jenny McKendry: Advice I would give for girls who want to rush would be go for it. Even if you’re unsure of it, like I said before, joining a sorority is awesome for the social aspect but it also goes much beyond that. I’ve made friends that I will have my whole life through greek life, I got an interview which led to my job, I got involved with philanthropy/volunteering, and overall learned so much from all the girls in my house. For the rush process everyone should go in with an open mind and be yourself. Relax, breathe, and remember they’re trying to impress you/want you just as much as you are trying to impress them. Look around at the girls at each house and see if you get good vibes and could see yourself being friends with them. If a girl that you’re talking to during rush is trash talking another house, it is probably not a good sign. Always be positive. The unspoken rule is never talk about the three B’s (boys, booze, and bills). Things to talk about are summer, family, hobbies, sports, friends, goals and what you’re looking for in your college experience, etc. Always ask good questions! Some examples of these would be: what makes this house different from others? What’s your favorite part of your house? How’s your food? Do you have rooms or cold dorms? Could you see me fitting in/am I similar/have a personality that would vibe well with the other girls in the house? Lastly, be the most genuine version of yourself as possible during the process because that way you’ll find the best fit for you and you’ll be able to make the most out of the four years you’re at the school.