Graduates Going Greek :: About Rush and Recruitment

They call it RECRUITMENT.

You might know it as “Rush,” but it’s technical name is Recruitment. For those of you who have graduates heading off to colleges and universities, it may be something you’ve discussed with your child or something he or she has expressed interest in doing. For those who have been in a sorority or fraternity, it isn’t much of a mystery, and you’ve pretty much got the basics down for how to go about helping your kiddo through the process. However, for others, it may be (forgive the pun) “completely Greek” to you and more than slightly overwhelming. This is a basic guide to what Recruitment is, some key terms to know, and how to aid your graduate in being a part of Rush.

Who is THEY?

There are different governing bodies for Greek organizations. This is “they.” These Panhellenic, Pan-Hellenic, and Interfraternal governments help their membership to generate academically successful and socially aware young women and men.

The largest ones are:

These organizations are led by women and men of integrity who seek to cultivate honesty and honor at state and local (i.e. chapter) levels so our children have positive and rewarding college experiences. “They” call it Recruitment and want our kids to have fun while also recruiting each other respectfully. They are also the ones who crack down on hazing and make sure our children understand that the purpose of a Greek organization is to build each other up, not break each other down.

Moment of truth: I got sent to Standards one time (and why will remain a mystery to you) – this is like getting sent to the Chancellor’s office with your peers and favorite mentors in the room. It is not fun and absolutely discourages future screw ups unless you’re just nuts. These people are serious, and they make sure alumni advisors and chapter officers are serious.

Explain it in GREEK.

Living in any country, if you live amongst the locals long enough, you pick up the language. I grew up in a college town with a large Greek presence, parents who were Greek, brothers who were in fraternities, and babysitters, sisters-in-law and aunts who were in sororities. Picking up the lingo was not hard. Explaining it to you without using the jargon is next to impossible.

To make this Greek interpretation easier, here are a few links:

The first link has basic sorority terms, and this site (The Sorority Life) is endorsed by the National Panhellenic Council which governs 26 women’s fraternities/sororities. The second link is located on the University of Louisiana Lafayette’s website and includes the terms used by each of the above organizations. The Divine Nine link is from Truman State University and is a list of terms used specifically by the nine organizations which are part of the NPHC.

And because a refresher in Greek letters never hurts, here is the alphabet and some fraternity and sorority nicknames.

How about WHEN and WHAT?

Recruitment – aka Rush – is run a little differently from campus to campus (in some cases, a lot differently). The first thing you need to do is find out how Greek life is run at the school your child will be attending. The school website should give you this information, but if you are having trouble, never hesitate to call the university! Greek life on any campus is visible, and schools really make an effort to help students and parents navigate it. Here’s what you’re looking for on the website or calling to ask about:

  • WHEN is Recruitment?
    • Depending on the school, Rush can be at different times. For instance, LSU Rush 2017 will be in August. However, Ole Miss will hold theirs in September. Each school has a different schedule.
    • NPHC Recruitment is called “Intake” and is held separately – their membership process differs from the Panhellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council.
  • WHAT is the difference between Recruitment for the different Greek groups?
    • The Panhellenic Council is the governing body governs a group of women’s fraternity/sorority groups (depending on when a group was founded, it may hold the designation fraternity despite the fact that it is a wholly female group).
    • The Interfraternity Council is the governing body for a group of male-only fraternities. Its Recruitment season commonly coincides with the Panhellenic Council schedule.
    • NPHC, Inc. is made up of nine fraternities AND sororities that are traditionally African-American.
  • WHEN is the deadline for submitting an application to participate?
    • This varies from school to school. Be assured, though, that application deadlines for 2017 are fast approaching!
  • WHAT information and qualifications are required to participate in Rush?
    • Good academic standing (in most circumstances 2.5+ GPA but this varies), community involvement, and extracurricular activities are prerequisites for participating.
    • Formal application to participate in Recruitment along with fee to participate.


Probably the first thing to say is that while being in a fraternity or sorority is fun and has its rewards, it isn’t always for everyone. In my hometown, a college town, most of the people I grew up with do have Greek affiliations, but not all. Some people enjoy going through Rush but decide it is not for them. Just because you go through Recruitment does not mean you have to pledge.

Also, it does sometimes happen that someone does not end up with a placement. I do not want to brush this under the rug. It is uncommon, but it happens. When it does, the question of WHY comes up. Unfortunately, each case is different. The best thing to do when Rush commences is to remind your child to follow the advice of their Recruitment Advisors and to put a best foot forward in all situations.

There are some things you can do to help make Recruitment a good experience, and this is what they are:

  • Recommendations: Just as with any opportunity, positive recommendations are important. They need to be from Greek alumni who know your child (preferably). There is a formal “rec” process that alumni do to commend a prospective new member to the alumni’s chapter. Two are good, but the more recs your child has from chapter alumni, the better.
  • Notes: In addition to recs, handwritten recommendations (aka “notes”) from Greek alumni are important. The difference between a rec and a note is that a recommendation comes from an alumnus from that school’s chapter. A note may come from a fraternity/sorority member from an affiliate chapter. However, depending on the organization in question, recs and notes may be considered one in the same. Regardless, it never hurts to have two or more of both.
  • Resume: The school’s Greek system may require a list of activities, academic and otherwise, along with information about your child’s GPA. In addition to this, it is best to have a prepared resume. Most high schools require this as part of the junior and senior curriculum. Be sure to look over it and perhaps have a colleague look over it. Make sure that there are recommendations given just as if your graduate is applying for a job. If a relative, friend, or acquaintance is asked to write a rec or a note, it is important that they receive a copy of the resume along with a picture.
  • Picture: Make sure the picture that is included with the resume is one you would be happy to see with any application submitted for a job – senior photos are good as well.
  • Thank You Notes: If someone has written your graduate a recommendation or a note (or made a request to a friend to write one), make sure he/she writes all parties a thank you note.
  • Reputation: Reputation is a sensitive topic at any age, and I am addressing it because I want the best for all of our children. Reputations can follow us beyond high school (sometimes, even into adulthood). Having a healthy respect for how actions affect reputation is important. In the words of Emily Post, “By being aware of your actions, appearance, and words, and working to improve your performance in all three areas, you can directly enhance the quality of your relationships.” Partying too hard, promiscuity, being unkind or bullying – we’ve all seen how these things can change someone’s good opinion into a poor one. Sewing a few wild oats is to be expected of kids as they get older. Some reminders to take Ms. Post’s words to heart may help curb some of the wilder behavior, though, and can help your child have a good Recruitment.
  • Play the Field: Last but not least, it is very important to meet everyone you possibly can. The dating advice to “play the field” is just as important when approaching Recruitment. And while it might seem like obvious advice to be kind, sometimes a reminder doesn’t hurt. Tell your graduates to ask more questions than they are answering – being interested in other people’s stories is a sure way to make friends and have others be interested in who they are.

I love this most about the fraternity and sorority systems – meeting people, networking, experiencing new things. It’s why I urge people to encourage children to go through Rush. It’s a way to build relationships and communities.

On top of that these organizations need new recruits so that there will be new leaders coming up through the ranks that push us. Greek affiliates have become Presidents and Attorney Generals, Actors and Entertainers, News Anchors and Correspondents, Miss Americas and Astronauts. The founders of organizations such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Pediatric AIDS Foundation were members of the Greek community. Each of these individuals was given opportunity through their fraternity or sorority – pushed to reach farther and do more, be more.

I know that kids can be given openings and breaks without the Greek system. But I think our children need every chance that’s available to them. I hope this may give you a push to encourage your graduate to look at Recruitment … whether they pledge or not. You never know what could be gate could be unlocked.


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