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What does it mean to rush for a sorority or fraternity?

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Sorority Rush Overview

Typically, rush is called “formal rush” because it’s a highly organized process lasting several weeks. Each institution has its own way of conducting rush, but this can give you a general idea of how it works.

Women are typically required to visit each sorority and meet current members. It’s a way for those rushing and sisters in the house to gauge each other’s personalities. The current members often sing, dance, and put on shows to welcome visiting potential members. There is usually a short interview with such deep probing questions as: Where are you from? Do you have any siblings? What do you do for fun? Have any pets? Once sorority members meet all the rushees, they invite certain people back for subsequent meetings (sometimes dinner or an activity).

Eventually, bids are offered. Bids are invitations asking those rushing to become members. This is when things can get ugly. Some people who want bids don’t get bids—only hurt feelings. Please, do not take the process personally. These people have no clue who you really are and what you’re all about. It’s virtually impossible to really get to know you during this fast-paced process. If you don’t get in the first time you rush, trust that you’ll have made new friends simply by participating in the rush process. Then you can have the best of both worlds, and should you decide to rush again, you’ll have a ticket in the door. If formal rush is too much for you, informal rush happens all year long, in which you and the members can get to know each other over time.

Fraternity Rush Overview

Again, it varies from campus to campus, but fraternity rush is generally less formal than sorority rush. During men’s rush, it’s all about getting to know the brothers and finding out if you mesh with the guys in the house. Organized rush events like attending a sporting event, playing basketball with brothers, cookouts, dinners, and rush parties are typical functions. Once rush ends, the fraternity members hand out bids. If you accept, you become a pledge. Most fraternities have a fall pledge class and a winter pledge class. And again, if you don’t get in (and you wanted to), at least you’ll have friends who are in who can offer you a bid next semester (it happened to me).

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Harlan Cohen is the author of The Naked Roommate series of books and is one of the most widely read and respected syndicated advice columnists for people in their teens and twenties. His column, "Help Me, Harlan!," is distributed by King Features Syndicate. Harlan regularly tours high school and college campuses giving presentations to students, professionals, and parents. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Follow Harlan on Twitter @HarlanCohen.

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