Rush was … something else. It’s a strange process, and I cannot imagine that I will ever experience anything else quite like it. Throughout the week-long process of formal recruitment, I had high highs, and low lows. I laughed, I cried and I smiled until my cheeks felt numb. Ultimately, Rush ended well for me, and I pledged a sorority that I absolutely love, with girls that I cannot wait to spend the next four years with. But my Rush Week was rough, and though I was told by my friends and others that it probably would be, I still felt unprepared when I walked through the door of the first house.
So, for anyone out there who feels the way I did about a month ago when I was about to Rush, here are six pieces of advice I wish I had been given before I went through Winter Recruitment:
Rush is weird. Just go with it.
It’s just so, so weird. When I asked my non-Northwestern friends who rushed in the fall about it, none of them were ever quite able to describe it to me. I never understood why. But now, I totally get it.
First of all, the entire process is based around 5-10 minute conversations you have with chapter members at “parties” you have at their houses. But they aren’t really parties. They’re like frantic, rushed speed-dating rounds.
The sororities aren’t allowed to give out “gifts” in case it sways your opinion of them, so they only pass out water. And don’t take the cups! You aren’t allowed to take anything from the houses, not even a tissue. If you take something, or if the parties run even 30 seconds long, recruitment counselors (RCs) have to fill out paperwork and the chapters get fined.
Many chapters have their members sit on the floor while you sit on a couch or chair, to avoid a power imbalance, and they always take your coat. When you leave, they will all cluster at the door sing really peppy songs and smile and clap their hands.
I’m probably confusing you right now, as well as proving why it was impossible for my friends to describe this process to me. Honestly, to understand it, you just have to go through it, and if you don’t go through it, count yourself lucky that you never have to understand it.
Know that you will probably become more invested than you thought you would be.
The advice I received most frequently as I was nearing my Rush Week was to keep an open mind and try not to get too “invested” or “attached” to a specific house. This is great advice, in theory. If you avoid becoming emotionally invested, then you won’t be let down if it doesn’t go your way. In practice, however, this might have been the worst advice I was given.
Attachment is the embodiment of Rush. You go from house to house, looking for one where you could see yourself for the next four years. Recruitment is so emotionally and physically draining that it would almost be a waste of time to not get excited about any of the houses. You will become invested.
You will find houses that you like and houses that you don’t like, and you may become attached to the idea of joining a sorority in general. It will hurt if houses that you like drop you, and while you may feel pity for the girls you see crying in Norris one day, knowing that it could very well be you the next. It is scary to hear, but it’s the truth. I really wished that I could have been more prepared for how emotional I would become.
Rush is different for everyone, so don’t over-compare experiences.
This has two meanings to me.
Firstly, the Rush process, as well as Greek life in general, is different on every campus. While the core of the process is generally the same, different schools will have varying numbers of chapters, traditions, requirements, etc. While it’s obviously normal to want to talk to your friends who rushed in the fall about their experience, remember to take it with a grain of salt because it probably won’t be the same for you.
Second, formal recruitment differs for each individual, even at the same school. Your friends might get called back to different houses than you do on the first day, or you might have contrasting opinions about the same one. It might go poorly for them and well for you, or vice versa.
The individuality of the process adds to the overall unpredictability of it. It is simply impossible to anticipate how your personal rush process will go, especially if you base your expectations off of others.
Wear whatever makes you feel comfortable and confident.
Girls really do make an effort to dress their best during Rush, and presentation is certainly an important part of the process. You will be given a t-shirt to wear for the first two days, and then it is up to you to wear what you want. The dress code becomes progressively more formal as the process goes on, and it will be nearly impossible not to compare your outfits with others.
While you should make an effort to dress nicely and follow the recommended dress code, I found that my best outfits were the ones I felt most comfortable in. Choose an outfit that makes you feel cute and that you know works. If you are more comfortable in what you are wearing, you will be more relaxed during your conversations and you will nervously compare yourself with others less.
More practically, know that Evanston’s January weather can provide challenges in terms of dressing formally. Please always bring a coat with a hood and an umbrella if it is raining or snowing. Your hair will thank you. Also, make sure that you wear shoes that you are comfortable walking in because the ground becomes slippery and treacherous in the dark. If you don’t want to wear heels, then don’t. Everyone understands.
Know it is okay to drop.
I pushed myself through the entire Rush process and ended up in a sorority. However, if you find yourself halfway through, miserable and unsure if you even want to be in Greek life as a whole, there is absolutely no shame in dropping. Many people did, with some RC groups losing over half of their potential new members (PNMs) by the time the week ended.
It isn’t weird to not want to be in Greek life, and you won’t be alone if you drop out of recruitment. It may suck to quit the process, but ultimately, you will be fine. And you will not be as behind on your homework, let me tell you. I am still catching up, and it has been nearly a month!
After reading this, you might feel nervous if you weren’t already. I was terrified in the week leading up to rush, and I felt constantly stressed while it was happening. Everyone was.
However, remember that the best thing you can do to better your chances of ending up where you are supposed to be is to be yourself, as awfully cliche as it sounds. The best, easiest conversations that I had were usually at houses I wasn’t sure I saw myself in, because I was relaxed and felt no pressure to be perfect or to have the most epic five-minute conversation ever. And I had some painfully awkward conversations at my favorite houses because I put way too much pressure on a few minutes of talking with a stranger.
So please, just relax. It really will be okay. Besides, stress is bad for your blood pressure.
I hope my honesty will not dissuade anyone from going through recruitment. I ended my rush story happily, as did most of my friends, even those who dropped. Just remember that you will love Northwestern regardless of whether or not you are in a sorority, and one day, recruitment will be but a blip in your memory.
With that said, I wish you the very best of luck, and I hope that you don’t freeze.
Thumbnail image from Madcoverboy at English Wikipedia / Licensed under Creative Commons