We’re back again with more excellent advice from our friend MacKenzie! A 2017 grad of University of Texas, she pledged Alpha Phi as a sophomore in 2014. You can read our previous interview with her about what recruitment is like at the University of Texas here. This time around, we’re breaking down the fact and the fiction of going through sorority recruitment as an upperclassman!
Do you think rushing as a sophomore was harder or easier than it would have been as a freshman?
“If anything, it was easier for me. I was coming in with a year of school under my belt, so I didn’t feel like I was coming in totally blind. I actually think that helped! I was nervous rushing as a sophomore in the beginning because you think sororities will want girls who can stay the whole four years. When the time for rush came, though, I don’t think being a sophomore had any impact on my experience.”
What do you think are the benefits of rushing as a sophomore? How can PNMs use their upperclassman status to their advantage during recruitment week?
“I know a girl who’s going through rush at Alabama as a sophomore. I suggested that she emphasize her readiness to take on that leadership position in her pledge class. A sophomore can provide help getting around the campus and just little things to make freshmen pledge class members feel more comfortable. So many girls in my pledge class would come to me and talk to me about their problems: ‘Did you do this when you were a freshman?,’ etc. Being able to be a role model or mentor for them—telling them things like, ‘For this class take this teacher,’ or being able to share notes from when you were in that class—is a cool opportunity.”
What are some conversation tips you have for sophomores—or even freshmen—during rush week?
“First of all, stay calm. Girls can get really nervous and just shut down, or they can feel like they said the wrong things based on the girl’s face. For example, I caught myself trying to redirect a conversation by saying what I THOUGHT a certain house wanted to hear. I ended up leaving the house feeling really unsatisfied with myself—like I didn’t get to know them, and they didn’t get to know me.”
“Remember, you are just meeting these girls! Engage in normal conversation. Ask questions. I know I did! When you do that, it makes you seem more interested, draws out the interaction, and leads to better conversation.”
“During my rush week, I felt like the conversations seemed natural, and none of them really felt forced. Answering what you think the sororities want to hear only sets you up to be hurt; they think they’re getting to know you, but if it’s not the real you, you could end up where you’re not meant to be. If you talk about what genuinely interests you—let them really get to know you—you’ll end up in a place where you really feel like you belong and can call home.”
What kinds of questions would you suggest asking during rush?
“Ask questions about things you’re genuinely interested in. It will help get the conversation going to a place both you and chapter members are more comfortable talking about. I was never asked anything that I did not know the answer to during sorority recruitment because there are no right or wrong answers. Plain and simple: just be honest.”
What’s your advice for handling cuts? What happens if you don’t get your first choice house?
“I tried to stay as positive as possible. I kept reminding myself, okay, that’s not where I need to end up. If it’s meant to be, it will be. I prayed a lot throughout the whole thing to be put with girls who would lift me up and be genuine friends. I had a hard time in high school, so I really wanted those kind of friendships.”
“If you get cut from a house that you really liked, it’s okay to be bummed out. But you should keep going and have an open mind because that just means that’s a house you weren’t meant to be in. When my preferred house cut me, the rejection stung. In my mind I thought they cut me because they didn’t want me. But changing your mindset from ‘They didn’t want me’ to ‘I’m not meant to be there’ is really important and definitely helped!”
What should a PNM do if they don’t get accepted into a house?
“You’re usually pretty likely to find a house; it’s rare to get completely dropped. I personally have never heard of that happening to anyone I know, but I do know that it happens. If it does, there are SO many great things and organizations on campus, from spirit groups to athletic organizations to intramurals. Just because you’re not in a sorority doesn’t mean that you can’t find a place that you belong and a group you fit in with.”
“Another thing: If you do get dropped, keep in mind that a lot of the sororities perform COB (continuous open bidding) and extend snap bids. If you’re going to accept a COB, definitely look into doing so in the fall. (Many of the girls who joined my pledge class through COB came immediately, and I didn’t even know they had gone through COB.) If you wait until spring, it’s harder to acclimate because you’re kind of in between pledge classes...especially because it takes at least the first two months just to learn who everyone is. Say ‘yes’ to these opportunities sooner rather than later!”
What is your pledge class advice for sophomores?
“For one thing, realize that you can be an asset to your pledge class, and don’t go in scared. I was friends with the girls in the pledge class above me because they were my grade level, but I also had girls in my PC who were a class below me. That kind of diversity allows you to get to know the other girls more quickly. Remember: you are just as wanted in that sorority as any other girl in there!”
Find tips for structuring your sorority resume as a sophomore here. To read more interviews with sorority chapter members (from lots of different universities!), be sure to check out our eBook: Everything You Need to Know About Sorority Recruitment!