You might have a lot of pre-conceived notions about what a college fraternity is. Believe that they are much more than the party-boy persona depicted in the media and pop culture. They are havens for young men to develop leadership skills, find lifelong friendships, increase their network and business contacts, grow academically and much more.
Sure, these guys have their fair share of fun, but it's the reward after much hard work in the classroom and through philanthropic efforts. While there are many organizations worthy of your time and energy during college, some might argue that one of the most worthwhile could be your participation in a fraternity.
Whether you're new to the Greek System or joining as a legacy, you won't want to take your decision to rush, or pledge for that matter, lightly. This guide provides tips for getting through rush from fraternity alumni, and can help you to determine if a house is a good fit and even how to scrutinize the houses as deeply as they are you.
Choosing Fraternity Life
The first question to ask yourself is if being part of a fraternity is really where you see yourself during the next four (or five) years. While you're the only one who can answer that, weigh the benefits and disadvantages, enlisting family, friends or advisors to share their thoughts. You might also ask for opinions from current college students who both belong to a fraternity, as well as those who don't, to gain another perspective.
Your financial situation should also be part of your consideration. Can you afford to be part of a fraternity? Depending on the size of the school, the house and other obligations, expenses like dues, room and board, social and philanthropic obligations, and even swag can rise into the thousands.
You will complete one application for your college's fraternity recruitment. This will be distributed to each house for review during the summer. Members will meet to review the resumes and pictures submitted by rushees. They will study them to help determine who they might want to recruit. They might come across as knowing everything about you, so know that this is normal. This should also serve as a reminder to be as thorough as possible as you introduce yourself on paper. A few things to keep in mind for your application:
1. Be involved in high school. Your resume should indicate that you are academically capable, involved in clubs or sports, and that you volunteer.
2. Request letters of recommendation. You'll especially want these from Greek alumni, even if they are not from one of your college's houses. Talk to your parents' friends, teachers, clergy, coaches, employers, etc. The more people you speak with who are Greek the better off you'll be.
3. Include a quality photograph. Your senior picture will most likely work. Make sure it is a professional shot that represents who you are, and not a random snapshot.
4. Manage your online image. Confirm there aren't inappropriate photos or stories posted on Facebook or a blog that fraternity members might find during a Google search of your name.
Recruitment or Rush Week
Once rush begins at your college, it could very well be one of the most rigorous interview processes of your life. The fraternities want to make sure you're a perfect fit for the brotherhood they've spent hundreds of years building. Don't feel like you're at their mercy though. Here are a few things to consider to help balance the power.
1. Don't be seduced by fraternity life immediately. Thoroughly think through whether or not this is the place for you. Ask yourself what you'll get out of this experience.
2. If you like a house, speak up and let them know. You'll be more likely to receive an invitation to return.
3. Identify each fraternity's purpose and determine how that will align with your own values and goals.
4. Don't look for the house that can guzzle the most beer and score the most dates. Consider GPA, graduation rate and job placement.
5. Find out what kind of leadership opportunities are available within the house, Greek system or elsewhere on campus.
6. Identify the caliber of fellow freshmen considering pledging a house. Are these the guys you want to spend Hell Week with? A house's incoming pledge class should carry more weight than current members.
7. Get a non-fraternity perspective of houses you're considering. How do administrators, students or sorority members view the house?
8. Any member of a house you're considering should be able to tell you what the shared purpose, values and beliefs are of the fraternity.
9. If possible, visit the house during different times of day to see how the environment varies and if it's a comfortable fit.
10. Find out how many potential brothers share your major.
11. Take a second look at houses from which you did not receive a bid. Press them to find out why, and use that to possibly rebid if that's where you think you belong.
12. Don't pledge. It's OK not to sign that line. If nothing fits, then pass.
13. Consider skipping fall rush, giving yourself a chance to more thoroughly research and examine the house you'd most like to join. Consider spring rush, or wait until your sophomore or junior year.