How does sorority rush work?
This definitely varies a bit depending on the sorority, but I've been on both sides of the process now and will try to provide some insight.
From the PNM (potential new member) end, rush is five days at the beginning of the spring semester. When you sign up for rush (usually in the fall), you'll be placed oh a "Rho Gamma" group, which is lead by two upperclassmen who are in sororities who have volunteered to lead a group through the rush process. They're there to help you through the process and answer any questions you might have as well as give you advice. The group will contain around 30 girls that you'll travel with to all the houses on the first day. You will probably have to arrive 1-2 days before classes begin, because the first day takes place all day before classes start. Penn currently has 8 on campus sororities, so you'll visit all 8 houses the first day for about 30-45 min each. You'll get an app that contains your schedule each day; later in the process, your schedule will be unique to you, but on the first day, it'll be the same as your group. Your Rho Gammas will lead you around to each of the houses and then you'll get lined up alphabetically and then lead into the houses.
There's a theme each day, but here's the basic layout of each of the house visits: you'll go into the house in a line; the girls in each chapter will also be lined up and they'll introduce themselves and take you to a spot in the house to chat. On the first day, you'll spend 5-15 minutes with each girl; as the days go on, you'll spend more time in each house (up to an hour) and conversations can be as long as 45 min - 1 hour. After a while, another girl will come up and "bump" the first girl. In some sororities, girls may be specifically assigned to talk to you, but in others, it may be random; this can also depend on the day. The first day is open house, and following rounds are sisterhood, philanthropy, and preference night. Each night, chapters might show a video or give talks about what these themes mean to them.
At the end of each day, you'll get a certain number of houses to select to keep on the app. This doesn't guarantee that you'll go back, but it allows you to express your preferences. Sororities will all have their own way of "scoring" each girl after each day of talking to them. These numbers will all be put into a computer system, which then results in each girl receiving her schedule for the next day. Each girl could be asked back to different houses and a different number of houses.
On the last night, preference night, you'll go to one or two houses. If you only had one house on your schedule, you're guaranteed a bid from them. If you went to two, then you'll rank your top choice and you'll also have to specify whether you'll accept a bid if you don't get your top choice. The next day, bid day, you'll open an envelope with the sorority you received your bid from.
It is definitely a long and exhausting process, but I will say that in my experience, everyone I talked to in each sorority was extremely nice and welcoming - they all want you to like them! I also had a lot of friends who rushed and then during the week decided that the sorority life wasn't for them, which is also totally fine and normal to drop out. It can be difficult not to take it personally if you get dropped from a sorority you liked, but from the other end of the process, I can say that there were so many girls that my sorority liked that still didn't end up being asked back just because of the numbers. And also remember, these girls can't really know you through a brief conversation - there's so much more to you than that, so if you don't end up getting asked back, it's not at all a reflection of you - don't let it get you down! Hopefully, if you decide to rush, you will end up where you are supposed to be; worst case, it's a great opportunity to meet and talk to girls you wouldn't have otherwise.
Kindred Koala, 30 January 2020, 6:40 AM