What Does Rushing in College Mean? 5 Important Things to Know

What is rushing in college?
May 6, 2024
5 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/26/24

What is rushing in college? It's a tradition that's been an important part of campus life for generations, shaping the experiences of countless students. Let’s explore it. 

Did you know that the roots of college rushing date back over a century? At NDAC, the stage was set with the establishment of Alpha Zeta, an academic fraternity, in 1909. This marked the beginning of a tradition that has evolved into a vital part of campus life. 

As we get into the world of college rushing today, we'll uncover its rich history, explore its impact on student culture, and share five crucial insights every college-bound student should know. Join us on this journey through time as we discover the essence of rushing in college.

What Does Rushing and Greek Life Mean?

Are you wondering about the meaning of rushing in college? Let's dive into it and clarify any doubts you may have. Rushing, also known as recruitment, is the process of seeking membership in a fraternity or sorority at college. You can find fraternities and sororities at colleges across the States, including Ivy Leagues.  

Greek life can offer benefits like lasting friendships, networking opportunities, and community service involvement. However, it can also demand a significant time commitment and effort. It's important to research and understand the specific Greek organizations on your campus before deciding to rush to ensure it aligns with your goals and values.

Understanding the Rush Process

How does rushing work in college, and what's the process like? Let's break it down step-by-step to give you a clear understanding. Here's what typically happens:

  • Information Sessions: Things usually kick off with info sessions. This is where you can learn about the different fraternities or sororities, what they stand for, and their history.
  • Open Houses: After the info sessions, there are often open houses. Think of it as a chance to visit the fraternity or sorority houses, meet the members, and ask all the questions you have in mind.
  • Social Events: Then come the social events. These are usually fun gatherings where you can chill with current members in a more relaxed atmosphere. It's a bit like a mutual "getting to know you" phase.
  • Formal Interviews: If things are going well, you might get invited for formal interviews. This is a chance for the fraternity or sorority to get to know you better and vice versa.
  • Bid Day: At the end of the rush period, fraternities and sororities extend "bids" to students they want to invite to join. Think of it as getting an offer. It means they want you!
  • Acceptance: Now, it's your turn to decide. You can accept the bid and start the process of becoming a member, which usually involves an orientation and initiation.

The key to remember here is to keep an open mind and ask questions. It's not just about them picking you; it's also about you deciding if you vibe with their values and what they're all about. Rushing can be a great way to make lifelong friends and be part of a close-knit community, but it's important to find the right fit for you.

Fraternity Rush

Fraternity rush is when college-bound men explore campus fraternities, often at the start of the school year. People often use the term rushing a frat, meaning going through a process to join a college fraternity. 

Rush events offer a glimpse into the fraternity's culture, values, and members. They range from casual meetings to social gatherings like barbecues. Fraternities seek individuals who share their values and extend invitations to join as pledges. If you accept, you embark on the path to full membership, and if not, you can try again during the next rush period.

Sorority Rush

Sorority rush is like fraternity rush, exclusively for college-bound women. It usually happens at the school year's start or during specific recruitment periods. 

You get to meet current sorority members, learn traditions, and experience sisterhood through events like formal meetings and themed parties. If a sorority extends a bid and you accept, you become a pledge, starting your journey towards full membership.

Rushing Beyond Greek Life

Rushing goes beyond fraternities and sororities; it includes various campus clubs and organizations. These groups cater to diverse interests such as academics, culture, sports, or community service

During the rush period, you can explore these options, meet members, and decide if you want to join. Academic honor societies, cultural clubs, and extracurricular activities often have recruitment periods. So, whether you're into Greek life or other campus activities, rushing offers a chance to find your college community and engage in your interests.

Tips for Rushing a Fraternity or Sorority

When it comes to rushing, Greek life is all about being prepared and open-minded is crucial. Here are some straightforward tips to make your rush experience successful:

Prepare in Advance

Before rushing a fraternity, do some research about the specific Greek organization you're interested in. Learn about their values, activities, and any unique details about their house. Social media is a good source for this information. For sorority recruitment, focus on learning about each house during the recruitment process itself, as it's designed for that purpose.

Prepare Questions

Make a list of thoughtful questions you can ask during rush events. Asking insightful questions shows your genuine interest and helps you stand out. It's a great way to learn more about the organization and its members.

Active Mingling

During rush events, actively engage with current members. Show respect, maintain eye contact, and make an effort to remember names. Be yourself and avoid discussing partying or alcohol, especially during sorority recruitment. Don't speak negatively about other Greek organizations.

Stay Open-Minded

Keep an open mind throughout the rush process. Challenge any preconceived notions you may have about fraternities or sororities. Focus on building personal connections with members and finding the organization that feels right for you. Don't let external influences sway your decision.

The Bid and Pledging

After the rush period, fraternities and sororities will send out bids or invitations. You'll have the option to accept or decline. If you accept, the pledging process begins, during which you'll learn more about the organization's values and history.

Consider Time Commitment

Greek life involves a significant time commitment, including the rush process and mandatory events throughout the year. Make sure you can dedicate the required time before starting.

Evaluate Costs

Most Greek chapters have membership dues, which vary quite a bit. There are also typical expenses like social functions and trips. So, make sure to investigate the cost of joining different organizations and make sure it fits your budget.

Consider Fit

Reflect on whether Greek life aligns with your interests and values. Remember that there are other ways to build connections and friendships outside of Greek life. Base your decision on what feels right for you.

The rush process is a mutual exploration, allowing both you and the fraternity or sorority to decide if it's a good match. Stay true to yourself, stay open to new experiences, and enjoy finding your Greek family.


Curious about the differences between rushing and pledging? Find answers to your questions in our FAQ section.

1. What’s the Difference Between Rushing and Pledging?

Rushing and pledging are two separate stages in the journey of joining a fraternity or sorority. Rushing is the initial phase where potential members and Greek organizations get to know each other. 

Pledging comes after rushing and involves a formal process of learning and activities, leading to an initiation ceremony that officially welcomes new members into the Greek organization.

2. What Is the Origin of the Term "Rushing" as Applied to Fraternities and Sororities?

The term "rushing" in fraternities and sororities dates back to the early 20th century when students were in a hurry to attend recruitment events. These events allowed potential members to interact with Greek organizations and see if they were a good fit. 

Over time, "rushing" became the standard term for the recruitment process in Greek life. Today, it still represents the period when students explore different organizations before making a decision.

3. How to Stand Out During College Rushing?

To stand out during college rushing, be authentic, ask meaningful questions, and actively participate. Make sure to research organizations, show enthusiasm, and maintain a positive attitude. Also, be respectful, listen actively, and send a thank-you note. By following these steps and staying open-minded, you can stand out from the crowd. 

Final Thoughts

Rushing and pledging, whether in Greek life or other campus groups, is a chance to explore, make friends, and discover your college community. If you’re interested, you can factor it into your college research. So, whether you're considering Greek life or other campus organizations, it's an opportunity to enrich your college experience.

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