What Is Rushing in College?

Are you wondering, “what is rushing in college? Curious about what rushing a sorority or rushing a frat entails? Read on for everything you need to know about rushing.

TCM Staff

29th July 2021

In your freshman year of college, you’re overwhelmed with all the options you have for socializing. You can join a study group, audition for a sports team, attend college hobby events, or even just hang out with other students after class. 


A fraternity or sorority is a brotherhood or sisterhood formed with common aspiration, interests, and goals. They make a commitment to support each other for a lifetime. Members share strong bonding, efforts, and knowledge. Together they learn and grow throughout their college experience. The organizations originated in the late 1700s with the Phi Beta Kappa Society. 


Now what do sororities and fraternities have to do with rushing? What does rushing a sorority or rushing a fraternity mean? Let’s take a look at what being in a sorority or fraternity means, and what is rushing in college. 

What are Fraternities and Sororities?

A unique way to find connections in college is through a fraternity or sorority. A sorority is a group of female college students that socialize and engage with each other throughout their shared college experience. They often provide a sense of community and offer members career, leadership, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Most sororities are national organizations with chapters across the United States, with one chapter at each included university. 


A fraternity offers a similar experience, but for male students. 


Fraternities and sororities are often associated with Greece because they’re often named with Greek letters. They’re also known to host fun parties, including Greek-themed toga parties. However, most sororities and fraternities don’t otherwise embody Greek culture, though most frats and sororities are part of the college “Greek life.”


Freshmen interested in joining a fraternity or sorority usually have to embark on the rush process. You might be thinking, what is rushing in college? And what does rushing in a sorority or rushing in a fraternity entail?

Image of students at an event, rushing a frat

What Does Rushing Mean in College?

College kids who are interested in joining a fraternity or sorority will go through a ritual known as rushing. It consists of a wave of social events and gatherings, usually at the beginning of the school year. 

Freshmen students meet the members of various sororities and fraternities. Everyone socializes, and both members and freshmen consider each other and whether or not they’d be a good fit together in the fraternity or sorority. 

While most rushing happens in the fall, each fraternity and sorority might have different specific times for rushing. Various sororities and fraternities also might have different styles in conducting their rushes. 

If a sorority or fraternity thinks a certain freshman would be a good fit in their chapter, they will offer a “bid,” inviting them to join.

Rushing looks slightly different in sororities compared to fraternities. 

Rushing a Sorority

Women are expected to visit a sorority for casual hang outs or scheduled, themed events to meet the sorority’s members. There, the sisters see if they get along with the new students, and if they would be compatible sisters.  

There’s often a rushing event where the sorority will put on a show for potential candidates, with singing and dancing. Sisters might also conduct rounds of interviews for prospective candidates. If the sisters like a student, they’ll offer a bid, inviting them to join the sorority sisterhood.  

Once the candidates are accepted, sisters in a sorority often throw a lively event, to celebrate their new members. 

If you rush a sorority and don’t receive a bid offer, don’t worry! Informal rushes take place throughout the year, so you can always try again, perhaps with a different sorority. You can take advantage of extra opportunities to meet sorority sisters and get to know them in a more relaxed way.

Rushing a Fraternity

Rushing a fraternity is usually a less formal process than that of sororities. Similar to sororities, fraternities will throw social gatherings and events to get to know prospective candidates. 

Some examples of rush events that fraternities host include touch football games, barbeques, or a party. Brothers in a fraternity also offer bids to those students they feel are a good fit, and invite them to join. If you’re not offered a bid, you can always try rushing again. 

What is Greek Life Like?

Greek life isn’t just about toga parties and keg stands, though there might be some of that sometimes!

There is much more to the Greek community in fraternities and sororities than that one big party they show in the movies. Fraternities and sororities participate in charitable work and often throw social events to fundraise for certain causes. They also place a strong focus on education, and they usually want members to maintain a minimum GPA throughout their academic career. 

Socializing is a major part of Greek life, with parties and events rampant throughout the year. Sororities often have weekly sisterhood meets, either casual hangouts at the sorority house or dinner near campus.  

So, while Greek life isn’t always about partying, it’s certainly all about networking, friendship, socializing, and connecting. It’s unlikely that you’ll feel lonely in the Greek community because there is always a social function you can attend in a given week. The whole point of sisterhood and brotherhood is to support each other. 

You also have access to mentorship through older brothers or sisters, which is sometimes a great help to a freshman student adjusting to life on campus. 


Group of sorority girls posing for a photo


Is Rushing the Same as Hazing?

When thinking about the question, “what does it mean to rush in college,” you might start thinking about hazing rituals that you’ve seen in the movies. 

Hazing entails any activity that includes pain, embarrassment, or other risks as part of initiation into a group. 

The truth is, most of those movies are seriously exaggerated. Most fraternities don’t force you to eat a frog, and most sororities don’t make you lick lipstick off the floor. To be clear though, hazing does exist on some campuses; however, we don’t recommend participating in those activities. 

Colleges across the country are cracking down on dangerous hazing activities. Moreover, extreme cases of hazing have resulted in death, so the US government implemented anti-hazing laws

5 Questions to Ask When You’re Rushing a Sorority or Fraternity 

Any rush period will be filled with social events, parties, mixers, and even more formal events at a reception hall. These events are fun, but you shouldn’t only look at them as an opportunity to eat, drink and party. 

Spend some time learning and understanding the chapter you’re rushing for, and take the time to get to know its members. Socialize with them, find out what their chapter values. You’re competing for a bid, but remember this — sororities and fraternities are competing for you too. You have to decide if they’re a good fit for you too. 

Try to meet a solid number of members and ask them questions about any topic related to fraternity or sorority. 

Some of the questions that you can ask are:

  • How did the particular fraternity or sorority start?
  • What community or charitable work does the fraternity or sorority do?
  • What’s daily life like in the fraternity or sorority?
  • What are the general interests and hobbies of the members? 
  • What are the costs associated with membership, including annual membership fees, housing, and food? 

Is Rushing Right for Me?

The most important part of the rush week is to make your own decisions based on what you experience. Fraternities and sororities may have stereotypes and reputations that you’ll certainly hear about. But at the end of the day, you need to make a decision for yourself, and do what’s right for you. 

Fraternities and sororities can impact students after they graduate, and as they phase into their careers. The networking opportunities are abundant, and your connections can assist you in your job search. 

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