The Ultimate Guide to Joining (and Surviving) a Sorority

Just kidding about the surviving part… but read below for my tips and tricks on joining your dream sorority

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Sorority guide - the ultimate guide to joining and surviving in a sorority

“Are you going to join a sorority?”

The generic first month freshman year conversation starter.

Believe me, I probably faked excitement at least one hundred times when answering this question:

“Of course I am!” I responded with a huge smile plastered across my face.

At the same time, I was pretty excited about it.

I apologize in advance if this sounds cheesy, but for most of my life I always knew I wanted to join a sorority in college. The idea of having hundreds of “sisters” appealed to me, not to mention the custom sorority attire and extravagant formals aka college prom.

When the time came to sign up for sorority recruitment, I hands-down, no-question registered. Unlike me, many girls on my dorm floor questioned if the process was for them and if the “hell week” of recruitment would be worth it.

After nervously going from party to party during recruitment week and surviving physically and emotionally (I promise, it really isn’t as bad as it sounds), I can say the process is worth it.

Today, I’m sharing my ultimate guide to joining (and surviving) a sorority, with all my best go-to tips and an overview of the full sorority recruitment and initiation process. I’ll go more in depth on many of these topics in the weeks to come, but for now, read on for my full overview of sorority life:

Related reading: My Sorority Experience: What It’s Really Like to Be in a Sorority (Good and Bad)

Chapter One: Am I Sorority Material?

Whether your college offers recruitment a week prior to the start of school or after second semester, you need to first decide if a sorority is for you.

Some questions to ask yourself:

1. Do I like putting myself in social situations to make new friends and meet new people?

2. Am I good at successfully balancing my academic life and my social life?

3. Do rules of an organization really bother me or do I respect them?

4. How do I feel about group meetings and activities?

5. Do I want to be a part of a supportive group of girls or do I prefer to privately do my own thing?

The beauty of joining a sorority is that you have endless ways to involve yourself. Maybe you consider yourself a social girl who wants to go to every mixer (Psst–see our guide to popular mixer themes for a sneak peek of what’s coming) or maybe you are someone who loves to volunteer in charities. Either way, you can easily find your place in any sorority.

If you’ve decided a sorority is for you and you’re trying to pick your top choice, I have some advice: Disregard the sorority rankings (frat boys decide those anyway) and choose that sorority that you feel the most comfortable in. Which brings us to…

Chapter 2: UGH, Rush Week

It’s finally rush week…what do I wear…what do I say… what are the sorority girls thinking about me?!

Don’t worry! Every girl is nervous during this week. The amount of conversations I had with different sorority girls who said they were more nervous than me were countless.

Here are some tips to calm your nerves and make your rush week an amazing time:

  • Wake up early enough so that you are not rushed when getting ready for each day
  • Eat a large breakfast so that you don’t pass out from hunger in a party (yes, that happened to people during my rush week)
  • Come mentally prepared to receive your schedule and see what houses kept you (If your top house drops you, forget about them and focus on the houses that want you! That top house doesn’t know what they’re missing out on.)
  • Stock up on a few key sorority rush essentials to keep on hand — see our detailed guide here!
  • During parties, keep eye contact and a positive attitude (negativity is easy to pick up on in any conversation)
  • Make yourself sound interesting and unique so that the girls remember you! (I would always mention my jewelry business and passion for figure skating.)
  • Express how excited you are about the sorority’s philanthropy (and know a little something about the philanthropy they do!)
  • Dress like you’re going to a family dinner (these girls aren’t that cute boy in your lecture hall, so be modest, stylish, and chic!) For specifics, see our guides to sorority rush outfits and where to buy them.
  • Narrow down your top sorority picks based on the vibe each house gives you. Do these girls feel like your best friends from home? If so, it might be the house for you.

For a full guide to this part of joining a sorority, check out my article on sorority rush secrets every girl should know.

(And if you ever find yourself thinking “my sorority is taking over my life!”, you should know that it’s 100% normal to feel burned out sometimes and you WILL get through it.)

Chapter 3: Yay Yay Yay Sorority Girl

Rush week is FINALLY over, and you’re in the sorority meant for you! Now what?

While every sorority is different, I can assure you that your sorority’s goal is to help you feel welcomed and make a ton of new friends, fast.

The first few weeks will feel hectic for you. Think fraternity mixers, new member events, big little dates, and lessons on sorority history… and more lessons on sorority history.

Even if you feel like the meetings to learn about your sorority are pointless, trust me, a lot of people feel that way. Nonetheless, it is super important to understand the foundations your sorority stands on so that you can be that much prouder to wear your letters.

Now to the fun stuff… retreats!

My sorority held a new member retreat for us where we all went to a hotel and had dinner as well as participated in secret activities to help members get to know each other’s real selves.

My best tip for the first few weeks of sorority events is to attend EVERYTHING. I made the mistake of skipping several events and this led to me feeling out of the loop for a little while. The first few weeks are times where you have every waking opportunity to meet your sisters and really get to know them — so take advantage and build those bonds.

Around this time, you will start to go on Big Little dates trying to get to know girls who could potentially be your big. Big Little week was definitely one of my favorite weeks of freshman year because you never knew when your big would surprise you with free Starbucks or a pledging fraternity boy holding a vase full of roses after that miserable class.

The number one rule I have for you during this week is to fully appreciate every gesture your Big makes. This is an expensive, time-consuming week for her, and she is doing EVERYTHING to make this week fun and memorable for you.

And if you want to do something for your Big in return, see our guide to sorority crafts for ideas she will absolutely love.

Chapter 4: Big Little Reveal

Big Little week is sadly over… but now it’s the reveal! Who is your big?!

Every sorority does their Big Little reveal differently, but my sorority had us line outside of our sorority suite’s door and individually enter the suite. We were welcomed by our equally excited Big on the other side.

After the reveal, our Bigs took us out to dinner and then to a fraternity event. We got to eat with our “families” aka your G-Big (your Big’s big) and your cousins. It’s so confusing to explain the family tree, but I promise when the time comes you won’t even care who is “related” to who because you will be so excited to have a big.

What if your Big isn’t your best friend?

I know, I know. Every sorority girl wants to be besties with her big. I know I did. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. While I love my big and hang out with her from time to time, I can’t say we do everything together or are best friends. It’s not the end of the world!

College is a time of constantly making new friends so just because your big isn’t automatically a new best friend, it doesn’t mean you won’t have other best friends in your sorority.

Chapter 5: Let’s Put Yourself Out There

Ways to get involved as a new member of your sorority:

1. Run for a leadership position. Don’t be scared to put yourself out there! I ran for positions and didn’t get the roles, but I’m glad I have the experience, and I still have found other ways to involve myself.

2. Volunteer and Show Up to Philanthropy Events. I know, it’s tempting to skip these when it feels like you’re too busy to add anything additional to your plate… but these events have turned out to be the most fun events of my sorority time! You’re helping others while hanging out with your new sisters! I promise, you’ll be happy you participated.

3. Always be friendly and supportive of your sisters. You don’t always know what’s going on in someone else’s life, so never be rude to that “awkward” sister who rubbed you the wrong way. She might actually just need a friend.

Chapter 6: Initiation Day or Initiation, Yay!

Sorry… I’m so cheesy.

Blood, sweat, and tears have been put into the process of officially becoming a member of your sorority. Just kidding! Basically, you’ve just studied hard and know the history behind your fellow sisters and sorority establishment. Preparing for initiation is not as big a deal as it sounds.

So what should you expect during sorority initiation?

Honestly, anything.

I can’t go into detail about my initiation because I’m sworn to secrecy, but I can assure you that it is kinda weird and cult-like (but not as bad as you’ve probably heard). Don’t worry though, you can laugh the weirdness off later with your newly initiated sisters!

However, you should NEVER feel pressured to do anything you aren’t comfortable with during initiation. See our guide to sorority hazing to learn more.


GIRL, YOU’RE FINALLY AN OFFICIAL MEMBER! Embrace your sorority letters, buy up all the sorority gear with your letters, and continue to make friends, attend events, and first and foremost support your sisters and make amazing college memories!

Leave a comment below with any questions about joining a sorority!

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