I Was In A Southern Sorority, So Here Are 14 Things I Noticed Bama Rush Tok Didn't Reveal About Greek Life

    Believe it or not, it's not only about outfits from the Pants Store and Golden Goose sneakers, y’all!

    If your For You page looks anything like mine, then it's probably been flooded with nothing but sorority videos for the past two weeks. That's right: The latest season of Rush Tok is officially underway.

    Text: When bama rush has taken over the entire nation's tiktok but you're literally living thru it

    While those who weren't a part of Greek life have been expressing total shock about what Southern sorority life is like, I've been over here totally delighting in all of the details, from the OOTDs to the glimpse into work week.

    Several TikTok posts showing #bamarush fashions

    After all, I was an SEC sorority girl from 2015 to 2019, just at Ole Miss instead of Alabama. Ole Miss rush is just as intense as Alabama's, so these TikToks are both sending me on a trip down memory lane and giving me flashbacks of hourslong rush practices and horrific blisters from sprinting around campus trying to get to each chapter on time.

    Young women running together

    I’m from Maryland, and when I registered for recruitment, I didn’t know the first thing about the difference between pi and phi, a PNM and an active. I navigated the waters of sorority recruitment without a Lululemon tennis skirt (I did wear my normal jewelry, though — if you know, you know) and lived to tell the tale. I’ve been mining the comments on each and every Rush Tok that pops up on my For You page, and have been making mental notes about the questions I've been seeing most frequently. Whether you're a recovering sorority member, a PNM deep in the throes of rush, or Sam from San Francisco who stumbled upon Bama Rush Tok and can't look away, here are 14 questions about rush, answered by a former sorority girl:

    1. So how long is rush? And what's the difference between each round?

    View this video on YouTube

    Emma McGowin / Via youtube.com

    The short answer: Recruitment is usually a week, but it’s LONG and exhausting. 

    If you want the long answer, buckle up, because the week of rush is quite the ride. Before we dive in, I should note that every college might do this a little differently or have different names for each day, but the overall breakdown is always the same. There are four rounds of recruitment, with some rounds split over several days to make up one week of events.

    The first round is usually called something like Open House, Greek Day, Ice Water Teas, or Water Parties. You visit every single house during this round. Some schools do this over two days, while others make you visit them all in a whirlwind (I’d recommend taking notes because they all kind of blend together by the end of the day!). Because of the pandemic, a lot of schools have made this round virtual, meaning you watch videos made by each chapter so you can get a feel for what each house is like. I'm honestly so jealous of this change.

    Once you've made it past the daunting first day, we're onto round two: philanthropy. Depending on how many chapters your school has, you can get invited back to a certain number of houses, based on how you ranked the houses and how many women going through rush each chapter had to cut. This is based on a formula called release figures methodology (normally known as RFM), which can get kind of complicated. When I went through recruitment, we had 10 chapters and could go back to a maximum of seven houses during this round. Every sorority has a philanthropy that they support, so you'll learn all about each chapter's cause of choice during this round.

    You usually get a break day at the halfway point of rush, and girl, you’re gonna need it! Rush really depletes, dehydrates, and destroys you, all in the name of #sisterhood.

    Things start to get a little more serious by round three, which is called Sisterhood. This is when you start to gain some clarity into which chapter you might join, as the conversations are supposed to start getting a little deeper than surface level. When I went through recruitment, this round was called Skit, and each chapter was responsible for performing what I can only describe as an amateur version of Saturday Night Live, complete with costumes and choreography. By the time I became an active member, the skit premise had been retired, and instead, sororities attempted to dazzle potential new members by changing the lyrics to popular songs to reflect their chapter and their values. I believe the singing has now been removed entirely from rush in order to put a stronger focus on the conversations, so as someone who suffered through countless rush practices that sounded like the Hollywood round on American Idol, I can't say I'm sad to see the singing go.

    We're in the home stretch now! The final round is called Preference, and you can be invited back to a maximum of two houses, where y'all will just heap the love on one another. Here's your chance to convince the chapter of your dreams that you love them and can't imagine your college experience without being a member. In return, they'll get equally serious and demonstrate why they think you'll be an amazing member. If you're not a fan of the singing and screaming side of recruitment, then you'll probably love this round, because the most important aspect of it is that all of the glitter and dancing gets totally stripped away.

    One sleep later and it’s BID DAY! We’ll unpack the chaos known as Bid Day a little later.

    2. PNM? Active? Panhellenic? What does this all mean?

    Young women sitting, smiling, and holding up signs with names on them

    3. Is it really that competitive?

    View this video on YouTube

    Carrie Walker / Via youtube.com

    Depends on how you look at it! There will always be certain chapters that a lot of PNMs want. In the South, some of these girls are raised with visions of certain sororities dancing in their heads, usually because that’s what their mom and grandma and great-aunt Sally all were.

    It might sound cheesy, but if you go into recruitment with an open mind, you’ll probably end up with a bid to a sorority. In fact, over the last five years at the University of Alabama, at least 89% of women who went through recruitment ended up with a bid.

    Recruitment is technically a mutual selection process: After each round, both PNMs and sorority members cast votes. PNMs select the chapters they want to return to, while sorority members choose which PNMs they want to invite back for subsequent rounds. There's a computer program that matches up these lists and works to give every PNM the most houses to return to as possible, which means a PNM might have to return to houses she didn't initially select. This is called maximizing your options. If you decide to leave entire houses off of your card, then you're likely to be released from recruitment.

    Speaking of getting released: You might have seen TikToks from PNMs who said they had been released, which meant they had been cut from every house. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Membership selection is kept confidential and it’s different for every chapter, but normally you can be released if your GPA is below a certain threshold or if you have a “reputation” concern, which can be anything from nasty rumors following you to some scandalous photos on social media. I feel that I must clarify here: Just because I said it happens doesn’t mean I think it’s right.

    4. Do the outfits really matter that much?

    TikToks showing fashions

    5. What is work week?

    View this video on YouTube

    Audrey Atienza / Via youtube.com

    Work week is the week before recruitment when active members practice for recruitment. To be honest, work week (also known as workshop, spirit week, etc.) can be fun but straight-up exhausting. Active members practice the songs they’re going to sing every day, have outfit checks, line up over and over and over again to practice entering and exiting the house the proper way (I wish I was kidding), and participate in mock rounds to ensure they’ll have top-notch conversations.

    To give each chapter credit, the recruitment teams do spice up work week with fun spirit days (that's where all of the themes and costumes you've been seeing come in!) and lots of food bribery (think ice cream trucks, catered meals — college kids will never turn down free food, especially after having to sing and dance all week). As grueling as it can be, work week is kind of a necessary evil in order to prepare for each round of recruitment.

    Now, of course, I imagine that each chapter has some time slated for content creation each day so they can keep up with the latest Rush Tok trends. I mean, the whole thing is actually kind of genius from a marketing perspective.

    6. Why do they always lose their voices?

    "Lost voice from door song"

    7. Do you really need a recommendation letter to go through rush?

    Young woman wearing a sorority sweatshirt

    8. WTF is a bump group?

    TikTok screenshot with blurred-out faces and caption "When I'm talking to a PNM and forget I have a bump coming to say hi"

    9. Is Bid Day actually fun? Sounds like a lot of screaming.

    10. What if I show up and know virtually nothing about recruitment?

    A group of young women walking together, with two women in front circled with "Recruitment counselors" text

    11. What does a sorority do after rush is over?

    View this video on YouTube

    Lindy Goodson / Via youtube.com

    Y'all, that's when the fun actually begins!

    Rush is only one piece of the whole sorority puzzle. At my college, we had some type of social event nearly every week, ranging from swaps — which are themed parties for members of your sorority and a fraternity on campus — to date parties and formals, which were events that were a bit fancier and where you could bring a date. 

    Chapters also host and participate in community service and philanthropy events on campus and in their college town. In my chapter, you had to participate in these in order to be eligible to attend the social events, but they honestly were usually really fun! We also had several sisterhood events each semester that ranged from movie nights to trips up to Memphis to go to the zoo or an NBA game. 

    You'll also get a big sister who will help guide you through sorority life. During big/little reveal week, she'll usually give you gifts like T-shirts and candy with hints as to who she is. There will be some type of big/little reveal for the whole chapter. Sometimes your big will be in a box that you have to unwrap; other times, she'll give you a matching costume that you'll both wear on reveal day.

    For me, one of the most fun parts of my sorority experience was honestly just hanging out at the house. One of the perks of being in my sorority was that we had breakfast, lunch, and dinner served every weekday (no dining hall food 🙏), so mealtimes were normally a blast! I lived in my chapter house for a year and had the time of my life, even when we were just studying or watching TV.

    12. Are the rules really that bad?

    13. Is a sorority all just partying?

    Young women in the same sorority wearing the same outfits and cheering

    14. And finally, is Greek life really as toxic as people say it is?

    A crowd of people standing outside a sorority with a "Bid Day" banner hanging from it

    Going Greek is definitely not necessary in order to love college. I would have made friends and been involved on campus had I not had a set of Greek letters on my oversize sorority T-shirt, but I am grateful for my experience.

    If you were in Greek life, I would love to hear about your experience. Even if you weren't involved in Greek life but have found that your For You page has been taken over by rush content, come chat about all things Bama Rush Tok in the comments!