Applying to college in the U.S. can be a stressful, expensive ordeal for any high school student, even without considering the exorbitant cost of actually attending a school.
Sorority Versus College Admission
However, some families prioritize an entirely different type of admissions process. Their goal? A coveted invitation to join the sorority of their dreams.
According to the Wall Street Journal, some parents pay up to $4,000 in consultant fees to help get their daughters admitted to the Greek organization of their choice.
Coaching Programs Are Available
Companies like Hiking in Heels and Getting the Bid offer coaching programs that help aspiring members navigate the increasingly complicated and competitive sorority recruitment process—colloquially known as ‘rush.’
Consultants provide any number of services to potential new members, ‘PNMs’ in Greek speak. They advise you on how to dress and what to say during recruitment, even looking over your social media presence.
Helping Young Women Through The Process
Sorority consultants, like Getting the Bid, offer young women a personalized “step-by-step plan” to get through recruitment successfully.
It is Highly Competitive
Some might wonder if this level of expense and preparation is even necessary. For Stacia Damron, founder of Hiking in Heels, sorority recruitment can be just as competitive as getting admitted to an Ivy League school.
“My boyfriend went to Stanford, and he said this is more complicated than getting a Stanford M.B.A.,” Damron told WSJ reporters.
The Recruitment Process
For recruitment week, hundreds—sometimes thousands, at bigger schools—of potential new members arrive on campus before the official start of classes, usually in the fall.
Over three to seven days, young women visit the chapter houses and get to know the current members, hoping to be invited back the next night.
At the end of the process, a potential new member will receive a bid to join the organization of her dreams.
You Need to Prepare
But Damron warns that getting a bid entails preparation that begins long before recruitment week. “It’s all about getting on the sorority’s radar,” said Damron in an interview. “If you’re waiting until rush registration comes out, you’ve already missed the boat.”
Parents Are Paying Big Fees
Currently, the Hiking in Heels website advertises its specialized services in packages. As of 2022, a premium package cost $1,495, while an elite membership was priced at $2,975—Damron charges up to $4,000 to be on-call during recruitment. A more affordable alternative is Getting the Bid, which offered its Crush Coaching Program for $649.
This Does Not Include Sorority Fees
This expense would be in addition to college tuition and sorority dues, which average somewhere between $1,000 to $4,750 per semester.
According to the National Panhellenic Council, the governing body for all twenty-six national sororities, members’ dues pay for housing, chapter programming, educational tools, and sisterhood and social events.
The Demand Has Rapidly Increased
Although companies have offered rush consultation services since 2010, Damron explained that demand for professional help has increased “dramatically” in recent years. She attributes the boom to two major factors: the COVID-19 pandemic and social media.
Like a Job or College Application
Quarantine during the pandemic meant that sororities added additional steps to make up for the lack of in-person interactions. In addition to registration forms and recommendation letters, potential new members are now expected to compile a portfolio that rivals a college application: resumé, video assignments, essay questions, and even headshots.
Follow On #RushTok
Moreover, the popularity of #rushtok on social media platforms means that parents and potential new members are learning just how competitive the process can be. A quick TikTok search yields dozens of videos of young women sharing every detail of their experience, down to each Kendra Scott accessory.
The Quintessential Example
For the last two summers, sorority recruitment at the University of Alabama (known on social media as #BamaRush) has enthralled TikTok users around the world.
Around 12,000 undergraduate students are fraternity or sorority members at the university, which has consolidated its status online as the quintessential example of Greek life.
Interest in recruitment at the University of Alabama surged enough for HBO Max to release a documentary titled “Bama Rush” this past spring.
Learning The Process
Between TikTok and the documentary, Damron explained, “The information is more accessible, and potential new members and parents are learning that there’s more to the process and that preparation begins months earlier.”
No Guarantees; No Refunds
However—much like a college admissions coach cannot promise an acceptance letter from a school (unless you’re Lori Loughlin)—Damron and fellow rush coaches cannot guarantee a bid from your dream organization.
“… There’s no recruitment coach that’s truthfully able to guarantee or promise a bid. The decision ultimately remains with the sororities,” Damron told Business Insider. On their website, Hiking in Heels reiterates this statement and adds: no refunds.
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This article was produced by TPR Teaching.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.