Fraternity Rush – Lessons Learned from a Master Recruiter

I was good at fraternity rush as a member of my fraternity.  I would find the most guys.  I then had a knack to convince them to join.  That said, I didn’t do a good job when I was rushing myself.  Below are insights that will help both the new recruit and the fraternity be successful during rush.

What is Fraternity Rush?

Fraternity Rush is the process of how fraternities recruit new members. Rush will consist of a series of social events at the beginning of each semester and lasts about two weeks.  Fraternity Rush is also called Fraternity Recruitment.   

Why is Fraternity Rush Important?

Fraternity rush is vitally important for fraternities.  If the fraternity’s membership is spread evenly across all classes, that means that 25% of the membership will be seniors.  And that means that 25% of the membership is graduating each year.  With such a high rate of turnover, it is vital that the fraternity replenish its membership.  If they don’t, it won’t take too many semesters before the fraternity is crippled due to the decrease in the size of their membership.

Fraternity rush is also vitally important for prospective members.  This is their opportunity to visit different fraternities and figure out if fraternity life is right for them.  If they decide they want to be in a fraternity, this process will allow them to visit multiple chapters to figure out which group is the best fit.

How Can a Fraternity be Good at Rush?

The fraternity will have two goals with rush.  They will want to replenish their membership, and they will also want to recruit high caliber guys.  They will want leaders.  They will want athletes.  They will want guys who are social.  They will want guys who are involved in campus.

To be good at rush, they will have to be aggressive in their recruiting efforts to find these types of individuals.  They can’t expect that these types of candidates will magically show up on their doorstep.  Then, once they identify these high-caliber individuals, they need to be compelling enough for these individuals to want to join.

Finding the high-caliber candidates is a challenge, but getting them to join is a greater challenge.  Joining a fraternity is a four-year commitment while you are in college.  However, membership is really for life.  It is very difficult to make that kind of commitment in a few short rush weeks.

Fraternities have to be very clear on what they are offering if they expect high caliber candidates to join.  Are they offering leadership opportunities?  Maybe they are offering a great social scene?  Maybe they give back to the community or have a great athletic program?  Maybe they are just great guys who anyone would want to be friends with?  Regardless, it is essential that the fraternity understands their offering, and then can clearly communicate what that offering is.

Another great resource on how to be good at rush is my article: The Complete Guide to Fraternity Recruitment.

Should You Rush a Fraternity?

This is a very personal question that only the individual rushing can answer.  The individual needs to know what they are looking to get out of fraternity membership.

Some guys are looking for acceptance.  They are trying to find a place where they will belong.  It is easy to get lost on a large college campus.  Essentially, they are looking for friends.

Some guys are looking for a resume builder.  I don’t think this is the best reason to join, but some guys know this could help them when they graduate.

Some guys are looking for leadership experience.  There is no better place to learn about leadership than on a college campus.  A fraternity typically has a healthy five or six figure budget and can have a membership of over 100 individuals.  This is a legit organization.  Running it is a great leadership learning experience.

Some guys are looking to be part of the best social scene on campus.  They want to be in the middle of the action, and don’t want to be left out.  While this is true; this isn’t always the best reason to rush a fraternity.  You can find a good party easily on any college campus.  A fraternity experience is much more than that.

To learn more – check out my article: Reasons Why Guys Join Fraternities.

Tips on How to Rush a Fraternity:

Each school’s rush process is different.  However, the basic premise is the same.  You are introduced to a fraternity.  You attend a couple of their events.  If they like you then you are forced to decide if you want to join the fraternity or not.

The following tips will help you rush a fraternity:

  • Be yourself. At the end of the day you want to join a fraternity that is a good fit for you.  You won’t want to join one that is a good fit for ‘fake you’.  If the fraternity doesn’t like the real you, then move on.
  • Rush multiple fraternities. It is impossible to make a sound decision unless you can make a comparison.  You can’t compare if you only visit one fraternity.  Take advantage of meeting multiple fraternities.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out. If you want to rush a fraternity, then make sure you reach out to them and let them know you are interested.  Rush is quick.  Every day is critical, especially if you are looking to rush multiple fraternities.  You don’t have time to wait for them to call you.  If you do, you run the risk of missing out completely.
  • Be prepared with questions you want to ask. You need to know what you are looking to get out of the chapter.  What do you need to know to make a sound decision on whether you should join or not?

To get more tips – check out my article: How to Join a Fraternity or How to Act During Rush

How Do You Get Accepted by a Fraternity During Rush?

It is natural to always want to be accepted.  The good news – the fraternity you are rushing will try to find a reason to accept you.  As described earlier, the turnover in fraternities is tremendous.  That means they have to get a healthy number of new members or the whole organization is at risk.

To get accepted you need to be yourself.  Put your best foot forward, but don’t be a try-hard.  You want to dress and look the part.  You want to engage in interesting conversations.

Above all, you want to start to make friendships.  Remember names (this will be very difficult).  Remember stories (this will be even harder).  Never speak bad about anyone – whether it is a recruit or a brother.  Compliment often.  Ask questions.  The key to being accepted is to make genuine connections.

If you aren’t accepted, that is ok.  Those guys are doing you a favor.  They think you aren’t a good fit.  That means you probably aren’t.  It hurts the ego to not be accepted, but in the long run that is better for you.  Go find a fraternity where you are a better fit.

The worst thing that could happen is a fraternity accepts you because they need you for the dues you will pay, but they don’t really like you.  No one wants to be used.  You want to be part of an organization where your contributions and friendship are valued.  Go find that fraternity, and don’t lose any sleep over the fraternity where you weren’t the right fit.

To get more insight on this topic – check out my article: What to do When You are Rejected by a Fraternity

What is the Difference Between Formal and Informal Rush?

Rush is the recruitment process for fraternities to find new members.  It can be done two ways.

The first in an informal rush.  This is where each fraternity sets up their own events, and then recruits individually to find prospective new members.  The university will set guidelines for the time period and the rules that must be followed (typically no alcohol at events).  Outside that though, fraternities are free to recruit how they see fit.

The downside to an informal rush is the process leads to the recruit not having the most informed decision when selecting what fraternity to join.  Overwhelmingly, the person being recruited will only rush one fraternity.  This is because the first fraternity he rushes will make sure that he attends all of their rush events, preventing him from attending others.  This leads to the recruit making an uninformed decision.

Formal rush is the fraternity recruitment method where the university’s Interfraternity Council establishes the recruitment process.  The Interfraternity Council will act as a clearinghouse for all perspective recruits.  They will assign the recruits to visit fraternities on a set schedule.  They will also look to standardize the events as much as possible.

The goal of a formal rush is to ensure that the recruits see multiple fraternities on a level playing field.  The theory is this helps the recruit make the most informed decision when deciding what fraternity to join.  This process is almost used universally in the sorority world.

The drawback to formal rush is that some fraternities will always show better than others.  In the attempt to level to playing field, the IFC is giving some fraternities a significant recruitment advantage.  The most obvious way is with the quality of the fraternity house.  The fraternity with the nicest house will make a better impression than the others.

Another drawback is that there isn’t the opportunity to develop the same level of relationships in a formal rush as in an informal rush due to the set schedule.  The recruits simply won’t have the time of the opportunity to bond with the fraternity they are looking to join.

Both formal and informal rush have their advantages and disadvantages.  The key to finding the right fraternity for you remains the same in both instances – it is still all about developing relationships.

What Happens After Rush?

During rush you are being evaluated.  The fraternity is keeping close tabs on you and the other guys they are recruiting.  They are holding meetings and voting on whether they want to extend membership to you.

If they decide that they would like you to join the fraternity, they will invite you to be a new member (or pledge).  This process is called getting a bid.

Every fraternity gives bids a different way.  Some do it individually.  Some do it collectively.

If you are going through the fraternity rush process, you must realize that if they like you then you will most likely get a bid.  You need to think about what you will do when you are offered.

My suggestion is to very appreciative and thank them for the bid.  Let them know how much you have enjoyed spending time with the fraternity during rush.

If you have any questions, now is an appropriate time to ask.

Then ask them when you need to inform them of their decision.  Let them know that you realize this is a serious commitment, and you want to sleep on it to make sure you are making a full commitment.


Fraternity rush is an exciting process.  Many recruits have never had exposure to fraternity life, and being part of it is kind of like being in a movie.  It is a critical time for the fraternities as they must replenish their membership.  Done right, it can be a successful time for both.

If there is anything I have missed, or any insight you’d like to offer, please add it to the comments below.

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