How To Join a College Fraternity

Women at a frat party

The decision to join a college fraternity is a lifelong commitment. The rush process--the process of joining a college  fraternity--can be a time-consuming and confusing process. Knowing what to expect before beginning the process can make it more enjoyable and less strenuous.

  1. Recruitment.  Fraternities can find new members either formally or informally. During the formal recruitment process is known as "Rush" or "Rush Week," the fraternities will invite prospective new members and fellow students to attend events at the house. This is the time when the potential new members are able to meet other members of the fraternity and begin to become a part of the group. Some colleges may require that a student visit multiple fraternities before making a decision, although this isn't mandatory at every school. Informal recruitment is, as its name suggests, casual recruitment through already planned activities. Nearly all schools have a formal and informal recruitment period.
  2. Academic Requirements.  Some schools and fraternities have minimum academic requirements that have to be met before new members are admitted. These may include having a certain number of completed credits or a minimum grade point average. At some schools, fraternities are not allowed to recruit if their academic requirements are not met. If you meet the academic requirements you can then move on to the next step, pledging.
  3. Pledge Invitations.  The pledging process begins with the fraternity inviting members of their choosing to "pledge" the fraternity. If this invitation or "bid" is accepted, then you will become a pledge of the fraternity. This status allows for fewer house privileges until you are initiated as a full member. Only one fraternity can be pledged at a time and, once initiated, you are unable to join any other social fraternities. You will still be able to join professional, service, or honorary fraternities in the future.

  4. Pledge Requirements.  Pledging requirements vary among schools and fraternities and some college fraternities have even eliminated the process completely. Despite these differences, there are some common requirements. These common requirements include wearing a pin indicating the wearer is a pledge or new member. Other examples include learning about the history and inner workings of the fraternity, performing public service, or maintaining a certain attitude toward other members. "Hell Week," a grueling initiation process by which fraternities were most well-known, is now a rarity.
  5. Initiation. After successfully completing the fraternity's pledging process and all of the requirements that go with it, the active members will invite the pledges to become initiated as full members. This initiation is typically not conducted until the end of a semester of pledging. Initiation often includes secret ceremonies and sacred rituals which the new members are now allowed to learn. These newly initiated members are expected to live lives to the standards of the fraternity. They are expected to represent the fraternity well through their behavior and actions.


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