Helping Your Daughter if Sorority Recruitment Doesn’t Work Out for Her

There is a saying when your daughter decides to go through sorority recruitment, “Trust the Process.” It is said repeatedly throughout the rush preparation period. It basically means, keep moving forward and in the end, you will find your sisters, and the sorority that is meant for you. I never asked, “What happens to the girls that don’t get a bid?”  

Rush at many schools can be very daunting and full of emotion. It is not a “sign here” process. It is a selection process where not all young women get selected for the sorority that they want to belong to or, in some cases, any sorority at all. The term is “dropped.”  And it is a very painful, embarrassing part of rush that no one talks about. 

I am not going to debate the fairness or exclusivity of the process of rushing because there are people more qualified than I to address that topic. This is solely about how to support your daughter when she is dropped during rush.

Here are ways to help your daughter through sorority recruitment when it doesn’t work out as she had hoped. (Twenty20 @jacobandrews64)

What a parent can do when their daughter is dropped during rush

When a young woman is dropped during rush, she gets a call from her trusted advisor for the process. This trained upperclassman or possibly named “Gamma Chi” gently shares the difficult news. She cannot give your daughter any reason why she has been dropped by all of the sororities. All your daughter knows is that her journey towards sisterhood is now over. When that call ends, she is often left alone with little to no support system on campus.

As moms is it our job to make sure our daughters know that they are smart, worthwhile young women who our valuable members of their college campus despite not being accepted by the Greek system.

Sadly, this happened to my daughter. My heart broke immediately as I read a 5:30am text, “I have been dropped.”  It felt like the rejection of thousands of girls on a new college campus that she had only been on for 3 days. 

Of course that isn’t how the process works exactly but it didn’t matter one bit. It is how she felt. My daughter was in a brand-new place with no real friends. I was at home helpless. I wanted to call every sorority house and yell at them that they missed out on a loyal, kind, great person. You might feel that way too. And that’s natural because I don’t care if your girl is 10, 18 or 28 when someone hurts your child, they hurt you too. However, the truth is, there is no one to call for answers. That is part of the difficultly in this situation. You will never know “why.” 

I got swept up in the excitement of sorority rush

I wish I had a “what if you are dropped” discussion before I had left my daughter at college. I was so confident in the high percent of bids given out each year that I never thought my daughter would be one of the few hundred who wouldn’t get one. I read the Facebook parent page posts with so much excitement that even pre-ordered a Bid Day Box. I admit that I got swept up in the excitement. 

A mom I meet online told that she had learned from her experience with her older daughter-be ready for anything during rush. Her older daughter had been dropped and was devastated. She almost left college because of it. This time around the mom was prepared. She had all the freshman week activities printed out with contacts for each. She had a discussion with her daughter beforehand so her daughter knew that if she were dropped, she would immediately pivot to freshman-week activities. Her daughter also knew that being dropped was a possibility. That mom did not pre-order a Bid Day Box. 

Talk to your daughter beforehand about the possibility of being dropped

After going through this experience, I recommend having a discussion with your daughter about rushing and the possibility of being dropped. If it does happen, first let your daughter cry. Know that she will feel that she is the only young women that has been dropped, even though there were many.

The girls who are dropped usually feel ashamed and embarrassed. Again, those percentage numbers made them feel like they did something wrong to not get a bid. Remind your daughter she did nothing wrong.

Tell her that you are going to be with her every step of the way to support her moving forward.  Remind her that her value was never wrapped up in an envelope on bid day. Acknowledge that this may hurt for a while but explain that she needs to get out of her dorm. Not every girl on campus is rushing even though it might feel way. 

Help your daughter identify other interests

What are your daughter’s other interests? Look on the campus website and find clubs that matches that her interests. Is there a girl on her floor or in the dorm who she can ask to have lunch or dinner with who is not rushing? Is there an RA she can ask about campus activities?

Try to put a plan in place with her for the next few hours. It might be very early when she first calls. Often the first call comes at 5am. Maybe you can watch a Netflix show together for a while or she can go back to sleep for a few hours. But do not let her stay in her dorm alone for too long. If she needs help figuring out what to say to her roommate, encourage her to be honest. She is going to be living with this young woman for next several months. It is better to not lie. My daughter told her roommate and it was nice for her to have a trusted friend in this process. 

There is no shame in helping your daughter through this

One mom told me that she called the student union freshman coordinator and found out that there was a campus small group coordinator that got her daughter involved immediately in freshman activities. Many articles advise parents to let their new college freshman to do everything on their own. But that day this mom knew her daughter needed help.

There is no shame in being the mom that your child needs on day 3 of college. This was a true mental health issue. Her daughter got a very inviting call to join a group of students doing a “walk your schedule” tour.  For the next several days her daughter had scheduled activities that kept her busy. Yes, she was still sad. But she was getting to know her way around campus, making friends, learning about the non-Greek activities on campus and little by little finding some healing. 

Another mom I spoke with said she helped her daughter look up church-based groups on campus. She gave her the courage to reach out on her own to the President of one via social media. The President responded to her immediately and invited her to meet for lunch where she learned about their group as well as other ways help the local community. Getting involved in other activities helped her forget about sorority rush.

The weeks after her daughter was dropped were difficult for both mom and daughter  

I admit the next few weeks were difficult for both of us. I texted and called my daughter often. She had a hard time seeing the friends group forming among the girls in pledge classes and feeling left out. She went to several activities by herself and started to meet a few girls who did not rush. I was so proud of her for putting herself out there. 

It is too early to tell if my daughter will every truly feel like she belongs on this campus after her experience. I have read that some girls transfer soon after, some rush again, and others find friendships outside of Greek life. The other day she told me if she knew she would have not had positive rush experience, she would have chosen another university. I felt guilty that I allowed her to rush. I am sure I wouldn’t feel that way if everything had worked out perfectly, but it didn’t. And it doesn’t for hundreds of girls on campuses all over the country. 

A message to other moms in my shoes

To all the moms whose daughters called them crying or who will call them crying because they are dropped during rush, I want you to know, you are not alone. Your daughter is perfectly lovely. She deserved better. I am sorry that it didn’t work out the way you both envisioned. I know that it hurts a lot right now. That pain isn’t silly or trite. Now it is time to pivot to plan B.

Help your daughter find her new path. And when you hang up with her, know it is okay to cry that people have hurt her. I did. But when she calls, make sure you dry those tears because she needs you to show strength in moving forward, just like she always has because you are her and always.

P.S. Remember when we were worried about picking out a brand of diaper and thought that was the hardest decision? I sure miss those days. 

The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.

More Great Reading:

This Sorority Girl Was Okay With Her Daughter Not Rushing

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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