College Greeks are in a flurry this week after The New York Times exposed the world of “rush coaches” who are hired to help sorority sister wannabes navigate the increasingly competitive rush process.
It sounded excessive to us, especially the fees, which can ben as high as $8,000 for an ace consultant. So we called the co-founders of Rushbiddies, one of the consulting companies mentioned in the article, to find out about their service and why young women are signing up for it.
Sorority membership can help with future job prospects, as well as self-awareness and community service, said Pat Grant, one of Rushbiddies’ founders. So it makes sense to prep for rush like you would prep for the SATs or the college admissions process.
“We can equip the women with tools to the help them approach the situation,” Grant said. “It’s a numbers game…we want them to have the knowledge and tools to make a good decision.”
Grant and Marlea Foster started Rushbiddies in 2010 after their daughters returned home from rush at Auburn University and the University of Georgia bewildered by the competition, massive amounts of paperwork, and need to impress scores of sorority sisters.
“This isn’t your mum’s, aunt’s, or grandma’s rush,” Grant said. Most of the Birmingham-based company’s clients come from Southern schools, where rush is notoriously competitive, but they’ve helped girls across the country.
“So many bright, intelligent, witty girls were coming back to us telling us they did not have a good experience with rush or had no insight,” Grant said. “Sometimes it’s just knowledge, and how to approach the situation.”
Rushbiddies hosts two-day intensive workshops for mothers and daughters, which cost $100 per couple. The pair also offer a la carte services such as resume consulting, hair and make up advice, and small talk practice over the phone, for about $25 an hour.
The first day of the workshop is “all about the paper.” For schools where recommendations are required, women need to immediately start seeking out alumnae of the sororities they think they want to join, so they can pass on their resumes and personal information and ask for a recommendation letter, Grant said.
Day two revolves around tips for the party.
“We call it ‘deer in headlights’ syndrome,” Grant said. “Some girls just shut down in large groups.” The coaches teach girls to make small talk. They also advise girls to choose their outfits and accessories before Rush Week even begins. Grant said that young women should observe the formality of their desired sorority, and then dress the part.
Rushbiddies even offers a two-day “Early Bird” workshop for high school juniors and seniors looking for guidance to pad their resumes and networking with Greek alumni at the prospective colleges of their choice.
The company is quick to caution that it doesn’t guarantee a bid to your first-pick sorority. But the consultants said they feel they equip women with the proper skills for the process and make them aware of what’s to come.
The South loves its traditions, Grant said, and while sororities are an old one, learning to outsmart the system and win a coveted pledge class spot is something entirely new.
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