It’s that special time of year again, when over 1,000 undergraduate girls put on their best game faces and embark on a formal mission known as fall recruitment for Greek life. Sorority houses have been preparing for months and now the long hours of screaming, singing, clapping, yelling and perfecting every single set have come down to this.

Enforced prerequisites include an online registration process (photo mandatory, of course), awkward conversations with complete strangers and the unnecessarily stressful process of sprinting from one house to another in a short period of time without sweating through your dress or ruining your hair. So it’s an eccentric process to say the least, one that manages to take up a ton of time during the recruitment period, which covers the first four weeks of class.

But it’s not for nothing. After surviving the first four weeks most girls end up with a bid to a specific house on campus. It’s become a more competitive process over the last few years, not only at Michigan but at universities across the country. And now, the price girls are willing to pay to end up in their “dream” house has reached new heights.

We’ve all heard of college coaches before, the paid mentors that help high school seniors manage their college applications, resumes and essay responses. But the concept of rush coaches may be a little foreign. Recently, professional image consultants, coupled with rush preparation services, have been charging up to $8,000 for coaching and guidance regarding sorority recruitment.

This intensive prepping is not only taking place in the South, where recruitment is considered a more rigorous process, but in the Midwest and on the East Coast as well. Women have been paying excessive amounts of money for the advice of professional image consultants, such as Samantha Von Sperling. She charges a whopping $300 per hour for her personal coaching, during which she advises young women on exactly what to wear, what to say and how to act during the rush process. If a couple hours of private prepping don’t meet your needs though, don’t fret, because she also offers week-long boot camps for the seriously anxious rushees at the meager price of $8,000.

I’m sorry, but this “rush coaching” concept seems absolutely absurd — and mind you, these words are coming from the mouth of a “sorority girl” herself. Recruitment as a whole is already a stressful enough process, one that feels a little bit like interviewing and a whole lot like speed dating. Girls are encouraged to try and be themselves so that they can find their best “fit” and end up in a house that feels both welcoming and inclusive. So, if rushees are feeling pressured to drop tons of money on expensive preparation courses and pre-rush boot camps, then something isn’t quite right.

Many University students hold preconceived notions regarding rush. Whether they view recruitment as the willingness to “pay for one’s friends” or a fierce process based on an individual’s outward appearance and beauty, the negative stereotypes surrounding rush are numerous. But if girls are in fact willing to pay hundreds, even thousands, of dollars in order to get a bid into their top sorority then these stereotypes are in a sense being validated.

Let me be blatantly honest: If a house doesn’t like you because of how you dress, how you apply your makeup or the way you talk, then do you actually want to be a sister there? The fact that so many girls are willing to pay ‘professionals’ to tell them how they need to do their hair, what exactly they should be wearing to each set, what conversations they need to be having, and how to come off as sociable and confident, is extremely alarming.

Going through rush should not be a long, drawn-out stage performance. In fact, no acting should be involved at all. Companies like Rushbiddies that pride themselves on fully preparing each “chick” for sorority recruitment should be ashamed. Rush already has the negative stigma of being fake and catty, so there’s really no need to add to the stereotype and further strengthen its validity.

These rush-prep services are teaching young women that professional training and primping is necessary in order to be successful and end up in a “top” house come bid day. This is detrimental to rushees who should be staying true to their self throughout the hectic process, rather than putting on a false persona to impress a certain sorority’s sisters.

I’ve been through rush once, and managed to slide by just fine on my own. Was I dropped from houses I originally liked? Yes. Was it a long, relatively painful experience that took up way too much time? Yes. But I would never in a million years pretend to be someone I’m not, or urge another rushee to do the same.

As I’m sure you’ve heard countless times, good luck with recruitment, and remember come Sunday, may the odds be ever in your favor.

Sarah Skaluba can be reached at sskaluba@umich.edu.

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