The Complete Guide To Informal Sorority Recruitment

Can you join a sorority after rush? Yes! Learn how to make your sorority dreams come true through informal sorority recruitment.

For some college women, the decision to go through sorority recruitment is easy – ‘heck yes’ or ‘absolutely no’.

However, sometimes recruitment doesn’t go your way (aka you get cut) or you have a change of heart and you decide you want to try sorority life out.

Whether you are the girl who:

  • Got dropped from sorority recruitment before Bid Day
  • Released yourself from recruitment prior to Bid Day
  • Decided you wanted to give sorority life a chance
  • Improved your grades enough to go through recruitment
  • Transferred from another university
  • Wanted to go through a more relaxed version of sorority recruitment

There is an option to join a sorority after formal recruitment. And that is informal sorority recruitment.

In today’s blog post, we will discussing all things informal recruitment, also known as continuous open bidding (COB), to help you make the decision or navigate the entire process.

And if you are interested in going through formal sorority recruitment, but your university has made it virtual, check out this blog post all about virtual sorority recruitment. This blog post will help you navigate sorority recruitment (via Zoom) from what to expect, what to wear, what to talk about, and more!

But without further-ado, let’s talk about the process of informal recruitment.

Table Of Contents

Three women hugging and smiling because they are happy, and looking forward to, informal sorority recruitment. The text overlay says, "the complete guide to informal sorority recruitment."

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What is informal sorority recruitment?

Informal sorority recruitment is a secondary option for college aged women wanting to join a sorority after the formal sorority recruitment process.

Sometimes informal recruitment may be referred to as:

  • Continuous open bidding (COB)
  • Continuous open recruitment (COR)
  • Spring rush*
  • Spring recruitment*
  • Deferred recruitment

*Some universities, like the University of Southern California, have formal recruitment in the spring. This allows incoming freshmen to get used to college life and academics before deciding to join a sorority. With that being said, informal recruitment may be in the fall instead of the spring but it depends on the university.

However, all of these terms mean the same thing – it’s just that some universities vary their terminology.

Overall informal recruitment is a more relaxed and intimate version of recruitment. Meaning there are usually less women going through COB, recruitment events are less structured, and you meet only a handful of sorority sisters throughout the process.

But as appealing as that may seem, especially if you’re shy and wanting to join a sorority, it may not be the best option for you.

We’ll discuss this further in the differences between formal and informal recruitment section of this post.

Who can participate in COB?

If you meet any of the following requirements you can consider informal recruitment a viable option for you!

  • Have never been initiated into another member organization of the National Panhellenic Conference
  • Did not receive a Bid from the most recent formal or informal recruitment and declined it afterwards
  • You meet the GPA requirement and are enrolled as a full-time student at your university

How can I sign-up for COB?

When you go through formal recruitment, there is a very systematic process to sign-up for it – via an online signup form.

However, if you want to go through informal recruitment, there really isn’t any registration form you fill out.

It’s really your responsibility to get information on who is participating in COB and get invited to their events.

So… how the heck do you do that?! You’ve got 4 main options.

1. Follow the sororities at your university on social media and reach out to them

One of the best ways to stay in the know about informal recruitment events is to follow the sorority, or sororities, you are interested in joining via COB on social media.

Most sororities, in my experience, are most active on Instagram, but if they have a Facebook page, Tik Tok, Twitter, etc. I’d follow them on there as well.

Some sororities will post about COB interest events on their Instagram profile or in their stories, so be on the lookout for them at the beginning of the next semester following formal recruitment.

If the sorority, or sororities, are not posting anything on social media about their informal recruitment events, don’t be afraid to DM them on social media.

Some sororities keep these events out of the public eye, so only girls who are truly interested will request more information directly from the sorority themselves.

If you are reaching out to them via social media DMs, simply write them something like:

Hi, my name is [your name] and I am a [grade level] at [your university name]. I am genuinely interested in joining [sorority name] and I am wondering if you could provide me additional information on how to join this semester. Thanks so much for your time!

I know it’s nerve-wracking putting yourself out there, but you never know what opportunities a simple DM to your dream sorority can bring into your life.

2. Talk to and befriend sorority women on campus

Another great way to get info on COB, and even score an invite to COB events, is making friends with sorority women on campus.

A lot of COB events are purely word of mouth, so it’s vital you do some genuine networking.

Depending on how predominate Greek life is at your university, it can be quite easy to find a sorority sister to befriend in one of your classes or in a club/extracurricular you are part of.

Many sorority women love making friends with women outside of Greek life and are thrilled to talk about their sorority.

3. Reach out to your university’s College Panhellenic Council

Although the best way to get information and invited to COB events is directly through the sororities themselves, sending an email or visiting your university’s Greek Life Department can help you get your foot in the door.

Your Greek Life Office should be able to connect you with the recruitment chair, membership chair, or President of the sororities going through COB or provide you information about COB events.

4. Fill out a COB interest form

The final method of getting in the know about COB is filling out an interest form either online or in-person.

If you Google your university’s name plus the word COB or informal recruitment, you often can find a webpage all about your respective university’s COB process.

For example: Georgia Tech continuous open bidding or University of Alabama informal recruitment

On that webpage there may also be an online interest form you can fill out which will be sent to the recruitment or membership chair of the sororities going through COB.

If you cannot find an online interest form, your university’s Department of Greek Life may be able to provide you a physical interest form to fill out.

However, just because you fill out the interest form does not mean you will be contacted by a sorority chapter on campus.

It’s more advantageous for you to directly contact the sororities you are interested in joining through COB via email or social media rather than filling out an interest form and crossing your fingers someone will see it.

When is informal recruitment held?

COB starts the moment formal recruitment concludes (aka after Bid Day).

If a sorority chapter falls below chapter total, which we will discuss in the next section, then they will be able to recruit women throughout the academic year to reach chapter total.

However, it is quite uncommon, in my experience, to randomly get a new pledge class in the middle of the semester.

Instead, COB often occurs at the beginning of the next semester if there were enough women who graduated, went early alum, or dropped the sorority, and as a result, put the chapter below total.

And not all sororities participate in COB every semester. And sometimes, if all sororities at your university are at chapter total, there will be no COB at all. But we’ll discuss this in more detail in the next section!

What is the difference between formal and informal recruitment?

There are three main differences between formal and informal rush:

  1. How many sororities participate in COB and how that affects you
  2. The schedule or structure
  3. The vibe of it

We will discuss these three points further down below.

1. Which sororities participate in COB? And how it affects you.

Unfortunately, informal sorority recruitment is never a for sure thing.

Which means two things…

  1. Some sororities at your university will participate in COB and some will not
  2. AND sometimes NO sororities at your university will participate in COB and you must wait until formal sorority recruitment

Why do some sororities participate in COB and some do not?

It ultimately depends if a sorority, or sororities, at your university fall below chapter total.

What is chapter total?

Chapter total is a number set by each university’s College Panhellenic council that allows a certain number of women (includes new and initiated members) to be part of each sorority on campus.

If a sorority falls below chapter total, they will be able to participate in informal sorority recruitment.

Some sororities may also be required to participate in informal recruitment by their National (or International) headquarters in order to meet chapter total.

For example, if chapter total was set at 100 members at a particular university and Sorority A had 95 members, they can participate in informal sorority recruitment and can recruit 5 more woman to join their sorority.

HOWEVER, they do not have to give out all 5 bids. They just have to participate in COB.

Alternatively, if, at the same university, Sorority B had 100 members, they would not have to participate in informal recruitment and any woman wanting to join Sorority B would have until formal recruitment for the opportunity to join Sorority B.

How does chapter total affect you?

There are three ways chapter total can affect your sorority recruitment experience:

  1. The sorority you want to join may not be participating in COB, and therefore, you need to wait for formal recruitment
  2. You’re limited on the number of sororities you can meet through COB and potentially get a bid to
  3. The number of bids a sorority can give out are more limited in number than formal recruitment

Let’s talk about each point…

Regarding point #1, as stated in the example above, if a sorority is at chapter total, they are not obligated to participate in informal sorority recruitment.

And this can be a good thing (or a bad thing) for you depending on if your heart was dead set on joining a particular sorority.

For example, if you wanted to join Sorority XYZ, but they had met chapter total and decided to not participating in informal sorority recruitment, you would need to wait until formal sorority recruitment to, hopefully, get a bid to that sorority.

However, if you are open to other options, you can see if there is another sorority, or sororities, on campus participating in COB and potentially get a bid to that sorority.

In regard to point #2, you are limited on how many sororities you can meet during the informal recruitment process.

For example, at the university I went to, there were 7 sororities women could meet during formal recruitment.

However, during informal recruitment, women could only meet the chapters who were participating in COB.

Sometimes that would be 2 sororities and sometimes it would be 3 sororities. But it all depended on which chapters were below chapter total.

The big takeaway from point #2: if you are someone who wants to see and weigh all of their options during recruitment, informal recruitment may not be for you.

Finally, in regard to point #3, bids are limited!

Related: What Is A Bid And Bid Day?

For example, if a sorority can only give out a maximum of 10 bids to meet chapter total, but there are 20 women going through informal recruitment, your chances of getting a bid is slim unless you’re a total standout potential new member.

Alternatively, if you go to a small university or you were specifically personally invited to participate in COB, your chances of earning a bid may be higher than during formal recruitment where sororities get to meet more women.

2. Recruitment schedule and structure (formal vs informal)

How recruitment is scheduled is dramatically different between formal and informal recruitment.

During formal recruitment, the days are all pre-planned and you, and every other woman participating in rush, are given a schedule to follow.

For example at the University of Alabama, every women participating in formal recruitment (in 2020) followed this schedule:

A screenshot of University of Alabama's formal recruitment schedule for 2020 used as an example to compare formal and informal sorority recruitment

However, informal recruitment does not follow a particular schedule.

Instead, each sorority participating in COB determines their own schedule and their own events.

For example, here is what Auburn University states in regard to the format of their informal recruitment events:

Screenshot of Auburn University COB events.

A second example from Ole Miss:

A screenshot of Ole Miss's COB recruitment structure.

If you’re the type of girl who:

  • Needs structure
  • You work and go to school
  • You are a commuter student

Then formal recruitment may suit you better.

Related: How To Manage Working While Being In A Sorority [Without Losing Your Mind]

However, if you have a:

  • Flexible schedule
  • Don’t mind unstructured events
  • Live on-campus

Then informal recruitment can be a great, fun way to meet sorority women and potentially find your home away from home.

And also, don’t fret too much if you work or commute to school and want to go through COB.

Since the events are unstructured, sororities are better able to accommodate your schedule, so you don’t have to miss out on the opportunity.

3. The vibe of recruitment (formal vs informal)

Formal sorority recruitment is a very serious process.

You have (as a potential new member):

  • Hundreds, if not thousands, of women going through the same recruitment process as you
  • Recruitment counselors
  • Multiple recruitment events on a tight schedule
  • Specific outfit requirements for each round of recruitment
  • Etc.

And not only that, the sororities themselves have to follow specific rules set by their university’s College Panhellenic Council during formal recruitment like:

  • No speaking to PNMs prior to Bid Day
  • No following PNMs on social media prior to Bid Day
  • Cannot encourage PNMs to join a specific sorority
  • Cannot buy things for PNMs
  • Sorority women must speak positively about other sorority chapters
  • Strict dress code
  • Etc.

There’s also specific things you shouldn’t, as a PNM, talk about during recruitment.

And with all of these rules and regulations on both sides of recruitment, it can sometimes feel over structured or even limiting on how you can express yourself as a PNM.

Luckily, informal recruitment is very laid back!

Instead of standing for hours, wearing painful heels, and or having to scream in each others ears, recruitment events are more fun and chill.

Here are some examples of COB events:

  • 1-on-1 coffee date with a sister
  • Ice cream bar social
  • Succulent pot painting
  • Crafting night
  • Watching a basketball game at your university
  • Trivia night with Sisters

I remember one time my sister came back home from her “preference round” event and she told me she talked to women in a rec room at her university and ate chicken nuggets. How awesome is that?!

Now don’t get me wrong, formal recruitment is a great experience! There is absolutely nothing wrong (or scary) about going through it.

But if you are looking to join a sorority in a less stressful environment, then consider going through informal recruitment.

And if it doesn’t go your way (granted you don’t receive a bid and sign a MRABA), then you can go through formal recruitment the following semester.

Breaking down the pros and cons (formal vs informal sorority recruitment)

Alright, so I know the previous section was a lot.

So let’s break down the different pros and cons of formal and informal recruitment.

Formal recruitment pros and cons

Pros

  • Get to meet all sororities on campus
  • Larger pledge class and Bid Day celebration
  • Chapter morale tends to be at its highest
  • Structured schedule
  • Recruitment is usually done before the semester starts
  • PNMs get early move-in on-campus

Cons

  • Sometimes stressful, loud environment
  • Long days of recruitment
  • Standing all day in heels or wedges
  • Comparing yourself to other PNMs
  • Little to no breaks in between rounds
  • Costs money to sign-up and go through the process

Informal recruitment pros and cons

Pros

  • More fun, activity-based recruitment events
  • More intimate conversations with sorority women
  • Less stressful and more laid back
  • Less outfit restrictions/guidelines
  • Usually FREE to go through the process

Cons

  • Limited number of sororities who participate and you often don’t know who they are ahead of time
  • You may only get to attend one sorority’s recruitment events
  • Meet and talk to less sorority women
  • Smaller pledge class and Bid Day celebration
  • Unstructured schedule and sorority events usually occur during the academic semester
  • No recruitment counselor to help you weigh your options

Is continuous open bidding bad?

Unfortunately, at some universities there is a negative connotation surrounding COB such as:

  • It’s only for girls who didn’t make the cut during formal recruitment
  • It’s an “easy way” to get a bid
  • Only sororities who have poor retention do it
  • It’s only for upperclassmen or transfers

However, let me tell you: There is nothing wrong with joining a sorority after formal rush or getting a bid through COB.

For many women, COB is a great way to join a sorority with very little cost in regard to time and money.

COB events can also be more insightful than formal recruitment events in respect to what the sisterhood is truly like.

Let me be real with you: Some formal recruitment events are “fake” or “disingenuous” meaning many of the conversations are surface-level and the “personality” of the sorority may not be the same once formal recruitment is all said and done.

Through informal recruitment, you get to meet with sorority women in a more genuine, authentic environment, which can help you make a more informed decision about joining.

What do you wear to informal sorority recruitment?

There is no set dress code for informal sorority recruitment.

Because sororities are pretty much free to do whatever events they want for COB, the dress code is subject to the event itself.

So if you get invited, make sure you ask about what you should wear to each event if they don’t tell you upfront.

Regardless of dress code, make sure you look and feel your best when you attend COB events. Meaning, don’t just roll out of bed and head out to the door.

Put in some effort to look presentable by:

  • Brushing your hair
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Putting on some makeup (if you normally wear it)
  • Wearing a nice pair of jeans (rather than leggings or sweatpants) paired with an appropriate, but cute top for the event

7 informal sorority recruitment tips to help you be successful

In this section, I’ll be giving you 7 tips to help you stand out and make a lasting impression during informal sorority recruitment.

1. Be proactive and reach out to the sororities you are interested in

Sororities are not going around campus handing out bids to just anyone.

They want girls who have genuine interest in joining their sisterhood. But they’ll never know you are interested unless you make the first move and reach out to them.

If you don’t have friends in sororities who can vouch for you or get your name out there to their recruitment chair, then you have to make the first move.

As mentioned earlier in blog post, in this section, don’t be afraid to reach out to the sorority chapter(s) you’re interested in joining via social media.

And even better, if you can find the name and email address of the Chapter President or recruitment chairwoman, reach out to them via email and let them know you’re interested in learning more information about their informal recruitment process.

Being proactive will pay off! Even if it is uncomfortable at first. So go ahead, send that DM or email. You never know what a simple message could lead to next.

You may also like: How To Choose Your Dream Sorority

2. Be yourself

Whether you are going through informal or formal recruitment, it is essential that you are 100% yourself during the recruitment process.

Recruitment is a mutual selective process.

This means that the ultimate goal of recruitment is to match each woman to the sorority that’s best suited for them (and vice versa).

If you go into recruitment trying to fake your way into a sorority, it isn’t going to go well for you. And most likely, you’ll end up disliking the sorority and leaving it.

So don’t be afraid to be yourself.

It’s ok if you’re quirky, don’t have perfect teeth, or aren’t super rich.

A true sisterhood wants to get to know the real you! And they will accept you for who you are.

3. Be respectful and open minded

By the time informal recruitment comes around, you may have already heard rumors, good and bad, about the different sororities on campus.

Regardless of what you have heard about “that one chapter” – let it go and don’t mention it during your conversations with the girl(s) who are recruiting you.

And even more so, don’t talk negatively about any sorority or fraternity on campus. Heck, don’t even mention any other greek organization on campus.

Related: 9 Off-Limit Conversation Topics During Sorority Recruitment

When you are going through recruitment your conversations need to be focused around you and the sororities you are rushing.

And not only that, you need to be open minded especially if you get invited to COB events from a sorority you are not 100% thrilled about.

If you get invited to participate in COB by a sorority you “could never see yourself in,” give them a chance.

They obviously saw something in you! Now give them the opportunity to show you just how amazing they could be for you.

4. Focus on your conversations over the COB event itself

COB events can be a hit or miss depending on who you are and what you personally like doing.

Regardless of how lame or fun a COB event is, you shouldn’t let that be the main deciding factor for choosing one sorority over another.

Instead, prioritize the conversations you are having with the sorority sisters who are talking to you:

  • Do they seem genuinely interested in you?
  • Do they seem genuinely interested in their own sorority?
  • Do you feel comfortable talking to the sisters of the chapter?
  • Do you feel like you can trust the women you are talking to?
  • Do the conversations feel one-sided or fair?

The conversations you have with sorority sisters can give you a lot of insight into how the sorority would be if you joined it.

It can let you know if you would be able to make strong connections with the other sorority sisters of the chapter. And that’s super important because sororities are an investment!

If you feel like the women you speaking to are fun and easy to talk to, I’d say that’s a good sign that is a chapter is a viable option.

But if you feel ignored, uncomfortable talking to them or just any weird vibes, I wouldn’t pursue that chapter any further.

5. Show genuine interest by asking questions and staying engaged

No matter if you decide to go through formal or informal sorority recruitment, all sorority sisters are looking for potential new members with genuine interest in their sisterhood.

But how do you show you’re completely head over heels about joining their sisterhood without looking desperate?

By asking questions!

Asking sorority sisters questions about their sorority, just like asking questions at a job interview, is a great way to show you’re the real deal.

And asking the right questions can help you stand out above the girl who didn’t any questions at all or the girl who asked the “wrong” questions.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of 50 questions you can ask sorority sisters, then click here now.

6. Be willing to open up

The conversations you have during COB events are likely to be more personal than during regular recruitment.

Why is that?

During informal recruitment, depending on the event, you are most likely going to be paired up with 1, maybe 2, sorority sisters to talk to during your entire recruitment experience.

These 1-2 girls will be your key to earning a bid, so it’s important you show you’re comfortable around them, similar to how you’d be if you actually joined their sisterhood.

Also, being open and honest during your conversations can help them get to see the real you. And that will help them make a better decision for their chapter (and you) in regard to extending you a bid or not.

And trust me, you want to get a bid to the right sorority for you!

So feel free to dive deep into your conversations with the women you speak with.

I know it can be awkward to talks about all your hopes and dreams with women you literally just met, but in the long run it will give them a better idea about you.

7. Know it’s OK to not accept a bid – trust your gut!

We’ll talk more about getting a bid through COB, but for now understand that, in general, you are limited in how much time you have to accept or decline a bid (usually 24 – 48 hours).

With that being said, don’t feel obligated to accept a bid just because you want to join Greek Life or because your friend, mom, aunt, grandmother, boyfriend, etc. says to do it.

If the sorority, or sororities, you rushed through COB didn’t feel like home, then trust your gut and try again during formal recruitment.

And you aren’t hurting anyone’s feelings by declining a bid either. Remember it’s a mutual selection process.

In fact, a sorority would rather have you decline their bid than have you leave their sorority 2 months in.

So, if you get offered a bid, take some time to think it over and make the decision on your terms.

What happens if I get a bid through COB?

Getting a bid through COB is a huge deal. That means a sorority really fell in love with you and would like you to join their sisterhood.

If you get a bid, you’ll most likely be called by the sorority’s recruitment chairwoman or another member of chapter’s executive council, and you’ll be given have 3 options:

  1. Accept it
  2. Ask to think it over
  3. Decline it

In this section we will further discuss the next steps if you get a bid or don’t get a bid through COB.

How long do I have to accept a bid during informal recruitment?

The bids system is slightly different during informal recruitment because bids are given out at different times. Let me explain.

Since all sororities do COB differently, you may receive a bid after 1 COB event, after 3 events, or after 5+ events.

With that being said, if your university allows you to go through COB with multiple sororities, you can get into a tricky situation because you have the potential to be extended multiple bids at completely random times.

At most universities, if you receive a bid, you have 24 – 48 hours to accept it. But I’d double check the rules at your university before taking my advice.

Because you have 24 – 48 hours to accept a bid, you are more than welcome to make your decision right before times is up. This will allow you to see if there are any other sororities extending you a bid and help you make a more informed decision.

But once you accept a bid, that’s it. You cannot accept a bid to another sorority.

However, as I mentioned prior, don’t accept a bid if it doesn’t feel right.

And don’t let outside influences be the sole driver of your decision making.

Joining a sorority is for life and you deserve to be part of a sisterhood you will love and cherish for a lifetime.

What happens if I don’t get a bid or decline my bid through COB?

Not getting a bid or deciding to decline your bid can be heart breaking. Especially if you put forth a lot of energy into COB without a bid in return.

You do have a few options going forward:

  • Go through formal recruitment
  • Wait for COB to occur again after the next formal recruitment period concludes
  • Decide not to continue with joining a NPC sorority

Since you did not accept or were not extended a bid, you are eligible to go through formal recruitment.

This can, for some girls, be better because you get to see all of your options and meet more sorority women than through informal recruitment.

Related: How Handle Getting Cut During Sorority Recruitment

If you decide to wait for COB, you will be taking your chances on which sororities will be available to join.

And there is a chance that no sororities will do COB the next time it happens. So honestly, your best bet is formal recruitment if you seriously want to join a sorority.

Finally, if you decide that sorority life isn’t for you, that’s 110% ok!

Sororities are not for everyone. Even women who you think would be the perfect match for sorority life end up leaving their sorority.

Plus, there are plenty of other ways to get involved on campus and in your community and make friends other than joining a sorority:

  • Volunteering or community service
  • Joining clubs or intramural sports
  • Undergraduate research or teaching
  • Academic honor societies
  • Study abroad
  • Etc.

What happens after I accept a bid through COB?

If you decide to accept your bid, congratulations!

I’m so happy for you and wish you nothing but the best in your new sisterhood.

But what the heck happens next?!

Once you accept a bid, you will need to sign a continuous open bidding membership recruitment acceptance binding agreement (COB MRABA).

The COB MRABA basically states that you cannot go through recruitment (formal or informal) until the next primary recruitment period.

Additionally, someone from your sorority, most likely your membership chairwoman or new member educator, will reach out to you and provide you information about Bid Day and when your first new member and chapter meeting will be.

You may also start to see a flood of friend requests on Facebook, instagram follows, and text messages from sorority sisters welcoming you into their chapter.

Concluding thoughts on informal sorority recruitment

Continuous open bidding can be a wonderful opportunity for women to join a sorority after formal recruitment.

Although it’s not as hyped up as formal recruitment, COB definitely has it’s perks – like not having to wear heels!

I hope this guide about continuous open bidding has helped you make a more informed decision on whether COB is right for you or has made you less nervous about COB if you were already planning on going through it.

Whether you ultimately decide to go through formal or informal recruitment, I truly hope you find the perfect sisterhood for you. And as always, good luck!

Related posts to sorority recruitment

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