For Potential New Members

What is a sorority?
What is Panhellenic?
Formal Recruitment?
Why is it “formal”?
What is “informal recruitment”?
What is “Greek”?
Why “Go Greek”?
What is a pledge/new member class?
What is a legacy?
What is a Pi Chi group? What is a Pi Chi?
What is the Panhellenic Executive Board?
If I go through recruitment, do I have to join?
What is a bid? What is Bid Day?
Is there hazing?
Do I have to register to participate in Formal Recruitment?
Do Greek women have friends in other sororities and outside of Greek life?
Does being in a sorority take up a lot of time?
Aren’t sororities expensive?
Do sororities at Penn State have houses?
How do I join?
What if I’m not a typical “Sorority Girl”?
I’m interested, but I’m still not sure…


What is a sorority?
A sorority is a group of undergraduate women bound together by common goals, values, and friendships. Together, women in a sorority commit to scholastic, philanthropic, and social development and participate in numerous events, service projects, and activities like other clubs at Penn State. Though Penn State has 22 sororities, they all share common founding principles (learn more about our chapters here) and can have lifelong impacts on their members, lasting far beyond graduation.

What is Panhellenic?
The Panhellenic Council (sometimes abbreviated “Panhellenic” or “PHC”) is the governing body for Penn State’s 18 inter/national sorority chapters. For more information, see “What is Panhellenic?“.

What is Formal Recruitment?
Recruitment is the membership intake process for sororities. Formal recruitment is an event held each fall when all of the Panhellenic sororities (with the exception of the three associate chapters) come together to meet potential new members in a structured fashion. You must be registered to participate in formal recruitment. For more information about how formal recruitment works, click here.

Why is it “formal”?
The process is structured with a specific procedure that all participating sororities are required to follow. There is a pre-set number of “parties” that last for equal (and very specific) lengths of time. There are also designated rounds in Formal Recruitment, with the themes, times, and number of parties changing with each round. In short, it’s considered formal because outside of Formal Recruitment, sororities may participate in “informal recruitment” where there is very litte structure and the logistics of recruiting new members is left up to the individual chapters.

What is “informal recruitment”?
Informal recruitment encompasses all recruitment practices outside of Formal Recruitment. Thus, any recruiting that a sorority does on its own immediately following Formal Recruitment in the fall or any recruitment during spring semester, is considered informal. Informal recruitment is not any better or worse that being recruited through formal recruitment, just much less structured and more relaxed. For more information on which sororities are participating in informal recruitment, contact their recruitment chairs directly or Panhellenic’s Vice President for Membership.

What is “Greek”?
Often times sororities and fraternities are referred to as “Greek letter organizations,” and for short, many people simply call them Greeks. “Go Greek” means to join a Greek letter organization!

Why “Go Greek”?
Penn State has one of the biggest sorority systems in the world. Every sorority offers lifetime friendships, countless leadership opportunities, community service and philanthropy, THON involvement, fun, and much, much more! Great women Go Greek!

What’s a pledge/new member class?
A new member class (formerly “pledge class”) is a group of girls that receives bids to join a chapter together. You meet your new member class on bid day. You will go through your new member period together and get initiated together. They can become some of your closest friends!

What is a legacy?
A legacy is typically defined as the sister, daughter, or granddaughter of a woman already initiated into a National Panhellenic Conference sorority. Thus, if your mother, sister, or grandmother is a member of any of our chapters, you are considered a legacy to that organization. It’s important to include this information when you register for recruitment, as most sororities give some special consideration to legacies. Some sororities also recognize other relationships (such as nieces, stepdaughters, etc.) as being legacies, and many request a special legacy introduction form be mailed to the chapter prior to recruitment. Check with the national organization in question for more information about their specific legacy policy.

What is a Pi Chi group? What is a Pi Chi?
A Pi Chi group is a group of potential new members that you will go through recruitment with. Each group is led by 3 recruitment counselors, called “Pi Chis” (hence the name, Pi Chi group).  These leaders are current Penn State sorority members (although their affiliations are kept secret) and are there throughout the entire recruitment period to offer unbiased guidance and help you through the process.  If you ever have any questions or concerns during Formal Recruitment, do not hesitate to discuss them with your Pi Chi– that’s what she’s there for!


What is the Panhellenic Executive Board?
These are the elected sorority women that govern the Panhellenic Council. You will most likely get e-mails from them, see them at programs and information sessions, and see them working throughout recruitment. They are available for information and advice as they are unbiased representative of the Greek community. Feel free to contact them with any questions, or stop by the Greek Life office in 218 HUB to meet them.

If I go through recruitment, do I have to join?
No. Recruitment is a time to see what Sorority Life can offer to you. We invite you to explore the various opportunities available to you as a Penn State Greek! Going through Recruitment and its functions does not commit you to joining in any way.

What is a bid? What is Bid Day?
A bid is a formal invitation to join a sorority. Bid Day is the last day of Formal Recruitment when women pick up their bids and find out which sorority has offered them an invitation for membership. Bid Day takes place after the last round of recruitment, Preference Night. This is an extremely exciting time as it is the first time that your New Member class will come together.

Is there hazing?
Absolutely not. The Panhellenic Council has worked very hard to eradicate hazing at Penn State. The matter is taken very seriously and any reports of any type of hazing, such as making a member feel uncomfortable for any reason, will result in severe, immediate consequences for the chapter. We are proud of our firm stance against hazing and it is not tolerated under any circumstance. If you ever feel that you or a friend has been a victim of hazing, we strongly encourage you to file a confidential report here.

Do I have to register to participate in Formal Recruitment?
Yes, you must register online so that Panhellenic can collect your information for our chapters and you can be assigned a Pi Chi group and schedule for recruitment. The recruitment process is explained in detail here. Formal Recruitment is by far the best way to meet each sorority and find your best place in Greek life.

Do Greek women have friends in other sororities and outside of Greek life?
Yes! Members of Greek life are actively involved on campus in almost any activity you can think of. They are friends with each other and “independents” (people who are not Greek). Joining a sorority does not mean losing friends or changing the group you hang out with, it means finding more friends and carving a niche in this huge school!

Does being in a sorority take up a lot of time??
While each sorority’s membership requirements differ, a general range for commitment is anywhere from 2 to 8 hours a week. Whether it be helping with a community service project, planning an event, or regular weekly meetings, members have learned to manage their time wisely with other commitments such as schoolwork, a job, friends outside of their chapter, as well as other organizations that they are involved with.

It is important to note that during the initial New Member process more time will be required. At the same time, each chapter understands the importance of scholarship and respects each New Member’s need to study. Time management is important during this stage!

Aren’t sororities expensive?
Many clubs and organizations at Penn State have yearly or semesterly dues to help pay for their events and activities for their members. Sororities are no different, with dues being used to pay for the upkeep of the chapter’s suite, community service events, scholarships, intramurals, and many of the social events offered. Annual membership dues vary per chapter, but an estimated range is anywhere from $350 to $600 each semester. During formal recruitment, chapters will disclose their financial expectations to potential new members before extending an invitation to join.

Do sororities at Penn State have houses?
No. Each sorority lives on its own floor in one of the residence halls in Pollock or South halls. Sororities rent a large suite on the ground floor of the building that is like a large living room with a small kitchen attached (the only exception is the three associate chapters, which do not have a designated floor or suite). Sorority members use their suite for weekly chapter meetings, recruitment events, sisterhood events, studying, and just hanging out. Every chapter has different housing requirements, so be sure to ask about housing during recruitment. There are no additional fees imposed by Penn State Housing for living on a sorority floor.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no “brothel law” prohibiting sororities to own houses in Pennsylvania. In fact, prior to the 1950s, some chapters lived in the small cottages throughout campus that are still standing today (see this Daily Collegian article for more information). Although living in a house might be fun, the suite system allows chapters to keep dues low and more affordable for everyone. Ask any sorority woman at Penn State and she’ll probably tell you that living on her sorority floor was one of her most memorable experiences!

How do I join?
Every fall, the Panhellenic Council hosts Formal Recruitment,  a period when all of our chapters (with the exception of the three associate chapters) come together to meet potential new members and extend invitations to join. In order to participate in Formal Recruitment, you must register.  The registration window opens July 21st and closes August 29th. After Formal Recruitment in the fall and during the entire spring semester, some chapters participate in “informal recruitment”. This process is much more relaxed and not structured by Panhellenic; rather, it is coordinated by each individual chapter. For more information about informal recruitment, contact the Vice President for Membership.

What if I’m not a typical “sorority girl”?
There are very few women in Greek life that actually fit that mold. We’re all friends, get involved, and have fun, but there is no stereotypical sorority girl here. Most people never thought they would join a sorority or never thought about it in high school, they were just looking for a good group of friends and a gateway to opportunity so they signed up for recruitment. Greek women consistently have higher GPAs than the all women’s average and participate in more activities in and out of Greek life. With 22 sororities, there is a place for everyone!

Greek life is like a spring board into making your Penn State experience everything you want it to be. There are countless ways to get involved and to do good for the community. There are plenty of ways to have fun and make friends. No matter what sorority you end up in, you are guaranteed to make lifelong friendships, have the opportunity to participate in everything imaginable, and create memories that last forever.

Penn State Greek life is unique as it is one of the biggest, most diverse, most active, and influential in the country. Don’t miss out on the experience, sign up for Recruitment!

I’m interested, but I’m still not sure…
Many of the women in the Penn State Greek Community came to Penn State unsure if Greek Life was for them as well. Many of them now wonder what they would be doing without their sisters and the wonderful opportunities presented to them as a Penn State Greek woman. We would love to invite you to look around the site, visit us during a Greek Information Session (the dates are listed under the Calendar of Events), or ask us any questions. Remember, we are here to help YOU! Please feel free to contact us and ask any questions that you might have about going Greek!