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The Dartmouth
May 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dear Mirror: When Rush Doesn’t Work Out


Dear Mirror,

My friends and I all rushed, but I dropped after round two. What do I do now that all of my friends are affiliated, and I’m not? What if winter rush doesn’t work out again? I’m worried that I’m going to lose my friends to their sororities, and I’m scared of being unaffiliated during sophomore summer. Everyone’s been really nice about the whole thing, but I just can’t help but feel like I’ve missed out on a huge part of the Dartmouth social scene.


Greeked Out

Dear Greeked Out,

Women’s rush is a time on campus when tension among sophomores feels like it’s at an all-time high. It’s easy for people to tell you that rush isn’t that big of a deal, that it’s only a small sliver of your life, that none of this is that deep. And while those things may be true when we look at the big picture, it doesn’t acknowledge how hard it is to feel left out. It doesn’t deal with the fact that Greek life does feel so much bigger in the moment than it really is.

So I’m here to tell you that you’re allowed to be upset, and you’re not being too dramatic for being frustrated if rush didn’t work out. It sucks when you want to be a part of something, and for one reason or another, it doesn’t work out for one reason or another. But at the same time, you are so much bigger than rush, and your Dartmouth experience is not defined by your membership in a sorority.

Maybe winter rush will work out, maybe it won’t. I can’t make any promises for you on that end (although I can tell you that winter rush is much less chaotic, since there are fewer potential new members). I also want to say that if, after all of this, you feel that Greek life is not for you, do not feel any pressure to try it out. You don’t have to participate in rush if it’s uncomfortable. There are so many other social spaces here full of all different types of people. Whether that’s the performance groups, alternative Greek spaces, intramural sports teams or a random group of friends, having a comfortable and supportive social space is far more important than what the name of the social space is. Labels can blindly enforce social hierarchies that are superficial in the long run.  

The good news is that if Greek life is important to you, you got through the hardest day already: bid night. Sometimes Wednesday nights during meetings might feel lonely, and it’s hard not being able to invite your own dates to events. For the most part, though, bid night is the most in-your-face night related to Greek life, and things do get better after it’s over.

Perhaps you fear you might lose your friends because they will make new or better friends in their sororities. I understand that there is a saying that freshman year friendships don’t last. The worry of being replaced as a friend is a valid and scary concern. Ultimately, though, you need to have faith that your real friends will include you and make you feel as loved as they did before — and if they don’t, then they are not worthy of your time and energy. I know people for whom rush did not work out, and their friends worked overtime to ensure that they were included. They were always invited to someone’s tails, and they always had a date to at least one formal. With good friends, feelings of exclusion will be ameliorated. At the same time, don’t stop giving yourself the opportunity to meet new friends and try new things — don’t let yourself be limited by this one disappointment.

Carry the open mindset of meeting new people and nurturing current friendships into sophomore summer. It feels like all anybody can talk about sophomore fall is Greek life, but as the terms go on, and as people get settled into their new spaces, the chatter dies down. By sophomore summer, I found that the obsession with who’s in what Greek house had disappeared. Everyone was excited to bond with their class, lay by the river and devour ice cream in the hot sun. If you let yourself be open to new opportunities and experiences, you can have so much fun. 

Your Dartmouth experience is not defined by a singular experience or by rejection during sorority rush. It’s not defined by your membership — or lack thereof — in any specific social group. It’s defined by the way you treat yourself and others around you, the people you meet, the lessons you learn and everything else that you will carry with you beyond Hanover. 



Jessica Sun Li

Jessica Sun Li '24 is a sociology major and English minor from the suburbs of Chicago. She was the 180th Directorate's arts editor, and her passion project is the "Dear Mirror" column. Outside of The Dartmouth, she is involved in the figure skating team and sociology research. She really wants to adopt a cat.