During my college search, one of the criteria I favored was "has to have Greek life." I'm serious! It sounds pretty crazy - and unconventional - but it was something I was looking for in a school. Ever since watching Elle Fowler's videos about her sorority back when I was in middle school, I knew I wanted to be part of one when I got to college one day. Don't get me wrong... I loved a few schools that were quite small and did not have a Greek presence on their campuses, but one of the reasons I am at UMD (among many, many others) is that there is the opportunity to be part of the Panhellenic community.

The first-semester Freshman is not able to rush as Maryland does formal rush in the spring semester once students have accumulated their required amount of credit. I'm not going to lie; it made the first semester a little harder not having a group to become immersed in immediately. With all my friends joining sororities in their first few weeks at college, it seemed like it was so easy to make so many friends. My situation was not quite like that. In hindsight, though, I feel it was best to have time to acclimate to the school and focus on my grades.

The rush process is really long and overwhelming, for sure. There is a lot of talking, re-introducing yourself, and very long days... but even after being a new member for less than one week, I can already confidently say that it is well worth it.

With new member meetings, chapter events, big/little activities and social events all added to your calendar; there is so much to look forward to. The house is like a common place where everyone meets, so it is so easy to make friends. So many people want to get to know you... people your own age or older. I have felt so welcomed every time I have attended anything. I am never nervous about going alone because I know there is always someone to talk to. I have not found besties yet or anything like that, but I have met a ton of people and feel so at home already. I feel like I have a place, and it feels right.

The older pledge classes put a ton of effort into helping us bond as best we can. There are so many things planned with so many girls who share the same set of values. It is weird how it works, but when people say you find your place I can strongly agree. It is crazy how accepted, and comfortable I feel around such a large group of people just days into meeting them.

So... rush!

If it isn't for you - and it's not for everyone - then drop. But, it may very well surprise you like it did many of my own friends. There are so many opportunities to meet so many genuine people. I had a rough first semester so I was really hoping that things would begin to look up. Attending such a large institution overwhelmed me - just being 1 of 30,000 - but with just a few days in, I feel like I found my place and my people.