When I committed to the University of Iowa back in March, I held many personal debates as to whether or not I should join a fraternity. Of course, I had many friends and teammates suggest the idea to me that I should join. After extensive research, the decision was made in late June that I would indeed rush and try to join a fraternity.
While I was very confident in my ability to secure at least one bid, things actually did not work out as I had planned. I did not receive one bid- which may in part be due to my status as a transfer student. Sadly, four fraternities had members speak to me in person at their houses that I am not a good fit for their fraternity. I do not know for sure what exactly the reason as to why I got zero bids was. The Interfratenity Council (IFC) and the fraternities that turned me down are by no means incompetent at their job. In fact, the fraternities that personally told me I will not be receiving a bid from their organization were all very professional about spreading the word to me. I also did hear a rumor stating that transfer students do have a harder time getting a bid in the first semester they are on campus. Since I am a transfer student, that may apply to me. Maybe I will find out if that is true or not at a later date. But anyways, for now I will focus on some reasons as to why I feel confident I will eventually receive a fraternity bid. And while I technically can receive a bid 365 days a year (fraternities at Iowa recruit year round and are allowed to give bids whenever they want), I do not expect to receive a bid until January or February.
Reason #1: A lot of guys don't get bids first semester at Iowa.
I have had friends from many different schools who get bids from fraternities and sororities immediately. While it was not everyone who had seemed to find their place right away, it was a good chunk of them who had found their new home right away. I believed I would follow in the same steps. But I was wrong about that. In fact, I even have heard from people that there are a ton of guys who do not get bids in their first fall semester at Iowa. Due to large quantities of men who rush, it is not possible for fraternities to give every single guy who rushes a bid right away. This was unfortunate but it is all part of the process. I was very understanding towards the fraternities that personally told me I will not get a bid. I knew that there was a possibility that I may get redshirted from fraternity life my first semester on campus. Did I expect it? No, not at first. But I wisely chose not to get angry at them for their decision. If I would've barked at these fraternities over not getting a bid, that would've went around really quickly and effectively ended my chances at joining a fraternity at a future date.
Reason #2. Fraternities will always have new openings in Spring Semester.
After my third fraternity rejected me, I knew that was when I might have to face the reality of dropping in recruitment boards and waiting until next semester to rush. Thankfully for me at the time, my number one fraternity choice was not one of the fraternities that told me I wasn't a good fit for their organization. After that rejection, I went back over to the house of my number one fraternity, I started asking questions about if it is normal for fraternities to do that to guys and if I can possibly rush Spring Semester if the worst happens. While the first one produced mixed results, there WERE a few people in that fraternity who said they had that same experience during their first semester and that I wasn't the only one who is going through this. But everyone had said I can definitely rush again in January. I was even told by one of the guys who is high up on the rings in my number one choice that fraternities will ALWAYS have new openings for Spring Recruits. I was informed by him that every fraternity has seniors who graduate in December, guys who quit the fraternity all together either because they can't afford it or don't want to do it anymore, or there are some guys who get kicked out of the fraternity due to disciplinary issues and/or not having the grades to remain in the fraternity. Thus, opening up more room for new members. Plus, I was even told that there are a lot more spring pledges then I may think there are. So all is not lost in my quest to join a fraternity.
Reason #3: This is something I really want. If you really want something you're not going to give up on getting it.
When I decided to walk onto the football team with no playing experience of any kind in my freshmen year of high school, not many took it seriously. I couldn't even lift a 45-pound bar at the time like everyone else was able to. But, since that was something I really wanted to do, I went to pretty much every offseason workout there was so I could prove to the coaches that this is something I can do. I wasn't going to give up on my football dreams since I couldn't lift a 45 pound bar when I started. Neither will I give up on my hopes of joining a Big Ten Fraternity because I didn't get any bid cards when I started out here at this school. I will not quit on this. Getting better in the classroom and in my rushing strategies will be something that I am determined to do over these next five months or so. And while one guy on my floor in my dorm told me to "screw joining a frat", I will not do that. If you want to tell me to give up because of what had happened one semester, do it. You will not influence me to give up on rushing next semester no matter what you tell me to do.
Reason #4: I really believed I DID show a lot of upside at rush events.
In fact, I had made it further in the rush process then many others. Plenty of people who rushed fraternities and sororities dropped out of rushing after a day or two. While it was never certain I would get a bid, I rushed all three days. I only stayed for like 20-30 minutes at most houses before I either went to another event on the other side of campus, or until I was told that I am not getting a bid from their house. But I still think I showed a lot of potential at these rush events. I asked good, and even some unconventional but unique questions about the fraternity. The guys at most of these houses seemed very inclusive and were willing to answer most of my questions. These were guys who were honest with me, even when it hurt. But I have a sense that I did do enough to at least put my name out there in their recruiting database for January.
Reason #5: Everyone who I have talked to about this believes I am very capable of receiving of a bid. The circumstances just were not right at this time.
I have written about my many life lessons from my 3 years of playing high school football on my journals here. One lesson I did learn was not to get crushed by one loss if you have another chance to accomplish your ultimate goal later on. In my junior year of football, we shocked everybody but ourselves with a deep playoff run that ended one game short of the State Championship Game. Our magical season was over in the Semifinal round that year when we were blown out 41-7 on our home turf by the top-ranked team in class 7A. I firmly remember the emotions of that game. All of our seniors were crying in pity in the fourth quarter. The locker room was just silent as a fox. More tears were shed. And I was just crushed that we fell that short of playing in the State Championship the following week. I wanted to just throw up. For a few days, I just felt like I missed out on the biggest opportunity to make it to the highest level. But then, I reminded myself that I still have one more year to do this. I dedicated the next nine months in the offseason to getting stronger in my lifting, quicker and more agile, attending private sessions, and to cut down some of my weight in hopes that I could improve my performance on scout team and for whenever I got to play. Keeping my faith really paid off as we did reach the State Title Game my senior year. If I would've let that disappointing loss crush me, I would not have had that attitude to get to the next level for my senior season. So I decided not to get crushed from my rejections. I know that I still have two and a half more years at least to be involved with Greek Life. If the IFC really believes that it is best for me to sit a semester before I join a fraternity, I respect their decision. I would much rather miss one semester of Greek Life then join one semester, but then never getting to enjoy it again throughout college because I wasn't ready at the time to join a fraternity.
Everybody from my hometown believes I have what it takes to get a bid. A few were just as surprised as I was when I was informed I got zero bids. Even a guy who I met on my floor the week before classes started named Colin, totally believes that I will get a bid in January. In fact, Colin rushed (and he did get a bid), and HE even told me he had heard the same rumor about how the IFC made it a little more difficult for transfer students to get a bid their first semester on campus. Like I said, I have no proof if that rumor is true or not. But if it is, I respect the decision of the IFC to avoid giving me a bid in my first semester. My hometown friends feel the same as Colin. Some of them understand the difficulty of rushing in the fall themselves. Pretty much everybody who I have talked to in the last day from my hometown genuinely believes that January will be my time to get a fraternity bid. All I need to do is maintain a good GPA and then something good might happen.
Reason #6: I have a plan to remain in contact with fraternities and IFC to figure out what it was that went wrong and how I can improve my chances in January.
I plan on waiting until it has been about 2-3 weeks since Rush Week has ended before I do this. My plan is simple here. I will contact the fraternities I was very interested in joining and politely ask them if they can explain to me in further detail why or what exactly was it about me that made you say no to giving me a bid. I have also consulted one of the guys in the campus IFC for help with rushing before. And I plan on doing the same. I will tell him what my rush strategy was to see whether or not he believes that was a good strategy. If he doesn't believe I used the right strategy, I will ask him for tips as to how I should change it. But most of all, when I am contacting the fraternities and IFC I will not ask them how to improve their system so I can get a bid. I will ask them how can I improve myself and my strategy so I can increase my chances of receiving a bid come January.
There is still a lot of hope for the future that I can and will join a fraternity during my time at the University of Iowa. It is still very early in my tenure here. I will have AT LEAST 2.5 more years at this school upon the conclusion of this semester to enjoy a fraternity. I hope when the school year ends in May, I can write a letter on here thanking a fraternity for taking a chance on me. If for some reason I do not get a bid in Spring 2018, then I will rush again in Fall 2018. And if I don't get a bid in Fall 2018, I rush again in Spring 2019, etc.
With much optimism heading forward,