I could tell you all the items you’re expecting to be on this list, like a mini fan, some oil blotting pads, and flip flops to put in your bag during rush (don’t get me wrong, you should bring those!) but instead, I decided to share the things you need that can’t be stowed away in your monogrammed laundry bag (but pack that, too — you don’t want anyone else picking up your laundry by mistake).
1. An Open Mind
Going to college is scary enough on its own. Then there’s rush, which is next level scary. Throw in the hundreds of college girls telling you their sorority is best, your dear Aunt Jan who’s been buying you sorority gear in her colors since you were born, and your cousin who goes to another school that’s been telling all her friends about you. Ugh. It gets complicated. Rush presents its own set of problems for both in-state and out-of-state new members. Out-of-state girls: Don’t get intimidated by girls from in-state who seem like they know everyone at every sorority house. You have the luxury of picking a house based solely on where you see yourself fitting in. In-state girls: Put on metaphorical noise-cancelling headphones for the week. It can be hard when you have friends or family who are in-house or alumni at your school. But remember, this is your experience. So regardless of where you’re coming from or who you know, bring an open mind. During rush, you may feel right at home in a house you’ve never heard of, or you may discover that you’re not into the whole sorority scene. It’s about finding a place you (and only you) will feel comfortable for the next four years and meeting friends you’ll have for the next 40.
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2. Leadership Goals
So maybe you weren’t SGA president or team captain in high school. Good news: There are so many more opportunities to become your own kind of leader in college, whether within or outside of your sorority. Your sorority will offer countless leadership ideas, not only in executive council positions but in smaller roles, too. Help plan a community service event, offer to assist the secretary with taking roll at chapter, or apply for other positions, like parents’ weekend chair. You can also find ways to grow as a leader within your college or with various campus groups. Become an ambassador for your school, join the honor council, or participate in a class service project. There will be tons of mentoring opportunities that you may not have been exposed to in high school. Your college might have options for you to be a mentor at a community center or local school, or through a program like Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Another way to grow as a leader is to instead be mentored yourself. Whether it’s a teacher you’ve clicked with, an older girl in your sorority or a school counselor or dean, having someone to go to for advice and guidance can help form the type of leader and employee you’ll be someday. Even if you were the quietest person in your high school class, bring some leadership goals to college. You’ll find a unique experience that brings out the type of leader you never knew you could be.
3. Your Mom’s Cell Phone Number
You love her. You hate her. But no matter where you go to school, you aren’t getting rid of her. You’re going to go through a lot this year, starting with stress about rush, then the ups and downs of classes, new friends, boys, and possibly even a “What am I supposed to do with my life?” meltdown. I’ll let you in on something — your mom has been through ALL of that before. So bring her cell phone number. Call. Text. Ask her questions. Vent. As you go through college, you’ll realize she was right about a lot. (Mom, if you’re reading this: Don’t let it get to your head.)
4. Old Friendships (And The Desire To Make New Ones)
Keep your high school and elementary school friends — many of them will be your friends for life. All it takes is a phone call or text, and with social media, there’s no excuse for losing touch. But if you're going to college with all of them, don’t be afraid to make new friends! There are hundreds of people at your college to meet. You don’t have to meet every single person, but at least get outside of your hometown bubble. One of the most beneficial parts of joining a sorority is that you’re able to make friends immediately in your pledge class. Those will be some of your best friends, but don’t underestimate the power of meeting people in your classes. (By the way, go to class!) You’ll make friends in your sorority by default, but the people in your classes already have shared interests with you: They signed up for that same creative writing or tennis class for a reason, too. So keep your old friendships — they’re meaningful — but be eager to make new friends as well.
WATCH: Things Southern Sorority Girls Know
It’s completely okay to not know what you’re going to do for the rest of your life when you first start college. Many people change their majors multiple times. I hate the term “find yourself” because it sounds cheesy, but I’ll swallow my pride — find yourself. Dream big. I know I sound like a Hallmark card, but really, figure out what it is you want to do, and no matter how crazy it sounds, make it happen! Apply for summer internships. They’re the best way to figure out your career goals and paths. If you are in a major and do an internship corresponding with that major and discover it’s not what you want to do with your life, so what? Oh well! At least you spent a few months figuring it out rather than four years of school and multiple years in a career you hate. So while spending the summer babysitting and taking the kids to the pool sounds nice, apply for internships, get experience, and find out what you’ll love to do after college. I can assure you, a little ambition pays off.