So, the tiers are based upon what the FRATS want out of the sororities not what the women themselves want out of their sororities? That is fascinating.
I can shed some light on the sorority rush process, although the exact length of each round may be off. Hopefully this will de-mystify the process somewhat:
1st round: ALL rushees must attend a 20(?) minute intro to each and every chapter, will probably meet 4-6 exisiting members of each chapter.
After this each rushee may receive bids back to 2nd round and can accept up to 12(?) invitations. This is the "gut feel" level, for the existing members as well. Women who are themselves and try to just enjoy meeting new people will have a ball and get numerous invites.
2nd round: The parties at each chapter expand to 30-40 minutes(?) and start to have themes and refreshments. The rushees receives invitations to 3rd round and can accept up to 4 invitations.
3rd round: The parties expand again to 1-1.25 hours(?) and themes/refreshments get more elaborate still. Rushees receive invititations to final round then can accept two. At this point a rushee will be somewhere on the sorority's bid list of around 80 rushees (I think a full quota was around 30-40 women).
4th and final round: These go two hours long(or longer-can't quite remember, they were a lot of work, that is about all I can remember). The parties are sometimes VERY elaborate, decorated suites, entertainment by the existing members, costumes, gifts from the chapter for the rushees. A woman has not made it to this point unless the chapter wants her but has no idea which other chapter she may or may not be rushing. It is somewhat similar to college application process after the acceptances have gone out. The rushees after this go to "preferencing." They preference their first and second choice(if they want either sorority), or just one(if that is the only sorority they would be happy with) and if you are high enough on the 1st choice sorority's bid list, you are notified (in lots of fun ways
) that you have been invited to become a pledge.
I can't speak for every sorority or every campus (obviously) however, my chapter was very diverse and the women were very genuine. We had jocks, homecoming queens, philanthropists, brainiacs, artists, actresses, etc. We really were like a family of only girls. To this day, the sisters I am closest too and still in touch with, I would walk through fire for and I know would do the same for me. When I used to move around a lot, the first thing I would do when moving to a new city would be to find some alums from my sorority and I was always embraced with open arms.
Now yes, there are some sororities that are not like that, but they are pretty easy to spot (I think), for example (these are all true situations that happened during my rush):
+Walk in the suite and EVERY girl looked the same, and when questioned about their chapter answered the same (this was a chapter that would be considered Top Tier, from the definition given).
+At each party the rushee was quized about what she was wearing, where she got it, was it authentic (back then one wore their designer labels on the inside of their clothing-LOL). All conversations revolved around where one was from, what daddy did for a living, what were you like in high school.
and, this one is my FAV:
+Every exisiting chapter woman who opened their mouth, blatantly talked about all the frat parties they had, how "rowdy" and "fun" it was to be a member of their chapter and then looked at a loss when they were questioned about things like what their philanthropy project was, "Ah, well, we kind of switch around year after year...but we killed during Greek Week competitions the last four years!!! You will have a ton of fun in our chapter!"
I guess it all depends upon what you are looking for, and how much importance one places upon each aspect of being greek. It can be the sole focus of a person's college life or it can be an enhancement to the college experience, and everything in between.
Make it what you want it to be.