So your back and are probably going “Really???? Is she serious?? Another post on rec letters??”. Yep…I am ..last one I PROMISE!
So some people spend their lives pursing mythical creatures, the Sasquatch, Big Foot, the Lochness Monster just to name a few. I bet if you have ever had to hunt down women to write recommendation letters you might just identify with those who quest for those elusive creatures.
When we began this process with our youngest (my second daughter did not need rec letters) she was blessed to have an older sister who lots of “connections” to sorority women. There were 15 houses on campus and we had “heard” that we should get a minimum of 2 recs for each house. We didn’t perceive that this task would be difficult….oh boy were we wrong! Even with big sis’ vast circle of sorority acquaintances at the end of the day we were still short at least 10 recs! After allowing myself a mini-melt down ( and a Starbucks…too early in the day for a drink) we sat down together and started to brainstorm a plan. So that’s the post for today dearies…..how to get rec letters without going insane (or to jail from stalking sorority alumnae).
The first thing you should do is put together all of the rec packets you need whether you have a person to write the rec or not. Remember in the rec packet you have that fabulous resume, 2 pics (one head shot, one full body) with your name, high school and home town neatly printed on the back, a stamped and addressed envelope to where the rec is to be sent and a hand written thank you to the person writing the rec (we did the thank you notes generic so we could have all of the packets done). Just having those packets done will make you feel so much better.
You then mail or deliver all of the packets to the women who had said they would be willing to write the rec for you.
Now it’s time for plan #1…how wide is your circle of friends?
Ask yourself, “Have I asked everyone I know if they have a sorority affiliation?”…I mean have you really???? You would be surprised how many women were in a sorority while in college. So get out a paper and pencil and make a list of everywhere you go…to school, to church, to the gym, to your little sisters piano lessons, to little brothers soccer games…you get the idea. The next part involves your comfort level. At these places and activities you need to just put it out there that you are going to go through recruitment at ABC University and you are going through recruitment. Hopefully any of those ladies who you are talking to might just chime in and say “Oh I was a DZ at ABC”. Slapping that look of surprise off your face you then say, “Wow…you know ABC’s recruitment is really competitive and they suggest we have letters of recommendation for each sorority. Would you be willing to do a rec for me?” I know for some of us this takes a lot of courage but seriously the worst the woman can say is “no” and if she does it’s probably not personal. You just have to then move along and find another victim!
Let’s assume that soccer mom says “yes” (not even going to contemplate what would happen if she said “no”). Probably jumping up and down, clapping your hands and shouting “Yipee” is not the correct response…so you channel your “inner cool” and smile sweetly saying, “I have a rec packet all put together. When’s a good time to get it to you?” Now some of us being the over zealous, over achievers that we are might just have that packet in the car, back pack or your purse but take a deep breath, you don’t want to appear desperate (ok I KNOW you are but …) so you listen as she either gives you her address or cell number so you can arrange a time to deliver it. Avoid running to the car to gleefully draw a line through that house on the list…..calm, calm my dear.
I have to tell you a story. So we were in the process of securing recs for youngest daughter who was going to go through recruitment at a VERY competitive SEC school. We had gone to J Crew to shop for dresses to take to recruitment and while standing and talking about getting ready for “the big event” with the sales girl (a good friend) a woman came up to us and said she had gone to school at that University and was a member of A Chi O and here’s her name and contact info and if my daughter would like her to write a rec for her she would. It was like a beautiful gift wrapped package that landed..plop…right in our laps. We were speachless..ok my daughter was speechless. I for one am never speechless and so I resisted the urge to grab the paper out of the woman’s hand but gently took it and carefully folded it and put it in my wallet all the time smiling sweetly and thanking her so much for offering and yes we definitely could use a rec for that house and would get the rec packet out to her as soon as possible.. Amazingly, the woman came up a second time and inquired as to what other recs we needed. Not wanting to appear desperate I gently explained that we just needed a few more and tah dah….the woman said her mother-in-law had been a Chi-O and if we would send that packet she was sure she would be willing to do one as well. Today was most definitely our “lucky day”!!!!!!! 2 down….8 to go…we were on a roll!!!!!
So what I am telling you is they are out there, in places where you least expect them. You just have to look and talk (for some of us the talking part is not a problem at all!!)
This job is not a one person job and so you also have to enlist the help of your parents, friends, your friends parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles , cousins and anyone else you can coerce or bribe to help. The more people you have out there searching the better chance you have of fulfilling your list. My husband was great at going to work and meetings and lamenting about his crazy wife and daughter and how they were obsessed with the whole sorority thing. He would then go on to talk about the clothes and the money and the letters needed (equated it to the show “Toddlers and Tiaras for the sorority set). His whining got us 2 recs!!! Grandma’s book club got us another 2 recs..see there everywhere you just have to sniff them out!
Ok so what if after hounding everyone you know (and even those yo.don’t know very well…like the lady in the grocery line who has on a Delta, Delta, Delta hat and so you stop her to ask what school she was a tri-delt at and she tells you she found it in the lost and found at her child’s gymnastics class…yep it can go wrong every now and again :/), you still need rec letters.
Time for plan #2…..Google.
There are 26 National Panhellenic Sororities. As far as I know NO campus has all 26 represented but many campuses have as many as 18 or 19. That’s a lot of recs (most competitive schools suggest you have a minimum of 2 per house). The Greek life office or Panhellenic council will tell you that if you cannot find a rec for a particular house yo should contact the local Alumnae Group for that house or your local Panhellenic council.
I will tell you that I have found that more young women have success contacting the individual alumnae groups as opposed to the Panhellenic group. The Panhellenic board in your area will be made up of members from each of the 26 sororities that are represented in your area. When you generally contact Panhellenic then they will reach out to those groups and ask for their help. I say bypass the middle man and go right for the help that you need.
So ladies..Google is your friend. For instance let’s say I need an Alpha Phi rec and I live in a suburb of Kansas City. I would Google Alpha Phi Alumnae Kansas City and “VOILA!!!” I find two listing for active groups in the area. Clicking on their website I find a contact email for the president and there is also one for recruitment/recommendations. So you send a lovely email telling them who you are, where you are going to school, that the school has a competitive recruitment and you were wondering if they had an alum who would be willing to write you a rec. Make sure to give them contact info including your full name, address, email and cell phone/home phone. In most cases I have found that alum groups have someone who will be willing to write a rec but often times they will want to meet with you or at least chat for a while on the phone. Also,remember when I told you to make sure your Facebook page was “grandma clean”..yep well here’s another reason why. When I get there requests the very first thing I do is go look to see if the girl has a Facebook page. Can you guess why? Right again!!! Because….if I am going to put my neck out there for a girl who I don’t know from Adam, you bet I am going to make sure she is someone who I would be proud to call a sister! You might also find that the alumnae group has a Facebook page in addition to a website.. If the email approach doesn’t work you can try to post on their page or “friend request” several women and again explain your situation and as for a rec. The alum website and email approach is the preferred method but hey if it doesn’t work a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!
Plan #3…the plan of last resort.
So you’ve creeped and stalked everyone in your circle of friends and friends circles of friends, you’ve Googled and reached out to all the alumnae groups in your area (oh and if you don’t have success with the groups in your area you can try to reach out to the alum groups in the vicinity of your college or university) and you still need recs. First of all don’t panic. Call the Panhellenic of the school you are planning to attend and chat with them about your dilemma, explaining all of the various attempts you’ve tried. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes they have someone who will write a rec. In most cases they will tell you to contact the recruitment chair for the sorority you are needing the rec for. An email to this young woman (be patient…sometimes it takes a while to get a response) serves to let the sorority know that you have tried EVERYTHING and sometimes (not always 😦 ) they will then step up and find a rec for you. This is the LAST RESORT though. I have found that most recruitment chairs, while very sweet and helpful, often do not have the time to go looking for recs for PNM’s, especially PNM’s they do not know.
Recommendations are stressful. You have to have them (in most cases). It’s the trust factor that I think is the hardest. You do all the work on the packet and then you hand it off trusting that the woman you have given it to WILL fill it out and more importantly WILL mail it away ensuring that it arrives to the correct sorority in time for the recruitment process.
I am hoping you will find “comfort” in the fact that at least now you have a plan. Not a fool-proof plan but a pretty good one…… now get out there and get those recs!!!