Yesterday I was reading this discussion blog from the college that my youngest daughter attends and a mother asked a question that made me feel….well…..uncomfortable :/…..

The question was, “Do sororities like smart girls and do they give preference to National Merit finalists and Honors College students”?

It got me thinking…what exactly is a sorority looking for in a PNM?  If each sorority were to place a “WANTED” add in the local newspaper or hang a “WANTED” poster on a wall what would they put as attributes they were looking for?

I think they might write something like this…..

WANTED:  Potential New Members.  Local sorority looking for young women who desire to join a sorority sisterhood.  Must be a good student, friendly, well groomed, willing to be involved in sorority life, have a passion to help others and willing to make a lifetime commitment.  If you have these attributes please attend recruitment at College Rah Rah.

Nowhere would it say “must be a National Merit Finalist” or “Honors college women only need apply”.  Sure…grades are really important, don’t get me wrong but are not the only factor when considering a PNM.  Most sororities have a minimum GPA required for a PNM to be considered for membership.  This GPA comes from their National office and if you are interested you can visit the websites of all 26 sororities and find their GPA requirements.  In most cases it’s a 3.0 (there are several that are a point or two lower) but there are some sororities that require a higher one (I know ADPi is a 3.2).  In addition some of these GPA requirements are set in stone while others are more flexible…again depends on the particular sorority.  Another consideration is that each college’s Panhellenic will set a minimum GPA required for young women who want to go through recruitment.  At many colleges and universities this will be very close to average required GPA for the sororities on campus but in some cases it is lower.  I never really understood why a Panhellenic would have a minimum 2.5 GPA when most sororities have a 3.0 requirement unless those particular sororities have more flexible policies.

Since some sororities take girls with GPA’s lower than their suggested National mark, they will compensate by then pledging a girl with a higher than average GPA.  The two will even out, thus equalizing the house’s overall GPA and it will  then not be affected by one PNM.  It is reality that there are young women out there who struggle with grades for one reason or another.  They may have all of the qualities that a particular sorority finds important but their GPA is not quite up to par.  The sorority must then look at why they GPA is lower.  Obviously is the young woman is a party girl and just doesn’t study that’s one thing but is she truly tries and it is just a challenge for her then many sororities will bid her and then connect her with a study partner to help her.  We call this grade liabilities.

Once a young woman becomes a pledge of a sorority she is expected to keep up her academic standing.  Study hall hours are usually mandatory for pledges and if after initiation a members grades slip below the sororities required GPA then study hall hours will be given to help that member devote more time to her academic schedule in order to boost her GPA.  Yes….sororities take grades very seriously but they are just one small piece of what a sorority is looking for in a PNM.

This may sound superficial and hopefully after I explain myself you will understand, but another important factor is image.  I am not talking about how beautiful a PNM (remember beauty is only skin deep) but how a PNM presents herself.   Yep….how you do your hair, wear your makeup, what clothes you wear are all a apart of this but let me explain.  Social media gives the image of sorority women to be gorgeous blond haired goddesses that have perfect bodies, exceptional makeup and are all wearing designer clothing on daddies nickle.  Do these women exist?  You betcha….. but are they the norm?  No way!!!!

So here’s something to think about… you approach recruitment you want to begin focusing on how you can give the very best “image” of  YOU.  Make sure that you look your best at all times..not only when you attend preview weekend but when you visit for orientation and even more importantly on your Facebook page.  Does that mean that you always have to be in a sundress, hair done, makeup on?  Nope, but what it does mean is that you are acting like the picture you want others to take of you.  When I was little and we would go out my mother always said, “act as pretty as you look”…great words to live by don’t you agree?

Remember “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”….if you are not a pageant girl it doesn’t mean you will not receive a bid..on the contrary….physical beauty is a teeny tiny part of the package.  Sure some houses will be full of pageant girls but if you aren’t someone who is interested in that type of lifestyle why would you want to pledge that sorority anyway?  Just make sure that the image you portray of you is a positive one.  A picture of you on your Facebook page draped over a boy in a less than flattering manner may not be what you want the sorority girls to see who are checking out all PNMs.  Remember earlier I told they would creep on you and you can count on the fact they will.

So if I am drawing a picture of a great PNM I would draw a girl who works hard at her grades (see… she’s holding a stack of books), she is groomed nicely (don’t you love the makeup that makes her look natural) and then there’s the gift of gab.  You have to be able to talk.   Oh I know that you can TALK but I mean carry on conversation.  I think this is the toughest part for some of us.  Me…I can gab it up all day long but for some of my friends who are little more reserved, they have a hard time just chatting.  If you are one of those people or you have a daughter who struggles with this then now is the time to start practicing.  You can try to put yourself out there in social settings that might make you have to step out of you comfort zone just a little.  When you go through recruitment you will be thrust into a conversation most likely with someone you don’t know.  They may have read your rec (on some rec forms there actually is spot that says “this PNM would like to talk about”) but count on the fact that those first conversations will be superficial.  If you can turn a run of the mill chat into something memorable, making a connection with the sorority member you are paired with, you have a better chance of being invited back the next day.  Hey…awkward conversations are going to happen and you may find that no matter how hard you try there just isn’t a connection and that’s okay, you can’t connect with every house and there are only so many you can return to.  I am going to add to my picture a little bubble with some girls in the background going blab, blab, blab).

A sorority is almost like a business.  There are all kinds of day to day events that require members to help organize and execute.  Short answer…there are TONS of opportunities to get involved.  Honestly, when talking about what their PNM class might look like for the the next year, sorority women touch on areas that they need to fill with capable young women who want to get involved.  Truth is on most campuses joining a sorority can be costly.  If you want to pay several thousand dollars a month to just sit in an informal living room and study then be my guest but if you were my daughter I would encourage you to get involved!!!!  Step up and take a job or chair a committee.  You can start small, usually most freshmen are not allowed to hold exec positions.  Pay attention to the different jobs your sisters do.  Is there one that you find interesting?  Approach that sister and ask to “shadow” her.  This is also a great conversation starter for recruitment. You will notice that the members you speak with will be wearing name badges that have their name, hometown and in some cases the position they hold.  Ask them about their job.  If you have a particular talent or skill let the member know about it.  Sometimes recs and resumes are incomplete….toot your own horn…no one else will. I am going to add a sign in my PNM’s hand that says “I love to pomp tissue…can I be Homecoming chair”???

Each sorority has its own philanthropy that it is involved in.  For many sororities it is a passionate project. You will be required to participate in at least one philanthropy activity each semester. In addition your sorority will ask you to get involved in other projects on campus.  Again..just sitting and studying is not an option (ok so it is an option… but really???  I just don’t understand why you would join and then do nothing!).  If you are not comfortable juggling many philanthropies you can help others right there in your sorority by being available as a study buddy or a tutor for a sister who needs some extra help.  Notice my PNM picture has a hear hanging around her neck that says, “I love helping others”.

Our PNM has her badge (pin) over her heart.  Joining a sorority isn’t a 4 year social adventure but rather a life long adventure.  Sure, for the 4 years you are in college this sisterhood will give you lots of memorable social activities (evident by the large photo album of zaps you will collect). But what happens after graduation?  Some girls will go on and may choose not become involved in their alumnae chapters but for many they will continue this sisterhood.  You will find no matter where you go there will be Greek affiliated women.  This is a commitment for a lifetime. I get together with my local alum group once a month. Although I don’t live in the same town or even state where I pledged this new group of women are still my sisters.

So there you have it!  A PNM who will be successful during recruitment just doesn’t have one particular feature but is a composite of a well rounded beautiful young woman on the inside as well as the outside.  As you embark on this journey remember who you are…….when a sorority offers you a bid they want all of you..not just your smile, or your intelligence.  Be the Best You..that YOU can be!!!!