I couldn’t sleep last night.  I went to bed at a decent hour after watching Mizzou thrash Oklahoma State in basketball.  My husband went to Mizzou for both undergrad and law school so we are HUGE fans!  We are at the tail end of the season with the Big 12 tournament just about 2 weeks away so he is very keen on how his Tigers are playing.  On top of that they are ranked like #4 in the country.

But the reason I couldn’t sleep was because our youngest decided to call at 11:30 pm to chat about money.  Hmmm….always a fun topic.  She has applied to go to the Dominican Republic to volunteer for two weeks as soon as school ends.  Her volunteering means that we will volunteer to pay over $1700 for her to go.  On top of that the new sorority house contracts are done and since SHE is VP Property she got to see the bottom line last night.  Let’s just say I may be going back to work more than the little part time stint I do now.  Next year it’s a $500 a semester increase.  That’s not so bad!  However her sorority is one of four that are building new $12 million dollar houses and so upon completion (Spring 2013) our in house dues will be a whopping $1500 a semester uptick!  Now…she will be a senior for part of that but she wants to “live in” because she has designs on being President.  So with all those numbers swirling in my head I just couldn’t sleep.  Just so you understand dollars and cents that means that her senior year ..IF.. she lives in the house our semester bill will be appx $8000 a semester (if you do the math that’s an additional $16,000 a year!) I laid there, tossed and turned and decided to focus on what I would write about today.

I was thinking that if any of you came to ask me…”so what do you get for your $8000?”,  this is what I would say.  “Sororities are like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get”.  Choosing a sorority that ultimately will be a big financial obligation for some parents (depends upon what campus you are on) is just like choosing a chocolate.  You have to find just the right one that is going to be your favorite…just the right taste..for you…that justifies spending the $$$$$ for that particular box.  My husband said to me this morning..”Honey, that doesn’t sound  like a very good topic to write about”.  He of course is wrong…it is a good thing and I will tell you why.

So I got out my heart shaped, Valentines Day box Godiva chocolates. My husband had left the price tag on..a whopping $75….whew!!!  The box said “Hand crafted”.  Those words reminded me of each individual sorority house on campus. Each one is “hand crafted”…filled with love and individual girls that make it unique.  I opened up the box and looked inside.   My eyes immediately focused on the chocolate that is my favorite.  I personally KNOW this particular chocolate.  I know it by the way it looks on the outside and tastes on the inside.  It’s the little round one, dark chocolate with sprinkles on top…… a chocolate truffle.  This chocolate is “my sorority”.  I know it!  I know what it’s like to live inside of the walls of the structure I called home….Alpha Phi.  I knew what to expect when I opened the door just as I know what I’m going to get when I bite into that chocolate.  No surprises here.

So what about the other chocolates?  How did I pick my favorite?  Can you tell what’s on the inside just by looking on the outside?

When you first get a brand new box of chocolates you open up and just gaze upon all that yummy goodness.  This is the same feeling you get when you finally pick a college and walk down sorority row for the first time.  You gaze at all those great houses with Greek letters adorning their doorways. Each house is different and unique but you can only see the outside…..just like the chocolates in your box.  Do I make judgments about the chocolates just by looking at them..you bet I do!  So let me ask you this…do you make judgments on particular sororities just by looking at the physical structures of their houses?  Of course you do!

So after surveying the box you have to make a decision about what chocolate you want to try first.  I have a confession.  I usually turn them over and just stick a toothpick in the bottom to get a little peek.  I am trying to eliminate those chocolates I really don’t like.  Is it a fool proof method?  Nope…but it’s a start.  You do the same thing as you try to get a peek into each sorority house on your campus.  You google, you read blogs, you creep on sorority girls Facebook pages and read sites that rank sororities and fraternities on campus.  If your Panhellenic hosts a preview weekend you also will get an opportunity to “peek” into each sorority house..formulating an opinion as to whether you “LOVE” it, “LIKE” it or can “LEAVE it.   Is this a tried and true method to find your favorite house…nope but it’s a start.

So after the peek and poke method, eliminating those chocolates that have an element I really don’t like (for me it’s the ones with the cherries in them..ewwww!) I then turn to a more invasive option…sticking my finger in the bottom ..just a little bit.  I know that some of you are going..okay ..that’s gross but come on…you’ve done this..you know you have you just don’t want to admit it.  We all know that after you do this you can put the chocolate back in the box and some person will come and claim it for their favorite and eat it before ever realizing you looked a little closer and rejected it.

This is the actual process of recruitment.  Remember yesterday I told you that the you have “power” in recruitment too.  So you pick up the first chocolate and you poke your finger in just a little (it’s just a visit on ice water tea days)..totally just a first glance.  You will be able to tell immediately if it’s an “EWWW” or a “YUMMM”.  But what about if it’s a “HMMM??”,  one of those chocolates that are neither one.  One you need more info on?  It’s just like that first day (or two) of recruitment.  You will have houses that upon entering for just that very brief period of time you will “LOVE” and you will have houses that you will “NOT LOVE” but there will also be houses where you might need more information, a bigger “TASTE”. So you stick it back in the box in a special section just for the ones you need a bit more info on.

After I do the more invasive poke (my husband calls it “violating” the chocolates) I actually throw away the ones I REALLY don’t like.  Okay I don’t put them in the garbage but I put them in a zip lock baggie and stick them in the back of the candy cupboard in case I have an emergency and need them back.  I have learned this by experience…one time I left the back door open and an opossum (whom I had named Gilbert..another story for another time 🙂  ), came in and helped himself to MY chocolates.  Gotta keep some in reserve..just in case.  I can see you are nodding you head yes…you get it right?  I was maximizing my options.  You totally will want to maximize your options at recruitment time….holding back those houses you really don’t like just in case you might need them.  Oh I should also tell you that every now and then you get surprise with one of the chocolates (houses) you held back and discover that after a second test they turn out to be one of your favorites!

Now the process of elimination begins.  I always operate on the theory “You save the best for last”. Just as in recruitment you begin the process of elimination (mutual selection..remember?).  So I eat/taste the ones I like least first.  If I find one that I really like I remember that for the next box and the same if as I get into the process I find a not so nice surprise I remember that as well.  As you go through the process of recruitment you will find that there are houses you will want more of (going back the next day) and there are some that you really thought you’d like that once you “tasted” them you found out that they weren’t exactly what you were expecting.  It’s a process…just like tasting and eating your box of chocolates.

Ultimately, I like to make the box last, amazingly it usually does..about a week (like recruitment) and finally I am left with just 2 or 3 of what I have determined to be my absolute favorites!  I sit there, staring at each one..not wanting this box to end but knowing that as the saying goes “All good things will come to an end”.   I also know that when I finally settle on the my favorite..the one that is just right for me…I can go to the candy store and get a whole box of just that kind..it will be MINE!

Preference is the final step in making that all important decision…which house is just right for you.  You know at the end that when you choose you are destined to enjoy your choice for a lifetime.  It will be YOURS.  Is this an easy choice…not always but most of the time you do make the correct one.  Notice I say most of the time because sometimes recruitment can throw you a curve ball just as my box of chocolates has.  You may go through the process, eliminating along the way only to find that you have been eliminated too (remember Gilbert…or my husband comes along and eats on out of my box or even worse I drop it on the floor and it become inedible!).  This elimination can happen to you during recruitment as well.  Now is the time to pullout the baggie in the back of the candy closet (or the list of houses that are not ones you really wanted to return to but have come back up on your list) and give another chocolate a try.  You might be amazed that what you at first rejected comes back to be one of your favorites!

But you have to pick..you have to choose…the ONE…the chocolate (sorority) that is destined to become yours!  What a great feeling to finally find the one.  Granted your taste buds are a little out of whack and you are tired (no… exhausted) from the emotional process but you have chosen..it’s a great feeling!!  Here’s the best thing of all…any time you open up a box of chocolates….you will look for “yours” and it will be there..no surprises..you know what to expect.  You also know where to look for it.  You will find it hiding in other boxes (other college campuses) but it will still be “your” chocolate…the one that brings you comfort and makes you smile.

My husband just asked me if I was going to have you all run out and buy a box of chocolates and name them all after sororities.  No..silly…..I’m going to have you start thinking about the recruitment process and how like a box of chocolates you never know what you’re going to get so keep you eyes, and taste buds open!  I however, am now going out to the kitchen to get MY box of chocolates…..I’ve got some poking to do :).