My husband and I went to Home Depot this weekend to buy mulch and a few pansies.  I have been missing our youngest a lot and os I think he thought that the pansies would make me feel better.  We talked in the car about it just seemed like yesterday that we were dropping her off for move-in and recruitment.  I wasn’t prepared for that anxious, panicky feeling to come back into my stomach.  So many memories came flooding back.

Many of you will have this same experience in a very short time.  You’ll drop your dear daughters off at the university of their choice, unload the car and fill the dorm room and then it will be time to leave.  Undoubtedly your daughter will be excited and maybe just a little nervous (she might deny this).  This will begin the roller coaster of emotions that go hand in hand with sorority recruitment.  Be prepared…one day you might get a call from a bubbly, excited daughter and the next one  might be from a girl who has a serious case of the boo hoos!

I was reading the other day and someone referred to recruitment as “speed dating meets interviewing, meets something like a tea party/beauty pageant” all occurring at a super upscale summer camp, complete with a counselor where you only know her first name.  Recruitment will be unlike anything thing your daughter will ever experience (well except next year when she is on the “other side”.  Some say the system is flawed but until a new one comes around this is what we have! So…I thought I’d offer a little “Mommy advice” on how to help your daughters through this week of emotional mayhem.

Here are a few suggestions for before, during and after recruitment.

You want your daughter to embark on the process of recruitment knowing what strengths and positive attributes she would bring to a sorority.  Make a list….and then have her think of what supports those attributes and strengths from her daily life.  Humility is the key here. You want to practice with her on how she would talk about these during recruitment.

Since going through recruitment has a component of and “interview” mixed in, your daughter needs to dress the part or as we call in our home…. “Dress for Success”.  Most Panhellenics will have some sort of a guide with pictures (or even a fashion show) on what to wear each day of recruitment.  My daughter consulted those pictures so much the pages were almost worn thin.   Make sure that she has practiced how she will style her hair each day (might want to have a back up plan in case it’s one of those mornings and the hair just won’t do what she wants it to do).  My daughter went through recruitment in the south and it is very hot and humid in August.  We had bought water proof mascara and non-run foundation but  didn’t even consider that  her very fine hair wouldn’t hold a curl!!!  After a day that was already tough emotionally we had a hair issue that almost put us over the ledge…thankfully a very sweet girl steeped in with what I will call “Perma-bond” hairspray and after spraying that on my daughters curls..well let’s just say those babies weren’t going anywhere.

Recruitment is about body language.  How you sit can signal how you feel.  Slumping shoulders and crossed arms can send a signal that a girl is tired or bored.  We practiced how to “pretend” she was engaged and interested even though she might not have been.   We worked on eliminating sounds like “um” and “ah”..sighs and what to do if she happened to yawn.  She practiced using good posture, making eye contact and not crossing her arms.

During those first days of parties when time is limited, recruitment can feel like speed dating.  It kind of is in a way.  You have a limited amount of time to chat with someone and not only do you want to learn about them but they are also trying to learn about you.  Often times conversations can be rapid and last 5 minutes or less.  Sometimes the transitions between conversations can be awkward and uncomfortable.  Going to her Universitie’s Preview Weekend gave my daughter her first taste of this type of conversation.  She was so funny..coming home we practiced in the car…me firing questions while she quickly came up with quick, concise answers. Last year I worked with a young woman who was going through recruitment for the second time.  She was concerned about questions about why she dropped out the first time she went through.  We worked on damage control techniques…ways to get out of awkward conversations and how to turn the conversation back to a topic she felt comfortable talking about.

I think the thing we talked about the most was how to evaluate each house.  What was she looking for in a sisterhood??  In the car coming home from recruitment we made a list…oh the houses and their order change positions A LOT but the list helped her focus on those things she really wanted in a sorority.  I reminded her to evaluate as she was going through the process.  Her Panhellenic group gave her a magazine type book that listed each sorority , a little about them and had a space for her to write comments and observations. I told her if she had time to try a jot just a little blurb about the house she visited (sometimes this was tough as she was running to her next party).  If she didn’t have time we also came up with a number system…listing the things that made a house a 5 (highest score) to a zero.  She ended up using this one the most but if you look in her book she does have a few notes about each house.

After Preview we talked about “tent talk”.  I won’t go into it now but she noticed and unfortunately was a little swayed by the rumors and speculation about some of the houses.  I reminded her that these women would not only be her sisters for the next 4 years but for life.  I tried to  impress upon her that she needed to focus on houses where she had a good connection with the girls.

So after all this “prep” there were times during the week when I thought that perhaps I had ridden with a different girl  Of course it was all the emotions talking.  I had to be a quick change artist and wear many different faces and hats that week.  I was “the cheerleader”…. telling her how wonderful she was and reminding her of all her terrific qualities.  I was “the long distance shoulder to cry on”…listening while she sobbed into the phone when her party card did not have her absolute favorite house on it.  I was “the voice of reason”….reminding her to stay true to herself..everything has a reason and she would end up where she truly belonged.  I was “the purveyor of cupcakes”….having a local bakery deliver a dozen chocolate ones to her dorm after Skit Day when cuts were excessively deep and painful.

Your daughter will experience rejection and jubilation….could be all at the same time :/….Sorority recruitment can and will be emotionally exhausting!  During the process I kept reminding her to eat, sleep and rink plenty of water.

On Bid Day as I exited my own emotional roller coaster, tears streaming down my cheeks as I watched my daughter pull her jersey with the applique letters over her head I was so thankful for the preparation we had done.  In was a once in a lifetime emotional experience that I will soon not forget ( as evident in the truck yesterday).  So get your Valium refilled….hoard some chocolate…buy tissues…lots and lots of tissues but most of all enjoy the ride.  when you get off this emotional roller coaster you will be thankful but it is a ride worth remembering!