Two years ago our youngest daughter decided to go through recruitment at a very competitive, southern, SEC school, where numbers of girls rushing are in the thousands. I’ve chronicled and talked about the process through this blog and shared what I have learned along the way. The “southern” culture, its social hierarchy and sorority life is fascinating. I have met so many interesting women along the way. Those who grew up “in the south” have been willing to share their stories with me…and oh what stories they are!
In addition I have made it a goal to help as many young women as I can, navigate the road to recruitment in the SEC. I discovered when my daughter and I began the journey that it’s not for the novice or faint of heart. There are so many “social rules” that apply to the process. Breaking any of these can result in the absence of a bid on Bid Day. I learned by trial and error, winding my way through recs, resumes and letters of support. I found that the playing field is not equal and something as simple as you geographic location can cause you not to receive a bid from certain sororities.
This past week I have been called upon to answer questions about recs, letters of support, hazing (both sorority and fraternity) and how to REALLY have a successful recruitment at one of those highly competitive schools below the Mason Dixon line. I also have discovered a whole new “layer” of sorority recruitment in the South and although I have just begun to touch the tip of the iceberg so to speak, I thought I would write a little about what I have learned so far.
Sitting in the tv room at my daughter’s sorority last weekend the discussion turned to recruitment and how each of the 15 girls in the room found their letters. About 3/4 ths of the girls were from the state where this chapter is located. They were reminiscing about their “high school” sorority experiences. Wait a minute! High School sororities! As I listened to them chat I discovered that many high schools in the “south” (think Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas ) have mini versions of NPC (the National Panhellenic does not actively “endorse” these publicly) sororities. In fact….if you are a member of one of these “sororities” it may actually be a feeder for its sister sorority on one of the many southern, SEC college campuses.
As you can imagine I was “all ears” and asked the girls to share more about their experiences. What I learned, is that in many private high schools as well as some public high schools, there are sororities (think girls only social clubs) that operate in a similar fashion to sororities on college campuses. In some cases their might be one sorority and in other cases there may be upwards of 3 or 4. Some of the sororities hold a “rush” similar to ones at the college level. Girls are invited to members homes to attend themed parties where there are refreshments and even name tags. The girls were quick to point out that in most cases these “social clubs” that bear names using Greek letters and names like Alpha Delta Kappa and Delta Beta Sigma are not “supported” by the school or it’s administration (even though members of the staff had been members when they were in high school).
This practice of having high school social clubs isn’t just exclusive to the deep south but Texas has it’s own feeder system into their sororities. First of all there are the sleep away camps. Although some will say it is only rumor and innuendo I believe after reading many different articles and blogs about this that yes, in fact , if you attend certain camps they can be paths to different sororities at A&M, UT, Tech. It makes sense doesn’t it? Each year girls return to the same camps, first as campers and then as counselors. They bond, become friends, develop relationships due to the many things they have in common, and ultimately they become sisters. You hear names like Camp Longhorn, Camp Mystic and Camp Waldemar associated with “the Big Six” sororities at UT.
In addition Texas has a mother daughter service club (think mini junior league) that also is a feeder for sororities at all of the Texas schools and I believe carries clout when seen on the resume of a OOS girl, especially if she has won awards while participating.
I have had a group of parents question the system of competitive recruitment. They have scrutinized the numbers and many feel (should not these parents do not have girls who have gone Greek), that there are too many girls who do not receive bids. this is what lead me to dig deeper to see what “advantages” some girls have over others. So I believe that while being involved with the above mention clubs help girls bond with others, providing strong friendships that cause girls to want to continue those relationships in college thus providing “bids” to certain sororities where these ladies are members…they also teach girls social skills and more importantly conversations skills and how to navigate events like recruitment comfortably.
You then add in the fact that not only do the girls bond but the parents bond as well. this parental bonding is another advantage when it come to securing recommendations and Letters of Support. Instead of having recommendations for random alumnae who do not know you personally these “southern” girls have glowing recs from women who have known them or their family for years and perhaps generations. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that these types of recs don’t carry a lot of clout!
Texas has a very strong Panhellenic system. In many cities and town the local Panhellenic will hold information sessions for young women who are interested in going through recruitment. they will “teach ” these girls how to write a sorority resume as well as then take that resume, pics, transcript and pass it along to a woman , for each sorority on campus, so that she can write a recommendation. They will also secure several Letters of Support for that young woman as well. This is huge!!!!!
So if you are an Out Of State girl reading this you might be asking yourself, “how will I ever get a bid if so many other girls have these huge advantages?”….For those of you who are going through recruitment this fall time is short and things will be a little more difficult. For you girls a year out…I have suggestions. Come back tomorrow where I will address the question “Help I’m OOS and rushing in the South..what do I do next????”