It seems that many of you have put off securing recommendations until the last minute.  That’s ok…you still have time :).  But it also means that in addition to getting ready for Prom and Graduation you are stressing about where that second Kappa Delta rec is coming from or why your local alumnae association hasn’t emailed you back.  A very sweet little girl I am helping get ready for recruitment mentioned the other day that it just wasn’t fair….here she was scrambling around and stressing out and “those” sorority girls got to just go home and enjoy their summer…stress free.  How unfair is that??????

Well I am here to set the record straight.  You see “those” sorority girls are home stressing out as well.  I know that it seems that the ball is in their court. It seems that they have all the power. No true!!!!  “Those” sorority girls are on their way home with their own list of stresses.  You see…..the whole recruitment process, and it’s success, doesn’t start the first day of parties and end with Bid Day.  Nope….not that way at all!!!!

For many sororities the recruitment process started in November or December when a couple of things happened.  First of all each sorority began to identify the PNM’s who would be coming to their college or university and would be going through recruitment.  Each member was probably asked to submit names, addresses and phone numbers of these women.  These names were then put on a list that would be used to generate invitations to pre-recruitment events and perhaps even handwritten notes.

The Chapter as a whole would then begin to assess what their strengths and weaknesses are as a whole.   The purpose of this is so that they can then decide what qualities they are looking for in PNMs that would make up their potential pledge class.  There’s a lot of soul searching here.  It’s easy to say that they want girls who are going to get involved, have good grades, are pretty, funny, easy to get along with. Of course you “want” those types of girls but so does every other sorority on campus.  So ” what exactly are you looking for and how can you show those girls that YOU are the right house for them???

I blogged earlier that you, as a PNM, actually have a lot more power in this process than you think.  So I am reminding you again…as desperate as you may be to find the right house (or in some cases you might be saying to yourself “I just want a bid”) each sorority is also desperate to find the right girls :).  In addition there is the business side of it.  Remember….each house has beds to fill, bills to pay.  A sorority is a business.  A successful recruitment is imperative to a healthy sorority.  One bad pledge class can lead to the demise of a sorority on campus.

So even before Christmas sororities are starting to “get ready”.  You should also know that most sororities hold elections at the end of first semester, usually in November or December.  The new recruitment chair will hit the ground running in January when she returns from Christmas break.  She will most likely have to work over Christmas vacation finalizing the “recruitment plan” so that it can be presented to Chapter at their first meeting.

I want you to remember this….stick it away in your brain and while you are sitting at one of those rush parties during recruitment look around.  Everything you see was planned…from the decorations, to the food, even the position of the furniture…it was all planned.  Think about it for a minute..5 days of parties times in some cases 12 or more parties a day….every tiny detail had to be thought out, planned, practiced and executed!!!  While you are sitting there, praying that you are having a meaningful conversation with the sorority girl across from you, she is praying that the girl who is supposed to bump her is on schedule :).

Why am I telling you this?? Because….I want you to understand that these women put hours upon hours into this process as well.  They are stressing just like you!!!

Okay so when the girls return from Christmas break the rush workshops begin.  It’s really fun on a Spring Saturday morning to stand on any sorority row and watch the doors of sorority houses open and close and various and assorted houses practice their door songs.  Most houses don’t reinvent the wheel.  What I mean is that most of what they are practicing was from last year.  It’s like when I taught kindergarten.  Many of the units and lessons I taught were the same from year to year.  However, each year I tried to freshen them up a little bit but adding a few new activities or projects here and there.  It’s the same with recruitment.  Most of the daily parties are already planned but each year the recruitment chair and her team will add a few new things to “keep it relevant and fresh”.  It way be as simple as changing the outfits for that day or it might be as complicated as adding a new skit or door song.  No matter what each sorority will practice and practice and practice.

Now you have to throw into this that these girls are going to class, participating in their other clubs and activities on campus, going to their sorority regional leadership weekend, attending swaps, doing philanthropy, holding pre-recruitment events that might even include traveling to nearby cities for teas and perhaps even planning and participating in a Preview Weekend… yep at times they are also experiencing “stress”.

Additionally at the end of March most sororities will have a dress check.  What’s a dress check you ask? Well just like you are choosing your clothes to wear during recruitment each sorority girl also has special clothes to wear.  The difference is that the themes of the recruitment dictate what each girl is supposed to wear.  They might wear khaki shorts and t-shirts in their sorority colors for a Philanthropy Day, black cocktail dresses for Preference, flowered dresses for Skit just depends on each particular sorority.  I know one sorority who requires each girl to wear a Lilly Pulitzer dress for one day of parties.  Each girl is required to have their whole out fit, clothing, shoe and accessories available for the recruitment chair to check by a certain date….usually late spring.  They want to make sure that the clothing fits properly, is attractive and up to date.  I will tell you most houses will dictate the clothing , the shoes, the accessories and even the hair style….no kidding!!!

When summertime rolls around these girls just don’t get to forget about recruitment and go home.  Nope…how do I know this?  Well….back in the dinosaur days I was a recruitment chair but remember I have 2 daughters who are and were directly involved in recruitment.   Recommendations start to arrive in March and will continue through summer.  Just as much as you want to make sure that your rec arrives safely to each house, the houses want to make sure that receive, look at and catalog each rec.   Someone has to designated to go to the mailbox on campus and collect the recs.  In most cases it is a hometown girl who will do this job.  Best case scenario the recruitment chair actually is from the town where the campus is (this doesn’t happen very often).

When you are sitting at a recruitment party remember that everything you see around you had to be planned, purchased or made.  Summertime is super busy finalizing all of this so when the girls return for “work week” also called “spirit week” there are no surprises and everything is ready to go.  This week before recruitment is long, long days!!!  Often times the girls are up and going by 7 am and will practice and work until midnight.  It’s high stress.  Just as you are worrying about recruitment and getting a bid tension is mounting in each sorority as they worry about their recruitment success.  The recruitment chair will try to plan little games and events with surprises during the week to help break the tension but truth is by the time recruitment rolls around these girls have actually put in a week of recruitment parties just in practice.

Of course it’s all worth it right?  On Bid Day all of their hard work pays off with the terrific pledge class that is standing on their lawn.  They will have forgotten the exhaustion and long days and night and instead will be filled with accomplishment.

So why am I telling you all this?  Well…I wanted you to know and understand that “being on the other side” is just as tiring and stressful as going through recruitment.  While you are scrambling for recs, picking out that last perfect dress, moving in to your dorm, kissing your family goodbye those sorority women who hold the “coveted membership in sisterhood” are experiencing the same emotions.