Yesterday I spent some time describing generally how the colonization process works.  There are quite a few campuses across the US that have sororities colonizing on them this fall.  So how do you know as a PNM is colonizing a sorority is right for you? Let’s look at colonization from a PNM’s view-point.

First of all, when a sorority colonizes it actually builds an entire sorority…what I mean is that there will be all 4 classes of girls represented, freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.  Let’s talk about the upper classmen first, specifically juniors and seniors. Colonization is an idea for those upper classmen women on campus who wanted to join a sorority but for a number of reasons they didn’t.  The reasons range from as freshmen they were intimidated by the process (finding recs for each house, LORS), finances (sorority life can be expensive especially for a girl who is paying her own way), or they just didn’t see how sorority life would fit with their college schedule.  Many of the young women I have talked to who have gone through the colonization process as juniors and seniors told me they felt that something was “missing” in their college experience and after colonizing their sorority that void was filled.  It’s easy to say “why do this when you only have one or two years of sorority life on campus?”  The answer is easy..”Because it’s a sisterhood for a lifetime..not just the years you are in college.”  A friend who was a senior and colonized on her campus is now working in her sorority’s national office.  It is a misconception that these women will be the “leaders” of the new sorority.  While age, maturity and life experiences will certainly give them an edge over the younger girls, colonization is a “it takes a village” sort of experience.

Sophomores who participate in colonization usually fall into two groups, girls who went through recruitment the previous year and either dropped out or did not receive a bid or girls who did not choose to go through recruitment as a freshman.  These women COULD participate in Formal Recruitment as well and be part of what is termed “Upper Classmen Quota”. The colonization process is advantageous for these women for several reasons (these can also apply to juniors and seniors).

I think it’s important to remember that a colony recruitment is the only recruitment a chapter will ever have where the new members are not chosen by the chapter. In an established chapter, especially on a competitive campus, it is vitally important for a PNM to have a connection to someone in the chapter to pull for her during recruitment. This situation is nonexistent in a colony recruitment since members are chosen by women who seldom have any connection to the campus in question. So, a PNM who is glorious but has no greek connections has equal footing in a colony recruitment, where in regular recruitment she would be at a severe disadvantage.

As someone who reads hundreds of resumes each year I have seen many young women who have a great high school GPA, ACT score, nice honors, awards and philanthropy projects get swallowed by big school, competitive recruitment campuses.  Yes..they are top of the top at “their” high schools.  They are attractive, smart and have good social and conversation skills but so do the other 1500 girls who are going through recruitment as well. That doesn’t mean they won’t get a bid but it many mean that they will not get a bid to the “top” houses on that campus.  In many cases these young women don’t have “greek connections”.  Sometimes they are the first of their family to “go greek” or even attend college.  Often times these young women didn’t get recommendations for all of the houses on campus…..they simply weren’t prepared for formal recruitment.

These young women are gold mines for a sorority that is colonizing!  It is unfortunate that their previous recruitment experiences might not be positive, but colonization is a definite plus for them.  I helped just such a girl last year.  She had gone through formal recruitment at a large, VERY competitive SEC school.  She experienced the “deep cuts” as the week wore on and by Preference she was left with only one house and she simply could not see herself as a she dropped out of recruitment.  She adjusted well to college, made friends and was happy but really wanted to be part of a sorority so when it was announced that a new sorority would be colonizing on campus the next Fall she contacted me to see if I could help.  She recognized that she had not been as “prepared” as she should/could have been and wanted t be better prepared for the colonization process.  Just as I am explaining to you now I explained to her that colonization is not the same as Formal Recruitment but we could get this done and while I don’t “guarantee” bids, I told her that if she listened to my advice that I was pretty confident that she would have positive results. She did. We worked hard getting her 3 VERY solid recommendations.  We worked on conversation skills. We carefully selected her clothing and accessories.  Guess what???  She went through the process a prepared and confident PNM and …yep…she received a bid!!!  I cried when the pic of that bid card came across my iphone on Bid Day. this young woman is now on Exec for her sorority and is preparing for her first recruitment on “the other side”.

Lets talk about incoming Freshman PNM’s.  I am always asked what does a PNM who is going through formal recruitment do?  Does she go through recruitment, see if she gets a Bid from another house and if she doesn’t go through colonization?  does she go through the first days and when the colonizing sorority pulls out she drops in hopes she will go through the colonization process and get a bid? the answer is both.  A PNM can go through recruitment and if she does not sign a Bid Card then she can then go through the colonization process.  She can also drop out of formal recruitment and then go through colonization.  For those of you who are going through recruitment on a campus that has a colonizing sorority (or in Arkansas’ case TWO) you will be instructed as to how the exact process works on your campus.  Everyone does it just a little different…remember the above is just generalizations.  Colonization is great for Freshman PNM’s who perhaps weren’t prepared for the recruitment process.  This is especially true at a school that has a very competitive recruitment.

Finally I’d like to disspell the rumor that when a sorority colonizes they get all the “leftovers from formal recruitment.  This is so not the case. Colonizing sororities get amazing girls who for a variety of reasons like…. no Greek family connections, no Greek friend connections, first generation college students, girls from small towns, juniors or seniors….they are not the girls who no one wanted but rather girls that fell through the cracks. Colonies will be selective..the life of the colony depends on it!
When AOII colonized at Arkansas, they came across so many wonderful young women who were the first to go to college in their families. This is VERY common at Arkansas. These young women tended to have little greek knowledge or pedigree, and therefore didn’t know how to prepare for formal recruitment at such a competitive campus. They included Razorback cheerleaders, the Homecoming Queen (and future wife of American Idol winner Kris Allen), student government president, and on and on. We’re not talking sub-par PNMs – just people who didn’t plan for recruitment for a year in advance, or came from a smaller town and didn’t have connections, or transferred in as a sophomore, etc. The established chapters, for the most part, could hit their 100+ quota without tapping into these unknown PNMs

So is colonization right for you??? Only you can tell but I would encourage any young woman who is going through recruitment on a campus where a sorority is colonizing or young women who already attend the college or university where a colonization is taking place to consider the option.  What have you got to lose?