The clock is ticking….with less than a month for some of the most competitive recruitments in the US to begin emotions are beginning to run high.  I have had so many emails asking questions about the “what ifs” and the “whys” of recruitment. So I thought I’d spend today just chatting a little bit more about the “ins and outs ” of sorority recruitment.

Most recruitments run a very similar schedule, whether they are held before classes begin in August or if it is a deferred recruitment that is held after classes begin. I’ve been asked if one is preferential to another.  In my opinion each has its pluses and minuses. If you go through recruitment before classes start then you have a pre-made  group of friends to help you adjust and get settled.  If you go through recruitment on a campus that is deferred then you are able to get settled in, may even meet some active sorority members and make some connections and friends.

Usually there is an initial round of parties..a meet and greet so to speak.  All PNM’s are invited.  The parties generally last less than 30 minutes.  You may meet as many as 5 or 6 girls or a little as 2.  It’s you first impression of each sorority and it’s their first impression of you.  Yes…they have met you on paper (that is if you are attending a school that requires recs) but it’s your chance to be outgoing, energetic, bubbly and to let these women know that YOU want to be a part of their sisterhood.

So what happens if you have a disconnect?  What happens if you feel connected but the body language of the sorority member says that they aren’t interested.  Don’t panic!  It’s only day one..and you know that even if you rank this house as a house you do not wish to return to there is the possibility that it may come back into your party schedule again.  I will say it again…..rank your houses and let it go.  I know that it’s hard but you have to.  When you get your party card the next day look at it as a fresh start..what new opportunities are presents to you.  Each day is a new day.  If you can wrap your head around this concept and approach recruitment in this manner I am confident that you will have a more positive recruitment.

After First Round partie are over you have to rank your houses.  Here are some things to think about as you go through that process.

As hard as it is try to ignore the opinions of other PNMs when it comes to each sorority.  I think I am beating a dead horse if I bring up the subject of tent talk but I just have to.  Tent talk is rumor and innuendo..that’s it.  It’s several people’s opinions and even though it may seem like it is a group opinion or perspective it really isn’t.  It’s a couple of loud voices and a bunch of followers. What is most important is how YOU feel about that particular house and the young women you met there.  Most importantly are these young women people you would be proud to call your sisters.

My very first post was about shoes shopping.  If you haven’t read it go back and do it.  That post is recruitment logic in a nutshell.  When thinking about ranking houses think about how they “fit” you.  If you are a girl who is studious and places importance on academic achievement then you are going to want to join a sorority where this is a top priority. You do not want to join because this sorority likes you for your GPA. This goes back to the “List”…that list that the sorority made back in November or December…remember me talking about that?  It’s the list of attributes that they are looking for in a PNM. Even though you may fit into their list the sorority needs to fit into your list as well.

I have a suggestion.  Sit down right now and make your own list.  What are you looking for in a sorority?  How do you envision yourself getting involved?  What types of girls do you identify with?  What types of girls would you like to spend time with?  Does their philanthropy interest you? Is it something that you can see yourself being involved with past your college days?

I shared this idea with a PNM recently and her reply was something that I think might be really common. She said to me, with a perfectly honest look on her face, “I just want to join a sorority..I’ll take anything”. I should add that this particular PNM is going through recruitment at a VERY competitive recruitment school, where about 80% of the PNMs get bids.  I understand her answer, I really do.  However, We had to have a little talk. Just as with shoes shopping you have to buy the shoes that have the right fit, it’s also true for shopping for a sorority.  Yeah…I wanted the Louboutins or the Jimmy Choos but they didn’t fit.  I would have been MISERABLE in them for an extended period of time.  It’s the same with joining a sorority because it’s a top tier sorority, or it’s get where I am going with this.  Don’t join for the wrong reasons…join for the right ones.

For some young women this is a very hard wake up call. You need to be realistic and honest with yourself.  I will tell you this that after a while the Toms you settled for become Louboutins in your eyes.

This brings me to being a “legacy”.  Remember that in todays sorority world being a legacy doesn’t guarantee you a bid.  As a courtesy most sororities will invite legacies back to Round Two parties.  If you are a legacy and you are invited back to every recruitment even then there is probably a pretty good chance you will on their first bid list.  In fact, many sororities have a policy that if a legacy is invited to preference the sorority must place her at the top if their first list. If you have connected with these young women and can see yourself as a sister then the answer is easy…but what if you’re not sure?

When our youngest went through recruitment she was a legacy to my sorority as a legacy to another sorority on campus through her paternal grandmother.  The latter cut her after Round two parties.  My sorority made it known pretty early on that they wanted her.  She liked the girls and felt a little connection but she struggled with the concept of being a legacy.  she kept wondering out loud if the only reason that they were giving her so much attention was because of the fact that she was a legacy.  When it cam to Preference she had three houses..the legacy house, ADPI and DZ.  When we chatted she said she could see herself in any of the houses and she now knew if she put my house first she would receive a bid from them.  It was a struggle, but it was HER struggle and Her decision and so I have to tell you I was REALLY glad when they had to give up their phones to their Rho Chis on Preference Day.

I guess she must have listened to me because she followed her heart and ranked the three sororities in the order where she could truly see herself.  She did not put her legacy house first but ranked it second, putting ADPi first.  Her first words to me when we finally connected late that night were, “Don’t hate me but I put ADPi first…that’s where I could really see myself.”  Of course I reassured her that I held no bad feelings as to how she had ranked her houses!  I just wanted her to be happy and find the joy of a sisterhood like I had. I should tell you the girls of her legacy house did share with her later their disappointment in not having her as their sister but they understood and supported  her decision.

So legacies out there don’t let pressure from family members sway to cloud the decision making process. Think hard about if you truly would be happy in the “guaranteed bid” house.  Just take it down to the basics..where were you the happiest?  Which house did you feel the most connections with? What girls reminded you of your best friends? What house made you feel accepted for who you are?  that’s the house that should be at the top of your list.

So lets say after all of the recruitment process you decide that joining a sorority isn’t for you?  this moment of crisis happens to girls during different stages fo recruitment.  It can happen when a girl gets her party schedule only to find that it’s missing several key houses.  My suggestion is always to least through this round of parties..give these houses a chance..see what they have to offer now that your mind isn’t clouded by the sorority crush of those “it houses”.  Remember…look at the party schedule as a plaus..what wonderful parties do I get to go to today?  I know it’s hard but you will be better for it.

If you still want to walk away sit and have a conversation with your recruitment counselor or a panhellenic representative. Share all of your feelings…sometimes it helps to talk to someone who is not related to you..a third party.

What happens if you are one of those girls who is contacted by your rho chi and informed that you have not been invited back to the next round of parties.  This can be heartbreaking.  Go ahead and cry, get mad, experience all of the emotions that come with this news. Then weigh your options.  Your Rho Chi and/or a member of panhellenic will share with you what other options you have for joining a sorority.  If you maximized your options and attended Preference and listed all of your houses they you could be eligible for a snap bid.   Some campuses will have spring COB events and then there’s always next year.  If you didn’t secure recs for every house and you went through recruitment on a campus where this was a you know what you need to do.  Go back and start planning for the next year. You will not be alone.  Go out and get involved in clubs and activities on campus.  Make friends.

In some cases wonderful young women are bidless due to computer algorithms, cross cutting, and human errors.  It doesn’t make it fair or okay but it does happen.  Again talk with your Rho Chi about your options but more importantly hild your head high, focus on your new friends, the classes you are taking, and the many new adventures that await you.

Recruitment will be here before you know it.  I wish each and every one of you the best of luck…i say a little prayer each night that every PNM finds their home and letters.