I’ve had a lot of questions about COB/COR since Formal Recruitment seems to be winding down (or at least significantly slowing down!).  As it is every year, girls begin the recruitment process thinking that they will be invited back to their “favorite” houses and then are disappointed when those names do not appear on their party lists.  I think that there’s a little denial that goes with this situation.  Many alums who talk to, council and hold the hands of PNMs across the United States tell these dear girls the very same mantra: “keep and open mind, maximize your options and when each new party card comes don’t bemoan the losses but rejoice in the adventure of what is to come.”

I wish I could say that all girls take this advice to heart but the truth is some just can’t. It doesn’t matter what the reasons are, these young ladies just can’t continue the process and so they drop or quit.  It’s after Formal Recruitment ends and they see all the girls with their letters that they have a kind of buyers remorse and start talking about Spring Recruitment (usually called COB: Continuous Open Bidding or COR: Continuous Open Recruitment).

So today’s talk is on whether this a good option to choose or whether girls are better off to stick with the Formal Recruitment process.

It’s my opinion that Formal Recruitment is always the better choice.  A PNM needs to enter into this process with an open mind. Sure…we all have houses we “like” but that word like is an interesting term.  Unless you are a PNM who has a relative in a particular house and have visited, made connections and gotten to really know the members then you can “like” a house based on what it looks like in pictures and look books but to start Formal Recruitment with the idea that one house is a better house for you based solely on what you see on paper is doing a disservice to yourself and the members of that house.  You need to be open to where the conversations lead you.  PNMs will find an immediate connection with some houses and yes…for some houses an immediate disconnect.  That’s okay, but I tell girls to give each house where you do not feel a connection at least 1 more chance.  Perhaps it was just that particular member…maybe she was having an off day..in most cases girls usually find that on a second chance day they have a better experience.  Of course there are “those” houses where you really do know that it just isn’t for you.  That’s okay as well but LIST IT ANYWAY in the last spot where you list your bottom houses.  That’s called “maximizing your options” and as far as I’m concerned not doing this is not an option at all.  Most panhellenics will tell you if you go through recruitment, and practice the art of maximizing your options (going to every party you are invited to AND listing all of the houses), then you will be given a bid.  Seriously the goal is to place as many girls as possible.  Of course that may mean that a PNM might get a bid to a house that for a variety of reasons she cannot see herself in.

I will say that in some rare circumstances a PNM can receive a bid to a house that she is not compatible with.  It does happen….but rarely.  Remember, that if a sorority offers you a bid it’s because they saw something in you that made them feel that you would not only be a good sister but also that they felt that you would develop connections with its members.  I always tell girls to go try it.  If at the end of a couple of weeks they still do not feel any connection at all then they should choose not to initiate.  Some girls take my advice and find their “happy ever after” while others don’t try..at all. The girls who choose not to initiate then are unable to participate in COB/COR and cannot go through recruitment again for one calendar year.  Hopefully they get involved in some great clubs and groups on campus, meet lots of new friends and some will even choose to go through the Formal Recruitment process the next year, hopefully with a better outcome :).

What about those girls who do not complete the Formal Recruitment process?  What happens to them?

Well first of all let me just say that I do understand why girls choose to quit recruitment…I was one of those girls.  There I said it…are you shocked?  I was an only child, far away from home, very homesick for the boyfriend I left far behind and totally overwhelmed by the whole recruitment process.  I also had the delusions that I would be invited back to my top houses and became very upset and unhappy when after round 3 parties that was not the case…so I quit.  Ultimately, I ended up transferring at semester and then I went through COB or as it was called back in the day, “Informal Recruitment”. It was a much better option for me and I found my letters in a sorority just exactly where I belonged. To this day I still talk to my sisters on a daily basis..it was exactly as it should be and still is…..a sisterhood for a lifetime :).

So what is COB/COR?  Basically it is a much more, laid back form of recruitment.  There are no days upon days of parties where you spend a set amount of time in each house.  There aren’t generally door songs (there can be but it’s not a common occurrence). Sororities that are below the house total set by panhellenic contact panhellenic to let them know that they are going to host some parties and get togethers for girls who have indicated an interest in joining a sorority after Formal Recruitment has concluded.  Panhellenic then shares the list of girls who have indicated that they are interested in attending these parties. These girls fill out a registration form similar to what they would have filled out for Formal Recruitment. The sororities will receive this as well as a copy of their transcript.

In some cases girls are invited who may not even be on the official list….friends of friends ect.  Nonetheless activities are held.  There can be bumping but again it’s not nearly as structured as Formal Recruitment.  There is no bid day per say.  Bids are given upon discretion of the sorority.   On some campuses COB/COR has a specific time limit while on other campuses it can continue for a good part of the semester. It also doesn’t have to happen just in the Spring.  On some campuses that held Formal Recruitment in August, COB has already begun.

It sounds easy and relaxed right…or what’s the hitch?

For girls who want to go through COB because they were cut by top houses…houses they loved and could totally “see” themselves in this may be a disappointing experience.  Remember….sororities that participate in COB are houses that are not at house total.  Generally the “top houses” on campus do not participate in COB.  So you see, the houses that do participate are going to be “those” houses that a PNM may have been disappointed to see on her party card and therefore dropped out of Formal Recruitment. In this case a PNM has to be willing to take a second look at these house, make an honest and committed effort and keep an open mind.  I will tell you that in some cases top houses do participate and a PNM may receive a bid from their dream house. Remember that when a house chooses not to invite a PNM back to the next round during formal recruitment it may not be because they “don’t like her” but rather because they just liked others better.  During the COB process the PNM and sorority may have a more relaxed time of getting to know each other.

In some cases COB can also be more relaxed and less stressful.  I have heard from girls that sometimes communication can be a little challenging during COB.  Remember you and the sorority are juggling classes and other commitments.  Also multiple sororities may have COB activities on the same night and even at the same time.  It is a different experience and so make sure if you choose this option that you understand how the process works on your campus.  I would also share that if you are going through COB at a competitive campus you will recommendations (again ;/).  Yep ..at least have a couple of alums reach out to the chapter to make sure they know you are participating in COB and that they feel that you would be a good addition.  A phone call followed by an email or letter of support is very helpful.

So id COB for you?  Only you make that choice.  It worked well for me but I participated on a different campus (oh by the way when I did COB all of the sororities participated).  If you participated in Formal Recruitment and did not complete the process then perhaps you should give COB a try.  Remember to keep an open mind and be receptive to what each sorority has to offer.  If you go into this process with a positive attitude and open to where the process may take you, chances are you will be successful.