I have heard so many recruitment stories the past month….its amazing!!!  From large competitive campuses to small personal schools, young women throughout the United States chose to go through the recruitment process, looking for their letters and a sisterhood that will last a life time.  Joining a sorority is becoming a popular choice for many young women.  Because of this influx of PNMS, the University of Alabama almost 2000 young women go through recruitment this August, many sororities are choosing to colonized on campuses.  After spending a little while this morning checking websites and sorority pages I discovered that for the recruitment season of 2013 there will be close to 50 new chapters colonizing across the US and Canada!!  There are currently 26 sororities governed under the National Panhellenic Council and so if you were to divide that evenly that’s almost two new chapters per organization.  That of course is no the case and some chapters are not colonizing at all but 50 new chapter…that’s amazing!!! To understand why the process of colonization works so well for some young women we first need to talk a little about Formal Recruitment.

Many young women have participated (and still are!!) in what we call Formal Recruitment.  This process takes place over a time period of several days or even a week, following a very set schedule.  The PNM attends a convocation where she is assigned to a group of young women (this is usually done alphabetically) and a leader or leaders of sorority women who have disaffiliated from their houses, called Recruitment Counselors  (Rho Chi, Phi Chi’s, Gamma Chi’s).  The PNM’s then attend an introductory round of parties (some times called Open Houses or Ice Water Teas).  During this Round 1 of parties the PNM will visit each sorority for about 15 to 20 minutes.  In that time she may meet/talk with one or more members.  the process in which the sorority members move from PNM to PNM is called “bumping”.  I some cases a PNM might be “double rushed”, which means that there will be two PNMs to that sorority member.  Some PNMs believe this indicates that they are going to not be asked back byt that particular sorority.  In most cases this simply means there were not enough sorority members to go around and so some bump groups had to pick up 2 PNMS.

At the end of this round of parties the PNMs go and rank or vote on the houses they like best.  This differs from campus to campus but basically the PNM lists the top number of sorority houses as indicated by Panhellenic. They are also asked to list their bottom houses (those they didn’t feel a connection with.  Girls are STRONGLY encouraged to always list all houses…this is called “maximizing your options” and ensures that the PNM will get the maximum amount of invites back (remember most PNMS do not always get a full invite list of all of their top houses).

The PNM will next go to Round Two parties where the conversation is a little more intimate, the party time is a little longer and often times the philanthropy of the sorority will be discussed and highlighted.  Again after this round of parties the PNMs go and rank their houses according to panhellenic directions.

Usually during round 3 parties the true personality of the sorority comes out.  the PNM is making connections with members and “Rush crushes” can even occur. If you are a legacy and your legacy chapter is not going to bid you then chances are you will be dropped after this round.  At the conclusion of Round Three the PNM will again go and rank/vote.

The final round of parties is called Preference and on some campuses this is called “serious day”.  Depending on the number of sorority chapters on campus a PNM may attend up to two or three parties on this day.  Some PNMs will attend the maximum number of parties while others may only have 1 or 2 houses left.  Remember it only takes 1 house to get a bid.  If a PNM is going through Formal Recruitment on a campus that uses the “maximized option” concept, and has maximized her options then in some cases those campuses will “guarantee” a bid.

At Preference parties the tone is serious and the sorority is trying to show the PNM why they can see her as a sister in their house.  Parties are longer 45-50 minutes. Usually at the conclusion of Preference the PNMs walk in silence to a designated place where they will ist, in order of preference the houses they visited that day.  At the same time the sororities are listing, in order the girls who visited their preference parties.  The process of RFM then occurs matching girls with houses.

Bid Day usually follows Preference but on some campuses there can be several days between Bid Day and the end of Preference. Bid Day is exciting but for girls who didn’t get their first or even second choice this cam be a tough day.  I ALWAYS tell girls to go to the Bid Day activities, try out the new sisterhood…test the waters..get to know some girls and if after a couple of weeks they still feel a disconnect then it’s time to make a decision.  For MOST girls the adjustment occurs in fact for many they will call and tell me that they really did find the right match…yes ladies,most of the time the system does work :).

For SOME girls Formal Recruitment just doesn’t work.  It might be that the emotional stress is just too hard.  For some girls they didn’t participate as a freshman or even a sophomore and now can’t see themselves going through this process.  Some girls have conflicts that don’t permit them to attend all of Formal Recruitment and for some it’s just not something they want to do.  For these girls participating in the colonization of a sorority might be a better option.

Colonization is a different process than Formal Recruitment.  Usually only 1 house will colonize at a time on a particular campus during a particular year.  We had an exception this year at The University of Arkansas where two sororities colonized at the same time..kind of a mini formal recruitment..this is the exception..not the norm.

The process of colonization begins with informational meetings,usually held in the Spring before the actual colonization in the Fall.  Teams of Alumnae and other active members from chapters close to the colonization site will hold very informal info sessions.  During the summer they will be working hard to put together a more formal and lengthy process for fall.

Colonization does no take place at the same time as Formal Recruitment.  In some cases a colonizing sorority may participate in the Open House Round 1 parties of formal recruitment and then pull out.  This allows PNMs to proceed with the Formal Recruitment process and if it doesn’t work for them they can then participate in the colonization process.

About a week or two after Formal Recruitment ends a sign up to participate in Colonization will occur.  At that time a PNM will fill out an interest and registration form just as she would do for Formal Recruitment.  If you are at a campus that is considered to a competitive recruitment campus the YOU WILL NEED RECOMMENDATIONS!!!!!!! so if you are thinking of going through colonization think ahead and get them early.  the first step is to attend an informational meeting that will tell you how this particular colonization process will work (they are all not totally the same and vary from sorority to sorority and campus to campus).  Usually at this meeting (sometimes called an Open House) you will get to talk with alums and members who are on campus to help.  There usually is a question and answer session and a Colonization Schedule will be handed out.   Usually there are also sign up for interviews at these meetings.

The interview is the first step on the read to colonization.  Remember that when colonizing the chapter is building an entire sorority composed of Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors. The founding members will be made up of a proportionate group of girls from each class (Freshmen will have the most and so on to Seniors that will have the least).  When colonizing a sorority is looking to put together a great group of girls that will work hard to make this a viable house on campus….colonizing is hard work (it’s expensive as well.).  At the info meeting they will make suggestions as to what to wear to the interview.  It’s my suggestion you wear something you are comfortable and confident in, a nice dress or skirt.  During the interview the panel of women you will be talking to are going to try to figure out if YOU are right to colonize a sorority as well as trying to put together a group of girls who had common bonds, dreams and ideals.  Some questions they might as are:

  1. What have you been involved in at college? What were you  involved in high school?
  2. Why do you want to join a sorority?
  3. What attributes do you think you could bring to a sorority?
  4. How do you plan to get involved in the sorority and around campus?
  5. What type of sisters are you looking for?
  6. How would describe yourself..easy going, funny, out going, quiet, shy?
  7. What’s your major?
  8. Tell us something about yourself you think we should know.
  9. Who are your role models and why?  How have they given you inspiration?
  10. Can you financially afford a sorority?
  11. Do you have a job?  If yes what is it and how many hours a week do you work?
  12. What’s the toughest challenge you’ve faced?
  13. What’s your strongest attribute?
  14. Why did you choose colonization over formal recruitment?
  15. What’s your GPA?  What’s your toughest class?

Be yourself, be honest and enjoy the process :).

After the interview process invitations will be given to attend either another themed party or in some cases Preference parties will be held..again varies from campus to campus.  MOst have at least 1 sometimes two more rounds of parties that although not completely the same are run like a mini recruitment party. There might be a video about the sorority and or food.  In addition bumping might occur.  After the parties invitations are again issued and the process continues to Preference.

Preference for colonization is similar to Preference for Formal Recruitment.  Dress should also be the same…cocktail type dresses..no sequins or beads.  There’s always the debate between wearing black or white.  If it’s after Labor Day white isn’t even and option and as far as black goes..well…I would have a black one ready and another choice.  Again they will give you guidelines as to how to dress.

Most colonizations have some sort of Bid Day Activity.  It’s an exciting time for all and most likely members from the national organization will be in attendance.

So is colonization for you? Only you can tell.  I know several girls who have gone through the process and have nothing but positive things to say about it.  With over 50 new chapters colonizing next Fall for many of you colonization might be an option.  I encourage you to look at it with an open mind and heart.  If you have more questions email me..am happy to chat more in-depth.