To all of you that have been so patient..”thank you!”  I am back from traveling for at least 5 days then off again.

I have been talking to lots of mom about their recruitment experiences and so the next few posts are about simply that…recruitment from a mom’s point of view.  For the girls who follow sorority girl I encourage you to read these. they are insightful and heart warming.  I think you will enjoy them! Oh by the way…I have changed the names of the mother’s and daughters simply to give them privacy but everything else that you read is factual and true.

Mary Beth and her daughter live outside Philadelphia Pennsylvania.  They reached out to me when her daughter was admitted to The University of Alabama.  Mary Beth read College Confidential, which is a discussion board that I am a member of and often post on, usually about Alabama Greek Life.  They knew nothing about going through recruitment at a large, competitive, SEC Greek school and they needed help!

WE began chatting about November of Sarah’s senior year of high school.  Here’s her story.

My name is Mary Beth and my daughter Sarah attends the University of Alabama.  She is a member of a sorority and is a freshman.  She loves sorority life and quite frankly we couldn’t have maneuvered this process if it hadn’t been for Sorority girl 101’s help.  I thought I would share my story with you, hoping that perhaps it would help other mothers and their daughters as they get ready to go through recruitment.

The first thing you need to know is that being from “out-of-state” is okay.  We were so in the dark about the whole recruitment process and it never really crossed my mind that my daughter would not receive a bid because she wasn’t from the south.  It was about half way through this process that a well-meaning friend who happened to know a girl who went through recruitment at Alabama and was dropped by all of the houses informed us that my dear, sweet daughter would not have a favorable experience because she was a “northerner”.  It was at that moment I really began to panic, unnecessarily I might add.

My message to everyone out there is to make sure and do your homework.  find someone who is familiar with the recruitment process at the school your daughter is attending to help you navigate the process.  I promise you had I not reached out for help my daughter’s experience would be a mirror of the horror story told to us.  So  googled and chatted and found Tammy, who was so sweet to hold our hands and help us through the process.

Recommendations.  I am here to tell you that your daughter WILL most definitely need them.  I even called the Office of Greek Life at Alabama and asked and they told they were advised but not “required”.   I am here to tell you that if anywhere in any literature put out by the Greek system from the school that your daughter is attending, the word “recommendations” appears then they are absolutely necessary and you MUST get them.

I was not in a sorority in college.  I went to a small liberal arts college and I just wasn’t interested.  I had never had conversations with any of my friends about whether they had been in a sorority.  I should also add I am not terribly outgoing and neither is my daughter.  Oh we are friendly enough but the thought of having to ask complete strangers to write a letter or to fill out a form that might determine whether my daughter was going to be offered a bid to a lifetime commitment was a little scary.

So step one…I casually brought up the subject in social setting with friends and WOW!!!! was I ever surprised to find out that I had friends who were in sororities and they opening offered to write Sarah recommendations.  Who knew??? I was getting pretty excited about this.  We made a list as suggested…kind of spread sheet and started filling in the names and contact information of women who would write recs.  As excited as I had been to find these ladies I quickly realized that we needed lots more (we had 6 and 2 were for the same house).  I also came to realize that some of the sororities my friends were members of weren’t on the Alabama campus (frustrating) and I guess I should admit that when I actually started the process I thought that any sorority woman could write a rec for any house, not just her own. OMG!!!  I had a lot to learn.

Sarah and I had a little heart to hear and I shared that unless I was going to go back to college and join a sorority Sarah was going to have to pick up some of this responsibility. It’s not that she’s a slacker but she was busy with student government (she was the secretary), and she played lacrosse (she was the co-captain) and she was in the fall play (she was just in the chorus but lots of practice) and she was a really good student who challenged herself and was taking three AP classes in her schedule. We decide that Sarah would hit the halls at school, asking teachers (both male and female) if they had any contacts with possible sorority women who would be willing to write Sarah a rec.

You know…that went pretty well.  We got 5 more possible recs.  Chatting it up at the lacrosse match got us 2 more. I met a woman at the dry cleaners who said she would write one. If your’re counting then you must be thinking, “she’s getting close”…well kind of…. the problem we ran into was that some of the women all belonged to the same sorority.  By the time we got to February we had recommendations for all but 4 houses.

And then we encountered another hoop to jump through.  I had signed Sarah up for Preview Weekend.  From what I could tell it was a kind of Show and Tell about the different sororities with meetings for the girls who are going through and their parents. What I didn’t know about were these parties that were happening all weekend long.  It came on our radar when an invitation came in the mail for one.  When I questioned Sarah about it she said that there had a been a place on the Panhellenic Website to sign up if you wanted invitations.  The party was Friday night at 5 and our flight didn’t get into Nashville until 3 and then we had to rent a car and drive 3 1/2 hours so yeah..I had to change our flight.  I am glad I did though because my Miss Sarah received 4 more invitations to parties.  She was so very excited.

We that girls in the South didn’t wear the same “city” clothes as east coast big city girls.  I had talked with people, read Sorority girl 101 and so I started Googling Lilly Pulitzer, Brit Ryan and several other “southern” lines.  We took measurements and bought 2 Lillys from a store in Charleston that a friend found for us.  Sarah is blond-haired and blue-eyed so when she put on the Lilly and if she didn’t open her mouth (kind of a clippy east coast accent) she looked the part at least.  I know some of you might be shaking your head about trying to change her to fit in.  Well we weren’t really trying to do that..Sarah liked the whole Lilly, flowery dresses and she was going to Alabama as much for the education as to be part of a sorority and embrace the southern way of life.

By the time Preview rolled around we were both nervous wrecks!  I was worried…what if they didn’t like my daughter?  I had been reading Greek chat and some of the stories they told and the hateful things they said to women on there really made me feel uneasy.  I wondered if secretly there were signs that read “Yankees need not apply!” But you know when we got there everyone was so very nice. Sarah had arranged to meet o some girls she had met on Facebook so that they could go to the parties together.  Two of the girls were from Georgia and one was from North Carolina.  Turned out they also invited friends an so when we go to the first party there was a pretty good size group to go in together.

Sarah loved Preview and I think it gave her a great sense of confidence.  She had fun meeting the sorority members and let me tell you when we got back to the hotel and several had “friend requested” her on Facebook….well her smile was so radiant!!  I made me feel like she was doing the right thing (I have to tell you there had been some doubt in my mind until now).

The weekend really was a blurr but I would share this..if you have an opportunity to visit the sororities and the campus your daughter is going to attend in a Preview sort of way (I am not sure all campuses do this) they by all means GO!!!! It was worth changing the plane ticket (yeah that cost me some serious cash), Sarah missing school and even the 4 packs of Tums I had to consume to put out the fire in my very nervous stomach. Sarah came home with some favorites and even though she had been told 100 times over to maximize her options and keep and open mind she fell victim to the tent talk and could tell me all the rumors and stories about the reputations of each house.

It ended up being a much bigger turn out than expected and so Sarah and I did not spend time at any of the meetings together.  They had a meeting for the girls and then took them away to visit the houses briefly. The parents then had their meeting and the sororities had set up tables with boards that were decorated with pictures showing the members doing various activities.  There were so many mothers it was really hard to get close to look at everything.  One thing that made me disappointed and a little nervous was that many of the sororities didn’t have anything that listed about the cost a semester.I knew from reading Sorority Girl 101 that I could count on appx. $3000-$4000 a semester but the cost for each house would have been really nice.

Sarah chattered all the way home.  I was so glad to see her so excited and the nerves seemed to have gone away for now.  It was the end of March and they told us that all of her recommendation letters needed to be in by July 1st.  I wanted them done and finished by May 1st…they were cluttering up dining room table and I wanted them shipped off so that I could cross it off “the list”.

Since this is getting long I think I will make this a 2 part post if sorority girl is ok with this.  So check back tomorrow to hear about the rec packet fiasco and the act of recruitment its self.