There was once a girl who wanted to be a “sorority girl”.  From the time she was tiny she knew all the letters in the Greek Alphabet.  While some girls read books about Nancy Drew this girl read the stories of all the different women who founded the 26 NPC sororities.  She could tell you about the founders of the different sororities, who they were and why they were such brave, forward thinking women.  So…you can see it was a “no brainer” that she would go through recruitment and pledge the house of her dreams….at least she thought…..

I’ve been getting lots of emails lately asking for help and advice when it come to recruitment 2013.  I know…can you believe it???  Although there are still campuses going through recruitment across the US and yep Indiana still has to take the plunge as well as a few others but the bulk of  the colleges have their 2012 recruitment classes.  So now it’s on to 2013 (I feel like I should be wearing my New Years get up while writing this).

Today I am going to give you some saged advice ..ok?  For many young women who are seniors in high school going through recruitment is a BIG DEAL!  They see it as a way to have an instant group of friends, a social group to hang with, a house or special place to watch tv’s kind of like a big old band aid that is going to hold their whole college world together.

I am not one for bursting bubbles here because once you find your letters it will be all those things…I promise!  It’s just the road from here ( one..the starting point of getting ready) to there (Bid Day) can be a twisty, dark windy one with some bumps and few unexpected surprises along the way.  You have to be brave, bold, organized and make sure that you have everything you need to arrive at your destination successfully.

So if you were packing a suitcase to take on this windy road called “Recruitment” what would you put in it?

First of all and probably the most important is a big ole dose of self confidence in who you are.  You see we all get sucked into the glitz and glam of recruitment.  Oh you know who you are, what you like, what type of people you connect with and like to hang out with, what your beliefs and morals are ….right??? But when you begin to look at all the different sororities sometimes all that gets a little grey around the edges.  It’s like when a new style comes out.  You know what you are comfortable in wearing and what you like but hey…what girl doesn’t want to try on a new look and so you go and head into the dressing room to give it a whirl.  Three things can happen…you can find that you are a bit more flexible than you thought and the new style actually fits in with fact it makes you a better person or …you convince yourself that the new style is what you need to be “new and improved” when actually it does nothing for you and eventually it will be left hanging in your closet a distant memory and finally you get in the dressing room…maybe even attempt to try it on and KNOW that this isn’t for you.

Well discovering the different sororities on your campus is the same way.  You’ll either find some that are new and interesting and will help you grow, you’ll convince yourself there are some you really need to be in but in fact would find later down the road they were an impulse buy and then there’s the ones you just know aren’t for you. So when you get ready for this process have a real heart to hear with YOU…remember who YOU are.

The next thing I would pack is a dose of reality.  Okay so I am OLD..not “old as dirt old” but older than most of my readers.  There’s a song by the Rolling Stones (if you don’t know who they are look them up) that is titled “You don’t always get what you want.”  Perfect title for this situation.  VERY few girls have the PERFECT recruitment.  Seriously….there are some but the majority of girls will tell you that they started off craving a certain house and yep..the day came when it was not on the list. It happened to so many girls in my daughter’s recruitment class.  We were talking about it yesterday….they each echoed the same thing….keep and open mind.  If you approach each day as a new regrets…look forward to what THAT day brings then the recruitment road will be a lot less bumpy!

Pack all the tips and tricks of being organized you can find.  This is a crazy, busy process and the more organized you are the less surprises along the way.  Planners, calendars, notes on your ipad…anything you can do to make sure you have crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s.  I know I sound like a broken record but if you’re not careful it will get away from you.  If you thrive on pressure and last-minute deadlines then hey..throw caution to the wind and just roll with the punches.  A word of warning though..just because you like to live dangerously doesn’t mean that the women who are writing your recommendations do…be prepared for a negative response to this.

And that brings me to the next two items…patience and manners.  We all have them..I know but you will REALLY need them when dealing with women who you will be asking to write you a recommendation.  Let’s talk about patience first.  When you ask an alum to write you a rec you give up your time schedule and defer to theirs (organization can help here).  Honestly, I don’t care how good of a friend they are, they have a life going on as well.  I write recs for many girls each year.  Some of the girls I know very well and others have reached out for a rec because they need one and can’t find someone they know to write it. I have a busy life.  Sure my kids aren’t at home any more but I work part-time, I do this blog, I help girls with recruitment, I sit on a non-for-profit board, I am involved in my alum group , I have pets and a husband…in short I have a life too.  So it has happened on occasion that a girl will need a rec and I say sure, she sends me her resume ect and ooppsss!!! All of a sudden a week has gone by, the dog gets sick, company arrive unexpectedly and I haven’t written the rec.  If this is n May and they aren’t due until problemo…but if I didn’t get the packet until June 21st and well yeah you can see where I am going with this.

I also realize that there is a degree of anxiousness over the fact that as a PNM you really don’t know if the rec actually did get sent in.  We were in your shoes.  I REALLY had to resist calling people and saying, “hey did yo send the rec?”…I couldn’t do that but did I want to!  You can include in your rec packet a note that asks the alum to let you know that she sent it but that’s about all you can do.  I did have a girl who attached a delivery confirmation to each and every envelope that were in her rec packets.  When she received the delivery confirmation card in her mail then she knew that the rec had been mailed and at least had made it to the mail box of the sorority.  I asked her what she did if she didn’t get one for particular houses.  She told me that she hurried and got a back up but she was quick to tell me she only had to do that for 2 out of the 34 packets she handed out.  Impressive!!  I am not sure how I would feel as an alum if I got a packet posted like this but hey…this girl was organized.

Manners…we all have them and use them regularly but be prepared to test them when asking alums, who you don’t know, to write you recommendations.  Be prepared for the word “NO” because you will hear it…I promise.

As alumnae we take recommending a young women for membership very seriously.  I am proud of my sorority and wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize any chapter.  So when a young woman asks me to write her a recommendation I have to look at the attributes and character traits that Alpha Phi deems important.  If that young woman doesn’t have one of those traits it’s my job to figure out why and if it’s just a blip on her resume or is she someone who not be a good fit?  Most of the time an alum WILL NOT write a rec if they have not met or personally spoken to the young woman. So mommas….if you are out there trying to find recs for your daughters understand that the alum is not being rude to you but she will need to actually need to speak to your daughter.  Daughters….these alums aren’t trying to be difficult, they are protective of their sorority .

Now some of these ladies are a little more protective than others, just saying.  If you find that the alum is pretty resistant then perhaps it’s just better to say “thank you very much” and move on to a new alum.  SOme have real hang ups with GPA’s…some will look VERY HARD at Philanthropy while others will want to see leadership skills in high school activities.  Most will Google your name, check your facebook page, your Twitter account, some have called your school, checked with friends and acquaintances to see if they know you, check Youtube.  Hey, I actually was actually checking out a girl just recently and found a Youtube video of her doing a little dance that was ..well..not entirely appropriate.  I immediately called her…asked her to take it off and informed her that I most likely couldn’t help her.  I went on to tell her I hoped she understood and that with this off of the web maybe she could find another alum to write her rec.

Please pack your common sense!  Don’t listen to what anyone tells you about any sorority. We call this “tent talk” because it originated under tents while PNMs were waiting to go into parties during recruitment but it is on going…all year round.  If you have questions about particular sororities find someone who can answer your question truthfully.  Call their national organization, call the panhellenic in the area they are located or even your panhellenic..but reach out to people who are informed and can answer your questions with facts!

As excited and anxious as you are about this process remember that others may not be.     We never know what another persons back story is. While traveling this road it is easy to get hurt feelings.  Some people you meet along the way will not be’s just life.  I can remember being so frustrated because people wouldn’t answer emails or wouldn’t be jumping with joy to write my darling, perfect (well at least I think she’s perfect) daughter a glowing recommendation.  I would have to step back and try to put myself in their shoes.  That’s really hard to do.

Finally..surround yourself with people who are there to support you through this process.  Mothers, fathers, siblings, friends.  I have helped girls whose parents weren’t always supportive but they found other people to be there for them.  It’s a long road…a hand to hold along the way is very helpful!