Is Panhellenic Preview Weekend at The University of Alabama for you?  That’s a question that many girls and their mothers are asking themselves these days. This question is weighing heavily on the minds of these ladies, especially in light of the news last week that there would be no invite pre-recruitment parties held during Preview weekend. Many girls who are from out-of-state are disappointed and questioning their decision to attend.  So many girls know that the can only travel to Tuscaloosa one time this Spring and were excited to attend Preview and get to meet and spend some one to one time with sorority members.  Instead they will get to partake of the great program that Panhellenic will put on and they will get to visit each sorority for a brief time but that intimate, “getting to know you” time will not happen.

Watching The Bachelor tonight it made me think of sorority recruitment.  The girls who are “chosen” for the bachelor to meet are chosen by their resumes, recommendations and photo portfolios.  There is a similar process in place for sorority recruitment.   PNMs submit resumes, recommendations and pictures in hope to be part of the “chosen” who will eventually receive bids from the 16 sororities that participate in Formal Recruitment. But an even more integral part of the Bachelor,  is the jockeying for position that occurs during the final cocktail party. Many PNMs feel that they need that private, one on one time that occurs during those pre-recruitment invite events in order to get a leg up, an advantage over girls who did not get those invites just as the ladies who are participating in the Bachelor feel the same need.  At my house..we call this “doing the dance”.  Each group mentioned above is “doing the dance” in order to bring attention to themselves all while inside they are saying, “pick me…choose me”.

Yes…I can see why many PNMs feel this way, especially out-of-state girls who do not and have not had the opportunities to come to campus for football games, homecoming or just visits with girls from their hometowns or high schools they have connections with.  Many PNMs are of the persuasion that being from out-of-state is an extreme disadvantage when participating in formal sorority recruitment at The University of Alabama.  I am not going to lie, connections inside a house are huge.  Yes, some sororities will begin to “choose” a pledge class (yes even in February) based on many girls who have connections in the house.  It’s almost like having you own cheerleader squad.  I had someone ask me last week if they could really pick a pledge class of 80-90 girls from girls that live in and around Alabama?  the answer is “yes, they can” but I am here to tell you that this instance is becoming more of an anomaly and less of a norm.

So ladies…I want you all to take a big breath and listen to me….if you are from out-of-state and you are planning to go through recruitment at The University of Alabama you are not at danger of not receiving a bid if you do not attend the invite pre-recruitment events.  GO to PREVIEW WEEKEND!!!!  Don’t fret about the March 16th weekend. Because the truth is….IF you get recommendations for each house that is participating in formal recruitment, you go into recruitment with an open mind to what each and every house has to offer AND you MAXIMIZE your options (I bet you all are REALLY getting tired of hearing that!!) THEN you WILL have a successful recruitment without being “invited” to any special pre-recruitment parties.

Preview Weekend has so many things to offer to future PNMs.  First of all it gets you back on campus.  My how I personally love the Alabama campus.  It’s beautiful, well laid out, nice to walk and spend time just absorbing the culture that is “Alabama”. Secondly, it’s a chance to meet and forge new friendships with the other 1000 girls who will be attending the process with you.  Last year we had over 1000 potential PNMs and parents attend Preview.  while I have not heard the number thus far I would guess that it might be close to that again this year (At least I think Panhellenic is thinking that, evident how they have structured check-in and the sessions).  This is a good time to start to step out of your comfort zone, make some new friends and begin to practice those conversations skills that are going to be vital to a successful recruitment.

Thirdly, IF you have not yet secured a roommate now is a great time to talk to other girls and see if you have a connection, who knows, maybe your potential roommate is attending as well.  Ask questions. Find out if girls are living in honors housing or whether they are preferring Tutweiller.  Investigate and explore your options. This is a great opportunity!

If you are having trouble finding recommendations now is a great time to find out the strategies others have used.  Parents who are reading this post…..make mommy friends. Connect with the parents there!  You will b surprised how willing others are to help.  Sure, there will be parents who know each other and will clique up (for lack of a better term) but that’s ok.  I guarantee that there will be LOTS of parents who are in the same out-of-state boat you are and need help!

I was asked about the “no contact” policy in place for Preview.  What that means is that the potential PNMs and the sorority members cannot do anything socially out side of the 10 minutes or so that the girls are visiting the various houses.  This is new this year….ah the ever-changing merry-go-round of Alabama recruitment rules! For those of you coming from out-of-state this is actually an advantage for you.  Although you will not get to mix and mingle with members this weekend, neither will the local girls.  It’s ok.  A part I do find interesting is that Panhellenic does say that is a PNM sister is attending that she can stay with her sister if it is approved by Panhellenic.  Am just wondering how many of those will occur and if Panhellenic will let the girls stay together.  I surely can’t see it happening where she would be allowed to stay in the sorority house so I am guessing this applies to girls who have sisters who live in off campus housing or dorms. Stay tuned on this one.

One final tid bit 🙂 :)….this year, unlike years past, the sororities are allowed as many members in the house during preview house visits as they would like.  This is new in recent years.  In the past the houses we limited to a certain number (sorry …am old and I can’t remember but want to say it is less than 100) of members in the house during the brief visitation period.  This is making me think that house visits might be a tad bit longer (ok don’t get really excited because we are talking minutes here..but hey) and that there may be a very brief opportunity for potential PNMS to actually talk with a member or two.  It is just my opinion but this may be an advantage to being invited back for the March 16 events.  I know what you are thinking and the answer is “yes” there are girls that are already on certain sorority’s radar and “yes” they will be “on the lookout” for these girls and will make every effort to connect with them during the house visit.

This of course brings me to my final blurb of the day….what happens if after Preview YOU receive an invitation to the March 16th weekend events?  That’s a discussion with your parents.  If you can figure out a way to go then you should go.  BTW…I would make sure you book a hotel reservation NOW, don’t wait they will and are filling up quickly.  IF you guys decide to go then great but remember I HAVE said that getting a bid does not hinge on attending.  If you decide that this is a trip you cannot make then you need to send regrets to the email on the invitation.  In your very best etiquette you need to impress upon them that this is just not doable due to : (pick one or more) conflicts…travel distance….extra curricular conflict….spring break…The point is to be polite and convey the message that you are flattered to be invited and IF there was a way to make this work you would but unfortunately at this time it just doesn’t.

So…..take a deep breath..Preview Weekend….February 23rd, a month away…get excited and more importantly…GO!!!!!