I have spent LOTS of time on the phone the past week answering lots of questions about recommendations and so I thought that maybe today was a good day for a “review” of sorts. So sit back and get ready..will try to cover all the bases but if I miss something make sure and contact me to ask questions and I will do my best to answer all of your questions :).
Recommendations are forms that are downloaded from each sorority’s national website and filled out by an alum in good standing. *****PNMs do not fill out these forms or send them in*****. In some cases a PNM can go to a particular sorority’s website and download a rec form as it is not in the password coded “member’s only” section but in most cases these forms are not available to non-members.
Most alums are familiar with rec forms but if they have not written one before then I suggest they do the following. They should contact their national GLO to make sure they are a member in good standing. They might be asked to pay national dues in some instances. The GLO should be able to walk them through the process of how to sign into the members portion of their website as well as how to fill out the recommendation form. I have found in most cases this is all it takes in order for them to complete the process. Remember a well written and complete resume will help all alums tremendously when it comes time to fill out the rec form.
Sometimes we hear these forms referred to a “letters of recommendation”. These ARE NOT letters but forms. Unfortunately with the different “Greek Speak” across sorority circles and the United States there can be confusion as to what exactly a recommendation is. You might also hear them referred to as RIF’s (recommendation information forms).
Basically these forms are a PNM introduction to each of the sororities. Each sorority has their own version of the form but for the most part they all ask for the same info. They want a PNM’s name, address, contact info, GPA (weighted and unweighted), high school information, which can include ACT/SAT scores, class rank, any AP or Dual Enrollment classes taken. They ask for name of college attending, class entering, in some cases possible major. The form asks for parents names and in some cases occupations, colleges attended and degrees earned. Most forms ask for any Greek affiliations and legacy status. Alums are asked how they know the PNM and if they are willing to endorse the PNM for membership. They will ask for the alums personal information including contact info, chapter and college, as well as initiation date . Financial responsibility is addressed as well as topics the PNM would like to talk about and what type of member should they be paired with during recruitment.
The alum will asked in many cases to discuss the PNM’s qualities in respect to the character traits desired by that particular GLO. Items such as Character, Personality, Personal Development, Interest, Hobbies, Talents, Activities and Awards are addressed. Sometimes an alum is asked if she is confident that a PNM will complete college, if she will be highly pursued by other sororities on campus and if she, herself will attract others into membership.
I have listed previously about schools where recommendations are unequivocally needed. The rule of thumb is if you hear the word “rec” mentioned…GET THEM!!! Having recommendations won’t hurt you, I promise! In fact they can only help you. Even if you are attending a school that doesn’t require recs they are excellent tools for chapters to have. These “introductions” of a PNM lets the chapters what types of girls are coming through recruitment, their interests and better assists them in pairing members with PNMs. The PNM and members have a much better chance making a connections based on mutual interests.
So how many recommendations do you need??? For competitive recruitment campuses I would say get at least 2 per chapter. Rumors have abounded lately that for schools like Alabama, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Kentucky and the Texas schools you need 4 or more. Not true. If you have 2 solid recs for each house you are good :). With 4 or 5 it now becomes over kill and with as many PNMs as there are going through recruitment at these schools recruitment chairs don’t have time nor do they want to read 4 or 5 recs about a particular PNM, especially if they all say the same things…after the first 2 they get the idea. Remember at competitive recruitment campuses recs are a MUST. Some Panhellenics will tell you that you do not need a rec on file to receive a bid. Yep that’s true but the part they do not share is if the chapters at that campus do not receive a rec for you chances are in MOST (there have been a few exceptions but don’t count on this) cases you will not be asked back by that chapter.
Now that you have a clear picture of what a recommendation form is and who fills it out lets talk a little about how it fits into a rec packet and when this all needs to arrive at the sorority chapter.
As a PNM it is YOUR job to contact women who are alums of the various sororities on the campus you are going through formal recruitment at. As you begin to make contact and secure that these women are willing to fill out the recommendation form (write you a rec) some may ask to see your resume. Make sure that you are ready to share this very important piece of information. If your resume is not complete when you start contacting alums at least make sure you are close.
Once you have alums who are willing to write your recs then you , as a PNM will need to get them a rec packet of information. That packet should include…your completed resume, two pics of yourself (one head shot and one full body shot….MAKE SURE that on the back of the pictures you have your first and last name, your home town and high school attended), a letter introducing yourself and thanking the alum for writing the rec as well as a hand written thank you note, a stamped and addressed envelope to the sorority chapter on the campus where you will be going through recruitment (make sure you have the correct postage…go to the post office and have them weigh the envelope and contents…you can fake the weight by adding the number of pages that will be mailed). It’s a nice touch to add a transcript. Alums will realize that the transcript is not a final one but it will show them the progression of classes you have taken as well as if you have taken any AP, Dual Enrollment or IP classes you have taken. If you have struggled academically in the past it may be tool that the alum can use when discussing the reasons for the struggles. All of the above items should be put together into a large manilla envelope and mailed or hand delivered to the alum who is writing your recommendation.
Once the alum receives the packet she will fill out her rec form, attach the pics and resume and transcript, put it all in the stamped, addressed envelope you have provided and mail it away to her chapter.
The BIG question comes WHEN should YOU get the packets to the alums and WHEN should they mail them to their respective chapters? Most college Panhellenics will give you a time line for when recs are to be received. I have my own thoughts and opinions on this. If you are going through recruitment in August or early September (not a deferred recruitment) then I suggest that you get your packets to your alums not later than the first two weeks of April. Chances are that your alums may have been asked to fill out several of these and they CAN be quite time-consuming!!!! It’s helpful to give the alum a cushion of time to get the rec form filled out and mailed. I have to tell you as an alum who writes many, many recs each year there is nothing more aggravating than having a PNM wait to the last-minute to get you her rec packet and then to want it filled out and mailed ASAP! Please ladies, have consideration for the ladies who are filling out your rec packets. That being said if the alum get the packet early April and puts it in the mail by the third week of April the sorority will receive it BEFORE finals and BEFORE the girls scatter for summer.
I always worry that there is the possibility that if a rec arrives in mid summer that it might be lost or misplaced. I am not insinuating that members are careless with recs. In some cases the recruitment chair may not be remaining on campus for summer and other members might be picking up the mail. I am just a worry wart. I worry that with many recs arriving that the chance of it getting mis-placed might happen. So my rule of thumb…rec packets to alums early APril and then the rec from the alum to the chapter get mailed by late April.
Does this all make sense? For those of you who are attending Alabama Preview Weekend….recs do not need to be sent before Preview. I think there has been some confusion as to what the sororities need/want. I believe that what they are looking for is alum endorsements of girls who will be attending Preview. Those girls will then be added to the “invite” lists for the March 16th events. The actual rec doesn’t need to be sent until April. Just an FYI..I just checked the Chapter Profile page of the Panhellenic website and the contact information for the sororities has yet to be updated so I wouldn’t even fill out your envelopes until that information is correct. Last year these were not updates until right about Preview time :).
One final rec tidbit. I had a mom whose daughter was a legacy to a chapter on campus tell e she would just do her daughter’s rec. Actually that mother will fill out a legacy form (in some instances it is just the rec form but has a spot to note that it is a legacy form) and then she will need to get AT LEAST 1 to 2 more recs filled out for her daughter. The legacy form doesn’t really count as a rec. Remember in today’s legacy world some campuses have enough legacies to fill two pledge classes. As courtesy on some campuses and with some chapters the legacy will be invited back to the same round of parties. However, we also tell chapters that if they do not feel that a legacy is a fit to release her early on in the formal recruitment process.
Happy rec hunting!!!!!