I don’t know about you but I am a person who gets high anxiety about unknown situations. Sorority recruitment falls in this category. What exactly happens once you cross the threshold of a sorority house door? What is the week really like? Is it really as stressful as everyone says it is? What happens if I am released? Hmmm…lots of questions whirl in the minds of PNMs as they prepare for this process. Hopefully this post ( and future posts) will alleviate a little of the stress of “the unknown”.
As I have said before I don’t profess to be an expert on the subject of sorority recruitment. Yes, I do know a lot about recruitments across the United States. I have been lucky enough to know many women who have had a vast range of experiences. In addition having 3 daughters has helped me experience a vast amount of sorority recruitments. So while I personally haven’t been to recruitment on each and every campus my thoughts, advice and opinions are based on information from those who have.
It’s Spring (well okay at my house Mother Nature is having a personality crisis currently since it’s 32 degrees with a wind chill of 24 and it is ANYTHING but springlike here!!!!!) and your senior year is almost over. You are preparing for Prom (if you haven’t already had it), the graduation announcements are on the dining room table in various and assorted degrees of being addressed, many of you have chosen a college or university to attend, the deposits are paid, and in some cases rooms and roommates have been chosen. Timing is whizzing by and looming up ahead is SORORITY RECRUITMENT!
Whew…big breath..it’s okay if you need to get out the brown paper sack to breath into. Trust me..you will be fine and here’s why. For the next few paragraphs, in generic terms I am going to describe what a week (well today it’s Round 1) of recruitment might look like at a competitive recruitment college. So sit back and enjoy the read.
By the time you arrive on campus for move in the organizational part of recruitment is over. You have sent in your recs, the clothes are bought and hopefully organized..ready to go. There’s no more “to do ” list…it’s done. You can’t look back and worry that the recs you had sent aren’t more personal, that the pictures weren’t okay, that maybe just maybe the recs never arrived…it’s over and done, time to focus on the week ahead.
During move in you and your roommate(s) will transform that seemingly boring dorm room into home for the next 9 months. Hopefully as the familiarities of home come out of the boxes and bags you are able to breathe a little easier. It helps to have things around us that remind us of home and those who love us and accept us for who we are. My first piece of recruitment advice is this. chances are that your roommate(s) may be participating in recruitment as well. That’s great! I warn you that you cannot gauge how your recruitment is going or how successful it is by your roommate’s party cards. They will get invited back to some sororities that you do not and reversely you may be invited back to some sororities that they did not. This is always tough. Jealously may rear its ugly head! I would suggest that you and your roommate have a discussion as to how you want to handle recruitment week, It’s a given that you will share how many parties you are going to on a certain day. I would caution you not to discuss opinions about houses. You and your roommate(s) are not the same person. while you have “found” each other because you think you have similar interests that will make you compatible, what each of you are looking for in a sorority maybe different. Support each other but please…make decisions independently of one another.
So move in is complete :)…Mom and Dad are on their way home (okay …so I am just going to add this here. Parents…do not hang around for recruitment. I understand that you want to be there to support your daughter but this is something she needs to do on her own. Your presence is only going to make the week more stressful. Trust me!! I have witnessed this first hand…go home. If you live too far to go home and want to be on campus for Bid Day then go on vacation but DO NOT stay on campus). Next comes some sort of convocation or large group meeting,
At convocation you will meet your Rho Chi, Gamma Chi, or in other words you recruitment counselor(s) who will be your guides, mother, confidant friend, shoulder to cry on, rock and on and on, for the days of recruitment. These young women are sorority members. They have gone through extensive training for this position and are there to support YOU in any way possible. Yes…they are members of the sororities on campus but late in the spring they disaffiliated from their houses. What that means is that they took anything off of social media that would identify them as a member of a particular sorority (Instagram pics, Facebook references, twitter posts). They have stopped wearing anything that has their letters that would identify them as a member. For recruitment they will were generic t-shirts that have been given to them by panhellenic. They are neutral. Trust me when I tell you this…you can talk to them about ANYTHING! Their job is to be a support system for you, the PNM. Use them, make friends with them.
In addition you will meet the members of your Rho Chi group (on different campuses the name may vary but the concept is the same). Your group will be made up of girls who have the same alphabetical last name as yours. For example my group would have girls whose last name began with the letter N. On campuses where there are large recruitments it may be even more specific such as girls with the last names of Ne to Nu. You will meet with this group every morning at an assigned spot and time, to receive your party invites for that day. You will find that you make friends with some of these girls and that’s a good thing.
One thing girls worry about at convocation is whether sorority members will be there and are they already being “judged” so to speak. I can reassure you that members from the various sororities will not be at convocation. Te only sorority women in attendance will be the recruitment counselors and members of panhellenic. Both groups are there to help, not to judge. You can wear shorts and a t-shirt, dress comfortably, be yourself. Panhellenic will tell you what to wear but in most cases it’s casual.
You will receive lots of information at convocation. In addition if your campus is one that has PNMs wear a specific t-shirt(s) then you will be given those as well. Many PNMs find convocation a reassuring time. First of all the process that you have worried about and prepared for has finally begun. Many enjoy meeting their recruitment group members and getting to share their feelings of nervousness with someone else who is in the same boat. When convocation is over you will go back to your dorm to hopefully get some rest (LOL!) and prepare for the first day of actual parties.
DAY ONE (Round 1): Life in the fast lane. I chose this title because the firs round of parties tends to be fast paced and when you look back on this day or days it is usually a blur. Remember to bring something to take notes on after each house visit. Trust me in some cases you may visit upwards of 16 or more houses and I guarantee that at the end of day 2 you are going to have trouble remembering the houses from day one. If you did not receive your party schedule at convocation you will receive it the morning of DAY ONE. Remember this is just the schedule for Round 1 of recruitment. Something you should know…..if your panhellenic publishes a recruitment manual or if you are given a list of party times you will notice in many cases that there are more party times than sorority houses. You will not attend all of those parties. There are breaks built into the schedule so that PNMs and members a like can have a breather, some lunch or just go to the bathroom! Often times PNMs will see these schedule before they arrive on campus and they panic. If there are 18 houses on your campus there may be 28 party slots for the two days. You will visit 9 houses the first day and 9 houses the second day (or 8 and 10..but they will be divided up)…you will not go to 28 parties.
So you have met at your designated spot, you have your party card (it’s usually on a lanyard of some kid that has a see through plastic slot for the card (your name and home town are on the front). Remember to turn your party schedule backwards so others cannot see it. This is especially important as the week progresses. Sororities do not know what other parties you have been invited back to and you do not need to share. They should not ask you this information! By turning your party card around in the back of your lanyard pocket you don’t risk the chance it will turn and others will be able to see.
On DAY ONE and possibly DAY TWO (this depends upon how many sororities are on campus..) you will move from house to house with your whole Rho Chi group. This is the only day(s) of recruitment that this will occur. Once invites start to happen you may be with a different group of girls every day. These days are the first round of recruitment (Round 1). Some schools call them Ice Water Teas, House Tours or Open House.
When you get to your first house your Rho Chi will make sure that you are lined up in alphabetical order. The order is important because if you remember, I have shared before that sororities have identified certain girls as those they are particularly interested in. Remember that they have seen the girls pics and are able to recognize them. Each sorority will get a party list that will identify the girls attending the parties that day. Rest assured that they will have specific members who are ready to pick up those girls as they enter the house.
One thing about door pick up. Different areas of the US have different rules as to how this is performed. For example, in the SEC the members cannot cross over the door frame to pick up the PNMs. To accommodate this the members will stack in the door. So…when the signal sounds and the doors fly open and (as my husband terms it) rhythmic clapping and singing occurs the members will be in the door way. Take a minute and picture you campuses sorority row. Yes I know all campuses don’t have sorority houses and so in some cases this process will take place in meeting rooms ect but the sake of yammering I am going to write about what happens if you are standing in front of an actual house. Okay back to door songs. So…picture sorority row…all the house lined up, doors shut. All of a sudden the doors of every house flies open and all at the same time hundreds of sorority women are clapping and singing at the top of their lungs. Needless to say this can be VERY intimidating! Hang in there ….by DAY 2 you will be used to it.
So what happens once you cross the threshold? Well since the parties are usually quite short (most will be 20 minutes beginning to end) there will be LOTS of talking. These parties are pretty superficial in that the sororities are just trying to get to know PNMs a little better and see if there is a connection. You will be asked why you chose this particular college? Other questions will be about move-in, are you nervous, what’s your major, where are you from (yes…I know it’s on the front of your card but you will still get asked it :/), what do you like to do, how was your summer, did you do anything exciting? Sometimes conversations will take on a life of their own..especially if you have made a connection with a member.
A few things not to talk about. Don’t name drop…..what I mean is don’t ask if the girl you are talking about knows so and so in another house. Don’t talk about boys, booze, money, or the reputations of the other houses on campus. If you know members of this house don’t be upset if they didn’t pick you up at the door or come over to chat. There are two reasons they did not. First all of the members have been put into specific groups called “bump groups”. These bump groups have a specific order that they rotate through and just going off on your own to say hello to someone. Secondly, your friend knows you! She wants her sisters to meet you and get to know you as well. Last year I had a frantic phone call from a friend who was distraught because my daughter hadn’t talked to her daughter. I carefully explained why and she was calmer.
Back to the party. If you are offered a drink it is okay to say “no thank you” but I would encourage you to drink it… especially if you are going through recruitment in the humid south. Last year we had girls passing out because they were over heated, stressed and hadn’t eaten properly. Take care of yourself!!!!
As I mentioned bumping will take place. What that means is that a member will pick you up at the door, introduce herself and initiate conversation. A few minutes into the party another member will come up to you. Your hostess will say something along the lines of “Hi Mary, this is Susie PNM and we were just talking about (insert a topic…for this example we will use learning to water ski) learning to water ski. Susie spent a week at the lake with her family and she got up on ski’s for the first time. Don’t you have a lake house? Do you ski?” Mary will then respond. your hostess will then turn to you and say something like, “It was so nice to meet you Susie I’m off to meet some more girls”. Bump #1 has occurred. Each hose bumps a little bit differently but the concept is the same. Members will rotate around to meet and talk with PNMs.
As the party is winding down you might notice a small bell ring or the lights flicker. This is the members signal to wrap up their conversations and move towards the door. There is usually a good-bye song as PNMS are lead to the door to exit. Remember the members cannot cross the door threshold so you will just continue out the door amongst a chorus of “goodbyes”. After the last PNM has exited the doors will shut. the members will quickly go in and score and asses the PNMs they spoke with while regrouping and getting ready for the next party. You should take a few minutes and write down your impressions of the party and the members you spoke with. simple phrases like, “talked about vacation, easy-going, good conversations”. You can score houses using a number scale of 1 to 5. 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. Your Rho Chi will quickly move you along to the next house and you will go through the process all over again. As I said earlier you will get breaks throughout the day and that will include lunch (EAT!!!) but I guarantee at the end of DAY 1 you will be tired!
The next day, DAY 2 you will get up and do it all over again. Your Rho Chis will lead you through the second day parties. Remember this is the last day you will spend with this particular group of girls. Sure it’s possible that some of them will be invited back to the same houses you will receive invites to but as far as a whole group you will not be back together until Bid Day.
I’m going to stop for there…this is along post and I want to walk you all through the process of ranking/voting/listing houses, what that may look like and what happens when you get your first party card of DAY 3 (Round 2) party invites back. One more thing. I have written this as though there are 2 days of Round 1. I am coming from the concept of a large school format. Since there is SO MUCH information to share I am going to break this down into daily posts as to what happens each day (round) of recruitment. Enjoy! Tomorrow….understanding the ranking process, what your invite party card might look like and what happens during Round 2.