When we left sorority recruitment yesterday DAY 2 of Round 1 had just finished (for all you moms out there can you just hear my best soap opera voice…for you girls you should hear “previously on Greys Anatomy!!).  You have visited all of the houses on your campus that are participating in formal recruitment Hopefully you took some notes and now it’s decision time.

You will walk to a designated place on campus where you will asked to list (some call it ranking, voting) the houses that you have visited. Generally the process entails you listing you top houses and then making another list of the houses that you did not feel a connection with.  Let me explain.  Panhellenic sets the number of houses that a PNM can return to during a round of recruitment. For example at Alabama the first two days of recruitment a PNM visits all 16 houses.  For Round 2 (which is divided into 2 days) she now can only return to a maximum of 12.  So….when the PNMs go to vote or rank the houses they have visited in Round 1 they will list the 12 houses they wish to return to (in no particular order) and the bottom 4 houses they do not want to return to in a specific order.

Confusing???  Let me see if I can help :). Let’s say that Suzy PNM wants to return to the following houses. AChiO, ADPi, Alpha Gam APHi, Chi O, Tri Delt, DZ, Theta, KD, Kappa, Pi PHi, Zeta.  I am sorry for using their abbreviations..hope that this is confusing you more :/.  She has listed these houses by full name (note…many campuses use a computer to do this system). I should also share that just because Alabama does not ask the PNM to list the houses in order of preference, that may not be the case for all college campuses.  The listing or ranking can vary from campus to campus but the concept is the same.  So Suzy lists her top 12 houses.  She then lists her bottom 4 houses, IN A SPECIFIC ORDER, 1…..being the house she would most like to return to out of the 4 houses she didn’t  connect  to….to 4 being the house she really felt no connection to at all and does not want to return to.  Some people call this process “cutting ” houses.  So in this example the PNM would have to cut 4 houses. So I am going to say this here….LADIES!!!!!! MAKE SURE AND LIST ALL OF THE HOUSES YOU VISITED IN ROUND 1. I don’t care if you had 3 houses you absolutely despised….list those houses in your bottom 4.  We call this MAXIMIZING YOUR OPTIONS and let me tell you this is for your benefit!

Now, I bet you are wondering why she has to list in order her bottom 4 but not her top 12?  Good question and here’s why.  At the same time that the PNMs are listing their top and bottom choices the sororities are doing the same.  They are going through the list of PNMs and deciding who they would like to invite back and who they would not.  So essentially they are also “cutting” PNMs (I just want to go on record…I realy dislike that term!).  Remember I told you that after a party is over the sorority members quickly go and rank the PNMs they spoke with.  What do they use as criteria? Back in November the chapter got together and did a membership assessment that highlighted the chapters strengths and weaknesses.  They then chose 5 or so character traits or attributes that they are looking for in PNMs for this years particular pledge class. Those traits are what the sorority members are using to score a PNM.  Those scores are then added to the PNMs score for her rec and resume, they are given a numerical value and are listed in numerical order (so NOW do you see why recs and resumes are SO important!!).  I will share that in many cases before this process is ever started,  a chapter will release (like that term better) those PNMs who have a GPA below that which has been designated by either the sorority’s national organization or as suggested by panhellenic as below the accepted value. (usually a 3.0).

I know that you have questions…let’s see if I can anticipated them and answer them?

How does a sorority know how many PNMS they are able to invite back to each round?  Most campuses across the US use a procedure call RFM.  It’s computer generated and basically it calculates how many PNMS can return to each round of parties based on the sorority’s return rate from the previous year (panhellenic has a say in this number as well).  Yeah I know…sounds like a foreign language.  Simply speaking..the more popular the sorority (more girls listing it in their top 12) the smaller amount of girls that can return to round 2.  The less popular the sorority (less girls listing it in their top 12) the more girls they can invited back to round 2.  This process is done to make it fair for all of the sororities involved.  It is also beneficial to the PNMS, allowing houses to release them early so that they can focus on the houses that are more realistic choices for them.  I know it sounds very confusing but in the end it works.  Think of it as a teeter totter. At the beginning the more popular houses release more girls and their end of the teeter totter is in the sky while the less popular houses have more girls attending and so they are almost touching the ground.  As the process continues the popular houses will have to cut less girls and the since the less popular houses had more girls at the beginning they now will have to make deeper cuts….the goal being that the teeter totter is even on Bid Day.  There is way more to the system but without spending hours explaining it, let’s just say that it really does work.  Ultimately the goal is that each sorority will reach quota ( a number set by Panhellenic as the process continues throughout the week) and that the maximum number of PNMs possible receive a bid.

Okay…so the lists are made and submitted to panhellenic and the matching begins.  For example if APHi can invite back 1300 girls out of the 1900 that started formal recruitment they will list those girls in order 1 through 1300.  If every one of those girls listed them in their top 12 then they would al return hypothetically but that is not case usually.  So let’s go back to Suzy…she has listed her top 12 houses (in no particular order) and has listed her bottom 4 in a specific order :1. Gamma Phi 2. AOPi 3. DG and 4. Phi Mu.  As the matching continues Suzy is not on the AChiO’s list but she is on Gamma Phis so AChiO will leave her invite list for Round 2 and Gamma Phi will pop up into the top 12.  This is always confusing for PNMs.  They call crying saying, “but I cut them from my list”..yes you did but if you are on their list then you get a second look.  Ladies…this is a GOOD thing.  Many times during rounds of parties PNMs may not make a connection with a particular girl(s).  There are lots of factors that come into play..you might be tired, they might be tired…ect but giving a sorority a second chance is a good thing.

So let’s continue.  As the process continues it turns out that Suzy matched to 8 of her top 12.  In addition she then matched to two of her bottom 4, Gamma Phi and AOPi.  So when she receives her Round 2 party card it will have the following 10 sororities listed on it (FYI….the sororities will be listed next to the time that the PNM will attend their party…also you should know that on most campuses Round 2 is spread over 2 days..DAY 3 and DAY 4), ADPi, Alpha Gam, AOPi, Chi O, APHI, Pi Phi, Kappa, Gamma Phi, Zeta, KD.  Suzy will visit 10 out of 12 houses.  Why didn’t the other 2 houses of her bottom 4 come back up?  Suzy was not high enough up on their invite list or…not on the list at all.

Let’s jump to the morning of Round 2 (this is DAY 3).  Remember I told you that today Suzy will meet with her Rho Chi to receive her round 2 party list.  Each Rho Chi group has an assigned meeting spot (usually close to sorority row although it can be in a meeting room in the student center..it will vary from campus to campus).  The Rho Chi will hand out the cards and I can tell you there will be a myriad of emotions.  PNM’s will search the card for their favorites from Round 1.  There will huge sighs of relief if their favorites are on the list and disappointment or even tears if a favorite is missing.   In some cases girls will have chosen to not MAXIMIZE their options and they may a significantly smaller party card than others. Not maximizing your options is a game of chance and most times it does not turn out in the PNMs favor.  Not everyone will receive invites back to 12 parties. Some girls may receive 10 like Suzy, while others might receive 8 or 6 and yep in some cases they may only receive 1.

One thing you should know about the invites you have received to Round 2 parties.  Just as you are feeling a lot of emotion about what houses invited you back the sororities are feeling many emotions as well.  First of all there is the emotion of having enough girls returning to Round 2 parties.  Remember while it may seem (and in a lot of cases it is) that the sororities have the upper hand in the selection process, they need to make quota in order to be a viable sorority on campus.

What’s “quota” you ask?  That is the number of girls, as determined by panhellenic, that a sorority may extend bids to after Preference parties. That number is not known at the beginning of the week although we always try to guess based on the number of houses and the number of PNMs going through.  On some campuses certain houses will choose not to take quota but that doesn’t happen often. You will also find that at some schools there will be a separate quota for upper classmen. I will talk more about quota when we get to Preference parties.

The point I was trying to make is that is you are invited back to a house it’s not because they “had” to invite you.  Yes, obviously the girls at the top of the list are more wanted than those at the bottom but if you receive an invite that sorority saw something in you that made them want to get to know you more. No one is invited back because you are a charity case.  FYI…if you are a legacy you will receive a courtesy invite to Round 2 parties (in most cases).  Back in the day, when I went through recruitment, if you were a legacy 99% of the time your legacy chapter had to extend you a bid.  Not true in today’s world.  With so many legacies going through recruitment many chapters find that they could fill several complete pledge classes.  So take note.

You should also know that when the list arrives for each set of parties the sorority members scan it, looking for their favorite girls.  Just as you are disappointed if “your house” isn’t on your party list, sorority members are disappointed if “their girl” isn’t on the return list.  It works both ways!  This becomes more intense as the week progresses , bonds are formed and rush crushes develop (more about rush crushes later).

So what happens if a PNM does not receive any? Is she forced to go to the meeting place where she just doesn’t get a card? No , that would be terribly unkind.  If a PNM is released from recruitment she will receive a phone call or a visit from her Rho Chi who will explain the situation, comfort the PNM and let her know the various options for her in the future (COB, Spring Recruitment, trying again next fall). This makes me tear up just thinking about!  Yep..it happens for various reasons and when it does it is nothing short of sad :(.

After the party cards are distributed and emotions are now in check, the PNMs will scatter to the sidewalks in front of where they have their first party.  If a PNM does not have a party at this time she is free to go back to her dorm or to just wait in a comfortable place.  One quick side note to you girls…your mommas are sitting at home having huge anxiety attacks at the time that your party cards are distributed…a quick pic of the card or text, in a timely fashion would be greatly appreciated (this spoken by a mother who has been through the process and understands “mommy” anxiety….Can cocktail hour really start at 10 am…YUP in this case you betcha!!). Unlike Round 1 you will not b with your original Rho Chi group.  Your party groups will change each round now that invites have started.

Round 2 (DAY 3 and DAY 4) are a little longer (usually about 30 minutes start to finish) and generally take on a Philanthropy theme, or a Skit theme (some campuses flip-flop these) but the important thing to know is that you will begin to see more of the sorority’s personality and meet more members.  You will line up in alphabetical order again before entering the house.  Remember that certain members will be picking up specific PNMs at the door just like in Round 1.

Some things you might talk about during Round 2 parties.  First of all I wanted to share that you may see the girls you spoke with from Round 1 parties.  It is totally of to say “hi”, wave, make eye contact.  It is not okay to leave the girl you are talking to go over to the members you know.  It will disrupt the whole bumping system and just isn’t polite.

So what DO you talk about?  In some cases there will still be the “getting to know you conversations” but you will find that the members who you speak with will want to know more about who YOU are.  There will questions about “Why recruitment ? What do you want from joining a sorority? What kind of community service have you done? What do you do in your spare time? What are you compassionate about? What do you want to know from me?”  That last question will then open up the door for you to ask some questions of your own.  Things like, ”

  • What is your favorite thing about your sorority?
  • I know your philanthropy is _______, what ways do you support this?
  • What ways are you involved on campus?
  • What is your favorite social event to do with your sorority sisters?
  • What made you pledge ?
  • How is your sorority different from others?

Remember be honest and true to who are.  Don’t give answers that you think the sorority member wants to hear.  Your honesty will be appreciated!  I know that PNMs come away from parties with the impression that they have the “most amazing” connection with the member(s) they spoke with at a particular sorority. They are devastated when their invites come back and they are not returning to that house.  I wish I had an exact explanation.. unfortunately sometimes it boils down to that the member just had a better connection with someone else :/.  Sorority members are not allowed to hug you (sometimes as the week progresses and you get to bid day and bonds has formed you want to hug the member you are with…it’s okay to say, “I wish I could give you a hug”) or have physical contact.  They are not allowed to say things like, “I can see you as my little”.  If you are confused or concerned about what a member has said to you go and talk to your Rho Chi….that’s what she is for.

So after 2 days of visiting 10 houses Suzy PNM is faced with again going over to the designated place and ranking/voting/listing another set of houses.

Whew!!  I am exhausted just writing about this!!!  I am going to stop here..Round 2 (DAY 3 and DAY 4) is over.  Tomorrow we will talk about the next round of voting, some emotions that surface at this time, rush crushes, tent talk and more about quota and house total.  As always feel free to ask questions…happy reading!