I am so sorry it has been so long between posts! This has been a very, very busy week…late nights, meetings during the days and hardly a moment to catch my breath. I woke up this morning knowing that I have had this post inside my head all week and am committed to get it out to you all today!
As many of you know (I have chatted with many of you )..Lots of girls and moms contact me with questions, asking to have me look over their resumes and for advice. I am always happy to help in any way that I can, whether it’s taking apart a resume, describing the format of formal recruitment, helping to locate alum chapters to contact for recs or just answering questions or calming fears. People seem somewhat surprised at my willingness to help and even more surprised that their isn’t a charge for my time. It’s what I do..I enjoy it! Even more so I enjoy meeting the moms and girls. I have been blessed to make many new friends out of these adventures.
Many of you who contact me are going through recruitment at very competitive recruitment schools, Alabama, Ole Miss, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina..just name a few. I know you understand the competitiveness because you express concern over it. There is always the question, “How do I make myself stand out?”. Of course the girls with high stats (4.0 GPA, big scholarships, entrance into Honors colleges) all stand out on paper. With inflated grades, AP’s, Dual Enrollment credits more and more girls are coming into recruitment in the “high stats” categories. So that leads me to the dilemma of some dear sweet girls who I have been working with lately….what happens when your GPA is borderline (3.0) or below what is the suggested GPA for a successful recruitment. Do you have a chance and even more so knowing the odds against you are you willing to take the chance?
On Wednesday of this week we ushered in the month of May (ironically here in Kansas City it came with over 2 inches of very wet snow…YUCK!!!). I went to turn my calendar Mary Engelbreit) that hangs next to my desk (hmmm…which happens to be an antique oak table covered with my favorite things of cups of colored pencils..sharpies, snippets of pictures) in my den and the quote at the top of the picture leapt out at me! It seemed to speak to my sorority thoughts ( and worries) of the week..and it said….. “The question isn’t who is going to let me; It’s who is going to stop me?” any rand.
This made me think of my girls who are facing some really big challenges while going through very competitive recruitments across the US, particularly, GPA issues. So often we tell these girls not to go through…it’s a no win situation…you have little if no chance to receive a bid…you are headed for heartbreak and disappointment. I uttered these same sentiments to a couple of young women and their mothers this week and their reply…..like my quote is that they are going to take the process head on, full throttle, totally aware of the odds and obstacles and I have to tell you as I was chatting with them and hearing their determination I stood in my den and silently applauded their resilience and drive!
So the next question then becomes how do they prepare for this process? And the answer is: throughly, aligning as many allies in their corners as they can. So what does the recruitment road map for these girls look like?
First of all my suggestion is that they truly understand the odds they are up against. In some scenarios there is the thought that if a PNM is an incoming freshman with GPA issues she wait until she is a sophomore to go through. She should take a year to better her GPA so she is a more desirable candidate (at least on paper). At many of the competitive colleges/universities there is an upper classmen quota in place that allow sororities to take a certain amount of sophomores and beyond in addition to the freshman quota of PNMS. I have found some girls to take advantage of this and go onto to improve their grades and receive a bid. But what if you are already an upper classmen, a transfer student..not your traditional freshman PNM…is there a second chance waiting in the wings for you or is this a one time shot? In some cases it truly might be a one time shot..at least for formal recruitment. There might be a possibility for an informal bid in the Spring, providing grades are good. I know this past spring at a couple of the more competitive campuses bids were extended to upper classmen. So there is cautious hope :).
For some of these girls , there is also the mindset of “what if I try now?”..what’s the worst that can happen? Well the worst would be to be released from recruitment either early on or during the week and not receive a bid. There then is the possibility of Spring informal recruitment (hopefully the GPA improves first semester) or Formal Recruitment next fall. My advice is this…IF you are going to try then you have to be prepared for the “what might happen”. You just have to!! Only you will know how you will handle that phone call from the Rho Chi telling you that you are released. Look inside yourself and really have a conversation with “you” as to how you will be able to handle this. Remember the world around you will still be in the emotionally charged world of recruitment frenzy…girls will be coming up asking what parties you have. they don’t mean to be insensitive to your predicament…they are just caught in the moment. Are you going to be able to handle your devastation and disappointment? Only you know.
Still determined to do this?? Okay then you need to get to work! Of course the first thing you need to do is to put together a resume that is just totally “WOW” in every area (except the GPA). Let’s talk about that GPA for a minute. If your GPA issues are due to a medical condition, perhaps an illness,or an undiagnosed learning disability that has just been recently discovered then documentation by a health professional is important. Realistically some sororities will still not look at this but it’s worth a try. If you have a medical diagnosis that is documented then I would make sure that Panhellenic Association on campus as well as the Director of Greek Affairs knows this, has a copy of this diagnosis in hand and a conversation needs to be had as to whether they are willing to share this information with the sororities.
Sororities take their house GPA VERY seriously! They want girls who are going to boost their house GPA, not drag it down. In the case of taking a grade challenged PNM they need to feel confident that there is system in place that will be a support to this PNM. For instance, in the case of a PNM who is coming in with a learning diagnosis, most likely the University has identified this and they have placed this PNM in a program tailored for support and assistance, ensuring that she will be successful. Make sure that when you are doing your resume that this is noted in a way so that the sororities see that there is a system of checks and balances in place to assure GPA success. Sometimes a sorority will take a grade liability and off set her with a high stat girl. It doesn’t happen a lot but it DOES happen.
So when doing your resume you need to adopt the “Who is going to stop me attitude!” What can you put on your resume that is going to market you as a PNM who will be a HUGE asset to this particular sorority? what qualities do you have that make your desirable? First of all you need to have leadership skills and positions. Elected leadership positions are even better…it shows that you are well liked by your peers, sending the message that you will be a well liked member of a sorority. Extra curricular activities show that you are hiding behind your disability but rather working through it and in addition continuing to be involved in high school and hopefully activities outside of high school. Another area that will send a “WOW.. look at her” message is appointed positions by faculty and staff..peer mentoring, student ambassador, character outreach to elementary and middle school students, most improved awards, awards the denote extra effort…all of these are flags for sororities that this PNM is extra special.
Another key component is letters of support that discuss the obstacles the PNM has had to over come and the success she has had. There are two types of letters in this category. The first type will probably never make it to the sorority..it is meant for the eyes of the woman who is writing your rec.
I should probably address the rec writers at this point. For those of you with GPA issues finding alums who do not know you, who are willing to write recommendations is going to be an uphill climb. Remember that when a woman fills out a rec and send it in she is more or less saying that she recommends you for membership in her sisterhood. For some women..when they see the GPA issue they are a little hesitant to recommend a PNM. My suggestion is to be VERY honest with these women. Share your trials and tribulations..tell the truth about your grades. More importantly have several letters from key people in your academic life that shows support for your hard work and effort when it has come to over coming your GPA issues. I would say not more than 3 or 4 but have them ready and available. You might also have these individuals on board to be willing to talk with hesitant rec writers. The point is to show the women who you have asked to write a rec that you aren’t someone who has used their GPA disability to slack off on or make excuses but rather you have used your GPA issue to become a better person and hopefully a successful college student and SORORITY MEMBER!! You should also be prepared for the fact that some (okay maybe quite a few) will simply turn you down. It’s okay..be persistent!! There will be ladies out there who will be willing to take a chance on you (hopefully just like a sorority or two).
The second letter is one that will accompany your rec to the sorority. We call them “Letters of Support (LOS)” and in this case they truly are that. while many girls will have letters that accompany their recs that say Suzy PNM is wonderful , she’s the whole package, she will be involved and so and so on, your LOS is actually a letter saying why, despite the GPA issues, you will be a success in school and more importantly what wonderful qualities you have that would make this sorority want to take a chance on you despite your GPA issue! Specific examples are helpful. I had a young woman who actually started her own non-for-profit based on her learning disability. It also helps to have the women who write your recs personally reach out to the sorority if they are able. A phone or email placed to the right person makes a world of difference. Last year I had a very sweet girl who I was helping go through recruitment at a VERY competitive recruitment school. She had recently been diagnosed ADD/HD and to add to the problem a parent was diagnosed with a serious illness. I had sent a letter to our regional director and then followed up with a phone conversation. I wanted to let them know that this PNM was special and that I felt if given the chance she would make an amazing sister. She took very heavy cuts during recruitment but my house kept her and offered her a bid, which she gladly accepted! I was thrilled!!! the follow-up to this is that with the support of her sisters and the great program she was enrolled in at this University this dear girl made the Deans List this past Fall semester and will do so again for Spring. Sororities have to be convinced to take that chance..a leap of faith. The powerful support of a sisterhood is just what these girls need.
I have to be honest…this road is not an easy one. while it may sound like I am telling you that if you do all of the above you will receive a bid the truth is that you may not. the decision is “to try” or “to not try”. Are you going to have someone “let you” or “try and stop you”. The choice is yours…for all of you who decide to head down this road you are in my thoughts, prayers and I hold you in my heart!!!
Tomorrow I will talk about your transfer, upper classmen girls and the challenges you face!! Happy Saturday…am heading to my local cupcake store for a mint julep cupcake in honor of the Kentucky derby (might even get out the big hat!!).