I have three different posts in various stages and yet this morning I woke up and felt the need to start a fourth. The “question” had been bothering me for a few days now and so I just had to get it out there…”Why do you want to join a sorority?” I mean really….WHY????? I’ve had so many conversations with young women over the past few weeks. For some it’s just been simply pointing them in the right direction for those last few recommendations they need while for others it’s been helping them to try to dig out from under a potential problem that might prohibit them from receiving that coveted “bid”.
It’s the latter that has kept me up at night, wondering “why”???? Why do these young ladies want to be part of a sorority so badly? What do they perceive is in it for them? So early this morning I sent out several emails to different PNMs that I have helped along the way to ask that very question, “Why do you want to be in a sorority?”. I also sent out a few emails to young women who I have helped in the past asking them the same question (past tense..”did”) and also if now that they are members did it full fill all of their expectations. Feeling a bit better I crawled into bed, anticipating the responses and ladies..you didn’t fail me. Inbox was overflowing this morning and so I thought I’d share the responses. I should also add that all of the girls went through at competitive recruitment schools that required multiple recs, lots of hard work and a high degree of stress.
The very first email I opened was from a girl who will be going through this year ( about a month away). She said, “The reasons I want to join a sorority are as follows”:
1. I have no brothers or sisters, I’m an only. As an only I have always wanted someone to do something with spontaneously. Sure, I have lots of friends I can call but I want to be able to walk downstairs in my pj’s and say, “let’s go get donuts” and have two or three people want to go…it’s that simple.
2. I’ve heard all the hype about sororities and that all they do is party and grades aren’t important but I know that isn’t true, The reason I know this is because if it were then your high school GPA wouldn’t mean a thing and girls would not be released because they have below a certain GPA. I am majoring in engineering…it’s a tough major. I need a support system to not necessarily help me study but to support me when the hours get long, I don’t get a grade I thought I should/could and when I begin to doubt myself. Many of the sororities on my campus have very high expectations for their members when it comes to academics…I want/need that.
3. I tend to be a workaholic. I think being part of a sorority will give the “social break” I need to be a well-rounded person.
I loved her responses and thought they were honest and realistic :)….all of her reasons were great ones and certainly a good foundation when talking about joining a sorority.
The next young woman also is going through in the next month and yep…again at a very competitive recruitment campus. I found her reasons refreshing and interesting. Here’s her response:
“Hey there…I am so glad you included me in your question as to why I want to join a sorority :). I thought about it all night and so here’s my reasons. I will be totally honest and tell you that the first thing that popped into my head was , “because every one of my friends is going through recruitment and so I want to as well.” Yup …I’m a follower. That’s not bad is it? I hope not. I just don’t like to be left out. When all my friends joined the spirit club I joined the spirit club. When everyone applied to go to our local sate school, I applied as well and so it makes sense that when everyone said they were going through recruitment that I would too. But you question got me thinking….there’s a very real chance that I won’t be in the same sorority as my friends, in fact, realistically I think we might all be spread out to different houses. So I did a little soul-searching as to what my own, personal reason was for joining a sorority and this is what I came up with (don’t judge me okay??). My own personal reason for joining a sorority is that it’s a security blanket of sorts. Once I get a bid I have this ready-made group of people to be my friends..I mean they have to be right?? And so that’s my reason. I don’t have to put myself out there and work hard to make new friends but I just have to smile and talk for a few parties and BINGO….friends.”
Interesting right?? I am sure that some of you who are reading this can identify with each of the girls above. The next response is from a girl who is a rising sophomore. She goes to a huge SEC school (bet you can guess which one..wink wink).
“I went through recruitment for several reasons. I went to college far away from home. It was my choice…truth is they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse :). I visited the campus and fell in love with the big palatial sorority houses. I noticed girls walking to and from class all dressed in their over sized t-shirts with different sayings on them. they were laughing and looked so comfortable and happy that I just made the decision that I wanted to look like that too. Looking back I really didn’t have any idea what sorority life was like. I had seen he movie “Legally Blonde” and so basically all I knew about was the social part of it. I went for a weekend visit in the spring that the campus had and I learned more but still it all seemed very social. I am pretty outgoing and a social kind of person so that just solidified my decision. So I should probably also add that the fraternity boys were just plain “hot”,,,yup they dressed way different from the boys in my part of the country and I’d be lying if I didn’t think that being in a sorority was going to lead to lots of dates and functions with these gorgeous males. So fast forward to now. I am a member of a great sorority. No lie…recruitment was STRESSFUL!!!! Longest week of my life :). But in the end I received a bid and I truly did end up where I belong. The big eye opener for me was how much more to a sorority there is than just swaps, date parties, game days and all the social stuff. When you’re a pledge they do a bunch of team building with your pledge class. While I don’t condone hazing I kind of get why the fraternities do it…it build a bond that is unbreakable. Out house has close to 300 members. I didn’t know the seniors very well but I made sure to be over at the house for all of my meals (well most of them) and I tried to just hang out. My “big” was super helpful at introducing me around, taking me to lunch and making sure that I was okay. As freshmen we had a ton to do, again all aimed at familiarizing us with our sisterhood and putting all of us pledges together so that we bonded. As I am preparing for my first recruitment on the other side I now understand how important that is!!! Anyway I now know that being a part of a sorority is like being part of a big family. You don’t always get a long but I have TONS of sisters that have my back 24/7. I ended up having an appendicitis attack this year. Thought I was going to die!!! They had to call an ambulance and take me to the hospital. My big sis and the president of the house went in the ambulance with me. They called my parents, made a hotel reservation for them and even picked them up at the airport. In the end I had to have surgery to remove my appendix. When I got back to my room is was decorated with signs from all of my sisters, there were flowers in our sorority colors and a cute stuffed animal. Would I do it again…you betcha!”
So you can see that sometimes going in girls don’t really know why they want to join or the reasons might be a little superficial but that all changes when they are a member and get to fully experience what it means to be part of a sisterhood. The above response is a common one. I am lucky in that many of the girls and mothers who I have been lucky enough to get to know still email me and share their experiences. So often they are pleasantly surprised at what being a sorority member really is. The next response is from a girl who went through the process only to find that it wasn’t for her. She wrote:
“I am so glad you reached out to me and that you are willing to share both sides of the sorority story. You were so helpful when I went through his process and I was a little worried when you emailed me to congratulate me on receiving a bid and I shared that this might not be for me you were mad. Truth is I think I really didn’t know why I wanted to join a sorority or what to expect going into the process. It was kind of like it was expected of me to do this and so I did. Although your chapter wasn’t on my campus you helped me google and find recs to all of the chapters that were. We had just moved and so I was juggling recs between two very different places and types of people. I got sick during recruitment and I think that didn’t help. I would tell girls that you really need to take care of yourself, get sleep, make sure and eat and drink lots of water. I am pretty confident about who I am but the process can be hard on even the most confident of girls. In the end I really believe that being from out-of-state hurt me. My campus has some houses that just don’t take girls who are not from the surrounding area. But I did receive a bid and I was really happy with the house and the girls. I went to the Bid Day activities and settled into life as a pledge. It just seemed as time went on that there was a lot more to do than I wanted to do. I have always needed my own personal “me time” and being a part of a sorority was making this really hard. I loved the girls, the house, the activities, the parties but there was just too much of it all. In then end I decided to not initiate. I went to my big sis and told her and felt so bad…she cried and tried to convince me otherwise but I knew this was the right decision for me. Do I regret quitting ….no. Do I regret going through the process…no. I know you all are wondering if I am still friends with my former sisters and the answer is yes :), in fact I am engaged and the girl who was my big sis is in my wedding. So do a little soul-searching before you go through and if you find after yu get going that it’s not for you it’s ok.”
I have to share, when this particular girl emailed me to tell me she was quitting I was shocked!!! We had worked so hard to get her recs in place but after talking with her by phone I understood why and I was so proud of her for making this difficult decision.
The last response I will list today (I have lots more 🙂 ), is one of my favorites and I think shares why 2 of my girls went through the process and joined.
“Hey..we haven’t talked in a while and I was really glad to see an email from you. Hope all is well in this crazy time (are you drowning in recs???). So here’s my story (as you know since we spent hundreds of hours on the phone…can i call you this week btw?) sorry :). So From the time I was little I remember my mom doing “sorority” stuff. She had her funny sweatshirt (that smelled like her), with the puffy greek letters on it and a key ring that had her letters as well. Is it terrible that I grew up knowing those letters before the ABC’s (so my mom would kill me if she knew I shared this but when she was potty training us she would sing the greek alphabet…that and the promise of m&m’s did it every time). She would get all dressed up to go out with “her sisters”. When I asked about those sisters (because I knew she didn’t have any …only a brother) she would get out the trunk with her letters painted on it and we would go through the items one at a time…it never got old. I should also add that her paddle that had her letters on it that was given to her by her big sis maybe had a personal experience with my backside a time or too :0!!!! My mom is amazing…she volunteers and is involved in so many different things and they all seem to stem form “the sisters”. She shared all of this with us and as soon as we were old enough to go along we began the volunteer process as well. It was just part of her and out lives. So when the time came to start thinking about college of course being a sorority was a big part of the decision. Mom was great, she didn’t expect us to just want to be members of her sorority but told us we should find the house that fit us. She helped us get recs (it was pretty easy since she sat on our city’s panhellenic board), get dresses, practice the conversations (umm..truth is I am a talker..no problem there and since we’d been taking to all of these ladies for so long..yup no big deal). I knew going in that a sorority was more than parties, pillow fights, recruitment and a house. I knew it was a place to call home filled with girls who accept and love you for who you are (even if that means you like to tie your hair in knots, dress in yoga pants and sing Hunter Hayes songs at the top of your lungs while dancing down the hall carrying a mop). A sorority is giving of yourself to others, freely, no conditions. It’s a business with members who have jobs to do and everyone needs to take a job and do it well. I LOVE my sorority and I am glad that I get to share my sisterhood with my mom. When she was at initiation and pinned her pin on me we both cried (is now a good time to say that traitor of a sister of mine didn’t join our house…okay so it wasn’t on her campus but she could have chosen a different school …right??). So my advice (you did ask for that right?..sorry am taking a summer school class and have been up late studying…am a little fuzzy…need COFFEE!!!) is to spend 10 minutes really thinking about why you want to do this. For most of you it’s around the corner but it’s okay , have that little heart to heart, you’ll be better for it :). Oh and I am out recruitment chair this year and if you are going to my school (oh…I can’t put that here..darn!!) well anyway good luck with the process. I will send up a little prayer that you all end up exactly where you belong…”