The summer before freshmen (or even sophomore, junior, or senior!) year, many girls find themselves considering whether or not they want to join a sorority. Although some girls have grown up knowing that it was what they wanted to do, already knowing everything about the subject, others find themselves feeling like a fish out of water when it comes to the subject. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, hopefully this guide provides some key info on the crazy world of sorority recruitment.
Do your research.
Depending on the school, there are different requirements that come with sorority recruitment. Some schools require head shots and recommendations for every chapter you’re interested in, others just require you to register online. It is also important to note whether or not your school offers recruitment in the fall or spring. Outside of the specifics of recruitment, its important to research the sororities themselves. This is not to decide what sorority you want to join, but rather to have a better understanding of all the different chapters you’ll be visiting. It also will make it a lot easier to talk to the sisters from each chapter if you have a basic knowledge of their various values, philanthropies, etc. Also, this may seem like a small thing, but research how to pronounce the name of each chapter.
Practice small talk.
This may seem kind of silly, but there is nothing worse than walking into recruitment and completely freezing up every time you are about to talk to someone, as you will be talking to people basically the entire time. The majority of the girls going through recruitment are going to be freshmen, so the good news is that a good way to practice small talk is to start introducing yourself to people in your dorm, etc.
Know the terms.
There’s plenty of specific vocabulary that goes with recruitment, and it will make you a lot more comfortable if you know what each term means. Here’s some key terms to start you off, though be aware there are plenty more to learn:
Formal Recruitment – the time during which chapters seek new members
Potential New Member (PNM) – this is you (and the rest of the girls going through recruitment)
Recruitment Counselor (RC) – these are sisters who have temporarily disassociated from their chapters (as to not influence PNMs), and help guide PNMs through recruitment. They are also sometimes called Rho Chis or Rho Gammas.
Active – an initiated member of a sorority
Bid – a formal invitation to join an organization
Bid Day – the last day of recruitment, during which PNMs may be extended a bid
Chapter – a branch of the national organization
Legacy – a PNM who is the relative (generally sibling or child) of an initiated member of a given organization
National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) – the national organization which governs the 26 women’s sororities
New Member – a PNM becomes a new member after accepting their bid, but before they have been initiated into the chapter
New Member Period – this is the time (of varying lengths) during which new members learn about the history, values, etc of a chapter. During this time, they have the option of leaving, and are still eligible to receive a bid from another chapter after 1 calendar year has passed
Philanthropy – a charity that a sorority supports
Plan your outfits.
If you are anything like me (and most other girls that I know), you wake up in the morning and go through about 15 different outfits before you finally choose what to wear. This is not the approach to take during recruitment. One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is to just plan out your outfits for each day, before recruitment has even begun (trust me, your mind will be much foggier after the process has begun). The specifics of how to dress for each day can vary for each school, and generally PNMs will be given specific instructions (such as specifically wearing recruitment tshirts and shorts one day, etc), but generally a good rule of thumb is to go on the dressier side. Another rule of thumb is tht each day of recruitment gets more dressy, so don’t break out your absolute finest for day 1! Also, make sure you are comfortable in what you are dressing in — there is going to be nothing worse than traipsing around all day in clothes that you are uncomfortable in.
It is going to be obvious to the sisters you are talking to if you are trying to act in a way that really isn’t you. Recruitment is tough, but, ideally, there is a place for any type of personality. Ask yourself: would you really want to be part of an organization where you felt like you had to act like someone else to fit in? The process isn’t perfect, but you’re going to be a lot happier if you are true to who you are, not who you think you should be… there is no cookie cutter sorority girl.
Don’t get discouraged, and keep an open mind.
Everyone faces disappointments during recruitment. You might be cut by a chapter that you felt you really connected with, but that doesn’t mean you should get discouraged. I know plenty of girls who ended up dropping out of recruitment because they will cut by what they thought were their perfect chapters, then went back a year later and fell in love with the chapters they had previously been disappointed in being invited back to.
Sorority recruitment is crazy, and the system isn’t always perfect; however, if you know what you are going into from the start, it makes the process a bit easier.