Sororities--Everything You Need to Know: Part 5
You’ve registered with your collegiate Panhellenic for sorority recruitment, and with your hometown alumnae Panhellenic for help with references and recs. Your information packets have been distributed, and you’ve had several alumnae friends write letters to their sorority on your behalf. Now what?
It may seem that everything is out of your hands as you count down the days until Recruitment Week begins on your campus. However, there are several things that you can do in the interim to prepare yourself for what will be an exciting, if hectic, time in your life. Educating yourself, getting organized, and having some idea of what to expect ahead of time will allow you to focus solely on the experience of sorority recruitment.
Clean Up Your Social Media
If you haven't already done so, make sure that your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media pages reflect the best possible version of yourself. Remove any compromising photos, crudely worded posts, and anything else that would reflect poorly on you or portray you in a negative or misleading light. Sororities hold a high standard of good judgment and character, and you’ll want to present yourself as someone who can meet and maintain those standards.
The Collegiate Panhellenic Website
The place to start your preparation is back at your collegiate Panhellenic council’s website. Most Panhellenic websites have a section devoted to recruitment, and you’ll get a lot of important information here, most notably the actual dates, times, locations, and dress codes of each day’s events during the recruitment period. Mark these on your calendar, and add notes or details as needed so that all your information is in one place and readily available. Take note of any information regarding summer recruitment—some schools allow sorority members to contact potential new members in their hometowns for small parties and dinners as a way to connect and socialize.
Another item to check on the Panhellenic website is the list of rules regarding recruitment. These may include instructions about contact with active sorority members, attending fraternity or sorority parties before and during recruitment, whether summer recruitment is allowed by Panhellenic, and transportation to and from the sorority houses. The rules of silence between sorority members (both collegians and alumnae) and PNMs are particularly important, and may mean that you won’t be able to talk or communicate during recruitment with friends or family who are sorority members—not even your mom, if you’re a legacy. These rules are in place to ensure that nobody on either side of recruitment has or takes unfair advantage to either encourage or discourage consideration of any potential new member.
Study the dress suggestions for each round of recruitment activities, and go through your closet to find appropriate outfits for every occasion. A brand-new wardrobe isn’t necessary—wearing tried-and-true favorites with a personal twist is the easiest way to stand out from the crowd, as is choosing jewelry to express your personal style. Comfort and ease should be top considerations—you may find yourself walking or waiting outdoors in the heat, sitting on the ground or the floor, or juggling refreshments and your purse—plan accordingly! Once you’ve decided what to wear for each day of parties, “package” your outfit (dress/shirt/shorts, shoes, bag, jewelry and other accessories) so that everything will be together and ready to put on each day. (One note about bags and purses—at some schools, bags and purses are not allowed during recruitment; potential new members are given large ziplock bags to hold their personal items, and these bags are left with their recruitment counselor as they enter each house. Check your Panhellenic website for what’s allowed and what’s not
What Do I Bring?
The Panhellenic website at your school may provide a list of suggested items to bring along to the recruitment events. Most of these lists include the following:
· Comfortable shoes or flip-flops for walking between houses and events
· Hairclips, elastics, and bobby pins
· Hairbrush and/or comb
· Lipstick, gloss, and any other makeup you might want for touch-ups through the day
· Blotting papers
· Antiperspirant/deodorant (if it’s hot)
· Feminine hygiene products (even if you don’t think you’ll need them; someone else might!); tuck these in a small zippered bag
· Breath mints (try to avoid gum—you don’t want to get caught spitting it out at the last moment as you arrive at a house)
· Travel toothbrush/toothpaste or Wisps (disposable mini-brushes loaded with toothpaste)
· Travel-sized sewing kit for any emergency repairs
· Emergency stain removers (like a Tide Stick or Shout Wipes)
· Aspirin/Tylenol/ibuprofen for headache
Just in case you’re going through recruitment at one of those schools that bans handbags during recruitment, make sure to package any personal toiletries in cute zippered fabric bags—these will maintain your privacy while making your clear ziplock bag instantly identifiable.
Many colleges forbid the use of cellphones and cameras during recruitment events, so don’t plan to bring them—or any other electronics. Some schools go so far as to remove a PNM from the day’s events if she’s caught using her phone. If you are permitted to bring your phone along, be sure to silence it or turn it off completely during any event—your focus should be solely on getting to know the girls of each sorority and enjoying each event to its fullest.
You may want to keep a journal or small notepad in your bag to jot down notes between events and house visits. This will be invaluable because so much will be happening at once, you’ll have a hard time remembering who said what where, which house had the delicious cookies and the really fun girl who liked your necklace, and where you felt most at home. Having these notes later, when you may have to make some decisions about narrowing down your list of favorites, will be very useful.
Know Your Sororities
Once you have learned how recruitment works at your school, it’s time to learn about the sororities you’ll be visiting. They’ll be listed on the Panhellenic website, maybe with links to each chapter’s website. It’s good to learn the Greek letters for each house you’ll see, so that you’ll know you’re in the right place at the right time. You might also memorize the colors for each sorority to assist you in recognizing the house. Each sorority will have a charity or philanthropy—you can learn more about each group’s particular charity on their chapter website or their national website. Find out how the group raises money and if they volunteer their time for their charity or other organizations. The more you know about each sorority, the more conversational opportunities you’ll have to show your interest in every house.
Finally, do some mental preparation. Keeping an open mind and positive attitude is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to prepare for what can be an overwhelming emotional few days. Your research, as well as information from friends and family, may have you looking closely at a few sororities over the others, but don’t let that keep you from discovering what everyone else has to offer. Many PNMs have started recruitment with a definite plan of action designed to end up in one specific house, only to be cut early in the process not just from that house, but from all the others as well. Again, keeping an open mind and going with the flow is guaranteed to make your enjoyment of the recruitment process greater and more memorable.
If you are a legacy to one of the houses you’ll be visiting, it’s doubly important that you keep an open mind. You may feel pressured or obligated to focus on your legacy house, but remember—being a legacy does not guarantee that you will be invited to join that house, or even that you will be invited to later rounds of recruitment events. You may receive more attention as a legacy when you visit that house, but it’s imperative that you pay equal attention to the active members elsewhere, with whom you may find you have more in common than at your legacy house.
Most importantly, be yourself. Trying to fit into an image that isn’t your own will only confuse the girls you meet and worse, make you miserable. Faking your way into a sorority just because it’s the most popular or it’s your legacy sorority may result in a lot of unhappiness on both sides—especially when there’s probably another sorority on campus full of girls with whom you’d feel much more at home. Being yourself is the best possible way to end up in a group of wonderful young women who share your interests and values
When you get to school, you’ll start meeting other girls who’ll be going through recruitment with you. Get to know them, make plans to attend information sessions together if possible, and make friends—these girls will be your support network for the next few days, and it’s likely that you’ll meet at least one fellow PNM who’ll become a lifelong friend. This is the beginning of a fun week, full of new friends and new experiences—don’t let nerves or anxiety over recruitment keep you from enjoying this exciting time!
- Sororities--Everything You Need to Know: Part 1
Joining a sorority is a uniquely American experience. Learn what sororities are all about in this six-part series.
- Sororities--Everything You Need to Know: Part 2
Part 2 of a six-part series on sorority recruitment and membership focuses on the pros and cons of joining a sorority
- Sororities--Everything You Need to Know: Part 3
Part 3 of a six-part series continues the discussion of points to consider when thinking about sorority recruitment
- Sororities--Everything You Need to Know: Part 4
Part 4 in a series outlines the steps to take when preparing for sorority recruitment registration
- Sororities--Everything You Need to Know: Part 6
Part 6 of a series on sorority recruitment and membership, focusing on what to expect during Recruitment Week
- The Sorority Recruitment Cheat Sheet--Top Tips for Sorority Success
Here’s a cheat sheet to take you all the way through the process of joining a sorority.