Formal Recruitment Tips for First Generation College Students: On Becoming Knowledgeable

Sorority formal recruitment is a stressful, emotional process for a fifth generation legacy, much less a first generation college student. I remember when I was a potential new member, feverishly devouring every blog, forum, and website I could find that would finally de-mistify the recruitment process to this would-be sorority girl.

My friends all seemed confident in the recruitment process, safe in their confidence in being extended a bid by one of the sororities. I had no such confidence. I was terrified that I would not be found pretty enough, accomplished enough, or wealthy enough for membership.

Even though I read every Going Greek article known to womankind, I still felt like I was in the dark about sorority recruitment. After guessing my way through through an emotional recruitment, I dashed through a rainy January bid night to my future sorority home.

That recruitment weekend was five years ago. Looking back now, as a sorority alumna, I realize the reason those articles did not help me is because they were written with second or third generation students in mind, women who had mothers, grandmothers, and aunts to help explain the recruitment process. So even though I cannot jump into a time machine (yet - I’m looking at you, science) and tell my past self these tips, I can pass on some of the things I learned as a first generation sorority member to you.

1. Use your school’s resources

Go to the Greek Life office and speak to the sorority advisor, explaining that you would like to learn more about Greek Life from an unbiased sorority woman and ask to have some one-on-one time with your Pi Chi (recruitment counselor assigned to a group of potential new members during recruitment) PRIOR to the beginning of formal recruitment.

This tip is useful for those of you who do not have friends or acquaintances in Greek Life or other useful contacts that can be your Sherpa up the mountain of sorority recruitment. The best time to seek this type of counsel would be a month or two prior to formal recruitment, that way the sorority advisor will have more time to spend with you.

Ask the sorority advisor or your Pi Chi these questions:

  • Can you walk me through the stages of recruitment?
  • What do sorority women in general expect from potential new members?
  • What should I expect from the sorority members?
  • Can you tell me about your recruitment experience?
  • Do you have any advice for how I can positively stand out as a potential new member?

Building a positive relationship with your Pi Chi will greatly increase your chance at having a positive recruitment experience. Pi Chis are there to help you have the best possible recruitment, and they can do their jobs the best when they know a little about you and your goals for sorority life. So take the initiative and get to know your sorority advisor and Pi Chi.

2. Ask your recommendation writers for help

If you attend a school that requires recommendations from sorority alumnae prior to formal recruitment, ask the women writing your rec letters to spend some one-on-one time with you to explain the recruitment process and its more complex workings.

These women have specific experience with the sororities on campus at your school. They might not have been members of that particular chapter, but they have information about recruitment practices, values, and goals of specific national organizations.

For example, while I cannot speak to any chapter other than my own, I can give you information such as Sigma Sigma Sigma’s values, philanthropy, and new member process.

Alumnae have great perspective on being a life-long member of a sorority. Does that particular group practice alumnae life in a way that supports your goals and values? This is crucial information because, even though it’s cliche, “a sorority isn’t just four years, it’s for life”.

3. Get a Recruitment Coach - if you can afford it

Yes, this is a thing, and yes it will help you immensely – specifically if you are going through recruitment at a major Southern school. Recruitment coaches can help you prepare in a way no other person can. They coach you in making great first impressions, interviewing, and personal presentation.

This is not an endorsement, but Sorority Corner is a site dedicated to providing recruitment resources and coaching at many difference price points. You may only need the $67.00 sorority recruitment webinar, but they have packages all the way up to personal coaching at $575.00. I include this information because I wish I had known about sites like Sorority Corner when I was preparing to go through recruitment.

Do your own research before deciding on a coaching program to make sure you are choosing one best suited to your needs.

4. Reach out to local sorority alumnae chapters

As a current member of an alumnae chapter, I know that every member is committed to helping the next generation of sorority women. The women interested in sorority recruitment are the next generation of collegiate and alumnae chapter members.

You can find contact information on national organization websites and Facebook. Call the contact woman, explain what you need, and I know you will be connected with a woman who can help you.

The benefit of reaching out to sorority alumnae is two-fold.

  1. If you still need a rec letter, the woman you speak with might be willing to write you one after having a few conversations with you.
  2. Sorority alumnae all started out as potential new members interested in recruitment, just like you. These women know exactly how you feel and possess intimate knowledge of the general recruitment process, as well as their particular collegiate chapter’s methods.

Alumnae can also be great mentors for specific aspects of recruitment, such as how to respond to questions, making a great first impression, and following your heart when choosing a sorority.

Some alumnae chapters even hold mock recruitments during the summer before school starts- this is the best practice you could have for formal recruitment on campus. Going through this process will give you the benefits of experience and knowledgeable alumnae helping you improve on the spot.

This type of knowledge is invaluable to a first generation student who does not have the benefit of older women in their family to guide them through recruitment.

5. Be up-front and honest about what you know versus what you do not know

I found in my experience as a first-generation student and potential new member that being up-front and honest about what you do know versus what you do not know about Greek Life can save you a lot of stress and negative emotion later in the process. I tried to go Greek all by myself with only the Internet to guide me, and it was messy, confusing, and sometimes devastating. If I would have taken advantage of resources like the Greek Life office on campus, local alumnae networks, and the sorority women in my community, I would have had a much better experience during recruitment.

Myths, rumors, and gossip swirl around sorority recruitment like fog around a dementor. If you arm yourself with knowledge from reputable sources, you will have a more positive recruitment experience. Do your own research, meet with sorority members in your community, follow your heart and have fun - sorority recruitment is one of the most memorable events in your collegiate career.

Catch the next post for information on how to present yourself during formal recruitment!

Happy Recruitment!

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