Formal Recruitment Tips for First Generation College Students: Walking The Walk

Now that you have spoken with your campus sorority advisor, Pi Chi, and some sorority alumnae, its time to talk about presenting yourself in a positive way during formal recruitment.

So much rides on making a great first impression during recruitment that I considered writing about this topic first. Since most first impressions are set in the first few moments of meeting someone, most of it is based on how you choose to present yourself. The following tips have been collected from my personal experience on both sides of sorority recruitment.

How to determine the dress code for each recruitment round.

Usually dress code information can be found on your university’s Greek Life website under Sorority or Panhellenic Recruitment. In the past, I found these dress codes to be vague and only slightly useful when choosing outfits for formal recruitment. An example of one university’s dress code for the first round of recruitment is:

“Dressy blouse, slacks or skirt, or dress.”

WHOA. You better slow down with all that specificity, University X, I might put together TOO GREAT an outfit with that level of description.

An easy way to get a better idea of what to wear is to ask your Pi Chi for outfit examples for each round, or ask what she wore when she went through recruitment.

To give you an example, I have made some suggestions and visual aids from my own recruitment experience. If you were going through formal recruitment at my college, this is the advice I would give you as your hypothetical Pi Chi.

Round 1 - Open House

Dress Code: Dressy Casual

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Outfit suggestion -

  • Black skinny slacks (not denim)
  • Peplum top
  • Statement Necklace
  • Stud earrings
  • Classic bracelet (No watches!)
  • Cute, sensible shoes

The reason most people in-the-know about recruitment suggest not wearing a watch is that by nature humans check the time over and over again, for no reason other than just a nervous tick. Unfortunately, the sorority member speaking with you interprets this as you being bored with the conversation or dismissive of her sorority in general. Yikes.

Round 2 - Philanthropy

Dress Code - Casual

At my school, the Greek Life office gives each potential new member a recruitment t-shirt to wear for this round. Since I did not have an example of one of those shirts, I substituted a college t-shirt, but you get the idea.

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Outfit Suggestion -

  • Recruitment Tee
  • Nice, dark wash jeans - no holes
  • Stud earrings
  • Simple necklace - pendant or charm.
  • Cute, casual shoes

Since my formal recruitment was held in January, the popular look for philanthropy round was a bit different. Most women wore their recruitment tee under a coordinating cardigan with dark wash skinnies tucked into cute, low-heeled boots.

Round 3 - Preference

Dress Code: Semi-Formal

Preference round is the most important, and serious, round of recruitment. The dress code reflects this by being semi-formal or cocktail attire. The tone of the round is generally somber and reflective, so this is not a place for neon or busy prints. Keep it simple with dark or muted solids - think black, gray, navy, or dark green.

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Outfit Suggestion -

  • Black cocktail dress
  • Black, closed toe pumps
  • Statement necklace
  • Stud earrings
  • Delicate bracelet

Some notes on preference round styling -

  • Dress should be no higher than three inches above the knee. You will need to be able to sit down without a wardrobe malfunction.
  • Pumps should be no higher than a 3 ½ inch stiletto heel.
  • Hair should be simple and conservatively styled.
  • Keep your jewelry simple - statement necklace if your dress has a high neckline, simple pendant if it is lower. Stud pearl earrings. Simple bracelet.

Some notes on overall styling and presentation throughout all the rounds of recruitment-

  • Paint your nails a conservative color - think nude, light pink, or clear. French tips seem to have fallen out of favor, so I would stick to a solid color.
  • Apply hand lotion prior to the first round each day - you will be shaking a lot of hands!
  • For the pale girls like me - I hesitate to recommend a spray tan for formal recruitment because of the massive amount of things that can go wrong with them - like turning orange, missed spots, makeup not matching your neck, etc. I was not confident enough to go through recruitment au natural, so here is my recommendation for achieving a slight glow without the risks of spray tans:
    • Sally Hansen’s Airbrush Legs - Yep, its makeup for your body. Choose one of the three colors that most closely matches your skin tone. Spray into your hands and rub into your skin in circular motions. Be sure to go lightly on your first application so you won’t get streaks. I use two coats of the lightest color. I find it gives me a bit of a glow, while masking my visible veins and all the bruises I have from being a klutz. You can find this product at Walmart, Kroger, Walgreens, or a drug store. I think one can is $8 or so. It washes off easily in case you need a re-do.
    • Women who do not need to look tan can also use this product because it comes in darker colors that essentially act as BB cream for your body. It makes everything look better, and gives you a bit of a shimmer that distracts the eyes from uneven skin tone, body acne, visible veins, etc.
    • Makeup for formal recruitment is surprisingly simple. The best look for each day is minimal and conservative. Here are examples of minimal looks-  
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  • Some places to find affordable recruitment clothes -
    • Forever21 (my fave)
    • Maurice’s
    • H&M
    • Gap

The main idea behind styling for formal recruitment is to present to best version of yourself possible. It is not disingenuous or fake, it shows that you take pride in yourself and your appearance and will show that level of care to your image as a member of a sorority. Work within the style guide given to you by your university’s Greek Life office, show off your personality, and be confident that you look and feel your best. This confidence will make it much easier for you to interact personally with the sorority members you will be speaking with during the different recruitment rounds.

Happy Recruitment!

-Tera

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