There are so many guides out there about what to do during recruitment. While recruitment is challenging, the number of guides on what to do after are few and far between. How do you make the most of your sorority experience? How do you create that sorority experience that will look good on a resume? I want to walk you through that process over the next month, starting with how to have an amazing first year as a sorority member. Over time, we'll take a look at your sophomore year, junior year, and senior year too.
Your first year in a sorority is one of the best years to bond with your sisters and set yourself up for a fabulous sorority experience. If you take the advice laid out in today's blog post, you'll create an unforgettable experience during your freshman year.
Get To Know Your New Member Sisters
First and foremost, take every opportunity to get to know your new member sisters. Everyone is in the same boat as you, even if it feels like they aren't. Your new member sisters are all learning how to navigate their new friendships and relationships. I cannot stress this enough: you are not alone. I know it may feel like everyone is grouping together at an alarming rate. There is room for friendship if you make a move, though.
If you aren't the most extroverted person in the room, it may feel awkward to insert yourself into conversations so much. Think of it this way: you already have something in common, you're growing love for your sorority. Your bond is your letters. You may not love every person in your new member class; it's a group of people, that's bound to happen. Get to know them anyway, and judge that after the fact.
Attend anything that helps you get to know your new member sisters in a more controlled way like a meeting or a sisterhood. If you like to hang out one-on-one invite a sister you want to get to know more to lunch in the food court. Don't put pressure on yourself to find fifty new best friends, instead, create a friendly relationship with your new sisters.
Make A Deeper Connection With A Good Group Of Members Outside Your New Member Class
Your new member sisters can be some of your best friends, but you can always get to know other women in your sorority.
You may want to start with getting to know your big sister. If big/little reveal takes a while in your sorority, connect with any sister who seems interesting. You'll likely get a bunch of friend requests when you first join your organization. Don't hesitate to friend all of those people and get to know them.
Invite them to lunch, talk with them before chapter meetings, comment on their social media posts.
Make sure you are making the most of your time in a sorority by getting to know other people in your group.
Get Involved Outside Of Your Sorority
I know I just spent multiple paragraphs harping about getting to know your sorority sisters. I think it's essential to get to know your sorority sisters, but you also need a support system outside of your sorority. You are forging a lifelong bond with your sorority sisters, but one organization should never be your life. If you want to make the biggest impact on your campus community, meet friends outside of your sorority.
You can always join an academic organization, a church group, or something that relates to one of your interests outside your sorority. You may find that some of your sorority sisters are a part of these organizations. That gives you something more in common with a small group of your sisters.
It's so vital to make these connections. You never want to look back on your college experience and wish you had done more. You are a young adult, and you have every right to explore all that college has to offer you.
I think it's important to realize that not every organization requires the same time commitment. Sororities require a lot out of you, but most other organizations need a fourth of the dedication. So, don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and attend a few meetings with other organizations on campus.
Take The Time To Understand What You Want Out Of Your Experience
One of the best things you can do during your freshman year is to take stock of what you want from your sorority experience. At the end of your four-year sorority tenure, what do you want to look back on?
Your legacy is important as it relates to sorority life. You can leave a mark bigger than you could ever imagine in your chapter, your community, or even your national organization as a whole. It all starts with defining your sorority experience.
Create a bucket list for your sorority existence. List out at least five things you want to accomplish. Keep it grounded, but don't be afraid to reach for the sorority stars. Check on that list every semester to see what you can check off and what you need to work towards.
Attend Every Event You Can While Your Course Work Is Easier
I am not saying that everyone's freshman year is easy. For some, freshman year is just the start of a whole mountain of work. For the most part, though, freshman year will likely be your easiest year of college. You'll probably be tackling freshman-level courses, and you won't be buried under a pile of assignments yet.
Attend every event you can while you don't have to worry about assignments as much. Work on assignments. You need to keep your GPA up to be in a sorority, after all. While you work on those assignments, work on your time management skills so you can get done with work quicker. You may need need to figure out how to study when you are short on time or how to set priorities.
Make it a goal to attend at least one nonmandatory event a week. Now is your time to experiment with the kinds of activities you'd like to attend more of. Go to intramural games, attend sisterhoods, go to socials, have fun at formals, participate in philanthropy events, etc. You may decide later that you'd like to skip certain events moving forward, but you should try out as many events as possible right now.
Say Yes More
One thing I want you to know is the power of yes, but also the power of no. Autonomy is important, and I never want anyone to feel obligated to do everything they are invited to. I will say, though, that the more you say no, the less people will ask you to do stuff. Everyone is trying to mitigate rejection, so if you keep rejecting invitations, you'll get less of them.
I am all about being responsible and taking care of school work first, but don't be afraid to say yes to random movie nights, concerts, and other events with your sisters. Those fun nights out will impact you so much more than you know, even as you get older.
The whole purpose of joining a sorority is to make memories that last a lifetime. Don't create that barrier around yourself so early. It's okay to have boundaries but don't let those boundaries stop you from experience college life.
Take On Low-Level Leadership Opportunities
You may not be able to hold a more significant leadership position during your freshman year, but consider any low-level opportunities that come up. For example, maybe you have leaders within your new member class. You can also join a committee during your freshman year, take that committee work seriously and work hard on it. Any time you see a sister in need of help or a chance to volunteer, take it.
During my first semester in my sorority, I regularly went to the planning meetings for my sorority's semi-formal. I was able to help plan it, and it was so fun to see the final project after working on it for the better part of the semester. It was one project I got to play a small role in during my freshman semester. I wasn't the chair of the committee, but I got to work on something and complete it. This small role was terrific and gave me a taste of what I could continue to do in my sorority if I worked hard.
Be open to all of these small roles as they come your way. Yes, freshman year is already jam-packed and challenging, but if you have some time, do the tasks. I loved being a part of that committee because it gave me the chance to bond with other members in my sorority that I wouldn't have known otherwise. I got to hang out with quite a few older members every week while making semi-formal a reality for the entire sorority. Also, I ended that night with the “Sunshine Award,” which was pretty cool. Even though everyone got an award, it was still amazing to be recognized for my bright personality.
Understand Your Financial Responsibility As A Sorority Woman
There is this notion out there that sorority members are paying for friends. It can seem that way to some people when you don't know where dues money goes. I think sororities need to do a better job of educating women about where dues go.
In my experience, dues go to a variety of things. Some of the dues you pay:
- Go to the national organization. That money goes to pay for salaries, so the sorority runs properly, national-level leadership programs for collegiate members, insurance, etc.
- Go to the local organization to host events, maintain your house or meeting space, recruitment, philanthropy, etc. Most chairs have a budget that comes from the local organization budget, so that is where your money goes as well.
- You may be able to more tangibly see in the form of food for meetings or unique t-shirts for formal recruitment.
Overall, I think it's essential to realize the financial and time commitment you are taking on when you join a sorority. There are no free organizations on campus. Even the smallest organizations more than likely have a fee to join. You are hopefully building a lifelong commitment to your organization (even if it's not to your specific sisters on campus.) This conversation is not to dissuade you from making changes in your life or deciding to remove yourself from your sorority at one point in the future. Only you can know what's best for you. This conversation is here to tell you that when you join a sisterhood, there are financial commitments required. You must understand that your money doesn't evaporate into thin air when you pay dues.
Ask Questions And Stay Curious
Sororities come with so much history. Now is the time to learn that history and soak in as much of it as you can. You can't know every single thing there is to know about your sorority, but it's vital to try to learn as much as you can. Learn about the local history, national history, and anything else that seems relevant. Ask questions during the new member meetings you have. Research everything you can about the sorority online.
Being in a sorority is a lifetime commitment. If this sorority is going to be a part of your identity for so long, you might as well understand it. You have every right to ask questions and try to learn about your sorority's history. Chat with your sorority historian and alumni. They will be your go-to on your quest to discover more about the letters you wear proudly.
Be Able To Spot Toxic Environments
My collegiate sorority experience was lovely. I was never hazed or made to feel bad about myself. I heard hazing horror stories, and I was so vigilant to make sure it didn't happen to me.
Most organizations on campus don't haze, but I would be dumb if I didn't mention this. While 95+% of organizations don't haze, there are still some sororities who do. If you know nothing else about me, know that I am as anti-hazing as they get. I love raising awareness about this stuff because hazing impacts all of us. Even if a small number of organizations haze, it still reflects poorly on the large number of organizations who don't participate in these practices.
I also want to comment on spotting toxic environments in general. Hazing is undoubtedly an issue, but I think general cattiness or singling members out to get ridiculed is also wrong. Hazing is one issue, but so is mistreating someone who is supposed to be your sister. Is one sister continually getting called to Standards or getting harassed or singled out in some other way? That's not cute either. You don't have to like every member of your sorority, but you don't need to make them feel awful or isolated either.
Watch out for this type of behavior in your sorority. From there, you can choose to fight to change this or leave the organization altogether. Do what you need to do for your mental health. You don't need to be captain save an organization.
Your sorority experience is up to you. We talked about a variety of topics today like getting to know your sisters, spotting toxic environments, taking on leadership positions, and more. I hope that you found this post helpful as you begin to tackle the sorority experience.
I'll be creating other content this month on your sophomore year, junior year, and senior year experience. I'm passionate about sorority life because I had such a great experience. I can't imagine my collegiate experience without my sorority. I hope that other women continue to have this beautiful experience in their life too.