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sorority life

In sorority on
March 18, 2016

The Ultimate Guide To Creating Your Sorority’s Vision

When it comes to creating any brand or identity having a vision for your brand is so important.  In the case of sorority life I am going to show you how to refine your sororities vision so that you have a clear idea of where you and your sisters are headed as you prepare for recruitment. This will help you become more savvy and efficient when it comes to recruitment. I know everyone has a limited recruitment budget, so it’s important to work smarter, not harder.

 Creating Your Sorority's Vision | Creating a vision for your sorority is important so that you can recruit with zeal and know exactly who you are trying to recruit. So many sororities recruit without a clear vision for who they are looking for. This post will help you craft great goals and create a vision for where you see your sorority and who you want to recruit.

Creating Your sorority’s Vision

Understanding your sororities vision is so important. This is a collaborative effort that will take your officer team as well as your chapter members. You need to work on crafting your sorority vision so that it will be easier to understand where members fit into the equation. When only a handful of members agree or know about your sorority vision it becomes really difficult to actually get anything done. You always want to make sure that everyone is on board so this process can go from vision to fruition. 

Where Is Your Chapter Now?

Assessment of current membership is needed to grow into anything bigger or better. You need to address all sections of your membership from the officer team to the newest member to see where the problems are. I would suggest sending out a link to an anonymous survey that your sisters can fill out about their time within the sorority. You probably have some ideas about where the problems are, so sending out this survey will help clarify. Ask targeted questions, but also have some open-ended questions as well. Encourage your members to be detailed and open about their experience within the chapter. This is a place for them to not hold back (while obviously at the same time not being overly rude.) Let them know that the officer team will be considering all of their input and making changes as well as preparing for changes in the future.

It’s also a good idea to actually condense some of the information and share that with your members. Obviously remove any names, dates, or things that don’t need to be shown to all the members. It’s hard to answer a survey and not get at least a summary of the responses back. So be open, and don’t just use this information amongst the officer team. People talk about the positive sides of Greek life a lot, but never a lot about the negative ones while they are Greek. Knowing other people in the sorority feel the same way that they do might help a lot of your members cope with being in the sorority.

Where Do You See Yourself In 1 Year, 5 Years, 10 Years?

Your sorority needs a number of different goals. The most important and relatable set of goals to your members is obviously the goal for where you want to be in a year. Most members won’t be in the chapter 5 years or 10 years from now, but it is still important to make those goals. What legacy do you want to leave behind? Obviously goals will probably be updated, abandoned, or changed slightly as the sorority or the school changes, but having those goals to look forward to is still important.

Make sure all your goals are smart. In case you don’t know what SMART Goals are, I have a handy graphic that I made for this very occasion.

Here are some potential smart goals:

  • We will raise our GPA by .5 by August 2018
    • We will do this by:
      • Increasing our library hours by 2 hours a week.
      • Setting up a system of tutors within the sorority by next fall.
      • Making education a value we focus on during recruitment and on social media for the upcoming recruitment cycle so that we recruit women who share our educational values.
  • We will raise our retention rate by 10% by September 2018
    • We will do this by:
      • Having a New Member Support system set up by Fall 2016
      • Moving our big/little week up by 2 weeks
      • Setting up a temporary big/little program to start in Fall 2016
      • Finding a way to locate new members who are at a high-risk of dropping out and providing them with extra resources or extra contact people.

These goals above are just some goals that I thought of off the top of my head. You need to break down your goals into actionable steps along the way. You could honestly break down each of these sub-goals into tinier pieces as well.

Know Who Is Responsible For The Goal

Not everything will be appointed to the recruitment chair. The recruitment chair might have a good amount of say when it comes to these things, but they obviously can’t execute every detail and still be good at recruiting members. Other members of the officer team, chairwomen, and even the members themselves need to step up and get these tasks done. Someone needs to be the go-to contact for a goal that you set. Then they can delegate tasks as appropriate. Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish.

Evaluation is Key

Sometimes we set goals and we think our subgoals are actually helping us achieve them. Or we are not following through with our subgoals. For example, in the example above one of my subgoals in the education goal was to “Make education a value we focus on during recruitment and on social media for the upcoming recruitment cycle.” Once we do that, we need to evaluate its effectiveness. Poll your new members, did they actually think that education was something you valued a lot? Evaluate your social media, did you post enough about education during recruitment season? Think back to your recruitment materials, did you mention enough about education in those documents and videos?

If you could say yes to all of the above things but you aren’t seeing any groundbreaking on your goals, try to evaluate the subgoals you set. Do they really help you as much as you think they do? Are these the right goals for actually achieving what you set out to achieve? Just because your subgoal didn’t work out, don’t give up! Trial and error is key to understanding and refining your sororities vision.

What Word Do You Want People To Think When They Think Of Your Sorority?

A simple question to ask your members as you are crafting your vision is: what word do you want people to think of when they think of your sorority? You can think of a few words if you want to, but you don’t have to. Do you want to be known for your smarts, ability to talk to anyone, accepting nature, etc? This is a very important conversation to have with your sorority. You have to make sure your ideal girl will be this word, and you have to make sure that this ideal word is reflected in all of your recruitment efforts.

What Values/Vision Does Your National Organization Have?

Values and vision for your chapter are great, but they also need to align with your national organization (if you have one.) Your National Organization provides so many amazing resources centered around a particular set of values/vision. You don’t want to start from scratch on this when you can use the resources they have for you. So if your sororities values nationally are faith, hope, and love don’t have opposite values or too many extra values that your sorority doesn’t always use in their program.

In Tri Sigma our National Headquarters gives us a lot of great support, programming ideas, and more through our Sigma Connect website. This is so helpful and has hundreds of ideas for just about every aspect of sorority life. By using the amazing resources they have spent tons of money to develop and implement Tri Sigma chapters all across the country can work a bit less because of that. Refining your vision and what it means for your particular chapter is important, but it’s also important to keep in mind your national organization and how it fits into all of your planning.

Most of all, be open & clear With Your Members

With any direction that you decide to take your chapter in the future, I am going to stress this: be open with your members! I guarantee you that you aren’t the only one who wants to help bring your sororities vision to life, some people just need a little more direction than others. Ten sisters can’t effectively run a sorority. It might work for a little while, but eventually it gets a little out of hand and sisters get burned out. If you want to take your vision from an idea to execution you have to involve all of your sisters in that process. If you are only depending on 10 sisters to get something done, it can be done in such a less stressful and better way.

Have you ever helped come up with a sorority vision? What is your best advice for this process?

In sorority on
January 4, 2016

Your Guide To Surviving Deferred Recruitment

At some schools, the formal recruitment of first-year students is deferred until the spring. When I went through recruitment, my school was still using the deferred recruitment method which has its ups and downs. We eventually switched over to the fall formal recruitment method, but I know a lot of schools still choose to use this method of formal recruitment. Deferred formal recruitment comes with its own set of unique challenges for potential new members and today I want to give you a quick rundown on surviving deferred recruitment.

There are a lot of unique challenges I want to cover for women going through deferred formal recruitment. I want to share some of my stories with you about the changes I saw, what I had to do, and what I encourage you to do as well. I will be breaking up the text below into three categories: before, during, and after recruitment.

Note: This article contains affiliate links.

Your Guide To Surviving Deferred Recruitment | Does your school practice spring formal recruitment? If so, I have some tips you will probably love to hear. I joined my sorority during spring formal recruitment so I know about the unique challenges that potential new members face, but I also know about the overall fears that people have during any kind of formal recruitment. Click through to learn more so you can crush deferred recruitment and find the sorority of your dreams.

Keep Reading, Darling

In Guest Posts, sorority on
July 23, 2014

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

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 3.57.56 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 4.17.09 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 4.27.37 PM.png

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-

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 4.17.50 PM.pngScreen Shot 2014-07-07 at 1.14.24 PM.png

  • 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 the 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

In Guest Posts, sorority on
July 22, 2014

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 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!