This week we will see our young Deac women who are going through sorority recruitment return to campus. This is normally a week that runs all the gamut of emotions – excitement, disappointment, anger, joy. You name it, someone is feeling it.
If you missed the sorority recruitment description we did for the Parents Page Q&A, you can catch up on the mechanics of recruitment here. The abridged version is that basically on each day of the process, the Potential New Members (PNMs) go to successively fewer sorority events, narrowing down the field of where they might like to join, and simultaneously the sororities are narrowing down the list of girls to continue being considered for their organizations. It is a mutual matching process – we’re still interested in you, and you in us kind of thing.
Earlier in the year, we had offered our $0.02 about sorority recruitment in the Information for First Year Families section of our website. We think some of the advice bears repeating, so bear with us.
One of the difficulties of the recruitment process is that sometimes girls get hung up on the notion that they have to be in [INSERT SORORITY NAME HERE] sorority, or else they won’t be popular/socially accepted/cool/etc. When young women enter recruitment with their heart set on only one or two sororities, the chances are great that they could be disappointed; clearly, not everyone can be invited back to whichever sorority is perceived to be the most popular of the day.
Another related difficulty is that most of our female students have always been extremely successful socially in high school and involved in any group they wanted to be in, and it never occurs to them that this trend will not continue in college. So if they are not invited back to a sorority they thought they wanted, it can be a huge unhappy surprise and a hit to the self esteem.
In some ways, sorority recruitment can be viewed as an issue of supply and demand. Here is an illustration (and warning – this is a vast oversimplification, but is meant to show you the general idea):
Say there are 10 sororities on campus. Let’s say 2 or 3 of them are regarded as The Most Popular and the ones your daughter wants to be in.
Say there are 300 girls going through recruitment.
We do not allow those perceived 3 sororities to invite 100 girls each to their chapters (and have the other 7 get no new sisters). Instead, each chapter will get to invite a pledge class that is essentially equal in size.
So that will mean those 10 sororities get 30 new sisters each – not 100.
Originally 300 girls would have liked to be in A, B, or C sororities. But only 90 of the 300 will get in those 3. The other 210 will have other opportunities.
Again, that is an oversimplification (there will be some students who withdraw from sorority recruitment, and a few who do not successfully match to any sorority). We offer that example up so parents and families can help manage expectations of their daughters and help them be realistic.
Because of the assumption or hope that many girls have about being invited back to their Sorority of Choice, if they don’t get that invite, some girls drop out of the process – whereas if they’d stayed in, they might have found another lovely group of women to be a part of if they’d just given it the chance.
I tell my female students that if they want to be Greek, keep their options open and see recruitment all the way through. Every single sorority will provide opportunities for fun, fellowship, service, sisterhood, parties, and more – so I urge my girls not to fall into the ‘popularity trap’ and believe they can only have a satisfying Greek life in one or two sororities.
I have seen women get angry that they were not invited back to their top choices and they decide to drop the sorority recruitment process altogether – only to regret that hasty decision later. Had those same women been willing to continue the process, they might have been placed in a sorority with great sisters – if they had only given it a chance.
Parents, you can help as recruitment begins. Here are some thoughts:
- If your daughter wants to go Greek, try to encourage her to be open minded.
- Remind your daughter that every group has its benefits.
- Resist the urge to editorialize based on your own sorority experience in college or let her feel the weight of your expectations that she be in X group as a legacy. Affirm her choices.
- Encourage her to be persistent and discover the joys and strengths of whatever group she might find herself in.
- If she does not get an invite back to her top choice, urge her to remain in the game. She does not want to make a rash decision out of hurt and anger and find herself out of the sorority process altogether.
And for those whose daughters choose to withdraw from the recruitment process - it’s OK! There are so many opportunities for engagement on campus – from intramural and club sports, to Student Union, to Campus Ministries, to clubs and special interest groups. Your student does not have to be Greek to have a wonderful social life on campus. As I tell my academic advisees, it is a lot easier to spot Greek students because they have letters on their shirts, specific days when they wear them, etc. – but there are more independent students on campus than Greek ones. They are just harder to recognize because there is no ‘Independent’ shirt.
Tomorrow’s Daily Deac will talk a bit more about supporting your daughters as the process unfolds.
For now, if you are a fan of the Game of Thrones books (or the HBO series), you will be familiar with the slogan “Winter is Coming.” The internet – ever a provider of witty hilarity – has a meme that riffs off this slogan. It always begins with “Brace Yourselves” and ends with “[insert event or activity here] Is Coming”. So we’ve tweaked it for this week.