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Supporting Your Daughter Through Recruitment

The first official sorority recruitment event comes tonight at 5:45 pm in Brendle Recital Hall, where the Potential New Members (PNMs) will hear more about the recruitment process.  Events begin in earnest on Thursday and bids will go out next Monday.

Between Thursday and Monday, there will be a lot of activity.  And there is typically a lot of heightened emotions for all involved.  Some girls will be getting happy results every day, some will not be invited back to the sororities they are hoping for, others still might experience bad luck.  Even if your daughter is getting what she wants, her friends or roommate might not be, so there is the delicate issue of how to be happy for yourself but respectful and compassionate toward others who aren’t having a similar experience.

Recruitment is the main thing happening on campus right now (other students don’t return until the weekend), and as a result many girls are completely and singularly focused on recruitment.   And given the frequency with which students communicate with their parents and families (especially if they are upset or stressed out), you will almost certainly get calls/texts/IMs/emails from your daughters.  Especially if they are upset that things are not going the way they had hoped.

Let us all hope that recruitment goes well and that things in your daughters’ lives are happy.  But just in case you do get a frantic phone call about things not going so smoothly, what should you do?

- First of all, take some deep breaths.   While your daughter may sound stressed, upset, angry, etc., remember that this is the heat of the moment for her.  The calmer you stay, the better.

- Let your daughter vent and listen and respond with empathy.

- Resist the urge to try and fix everything for her.  This is a wonderful opportunity for your daughter to learn how to process negative emotions and work through them on her own – which is something she will need to do for the rest of her life!  Better to build those skills now!

- Instead of offering solutions of what you can do for her, instead ask your daughter how she thinks she will want to handle her situation.  Let her seek her own solutions, so she learns to build problem solving and resiliency.  Ask questions like:  what have you considered doing? what are your options? where on campus might you turn for assistance or support?   

- Encourage her to take advantage of on campus support systems.  If she does not know where to turn, you might ask a few leading questions “Isn’t there a University Counseling Center?  Have you considered confiding in your RA or academic adviser?  Can your Gamma Rho Chi (Greek Recruitment Counselor) be a resource?”   Parents and families, you should know that both the RAs and the GRCs will be checking in on girls who withdraw from recruitment (or who are not successfully matched).  In addition, there is an informal “Mary’s Posse” of female faculty members and administrators who reach out to young women with unhappy outcomes to offer their support and who will be providing a bunch of great non-recruitment activities on and off campus, as well as informal conversations and connections with any girls who seek it.  So urge your daughters to connect with any of the above.

- Sometimes a parent’s first reaction to the frantic phone call is to offer to come to campus to be with their daughters or offer to fly them home.   Before you do that, think that through very carefully.  For some young women, being removed from all her other friends and support outlets on campus might have an adverse (and unintended) effect of making her sit at home (or in a hotel room with mom) and just stew and stew and stew about the situation, which might be counterproductive.  In addition, letting your daughter leave campus might rob her of the opportunity to figure out how to process unhappiness and negative feelings on her own – if you are providing a well-meaning distraction to keep her mind off her sorority situation, she might not be building those self-care and resiliency skills – because she is looking to you to provide all that.

And while this is not the time she will want to hear that life will offer her many opportunities as well as disappointments, we all know there will someday be a job, or a house, or a spouse, or some goal that she wants and does not get – no matter how hard she works or how deserving she may be.  We all have times when we don’t get what we want.  But that is part of life.  Sometimes learning that lesson and putting it into proper perspective earlier is better.

While no one wants to have an unhappy daughter if recruitment is not going well, please remember that typically students tend to vent their frustrations to Mom and Dad and family members, and after they have vented their spleen, they feel better.  Unfortunately now YOU are carrying the burden of worrying about your student.

Remember – and tell your daughter – that time provides perspective and healing after disappointments.  What is a Major Disaster today might be a mere annoyance in a week, and to take the long view.  Let her work through that.  True, your student is not going to be crushed one day and happy the next after a disappointment, but the way to help your student learn to manage adversity – again, something we all need to know how to do – is to let her solve problems on her own and give her time to  work through her feelings.  In the process, she will learn that the sun will still shine tomorrow, this is not the end of the world, and she will also learn a valuable lesson that she is in fact a capable person.


Sorority Recruitment Is Coming

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.

brace yourselvesFor 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.


Nothing Could Be Finer

carolina winThan us beating Carolina.


Nil.  Nada.  Zip.

There is simply nothing better than the Deacs beating dreaded rival UNC.

It’s better than blowing up the Death Star, chucking the One Ring into Mordor, or watching Michael Corleone outwit and outplay the Five Families in one fell swoop.

I have said it before and I will say it again, a win over UNC is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.   Always.

And I hatehatehate that 99% of our students were not in town to claim this win in person.   This is the kind of game that fans will remember for ages.   There really is nothing more exhilarating than a great college sports rivalry and a close win on your home court.  And while a Wake-UNC game can’t claim the exact degree of bitterness of, say, Duke-UNC in basketball or the all-time rivalry of Auburn-Alabama football, it is still a huge rivalry.

Allow me to digress for a moment and take you back in time a generation or two of Wake alumni and our sports rivalry index.  If you asked Wake alumni from maybe the early 90s on back (so the Gen X, Baby Boomer generations and earlier), they would almost certainly say Carolina is a more loathed team than Duke.  These alumni remember the dread days of Dean Smith, the Four Corners play, and a lot more losses than we cared to admit.   It’s not that Duke wasn’t good then – they were – but UNC seemed to be the team you loved to hate more.  Especially before the Joel Coliseum was built and Wake played their basketball games in Greensboro, the UNC fans packed the games and turned the stands more blue than black and gold.  Which should never happen.  (Aside – whether we are winning or losing, your students should be packing the student section for every game.  Without fail.  Wake sports fans are not fair weather fans.  We are hardcore, all-in.)

When Dean Smith retired in the late 90s, UNC had a string of less successful coaches.  During this time while UNC struggled, Duke reigned as the ACC superpower and was close to invincible in the ACC.  Because of their continual win streak, and perhaps also because of the perceived personality of Coach K given his sideline demeanor, our young graduates from the late 90s-2000s tend to view Duke as the team they love to hate.  And that is what has led us to the young’uns tendency to dislike Duke more, the oldsters UNC.

carolina roll 2Ok – back to present day.  Had your students been on campus, they would have first stormed the court, then rushed back to the Quad en masse and there would have been jubilation as they rolled the Quad within an inch of its life.   As it was, we had a contingent of the faithful come out into the foggy night and roll the Quad (and I had Wake friends in other places who were posting pics of their rolled Christmas tree or their own yard trees.  Way to show your spirit, wherever you were, Deac alumni!)

What does rolling the Quad feel like in these moments, you ask?  It would have been a huge, wonderful party, full of joy and excitement.   While it would not have been summer clothes and Tuscan rolling hills, the spirit of rolling the Quad after a giant win feels like this kind of magic.

What a way to start the week, and the semester.  BIG, GIANT congratulations to our team.  They have not had an easy road of late, but hopefully this is the shot in the arm they need to keep going and prove that once again Little Old Wake Forest (LOWF) is not to be underestimated.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about sorority recruitment in the Daily Deac.  Today is all about the thrill of victory though.

carolina rollGO DEACS!


New Year, New Semester, New To Do List

So it’s the New Year, Deac families.  Your students will be returning to us soon to start the spring semester.  They will quickly get in the swing of classes and their normal routine, but in the New Year I’d challenge them to think about a few To Dos that they might not have covered in the fall.  Here goes.

Go to a Secrest Artist Series performance.  They are free for students, and beauty and art are part of what make life worth living.  You have two chances – February 26 and April 10.

Read a newspaper.  Not just online, but the old fashioned print kind.

Eat like the townies do.  This means branch out beyond your normal haunts (I am looking at you, Cook Out).  I highly recommend Skippy’s Hot Dogs for lunch, or Camino Bakery for breakfast or coffee; both are on 4th street.  Mary’s Gourmet Diner is awes0me at any hour, but specializes in amazing breakfast foods.

Buy someone a Valentine.  Could be your significant other, your roommate, one of the staff at your favorite on campus eatery.  Make someone else’s day better with an unexpected moment of joy.

Commune with nature.  That could be a hike on Pilot Mountain, a long walk through Reynolda Gardens, or a trip to Salem Lake.

Learn more about local history.  Visit Old Salem, Historic Bethabara, or go to the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro.

Write a real letter.  To your parents, to a mentor who has helped you, even a love letter.  Words are cherished by the ones who receive them.

Get to know at least one faculty member well.  That begins by having an interest in his/her class or teaching style, and grows by regular visits to that professor’s office hours.   Having close personal relationships that we can learn and grow from makes us all better people.  And at some point if the chips are down and you need help – and we all will at some point! – you will have a network to draw upon for help.

Vary the way you walk to/from class or your residence hall.  Take the long way sometimes.  See parts of campus you don’t normally see.  There is a lot going on when we watch and observe.  So break out of the normal routine and see what else is out there.

Support your hallmates and classmates in their endeavors.  Do you know a student athlete? Go to her game?  Have a friend who is a musician? Go to his concert.

less and more 2013 14That’s just a short list of things to ponder.  I also saw this graphic online and it is something worth thinking about too.  Lots of positive things to do, and negative behaviors to stop doing.

Happy New Year, Deac families!


The Essence of Wake Forest

This one was pulled way out of the archives, Deac families.   This is from the old Alumni Office, back when it was located in Reynolda Hall.  The quote is from Dr. Edwin G. Wilson (’43), our provost emeritus and much beloved professor of English.  He has represented the best of Wake Forest for as long as I have been associated with Mother So Dear.  A lovely, lovely man who always has the most eloquent way of saying things.

ed wilson quote


It’s our last day of Winter Break for the Daily Deac, and we will bring you some new blog material tomorrow.

Happy New Year!

We wish you and yours a very happy New Year tonight!  Regular Daily Deac columns will be coming back to you later this week.  Until then, here’s another Picture of the Day – this time, of Wait Chapel and a beautiful blue-violet sky.



The Daily Deac has a fondness for luminaries (and interesting lighting in general) – so we are always very happy when the campus can be lit in beautiful ways.  There are not many nights a year where we have luminaries on the Quad, but when they are there, they are spectacular.



In Praise of Scales Fine Arts Center

Here’s a picture of one of the most unique and recognizable buildings on campus – Scales Fine Arts Center.

There are a lot of reasons to love Scales and everything that is created and produced there.

Beautiful music.

Innovative art.

Provocative theatre productions.

Music to make you feel a million different emotions.

The incredible artistry of dancers.

Beautiful people with beautiful minds.

Yes, we will always love Scales.

POD 20051025SFAC8316

More from the Archives

As we continue our own Winter Break, here’s a look at one of the great shots from the 49th annual Lovefeast.


Merry Christmas

To all who are celebrating Christmas today, the Office of Parent Programs wishes you a very merry one!

This is from the Lighting of the Quad this year.