Sorority Recruitment – Unofficial Advice

For parents of female students who will be participating in the sorority rush/recruitment process, next week will begin an exciting, emotional, and/or possibly stressful time for your students.  Having observed recruitment through the eyes of a niece and several cherished advisees of mine, let me give you my best thoughts about the process (these comments, by the way, do not represent the opinions of anyone other than me!)

The first day of recruitment, the rushees (called Potential New Members) are assigned into groups.  Each group visits every single sorority party (whether the PNMs are interested in that sorority or not).   Then after the first day, each sorority issues invitations back to the next day’s function to any PNMs they are still interested in getting to know better.  Each day, girls are invited back to successively fewer parties (and they may have to choose between all their invitation options), until at the end they have just a couple of choices (in a perfect world if all goes well).   Along the way, some students drop out of the recruitment process, and some go all the way through but aren’t successfully matched (see the Greek Life letter to parents for stats on this).

I want to mention the issue of girls who voluntarily drop out of the process.  When I was a student here at Wake Forest, there were a couple of groups perceived to be the “best” or “most elite” or “coolest” or [insert your adjective here], and girls wanted to get into those Highly Desired groups.  Incidentally, the groups’ popularity can shift from generation to generation.  So then, as now, there are some groups that the PNMs are all dying to get into, but the laws of economics say that you can’t invite all the girls back to one or two groups, and make giant SuperSororities, leaving the remaining groups to slimmer pickings.

So normally on the first day or two of the recruitment process, there are girls who are not invited back to the sorority(ies) they wanted to be invited back to, and there are inevitably girls who drop out of the process, thinking “If I can’t be an [insert name here], I don’t want to be anything at all.”

What I always tell my advisees (and any parents who ask me), is that I urge the girls to stick with the process and see it through.  All the sororities will have some girls they’ll love, and some they don’t have as much in common with.  But they will all have Greek letters, and t-shirts, and fun and fellowship and opportunities for leadership and growth.  And if the women will look beyond what they perceive to be the Most Desirable Group, and not worry about perceived reputation or coolness or whatever, they might well find they are among a fantastic, amazing group of girls.

Sometimes there are girls who don’t want to accept a bid to a newer, less established sorority – but I always challenge my advisees to look at this as an opportunity to help grow that group, provide leadership, and build it for the next generation of students.  I remember when I was a student, a new group came to campus, and there was much consternation among the other existing sisterhoods about the addition of this new group.  Several of my freshmen hallmates decided to join that group and build it from the ground up – and over time it has proved to be a very successful sorority.  But it took some girls getting in on the ground floor, so to speak, to help make it so.  So in the event that your daughter does not get asked back to X but gets asked back to Y sorority, urge her to give Y a try.

One of the tough parts about the recruitment process is that it happens before classes start and the full student body arrives back on campus.  In some ways this is a positive, because there are no distractions.  But in the event that your daughter does not have a happy recruitment experience – whether she elects to drop out, or is not successfully placed – it can also be a bad thing that the main activity on campus is recruitment.  Girls may not realize just how much our Campus Life staff does to provide other options and social outlets for girls during this time.  There are residence hall movies and other programming, and each girl has her Gamma Rho Chi (Greek recruitment coordinator – an upperclass mentor) to lean on, as well as her RA and the Counseling Center.  There are also terrific members of the Campus Life staff who can talk to young women one-on-one as needed (if you want to connect your daughter to one of these great staff members, please email and we can assist you).

Parents, part of what you can do during the recruitment process is urge your daughters to keep things in perspective!  Urge them to be open to choices and alternatives, to be mindful of other girls on their hall who might not be having as positive an experience and to offer support, and to ask for help if they need it.   Good luck to any of your girls who are embarking on this process!

Categories: greek life