Sorority Recruitment – Unofficial Advice

Today’s Daily Deac offers some advice for parents of female students who will be participating in the sorority recruitment process (formerly called “rush”) later this week.  Recruitment can be an exciting, emotional, and/or possibly stressful time for your students.

Having observed recruitment for many years – and having seen a niece and several advisees through the process – here are my best thoughts about the process.  [Editorial disclaimer – these opinions are mine, not Wake Forest’s.]

First, some basics about the mechanics of the process:

The Potential New Members, or PNMs (formerly referred to as “rushees”) are assigned into groups.  Each group visits every single sorority party on the first day.  This assures that all PNMs have the opportunity to meet all of our chapters, and all chapters get to meet everyone participating in recruitment.  After the first day, the mutual selection process begins.  The PNMs will have the opportunity to rank the chapters based on who they would like to get to know better, and the chapters are able to do the same with PNMs.

Each successive day, PNMs will attend fewer parties as they and the chapters continue to submit their preferences and narrow down their options. During any given round, a PNM may find herself released by an organization that she hoped to continue with.  Sometimes PNMs are “fully released,” which means they are not invited back to any of the groups.  While the goal of sorority recruitment is to place as many PNMs as possible, it is not a guarantee that a woman will receive a bid to join a chapter.

Now, a few words on the sorority laws of supply and demand.

In any given year, there are one or two sororities that the PNMs are all dying to get into.  For argument’s sake, say there are 400 PNMs and eight sororities.  Each group will have a new member class of approximately the same size, determined by the number of women participating in recruitment.  So you might have 400 girls all vying to be a member of that chapter’s 50-woman new member class.

The laws of economics say that not every woman can get her first choice.  Often this is the first time something hasn’t worked out for that particular woman and this comes as an unpleasant shock.

So it is not uncommon on Day 2 or 3 of recruitment to have women who are not invited back to the sorority(ies) they wanted to be invited back to, and they withdraw from the process, thinking “If I can’t be a [insert name here], I don’t want to be anything at all.”  I hope women will pause before electing to withdraw because that can be a hasty decision they might regret.

Some advice for PNMs (and their parents)

I always urge my advisees (and any parents who ask me) to stick with the process and see it through.  Every single sorority offers sisterhood, fun, fellowship, philanthropy, date functions, and more.  Regardless of which chapter a PNM joins, there will be some members that she loves and some that she doesn’t have as much in common with.   And if the PNMs will look beyond what they perceive to be the Most Desirable Group, they will open themselves up to an entire community of fantastic, amazing women.

Sometimes there are women who don’t want to accept a bid to a newer, less established sorority – they want to join a chapter with a more established presence on campus.

When I was a student, a new sorority 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 it is now a strong, successful chapter.  But it took some women 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.  An upperclassman Deac mom wrote our office during Winter Break to tell us her daughter had just been named to an important position within her sorority, and mom wanted to share this bit of very sage advice.

“After [my daughter’s] rocky rush experience, she found the absolute right sorority for her.  I know you will get calls and emails about recruitment from anxious parents come January – I was one of them.  But, I wanted to pass along this information in hopes that it might bring some reassurance to another freshman mom and daughter to participate fully in the process and the outcome will be as it should – even if it feels otherwise in January.”

Parting thoughts:

If your daughter is going through recruitment, encourage her to see the process through.  Trust the process and the outcome, and don’t get caught up in preconceived notions of where she should be.

Encourage your daughter to consider all chapters, not just the ones she is already familiar with.  Your daughter may know a couple of members from a chapter through her classes or other student organizations.  But slight familiarity with a single chapter does not mean that chapter is the best place for her.  Remind her to keep an open mind as she gets to know everyone.

Not everyone gets their first choice.  Urge your daughters to be mindful of other women on their hall who might not be having as positive an experience, and to offer support.  And if your daughter is having a hard time, encourage her to seek support from one of the many resources available to her (her Greek Recruitment Counselor or GRC, her RA, the Counseling Center, etc.)

In the event things don’t go her way, we have a message on how to help support your student through disappointment, which we recommend to all parents who may need it.

Good luck to any of your girls who are embarking on this process!

— by Betsy Chapman

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