If you are reading this, you are either a current member of a sorority or are interested in learning more about what sorority life is all about. I imagine that ultimately, you want to know how to survive sorority recruitment and create those long-lasting connections with a sisterhood. Almost four years ago, I was in your shoes. I had signed up for fall sorority recruitment at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) and had no idea what was about to happen. One of my close friends from my hometown had joined a sorority at SIUE. She served on the Panhellenic Council Executive Board and tried to walk me through what recruitment would look like, but I was still very nervous.
Flash forward to the first week of the semester, aka recruitment week. When I was going through recruitment, I was overwhelmed by the pace of the process. When I stepped into my future chapter’s room, I was very hesitant. However, as soon as I learned about their philanthropies, I have never felt more connected to an organization. One of the philanthropies the chapter supports is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and it really hit home for me. I had a childhood friend who had Cystic Fibrosis. I saw how she was affected by this disease for her entire life. Just a month before I was sitting in this philanthropy round, she had become really sick and ended up needing a double lung transplant. The 62-year-old lungs she received did wonders! Having a recent personal experience with this philanthropy made me feel extra connected to this chapter. I was eager to learn more. In this round, I asked questions about how they supported this cause, shared my personal connection with the sisters I spoke with, and even talked to the Coordinator of Philanthropy! Through prioritizing what mattered most to me in recruitment, I was able to find an organization that cared about the same things I did. I was able to make a connection with a cause that is so close to my heart.
When I joined this chapter on bid day, I had no idea its impact on my life. Being in a sorority is so much more than the matching shirts, the chants, the glitz, the social title, or the stereotypes. It's about joining a group of women who share your core values, make a difference in the community, and create lifelong sisterhood connections. Entering my super senior year now, I look back on the many leadership experiences I have gained, such as planning and executing an entirely virtual recruitment process for my whole Panhellenic Community during the pandemic. Rising above the challenges like these has helped me grow into the woman I am today. Reflecting on my journey in my chapter and as a sorority woman, I want to share with you pieces of advice I wish I had been told when I had gone through recruitment. Here are seven tips to help you find your home in a wonderful community during recruitment this fall.
Find out your core values and see how they align with the chapters on your campus!
Whether you have five sororities on your campus or 15, each chapter has its own set of core values like we do as individuals. Most sorority communities operate under a values-based recruitment process*. Values-based recruitment means that instead of focusing on the frills and glitz of sorority events, focus on what the organization stands for and see how their values align with your own. Focusing on a sorority’s values leads to more intentional conversations and building genuine relationships. You want to join an organization that cares about and values similar things that you do. Click on this link [https://thesororitylife.com/potential-members/learn/discovering-your-values/] to learn more about how to narrow down your core values.
*Curious what “Values-Based Recruitment” really means? The Your Sorority Journey Podcast just launched an episode on their Recruitment Takeover mini-series to break down the concept and help you apply it to your recruitment journey! Go listen here!
2. Ask questions!!
The best way to learn more about the organization and the members within it is to ask! Through meaningful questions, you can gauge the strength of their sisterhood, what they do to support their philanthropies, and how they help develop their members to be their best selves.
Here are some questions you can ask to get the answers you really want to know:
How do your sisters support you with academics?
What do you do with your sisters outside of chapter events?
How would you describe your chapter’s sisterhood in one word?
How do you live out your chapter’s values, and how do they align with your core values?
What does your organization do to support your philanthropies?
What are the leadership development opportunities like?
How can I become a leader in this organization?
How does your sorority celebrate your sisters’ accomplishments?
3. Find a philanthropy that you are passionate about.
Each sorority supports causes to make a difference and allow its members to be a part of something greater than themselves. Some sororities support just one philanthropy, and others support several! These can range from Breast Cancer Awareness, Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Service for Sight, Reading is Fundamental, and so many more. As I mentioned earlier, with my connection to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, I dove headfirst into my sorority’s philanthropies to make a difference in something that mattered to me greatly. After a couple of years in my chapter, I wanted more. I got involved with our local philanthropy, HIS KIDS Cancer Support. This organization provides life-changing experiences in the form of a weeklong summer camp for kids with cancer and their siblings. I saw the impact my sorority was making first-hand and fell in love.
Ask questions about the chapter’s philanthropies and gauge how you can get involved. If you find you are passionate about philanthropy, see what more you can do to make a difference. I learned more and formed connections by asking questions about how the sorority contributed to their philanthropies. Without asking questions, I never would have got in contact with the Director for HIS KIDS.
If you want more information on different ways you can stay involved in philanthropy over the summer and throughout the school year, check out the Your Sorority Journey Podcast, where I pop on to chat with Cassie and my colleague Aubrey on how passionate we are about philanthropy. Listen here!
4. Find a place you feel welcomed and comfortable.
Joining a sorority is an investment. You will spend time, money, and energy in the organization you join, not just for four years but for life. You should make sure this is an environment of women who make you feel welcomed and comfortable. You should be able to be your authentic self. My recruitment counselor told me that one of the best ways to narrow down which chapter you want to join is to think: If you were to rip your pants in front of the entire chapter, how would you feel? Who would you prefer to have this happen in front of? You want to join an organization that celebrates your accomplishments and stands by you in your time of need. The key to being successful in a sorority is to be yourself because who you are is enough. You should never have to change to fit a standard.
5. Trust the process.
I don’t know how many times somebody told this to me during the recruitment process. I genuinely believe that you will end up where you are meant to be. It will be okay if you do not get asked back to your top choice after the first night, but it is also okay to be upset. After you process your feelings, try to shift your focus from not getting asked back by that chapter to celebrating those who did ask to see you again! They saw their values in you, saw potential in you, and wanted to invite you back! Trust the process, and you will end up exactly where you are meant to be.
6. This choice should be 100% your own.
It is hard not to compare our experiences with others. However, just because you have a close friend in a particular sorority, or if your mom or grandma was a member of a specific chapter, does not mean that you are obligated to join those organizations! Unless it is something that you genuinely want for yourself. Do not join a chapter based on others’ perspectives. You, and only you, should make this decision for yourself. You will spend the next four years and beyond as a member of this organization. You should join a chapter that you choose for yourself.
7. Remember: you are not just joining a chapter; you are joining an entire community.
Yes, you will join one chapter, but you are also joining a council, whether it is Panhellenic Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, or the Multicultural Greek Council. You will form friendships outside of your own chapter and will find yourself supporting other chapters’ fundraisers and philanthropic events. Just because you join a particular chapter doesn’t mean you cannot form connections beyond that. My best friend and I joined different chapters, and after our four years together at SIUE, we are still best friends and support one another. It is not a competition that you are trying to win by joining a specific chapter. Our community supports one another in so many ways. Do not get too caught up in your chapter that you forget about the bigger picture. We want to see our community succeed.
I hope you find these tips and tricks beneficial in helping you ~ survive ~ sorority recruitment. If you follow these pieces of advice, I am sure you will find the best fit for yourself in your sorority community. I want to see you thrive in recruitment and make those life-giving connections. Without asking questions, I never would have found my big, the Coordinator of Philanthropy, that I talked to during recruitment. Joining a sorority was the best decision I have ever made. It has ultimately changed my life for the better. No matter where you are in your sorority journey, I wish you the best of luck this recruitment season.
Looking for more support as you embark on your sorority journey?
Enroll in Path 1 of the Her Sorority Journey Course, The Trailhead!
Designed to give you the insight and confidence you need to start your sorority journey, enroll before recruitment to have your questions answered and stress relieved. We are so excited to embark on your sorority journey with you.
Hayleigh is one of our incredible interns who will be contributing to Her Sorority Journey programming & development during the 2021 summer! Meet our rockstar team of interns here: https://www.hersororityjourney.com/about