At DC College Counseling, we love keeping in touch with our past clients and hearing about their lives in college. Sorority recruitment at many schools just ended within the last week, and it has been fun to hear stories from our freshmen all around the country!
Along the same lines, many high school seniors watch their older friends on social media and come back to us with lots of questions about the process.
Here are a few thoughts that I put together for girls (and their parents!) to consider:
GREEK LIFE TODAY IS NOT THE GREEK LIFE OF YESTERDAY. At least for girls, anyway. Rush has been replaced with recruitment, pledges have been replaced with new members, and hazing is NOT TOLERATED within the National Panhellenic Council. Sorority membership gives women the chance to make new friends, gain leadership experience, and be a part of something bigger. Yes, there are social events too, but this is not the main focus of greek life today - truly.
THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT WHICH HOUSE IS YOUR TOP PICK. A friend gave me some great advice before I went through this process myself: choose the house with girls that are already like you, not the house with the girls you want to become. Do you like spending Friday nights watching a movie with friends while eating popcorn? That’s the house you want to join - not the one that is throwing mixers every night. Know who you are and what will make you happy. This is not the time to reinvent yourself. I found - both while in college and now as an adult watching girls go through the process - that the girls who were true to themselves ended up very happy. The “horror stories” are typically from girls who were set out to join the “top house” at any cost.
DON’T FORGET TO ASK FOR RECOMMENDATIONS. You should have learned this already in the college admissions process! When a component of an application is optional, it’s really not optional. Same goes for sororities, particularly at competitive Southern state schools. It’s really best to make sure that you secure at least one recommendation from an alumna of every national sorority on campus. Don’t feel overwhelmed by this process - people are happy to help. I LOVE writing recommendations for girls with whom I have worked and I know most women feel the same way. Ask your teachers, friends’ mothers, and neighbors: you will be surprised to learn how many have a sorority affiliation. Trust me, they would love to do this for you.
ALL CHAPTERS ARE NOT THE SAME. Part of the beauty of a national organization is that chapters are very different from school to school. Life in a sorority at the University of Alabama is going to be incredibly different from life in a sorority at the University of Michigan, which in turn will be incredibly different from life in a sorority at Boston University. Many schools do not have houses, for example. Learn about the culture at your own school as you determine whether you want to pursue greek life. The same goes for costs, by the way. Sorority membership is incredibly expensive at some schools, and it’s very inexpensive at others.
“CHI OMEGA IS FOR A LIFETIME.” This statement was drilled into my head in college and I’m sure that every other organization has their own version of it. At the time, though, I did not really understand the value of being part of something bigger. It was not until after I graduated, when I moved to New York City knowing no one, that I began to appreciate what this meant. I was able to jump right in and become involved with a great group of women that I never would have met otherwise. When I moved to DC four years later, I was able to do the same thing. Now that I am a mother of two children, I have a built-in network of babysitters by calling the local chapter at George Mason. I can honestly say that I’ve gotten even more out of my sorority affiliation post-college than I did as an active member, and I’ve never even used it for networking purposes the way many women do.
GRADES MATTER - Most senior girls are shocked when I tell them that their high school grade point average is a big part of the selection process, especially at big Southern universities that are not known for being as academically competitive in terms of admission. This is a good reason to keep grades up at the end of senior year. No matter how much a sorority wants to take a certain potential new member, they are forced to cut her if her grades do not make the cutoff (refer back to #1 - academics are a priority today!).
Wondering why this entire blog post is about sorority recruitment? The process - and experience - is very different for boys and girls, in both positive and negative ways. If you are interested in fraternity recruitment, we recommend picking up a copy of Alexandra Robbins’ new book, Fraternity: An Inside Look at a Year of College Boys Becoming Men. She wrote a similar book on sororities over fifteen years ago that is now outdated and an inaccurate representation of sorority life today.
All in all, this should be a fun and exciting time. If you have specific questions, please reach out to us!