Monday, August 7, 2017

Insider Advice for Sorority Recruitment

     Pre-scheduled post because I'm currently in Europe :)

     Although my school holds formal sorority recruitment after classes start (my life is going to become crazy hectic on September 1), girls across the country are already gearing up. At many colleges, Potential New Members-- PNM's, the women going through recruitment-- move in to school up to a week earlier than their peers to fully dedicate their time to finding their new home. Although it's been two years now since I was a PNM, I empathize with the girls toughing it out on sweltering-hot Greek rows in early August.

     I wanted to write a follow-up to "Why You Should Consider Going Greek" because recruitment can feel all-consuming at times. Often , I think women feel pressure to become a member of a certain "perfect" or "best" chapter. If they're not invited back to that chapter, they might drop out of recruitment all together; if they are invited back and ultimately get a bid, they may find that the reality of membership in this chapter isn't all that great. In any event, getting hung up on a certain idea of what your sorority experience will be like can become an obstacle during recruitment.

     Lucky for you, I've not only been there before, but I've seen the recruitment process from the PNM side, the chapter side, and the Panhellenic side. Okay, so I haven't fully seen the Panhellenic side yet since I've been preparing to help run Fall Recruitment 2017 later this month, but trust me, I've learned a lot. Every time I learn something new about how the recruitment process really works, my mind is blown. Today, I want to share some of that knowledge, along with my own personal advice, to help you get the most out of formal sorority recruitment and make the best decision for you.

Freshman/future roomies take on Day 1 of recruitment

Plan your outfits ahead of time and dress like yourself // I know what to wear is often a major source of stress for women going through recruitment. Your school's recruitment website will have information about what you're expected to wear for each round, so look it up and think about what clothes you already own and what you might need to buy. Do any shopping before you get to school; nothing is worse than having to make a mad dash to a store just hours before a recruitment round. If you choose to buy new outfits, make sure you buy clothes that are your normal style. Don't buy Lilly Pulitzer dresses if that's not something you'd normally wear! Chapters want to see your personality, and if they cut you because you're not wearing a certain outfit, then they're not worth your time anyways. Same goes for makeup-- don't feel like you have to pile it on if you usually only wear lip balm and some mascara. Wear/do whatever makes you feel most confident, and I promise you'll have a much better experience than if you forced yourself to pretend to be something you're not.

Go in with the mindset that you want to join the community, not a specific chapter // Go into recruitment excited to join the sorority community, but avoid going into the first round with a "favorite" chapter. I can almost guarantee that your preconceived notions about chapters from before recruitment will be wrong. Some of the chapters I thought I might be interested in ended up giving me some of my worst recruitment experiences, and I ended up loving chapters that I had mixed feelings about after Meet the Greeks (my school's event during orientation where all of the chapters set up on the Sunken Gardens, our version of a quad, and have the opportunity to talk casually with interested students). Stereotypes and online rankings are a waste of time because at the end of the day, all that matters is what you, the women who will actually be joining the sorority, thinks! Walking into recruitment with an open mind is probably my most important tip of all. Bid-matching is structured so that as many women as possible can be matched with a sorority at the end of the process, which means that if you're seriously keeping your options open, you'll most likely walk away from the process with a bid.

Consider taking notes after each "party" or chapter session of recruitment // You're going to meet SO many different women and see so many presentations and videos in each chapter that it can be hard to keep track of everything. Consider taking notes about who you talked to + what they talked with you about, and things that stood out to you in presentations/videos, so that you can keep it all straight. This can be really helpful during later rounds when you're having to make tough decisions between chapters.

Be careful of what you say about the chapters // This tip means a lot of things. Definitely don't badmouth other sororities to sisters during rounds, because you never know who that women's friends are, and they might be very offended, or at the very least, unimpressed.  Word travels FAST during recruitment-- I've seen it firsthand. Be respectful of all the chapters, and also of other PNM's. If you thought XYZ sorority was literally the worst chapter ever during Open House Round, keep it to yourself; the PNM standing next to you might've absolutely loved her experience there.

Don't take not being invited back personally // Just because you're not asked to return to a chapter for the next round doesn't mean that they didn't like you! Each chapter has a different method of determining who is asked back, but in the end cut-off is determined by Release Figure Methodology (RFM) on many campuses. RFM involves a lot of complex calculations based on chapter's retention rates from round to round, and based on these calculations, some chapters may be allowed to invite back more women than others. I won't go into explaining how exactly this all worked, but know that RFM is designed to help women/chapters realistically narrow down their options and to maximize bid offering. Learning about RFM as a member of Panhellenic recruitment team has explained SO much that I didn't understand previously, so if you're curious, you can check out this link about RFM from the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC).

Choose the chapter where you can become the best version of yourself // I say this because everyone has a different idea of what they want to get out of sorority membership, but at the end of the day, a sorority is should help you become the best woman you can be. For you, maybe that means picking a chapter full of women who inspire you, or maybe that means joining a chapter where you'll be pushed out of your comfort zone in a good way.

Maximize your options after Pref night, but only write down both chapters if you REALLY would join the second one // Pref night is such an exciting time because you're finally done with recruitment and so close to finally being a member of a sorority. However, things can get a little murky for PNM's after pref because of the mysterious MRABA you have to sign before ranking your preferences. MRABA stands for Membership Recruitment Acceptance Binding Agreement, and all PNM's who wish to be eligible to receive a bid through formal recruitment must sign one. Basically, the MRABA states that if you list all of your options (all of the chapters you attended preference rounds with) and then turn down the bid you receive, you'll be ineligible to join any other NPC sorority until the next formal recruitment period. So, for example, if you list two sororities on your preference night list, then receive a bid from your second choice sorority and turn it down, you'll be ineligible for any sort of sorority recruitment until the next round of formal recruitment (i.e. if your school does formal fall recruitment and informal spring recruitment, you can't participate in any sort of recruitment until next fall). This is VERY important to keep in mind because RFM/the bid matching process are designed to give you the highest chance of getting a bid. No one is placed in their second choice sorority until every single spot has been filled in their top choice, but every effort is made to make sure that woman who maximize their options get a bid, so there's always a very real chance you'll be placed in your second choice. Therefore, only list your second choice if you'd accept a bid from them! Again, this is sort of confusing, but this script from NPC explains MRABA in more depth and breaks down your options for preferencing (this will be read to you before you sign your MRABA after pref round!).

"The computer" doesn't make mistakes // At least at my school, a common phrase I hear when chapters don't get the PNM they want/a PNM doesn't get the chapter that they want is that "the computer must've made a mistake". Yes, computers are used at most colleges to do invite lists and the end-of-recruitment bid matching. However, the computer does this based on formulas + a process that can be replicated by hand (it just takes a long time). The computer doesn't make mistakes. If a PNM doesn't end up in a certain chapter, that means that the PNM didn't rank the chapter high enough, the chapter didn't rank the PNM high enough, or a combination of both. I hate to be blunt, but trying to blame things on the computer is just silly and it's a big pet peeve of mine when people try to subtly push things off on the Panhellenic Recruitment Team for "messing up" recruitment  (probably because I'm on Recruitment Team now). Everything happens for a reason; accept the results and move on, unless you have serious cause to believe an error occurred.

Right before the first event of Pref Night...had to do some FB digging to find these old pictures!

     Honestly, I could probably go on for days about the recruitment process; it's sort of my job for next month, after all. If you have any addition questions, seriously, comment and ask me, or email me using the little mail icon on the top right-hand corner of the page.

     Thanks for reading and best of luck to those of you going through recruitment!

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