For most of the girls about to go through the magical world of sorority recruitment, the entire thing seems like a chaotic mess. That was how I felt when I went through.
A lot of the stuff that happens doesn’t seem to make much sense, even after you’re in. It wasn’t until I became a sister going through the other side of recruitment that I fully understood the process. That is what I’m here to decipher for you!
Formal recruitment and informal recruitment are two beasts of totally different colors. Most of you ladies reading this, however, are probably looking at formal recruitment. This means that you will register about two months early and come back four days before spring semester begins.
At the start of those four days you will be assigned “Pi Chi” groups which is a group of about seven other Potential New Members (PNMs). These are led by two girls who have dropped their letters in order to give your group unbiased advice on recruitment.
Prior to recruitment, you will get a list of what outfits are designated to each day. The first is usually the recruitment shirt with a pair of jeans, the second is business-casual, and the third night is a type of dress-up night, but not cocktail attire.
It seems that going into recruitment, a lot of girls think that opinions of them will be based on their appearance. I can’t speak for the larger schools but at Roanoke College, this is definitely not true. It is more of how a girl carries herself, not simply whether or not she has a big nose and bad acne. Confidence is key when going through recruitment, which I know can be hard.
When picking out your outfits, choose items that make you feel both comfortable and beautiful. You don’t want to be talking to someone and constantly have to scratch your armpits or pull up straps. Also wear something that makes you stand out. Not anything outrageous, obviously. But, for example, when I went through recruitment one of the nights, I wore a casual red dress, and the color was something that helped the sisters remember me when going through voting.
Now, voting. That’s something that sends shivers up PNMs’ spines, right? This is where the sisters get together each night and discuss which PNMs they could see in their sisterhood. For some reason, there is this myth that the sisters will pull up your photo and just tear apart everything about you. Entirely false. In fact, most of the organizations on campus can honestly say they try not to look up a girl’s photo unless they absolutely cannot remember her. Which, honestly, can happen when there are five Sarahs in a group.
Each night you will go to a certain number of “parties.” These are thirty-minute sessions during which the PNMs and the sisters talk and get to know each other. In these thirty minutes, the magic happens.
Prior to coming into the room, the PNMs are lined up in alphabetical order. Then, as they walk in the sisters are lined up in a particular order to snake the girls in. (Snaking in simply means that they put their arm in yours and take you to a different part of the room to talk.)
Trust me when I say that the sisters know exactly which order you’re coming in. For formal recruitment, the recruitment chair gets a list prior to that week and has done research on each girl to find out her interests, hometowns, etc. It sounds creepy, but it is a vital part of recruitment, so that the PNM gets snaked in by a sister who has similar interests to them. A party can be awkward if you’re standing with a sister who loves baseball while you love choir.
During these parties, there are specific topics that sisters are not supposed to bring up. We fondly title these, boys, booze, the Bible, and Bush. Simply, this means we don’t talk about our love lives, getting trashed in a frat basement, our religious or our political views. For obvious reasons, these don’t get discussed. So, if you find a sister suddenly changing a topic, then it is probably for that reason. Don’t fret.
Something that might seem weird, and that I didn’t understand until I was a sister, was what pro-recruiters call “bump groups.” When talking to a sister, you’ll notice that after about five minutes or so, either she will introduce you to another sister or someone else will come by to talk to you. They’ll probably interject by saying, “Hey! What’re you guys talking about?” And then you tell them and they’ll start gushing about that topic too and all of the sudden the first girl you’re with says, “It was so nice to meet you” and leaves you to meet someone else.
These bump groups are very specifically timed and oriented to the PNM that the sister will be talking to, much like the line-ups for snake-ins. It is important to remember when this happens that the first sister isn’t pawning you off because she is bored or hates you. This technique was simply invented as a way for the sisters and PNMs to meet as many girls as possible.
In your discussions, you will talk about pretty basic small talk things. But remember to try and stand out! When a sister asks you what interested you in rushing don’t just say, “I liked the idea of having a sisterhood.” While this is a great, and probably true, reason, it is also one that everyone says. Try to get on a more personal level with the little amount of time that you can because the real you is the most important.
Each day after the parties, you will go back to your Pi Chi groups and make a preference list of which sororities you liked from least to greatest. The sisterhoods are doing the same thing as you at that time. The second night you will either get invited back to all three parties, two, one or even none, which is okay. Then you make a preference list again and on the third night you only get invited back to two or one parties. On the third night you make your last, and most important, preference list. The sorority you put as number one is the place where you can honestly see yourself thriving as a woman.
A computer system then takes all of the PNMs’ lists and the lists from the sororities and matches their preferences up.
Then on the final day, Bids Day, all of the girls are brought into a big room and handed envelopes. They are all ripped open at the same time to the sounds of shrieking and overly-excited hugs. After that, the new members are taken to the back quad where they get to run home to their new sisters.
And that, my friends, is recruitment.