Inspired by a recent post in our awesome Future Female Leaders Network group, I would love to impart a few things about preparing for sorority recruitment. The actual recruitment week(s) in an of itself is a whole other beast that needs to be tamed at its own time, but as my parents always said, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” So this bite, is about the over the summer preparations that go into successful recruitment.

First, let me define what successful is when it comes to recruitment— it’s your own definition.

Recruitment can definitely end in a multitude of ways:

  • you happily running to your new sisters on Bid Day

  • you being crushed at ending up with your second choice (or no choice at all)

  • you dropping out of the recruitment process because it didn’t seem like the right fit

Honestly, looking back on the process of my own recruitment, almost 7 years ago now, I am proud of the fact I was able to handle being thousands of miles away from home and meet countless girls, and put my best foot forward everyday. The fact that I found my true sisterhood, and now what I consider to be some of my best friends is a cherry on top.

A couple of key terms to know:

Panhellenic: This is the organization on campus that is the managing and governing board for all the sororities on campus. There is also a National Panhellenic Conference made up of the 26 national sororities, that helps to dictate fair policies like recruitment rules, hazing, etc.

PNM: potential new member, aka you.

Formal recruitment: this takes place at different times depending on your campus. This is the formal process where a PNM must visit all of the sororities on campus at one point, and the mutual selection process occurs.

Informal recruitment: also known as COB, or Continuous Open Bidding, this process occurs when a chapter is below the average total (amount of sorority members in each chapter) of chapters on campus. Individual chapters have different ways of doing informal recruitment, including simply just inviting members’ friends to the house or to coffee dates. It’s a less structured recruitment process.

Membership selection: the way that sororities choose their new members. This is actually a secret process that sororities do not disclose. Common things, I assume, to vote on include your academics, leadership activities, volunteer service, personal excellence (morals but also appearance in the sense of do you look like you put effort into your appearance), and the way you interact with chapter members. The overarching question that people like to joke about is, “Could I brush my teeth next to this girl in the sorority bathroom?”

That out of the way, there are things that you can do in the summer before recruitment to make the process A LOT smoother.

do: get recommendations

Ask your mom’s friends and your friend’s mom’s about if they were in a sorority. Other resources include, favorite high school teachers, members of your church community, and even online groups like FFL Network! It is always best, though, if you can have a more personal recommendation from someone who knows you. It is also best to have an alumna (graduated) member of the sorority write you a recommendation than a current member of a chapter. Politely ask your contact to write a letter of recommendation to their chapter for you. Give your recommender a copy of your resume (make sure your high school GPA and test scores are on it!) and a cute picture of yourself that they can forward on to the chapter. Be sure to list your hobbies and things you would feel happy to talk about during recruitment on a cover email or cover letter. Recommendations aren’t required for recruitment, but they definitely help. Try to have two for each sorority chapter on campus. Don’t forget to send a thank you note after recruitment is over, telling them what chapter you ended up in.

do: read the websites

The national sorority and the local chapters each should have their own website and social media. Know a little bit about each sorority. It’s a conversation starter and can also help jog your memory at the end of a day of recruitment parties.

do: clean up social media

Make sure to have your social media reflect good morals. Don’t have pictures where drinks are present, or you look shambly. Delete old embarrassing, aka middle school bathroom selfies, photos before you sign up for recruitment.

don’t: break the bank

You’ll want to buy new outfits for recruitment, but don’t feel like you have to spend a ton of money. Recycle that new graduation dress for Preference day. Buy a sundress for Sisterhood Day that you can wear again for game day or Parent’s Weekend. Being groomed and presentable is more important than the latest fashions. However, be sure to look at your campus Panhellenic website, as it will have more detailed descriptions of the individual days of recruitment that can help you form opinions about what you want to wear.

don’t: get your heart set

Don’t go off a preconceived reputation of each chapter before recruitment. Do your research, but go in with a completely open mind. The prettiest girls on Instagram might not be able to hold an interesting conversation in actual recruitment. You might even hit it off with a sister from a chapter you didn’t like at first, based on something silly.

RELATED READ: 16 Things I Wish I Knew Before Joining A Sorority

do: talk financials

Talk with your parents about the financial details of joining a sorority. There should be documents on the campus Panhellenic website that detail the average dues on campus. For schools with sorority houses, you will be responsible for dues, meal plan, and a house fee. This can be in the thousands of dollars. However, many find that living in the house and on the sorority meal plan is cheaper than living on or off  campus. Also know that there may be scholarships from your national sorority to help pay for dues or tuition. Your initiation semester may be a little more expensive than the rest of your experience because you have to pay for a member pin and a few other one-time-only fees. I didn’t go to a campus with sorority houses, so after my new member semester, my dues were $685. This included all the events like semi-formal and formal, sisterhood retreats, and the opportunity to use our chapter room space.

do: get excited

There’s a saying about sorority recruitment: it’s the best week of your life you’d never want to go through again. While recruitment is both emotionally and physically exhausting, you do get to meet dozens of girls in chapters, and so many sweet friends in your recruitment group. Know that there is a place for everyone on campus. While it may not be in a sorority, you have four amazing years ahead of you at college!

Jordan O

Jordan Orris is a second year M.S. Integrated Marketing Communications graduate student at Ole Miss. She graduated from Auburn University in marketing and journalism. Originally from Henderson, Nevada, she enjoys SEC Football, reading, and politics.