Tips from Real Life 101

information to help you become more successful in life.

The Sorority Recruitment Experience

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A few short years ago, I found myself walking into an unknown building and entering a classroom that was full of unfamiliar faces. With no family members or friends that had “gone Greek” I had no idea what to expect on my first day of recruitment (informally often referred to as rush). While scheduling, numbers, and logistics can vary, the week is hectic, a little stressful, and exciting at any school.

If you’re rushing a sorority, read ahead to learn about my experience of rush, joining a sorority, and check out some tips for a successful week!

Before rush even begins, it is imperative to find the dates and requirements for your specific school. University websites should have this information posted months in advance, along with addresses for each sorority. These addresses should be used to send in resumes, pictures, and recommendation letters to each Greek organization. Although you are not required to send in resumes, pictures, and letters, these are easy ways to ensure that the sororities will recognize your face and know a little bit about you before you even walk in the door.

  • I recommend talking with family friends to find women who can write recommendation letters. It is also important to notify a sorority if you are a legacy. A legacy is a woman who is closely related to an active or alumni member of a given sorority; although each sorority has its own definition of “legacy”, typically a legacy means you have a sister, mother, or grandmother who is a member of said sorority. Being a legacy can have advantages during rush, but I was not a legacy of any sorority and that did not hinder my experience.

The first day of rush, we were required to wear Panhellenic t-shirts and plain shorts. I took this opportunity to wear my favorite gladiator sandals and a fabulous pair of earrings to stand out from the hundreds of girls wearing the exact same outfit.

  • Since every girl will wear the same thing on the first day, this is an excellent opportunity to wear jewelry or shoes that will make you stand out from the crowd. Make sure your accessories are classy and subtle.

I met my Rho Gammas and my rush group.

  • The Rho Gammas are disaffiliated from their sorority, so they are an excellent source of impartial advice if you are having trouble making decisions throughout the week; they are also often called Rho Chis or Recruitment Guides.

On the first day of rush I visited each sorority for twenty minutes. Active members of the sororities sat and talked to me about my hometown, my interests, and my experiences at my new school. Each sorority has a different system, so sometimes I talked to one girl for twenty minutes, and at other houses I talked to multiple girls for just a few moments each. 

  • Remember that the girls you are speaking with in each house are nervous too, so if there is a short lull in the conversation-don’t worry!

The time in each house was so brief on the first day; I used the provided booklets to jot down a few notes about each sorority so I could remember what I liked (and didn’t like) throughout the day. At the end of the day, I chose seven of the eleven houses I wanted to visit again the following day. That night, each sorority was selecting a list of girls that they wanted to meet again on the second day as well.

The second and third days of rush were similar; in the morning I met with my group and received my schedule for the day. The schedule is decided based on the selections made by PNMs (Potential New Members-that’s you!) and by the sororities. On the second day I wore a simple sundress and a pair of comfortable flats.

  • Depending on your school, you may be walking blocks between each house; stylish shoes that you are able to walk in are imperative (I know those Steven Madden pumps are adorable, but you will be miserable wobbling around all day)!

The second day I visited seven sororities, and the third day I went back to five sororities. On the third day I wore a nicer dress (think along the lines of a classy evening dinner or a graduation party) with comfortable heels. I loved these days of rush because each sorority performed songs and skits to teach PNMs about sisterhood, philanthropies, and social life. I continued to write my thoughts about the sororities; there were so many different songs and skits that it was hard to remember some specifics when it came time to select my preferences.

The final day is called Preference Round, and this round is significantly different than the previous days of rush. I wore a Michael Kors cocktail dress that I wore to my high school commencement dinner with a pair of brown wedges. 

  • While this day is certainly a little fancier, don’t wear a floor length prom gown or formal dress!

On Pref Round I returned to three houses and spent an hour in each house. There were no skits or songs performed on this day; some of the seniors in each house read poems and shared stories about their memories and experiences after joining the sororities; don’t be intimidated if many of the girls in the houses are crying!  I spoke with girls that I had already met on the previous days, and at some houses I was hotboxed, which means more than one girl was allowed to talk to me at the same time. After the rounds, I made my final selection!

  • This is the only day on which you will actually rank the houses you attended. On the first, second, and third days, I simply marked the sororities that I wanted to revisit in no specific order; however, after Pref Round I actually ranked the three sororities with a 1, 2, or 3 depending on my preference. Many girls are extremely overwhelmed and torn between sororities, so again, I recommend speaking with your Rho Gammas if you are confused or conflicted. 

Bid Day is absolutely thrilling, nerve-wracking, and can be potentially heartbreaking. At my school, we sat in a big stadium with our rush groups and were instructed to physically sit on our bid card. All the Rho Gammas sang every sorority song, and each Rho Gamma jumped forward during the songs to reveal her sorority! After the ceremony, all the girls ripped open their bid cards and ran to the sorority house shown on their cards. Each sorority had painted signs and posters and held balloons to welcome their new pledge class. I was ecstatic to have received a bid to the house that I ranked #1 after Pref Round, but it is important to remember that some girls may be disappointed. 

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  • No matter the result, it is imperative to give any sorority a shot; you may think you were destined to be a member of one specific sorority, but you may find that you absolutely love the girls in another sorority. You always have the opportunity to drop out if you decide the sorority is not for you, so you might as well attend bid day activities and give your new sorority a chance no matter what.

Written by Real Life 101, Inc.

July 31, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Finding the Right Roommate

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Whether you find a roommate on Facebook, decide to go “potluck”, or choose to live with a good friend, living with a roommate for the first time can present a few trials and tribulations. Freshman year of college is an exciting time of making friends, taking new classes, and getting involved on campus; roommate woes shouldn’t plague your college experience.

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We’ve put together a list of a few questions to keep in mind when discussing living arrangements with your future roommate:

  • Are you a night owl or an early riser?
  • Do you consider yourself sloppy or organized?
  • What room temperature do you think is comfortable?
  • Do you watch a lot of TV? When?
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Do you like to talk a lot or prefer to keep to yourself?
  • Do you plan on drinking alcohol/smoking?*

You might also want to ask potential roommates what activities they enjoy, what kind of music they love, and if they plan on joining any organizations on campus to establish common interests. If both you and your roommate compromise and determine general agreements, someone you thought was just your freshman year roommate could end up being a close friend for years to come. Many colleges and universities have Facebook groups where you can talk with possible roommates, and websites like RoomSurf can connect you with hundreds of new students! It’s likely that you will have the occasional tiff with anyone you live with, but finding a compatible roommie and communicating about important boundaries will ease these quarrels and guarantee a fantastic year for you both! 

*Real Life 101 does not condone underage drinking and reminds you to always drink and act responsibly. 

Written by Real Life 101, Inc.

June 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

How to Write a Proper Thank-You Note

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Whether you’re thanking family friends for their hospitality at their lake home one weekend, or simply thanking Grandma for a birthday present, writing a thank-you note is an important and polite gesture. Unfortunately, those fill-in-the-blank cards are only appropriate until about age seven, and technological advances have lead us to believe that shooting a quick email will suffice. Writing a genuine thank-you note is still in vogue and much more respectful than a call or email. Follow our easy steps to write a genuine thank-you.

  • Send notes in a timely manner. Various occasions have differing guidelines, but the best bet is to send a thank-you card as soon as you have time to sit down and write one.
  • Use appropriate stationary. You don’t have to buy any fancy or expensive note cards, but ripping a piece of paper out of your notebook is unacceptable. Simply designed cards are perfect and allow you to set your own tone through wording. We love this simple and sophisticated folded card from Paper Source: http://www.paper-source.com/cgi-bin/paper/item/Iron-Fence-A2-Embossed-Stationery/3902.020/4661007371.html
  • Greet the gift-giver. The beginning of your thank you note should be addressed to the individual(s) who signed the card. Elders should be referred to by their formal titles (e.g. Mr. and Mrs. Jones), unless they have previously given you permission to call them otherwise.
  •  Express your gratitude. Simply thank the individual for his or her gift, and be sure to express this gratitude in the politest way possible. Don’t directly mention money, but rather thank the individual for his or her generosity. You can also give an example of how you plan to use the item or cash to your advantage (again, discretion and overall courtesy is key!).
  • Show interest in the individual. Don’t write a novel about your relationship with the individual, but politely mention how great it was to see them recently or how you hope to cross paths soon.

 

Here’s a quick example of a thank-you note one may send after receiving money for graduation:

 

Dear Aunt Michelle,

Thank you very much for your generous gift! Your kindness is certainly appreciated, and will surely be a huge help when I purchase a bedspread for my new dorm room. It was fantastic seeing you at Lauren’s birthday party last weekend, and I hope to see you when I am home for Thanksgiving break. I hope things are well; you are in my thoughts! Thanks again for your gift.

With Love,

Jessica

Thank-you notes don’t need to be lengthy, but simply show appreciation and thanks for someone’s kindness. 

Written by Real Life 101, Inc.

December 29, 2011 at 11:45 am

Posted in Living, Uncategorized

Andrea’s Gift Guide for College Students

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For Him:

1. One for One. That is Toms’s motto. For every pair of shoes sold they give a pair to a child in need. What could be better than that? Get a little give a little.

For Her:

1. No one likes walking to class – or anywhere else for that matter – in shoes that get your feet soaked. Hunter boots are a necessity for icky weather. Best of all they will last for years!

2. Queen’s Poppy King created these lipstick shades for Kate Spade New York. They are bold,  and most of all, fun.

For Both:

1. This little gadget boils water in about 30 seconds. This watched pot will boil! It is also energy efficient for your green gift-getter. Got an avid tea-drinker on your list? This is the perfect solution!!

2. Wallpaper City Guides are the best travel guides around. They offer the most up to date information on over 80 cities written by both magazine editors and residents. Whether visiting for 48 hours or 2 weeks, these guides will ensure a trip nothing short of fulfilling.

                                 3. Music, apps, T.V., movies and more. Everyone can use this iTunes gift card!!

Written by Real Life 101, Inc.

December 22, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Greek Life Glossary

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With so many schools participating in and completing both men’s and women’s formal recruitment recently, we compiled a list of common Greek terms that are important to understand. Below are some of the vocab words you may hear as a member of a Panehellenic or IFC organization.

Active: A fully initiated member of a fraternity or sorority

Bid: An official invitation to join a Greek organization

Chapter: The formal name of the local organization of a national fraternity or sorority

Fraternity: A Greek organization typically understood as being restricted to men; however, women’s organizations can also be traditionally defined as a fraternity

Minority Greek Council (MGC): Governing body of minority Greek organizations

National Panhellenic Conference (NPC): Governing body of national sororities

National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC): Governing body of national black Greek organizations

Philanthropy: A Greek organization’s specific organization that members donate volunteer hours and the organization often donates money

Pin: Specific badge or symbol worn by a member of a fraternity or sorority

Potential New Member (PNM): Formal name for an individual participating in recruitment

Recruitment: The formal process of engaging PNMs to join a Greek organization

Recruitment Guide (also Rho Gamma, Rho Chi, Greek Councilor, etc): A disaffiliated member of a sorority or fraternity designated to aid PNMs through the recruitment process

Sorority:  A Greek organization restricted to women

Those are many of the formal terms you may hear when you’re thinking about going Greek. You may also hear a few of the following terms throughout recruitment: 

Dirty Rushing: Refers to the forbidden act of sorority actives promising PNMs a bid, contracting PNMs outside of the allotted time within the house, giving PNMs gifts, or any other prohibited and unethical form of recruiting

Dry Rush: Alcohol is forbidden at all fraternity/sorority recruitment events

Dropped (or cut): An individual is not invited to return to a Greek organization during recruitment

House: May refer to the actual structure of a sorority or fraternity. Also an informal name for a sorority or fraternity itself (eg “What house are you a member of?”).

Hotboxing: More than one sorority active speaks to a PNM at one time during recruitment

Pledge: New Member of a fraternity or sorority who has not been initiated into the organization

Pledge Class: Group of individuals that have participated in recruitment, accepted their bids, participated in New Member education and events, and been initiated during the same year

Pledgeship: Designated amount of time between bid acceptance and initiation into the Greek organization

Ranking: The process of a Greek organization selecting members to return to their house during recruitment, and the simultaneous process of a PNM of selecting which houses she would like to return

Rush: Informal name for the formal process of recruiting PNMs to join a Greek organization

Rushee: An individual participating in recruitment (PNM)

Suicide: The act of scoring or ranking only one Greek organization after the preference round of recruitment (if said individual does not receive a bid to the scored organization, the individual does not receive a bid to any Greek organization). This is the outdated way of defining “intentional single preference”.

Written by Real Life 101, Inc.

August 25, 2011 at 11:06 am

Don’t Forget: Packing for College

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Of course you remembered your clothes, a desk lamp, (extra-long) sheets, and all the other dorm room essentials that you use every day. However, there are some necessary and easily forgotten items that you should be sure find a place in your dorm to make a comfortable transition from home to campus.

Sleep Essentials: You may be used to your quiet bedroom and hours of luxurious and uninterrupted sleep. Cut to the dorm room, where not only do you share the room with another person, but you share the building with hundreds of other students.

  • If your noisy neighbors keep you from getting a restful night of sleep, purchase a sleeping mask and earplugs.

H20 Essentials: I remember chatting with fellow out-of-state student at orientation who asked if I had tasted the tap water in our college town. Confused, I of course went home and tried the tap water…and it tasted like dirt! A water filter can clean any questionable contaminants and tastes out of tap water.

  • A Brita filter is inexpensive and can be easily found at Target or Wal-Mart. Pour your filtered water into a reusable water bottle and you can save tons of cash instead of buying water bottles.

Rain Essentials: One item I completely forgot to pack when I went off to college was my favorite pair of rain boots! On that first rainy day I was one of the only students running to class in my flip-flops and t-shirt, drenched head to toe. With few exceptions, no matter where you go to school you’re going to run into a rainy day.

  • Be sure to pack rain boots, an umbrella, and a rain jacket to keep dry!

Laundry Essentials: It’s easy to remember detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets. However, if you plan on using the washing machines in the dorms, you’ll need a few rolls of quarters to put those other laundry necessities to use!

While we suggest making some extra room for these items, it’s important to remember that college dorm rooms are very tiny. A few things to leave a home when you’re packing for college:

High School T-shirts: You’ll receive an absurd amount of free t-shirts in college, and your “Class of 2011” senior shirt will end up getting stuffed in the back of your drawer.

  • Leave the old t-shirts at home, or send them to a company that specializes in making t-shirt quilts that you can use on your bed.

 Extra Pillows: After pledging a sorority, purchasing a koala Pillow Pet I just had to have, and the Peep pillow my grandma insisted on sending to me for Easter, I had trouble finding a place to sleep amongst the unnecessary pillows all over my bed.

  • Although adorable, leave the decorative pillows at home; these pillows will end up taking up what little floor space you have left.

Fancy Formals: Sports teams, clubs, sororities, and fraternities often throw date nights and formals.

  • However, long Prom dresses aren’t college-appropriate and you’ll be more apt to wear short cocktail dresses to these types of events.

Written by Real Life 101, Inc.

August 10, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Common Etiquette Mistakes

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The Real Life 101 team agrees that proper etiquette is an important aspect of every day life. We asked our etiquette expert, Jennifer Indyk, to share some of the most common mistakes she sees.   Here were her thoughts:

Many people make introductions in the wrong order:

  • The person of greater authority is mentioned first: “Mrs. President, may I present Mr. Vice President.”
  • Introductions should be done immediately and by whomever knows both parties.
  • When being introduced, offer right hand immediately for a handshake, make eye contact, smile and say something like “It’s nice to meet you” or “How do you do?”

It is a mistake to not leave your phone number on a voice mail message because you just know the other person has it.

Do not show up late to an appointment.  Be on time; arriving late shows a lack of respect.

At the table, it is important to understand which place setting is yours.

  • Your glassware will be on your right and your bread plate on your left.
  • Your fork will be on your left and spoon on the right.

Use cutlery with care.

  • Hold cutlery with fingers; not fists.
  • Do not gesture with your cutlery.
  • Once you pick up a piece of cutlery, it should never touch the table again.

Napkin use:

  • Do not tuck the napkin into shirt.
  • The napkin goes on your lap as soon as you sit down.
  • Dab the corners of your mouth with the napkin.

It is a mistake to pass the salt or pepper alone.

  • Always pass the two together, even if someone requests you to pass only one.
  • Just place both in front of the person requesting them.

Buttering Bread:

  • Do not take the butter directly from the dish and place it on your bread.
  • Rather, place a pat of butter on your bread plate first; then spread it on the bread.
  • Bread is to be torn, not cut.  Tear off a piece of a roll, butter and then eat, one piece at a time.

Do not put anything on table; this includes a cell phone or PDA.

Always pass food to the right.

Do not push away or stack your dishes.

Never blow on liquid to cool it.

Elbows are not permitted on the table when there is food on the table.

Remember these guidelines to avoid confusion and embarrassment when it really matters.