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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

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

What We Wish We’d Known Before College

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By Jessica Bly

Before freshman year of college, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by every aspect of college: What should I pack? How will I make friends? Should I stay in a relationship with my boyfriend or girlfriend?

I consulted my friends from colleges across the country to compose a comprehensive list of all the things a freshman should know before moving on campus.

1. Pack lightly.

Whether you are traveling across the country or going to a school close to home, it’s important to be realistic when packing for college. Don’t pack every pair of shoes you own, because you will not only be cramped for space in your dorm, but you probably won’t wear half of what you bring.

  • Also keep in mind that you will probably borrow clothes from your roommate or other friends, so your wardrobe will most likely be expanded. One of my closest friends warns: “Don’t bring knick knacks!” –Emily Glaze, Elon, Class of 2013.
  • Be sure to buy certain necessities after you get a look at your room; for example, you may buy tons of storage containers and realize that your closet actually comes equipped with excellent shelving. 

2. It may take time to find close friends.

If you’ve had the same tight-knit group for years, it can be frustrating when you don’t find best friends immediately at your new school. It will take time to meet and get to know other individuals, so be patient!

  •  It is also important to understand that the first few friends you make at college might not be your closest friends in a few months: “It’s so important to branch out and not cling to the first people you meet or just people on your floor. Those people might be great acquaintances but you will probably find your close friends through common interests and activities.” –Allison Kipke, Connecticut College, Class of 2013

 3. It’s OK to be overwhelmed!

If you’ve lived at home for eighteen years and suddenly find yourself hours away from everyone you know, it’s normal and understandable to be homesick, and even scared! It is also important to realize that everyone feels this way.

  • Call up a friend from home or a relative if you’re feeling homesick. If you really feel down, it’s completely acceptable to speak with teacher or counselor; they can help you find a way to be less overwhelmed and more relaxed at your new school.

4. Be careful at college parties. 

College parties can be, in a word, insane. Even if you consider yourself party savvy, college parties aren’t comparable to other types of social functions. There will be plenty of strangers and alcohol surrounding you at every party, so our advice is to use your best judgment. My sorority requires each member to have a “party buddy” for each mixer or formal; party buddies are required to arrive and leave a party together. Although sometimes frustrating when you want to leave a party and your buddy is still on the dance floor, it’s best to stick together at all times to ensure everyone’s safety.

  • As for the alcohol*, “Don’t drink the punch!” –Audrey Taylor, TCU, Class of 2013. Sometimes referred to as “jungle juice” or “trashcan punch”, this particular drink is usually made of just about any type of alcohol, juice, and soda, mixed together in a large container. The concoction will end your night pretty quickly.
  •  Another important note about college parties is that, for the most part, they are all pretty similar. If you have a test on Friday morning and your friends are hitting up a fraternity party on Thursday night, know that you probably won’t miss much that you can’t experience the next night: “I wish I’d known how to stay in before tests and stuff. Showing up to my speech at 8am after Mardi Gras still drunk will go down in history-I completely failed that!” –Jill (name changed) Class of 2013.

 5. Consider all aspects of your long-distance relationship. 

It’s impossible to tell anyone to break-up or continue a relationship through college without knowing the individuals.

  • It is wise to have a conversation with your boyfriend or girlfriend to discuss both of your expectations for the relationship when you’re both away at school. One of my closest friends from college had a boyfriend for the first few months of our Freshman year, and she says: “No one can tell you to break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend when you come to college; that’s for you to decide. But just know you need to go to college with the open mind to meet new people so you can have new life experiences.” –Ashton Minter, TCU, Class of 2013

 6. Wait to buy your textbooks. 

  • Textbooks can be extremely expensive, so wait until after your first few classes to purchase any books. Sometimes professors are simply required to offer a textbook for the course, but they won’t end up using it at all!
  • For the textbooks you will end up needing for classes, don’t immediately run to the bookstore. Chegg.com, Half.com, and other websites and resources provide much better deals on books.

 7. It goes way too fast.

Everyone has heard that “college is the best time of your life”. It’s pretty tough to really understand and appreciate how wonderful and adventurous your college years will be before you even get there, so just keep in mind that it’s important to really soak up every moment of your time in college.  Academics and acquiring the skills needed for your future are, of course, the key elements of college, but remember to have fun!  “Sometimes it’s hard to notice it at the time because you’re stressed about being in a new environment, but freshman year is such a blast- you have to relax and enjoy it!” –Audrey Taylor, TCU, Class of 2013

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

Did we miss anything? Comment and tell us what you wish you would’ve known before you left for college!


Why Go Greek?

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Why Go Greek?


If you’re still trying to decide if joining a Greek organization is the right choice for you, there may be a few aspects of Greek life that just may entice you to give a sorority or fraternity a chance.

Improve your Grades: Being a member of a sorority or fraternity can improve your grades in a variety of ways. As a New Member, you may be required to complete a certain number of study hours each week. These study hours encourage New Members to begin their college careers successfully by practicing regular study habits from the beginning. Greek organizations also often have a minimum GPA required to remain an active member of the organization. This GPA varies by organization, but individuals who do not maintain this GPA are often placed on academic probation. Academic probation may prohibit individuals from participating in social events or intramural sports, and additional study hours may be required for these individuals. Greeks study hard so they can play hard! Finally, Greek organizations often keep test files that are full of old tests and study guides for many classes offered at the university. All members of the Greek organization have access to these files, and an individual may borrow tests, quizzes, and study guides in order to prepare for a class. Many Greek organizations even keep a list of each member’s major or minor, and members can contact one another to study or discuss specific classes or professors associated with each major. Greek organizations also provide access to tutors if an individual is struggling with a particular course.

Expand your Social Life: If you’re worried about making friends at your new school, going Greek is an excellent way to meet new people! Chapter and pledge class retreats, sisterhood and brotherhood events, and volunteer work are just a few of the occasions when you can bond with other members in your Greek organization. You will also have a Big Sister or Brother and eventually a Little Sister or Brother; these relationships open new doors to spend time with members in other pledge classes. Not only will you meet individuals in your own sorority or fraternity, but Greek formals, themed mixers, date nights, philanthropies, and intramural sports will give you the opportunity to meet members of other organizations as well!

Advance your Networking: Individuals who actively participated in their Greek organizations throughout college often stay in touch with their chapters long after graduation. Joining a Greek organization may allow you to connect and establish relationships with these alumni. Alumni can offer excellent advice, and possibly even inform you of potential employment opportunities.

Increase your Volunteer Experience: It is estimated that Greeks volunteer over 850,000 hours of community service annually around the nation. Each Greek organization has a specific charitable organization to which the members donate volunteer hours, and the organization donates money (this is called philanthropy). Being involved with a Greek organization allows you to volunteer to help those in need. You’re not limited to volunteering your time towards one charity; by participating in other organization’s philanthropy events (which can be any activity, such as a dodge ball tournament or a soccer scrimmage) you can help other Greek organizations raise money for their charity of choice!

These are just a few aspects of Greek life that can enhance your success throughout college and provide you with friends and memories that extend far beyond graduation. GO GREEK!

College Degree = No Job?

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College graduates are finding the job market tougher than ever before when it comes time to land their first job out of school.  The recent economic downturn has hit new grads particularly hard.  Consider:
  • In 2009, only 19.7% of college graduates were hired directly out of school.  That’s down from 26% in 2008 and 51% in 2007.[1]
  • The difference in pay for high school graduates and college graduates is no longer as significant as it has been historically. [2]
  • Workers entering the workplace during a recession earn an average of 23% less than workers hired during good economic times.  Studies show those differences persist nearly 20 years later.[3]
  • The national unemployment rate for workers under 25 is currently 18.8%, almost twice the national rate for all workers.[4]
What does this all mean?  It means that college graduates today are unlikely to find a good job out of school, the work they find will pay less, and they are unlikely to ever recover that lost income.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.  Students can take steps to improve the likelihood of landing a good job when they graduate by developing three things: skills, experience, and a professional network.
 
Skills:
Problem: Graduates often lack critical, or preferred, job-related skills which prevent them from landing the job they want.
College degree programs are designed to prepare students for a career not a specific job in the field.  As a result, there is often a gap between what is desired by employers and what is taught in the classroom.
 
Solution: Look at current job postings, talk with recruiters or hiring managers, and research the latest hiring trends in the industry for the type of job you want.  What skills are the employers looking for?  Use elective course credits to help give you an edge in the job market.  For example, in today’s global marketplace, many employers prefer to hire workers who speak a foreign language.  Another tip for those elective credits: look for applied courses over general courses.  For instance, a technical writing course may prove more valuable to an engineering major than a basic English class.
 
Experience:
Problem: Graduates often have little evidence to demonstrate their capability in the business world.
Experience is the great catch-22: no one will hire you without it, and you can’t get experience if no one will hire you.  That being said, there are things students can do to show their capability while still in school.
 
Solution: Experience can come in many different forms.  You may find that sales or management experience is a desired qualification, and there may be part-time or seasonal work that can help you satisfy that requirement.  However, it’s important to remember that some of the best experience can come out of unpaid opportunities.  Internships and volunteer work can be a great way to take on responsibility and show what you can do.  Look to non-profits for a great source of opportunities; they have the same needs as major corporations, but they usually lack the funds to hire all the talent they need.  Stuck on campus?  Take an active leadership role in a student organization; they work like corporations on a much smaller scale.  No matter what you do, document everything.  Write down where you worked, what you did, your successes, and the challenges you overcame.  This journal will be a great resource when filling out an application or preparing for an interview.  Also, keep any projects or reports that showcase your abilities.  Being able to share your actual work product with employers carries more weight than just words.
 
Networking:
Problem: College graduates lack meaningful connections to hiring professionals in their desired career.
As the saying goes, “it’s not what you know; it’s who you know.”  Studies have shown that the overwhelming majority of jobs are filled by applicants known by or referred to the hiring manager by a trusted authority.  This means the good jobs don’t make it into the classifieds; typically less than 3% of all hires come from job boards.
 
Solution: It’s never too soon to start building your professional network.  Many campuses host networking events with employers, recruiters, and other professionals who can help students get the job they want after graduation.  Take advantage of these opportunities to begin cultivating contacts and creating relationships.  Friends, family, and even fellow classmates can be a conduit to job openings as well.  Social networking sites can be a great way to manage your contacts and keep in touch, but don’t forget the value of personal interaction.  The goal is to develop a relationship with people who can aid your professional development and connect you to job openings.  The best advice?  Be proactive.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you don’t know.  Introduce yourself, and ask for a meeting.
Even as the economy and job market in this country continue to improve, landing a great job out of school will continue to be a challenge.  A college degree by itself is no longer a guarantee of success, but with a little thought and effort put into developing competitive skills, resume-enhancing experience, and a powerful professional network, the promise of a better future can be realized.

[1] Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers survey
[2] Source: “What’s a Degree Really Worth?”, WSJ.com
[3] Source: “Starting career during recession can damage salary for decades,” Dailyfinance.com
[4] Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics