My daughter Kennedy knew she wanted to be a part of Greek life from the moment she found my bid day jersey and paddle from my big sis. Through the years, she had so many questions and would light up when I shared details of sorority life. Fast forward many years when she would sift through the vast number of sorority packets from daughters of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances that I would write recommendations for. She would take mental notes of details in packets she liked and mentally create her own.
Kennedy is an old soul but, in essence, a millennial and knows the nuts and bolts of the enormous world of social media and modern-day sorority recruitment, so I can’t thank her enough for her assistance with this post. She is a junior at my alma mater TCU, extremely involved in Greek life and is such a wealth of information for potential new members (PNM) and, of course, you and I; moms and parents. Together, we put together our advice and tips for surviving recruitment and, of course, Bid Day gift ideas for your daughter or PNM!
When Kennedy was preparing for recruitment, in 2017, we were told that some universities would not look at packets and it didn’t make a difference. Well, our MO has always been that if you do something, you do it right so we followed our instincts and had so much fun creating a beautiful packet that we submitted to each alumnae for recommendations or letters of support. As some had told us that no one cared what the packets looked like, we quickly learned that is certainly a university to university policy and TCU DID appreciate our efforts. In fact, I had active members stop me at events and share how much they LOVED Kennedy’s and they could not wait to meet her! Many sororities shared this with us so gals, follow your MO as some universities DO observe packets. Reminder: always put your best foot forward and follow your instincts.
Selecting clothing was another task that we found a bit overwhelming but always follow the policies stated from Panhellenic at your school. You may prefer torn shorty short cut off jeans but leave that for after recruitment and dress for success! A week or two before recruitment, have your daughter organize her outfits and label them according to each day’s party. The first week of recruitment is extremely stressful so having your outfits preplanned is imperative.
The week of recruitment is nerve-wracking for parents as you just don’t know what is going on behind the scenes and you have zero control. You can only coach your daughter at the end of each day, debriefing each party and sharing the best advice you can and always advising to be themselves! TCU Panhellenic had a strict policy of no phones so we had zero contact with Kennedy during the day. Although this KILLED ME, knowing my personality, it was for the best! At the end of the day we would hash through and prepare for the next day. I encouraged her to make notes after each party based on criteria that were important to her. At the end of the day, your notes won’t lie and she may be surprised by the sororities in her top 5…or 10!
Personal note: I am a very active Alpha Chi Omega and loved my experience. I have sisters from my chapter and from a number of universities that have become life-long friends. I did not want Kennedy to go AXO for me. I truly wanted her to find her sisterhood home and bond on her own. Even on pref day, I continued to say, “do not do this for me!” As this is HER college experience, I always remained unbiased in my feedback and encouraged her to find the right fit for herself. As fate would have it, AXO took her to pref and VIOLA…Kennedy is my sister! She has her home which is perfect for her and I cannot tell you how fabulous it felt pinning my daughter/sister at initiation. It has been so much fun being an active alumnae with the AXO girls at TCU and love seeing my daughter form lifelong friendships with these amazing girls.
Bid day was a whirlwind and happened so quickly. I HIGHLY SUGGEST being prepared for the big day with gifts for your daughter or PNM. I had selected items delivered to Kennedy’s sorority house the day after bid day and I recommend you do the same. I have been friends with Haley Wilson, owner of Brown Bag Etc, for 11+ years! She has the most adorable store specializing in sorority gifts and so much more. She is beyond talented, giving, and her energy is through the roof! With her guidance, we put together a fabulous selection of items for gifts, not only for Bid Day, but Holidays, Birthdays, Big/Little reveal, and more! These items can be delivered to ANY university, not just TCU and can be shopped in store or online. Use discount code TIFFY for 10% off your purchase! I suggest you get on this now as recruitment for many schools is beginning soon!
Best of luck to all of the PNM and family members going through fall recruitment! What an amazing and exciting time for everyone!
I will leave you with rush tips from Kennedy for both PNM’s and moms below. I found these so helpful and I know you and your daughter will too, so please share!
Be Open Minded.
Leave all thoughts or rumors about the houses at the door, and don’t listen to the trash talking that happens in rush groups. Every sorority has something so unique and special to offer, but if you go into the house with a closed mind you immediately limit your ability to find the special things the house can offer.
Don’t Join in on PNM Gossip.
The house that one girl just trashed during lunch break? That might be the last house on someones list. You don’t know what other girls are going through or even looking for, so keep your opinions to yourself.
Don’t Get Intimidated.
Rush is SCARY. You have no clue what to expect, there’s a ton of uncertainty and it’s just an all around bizarre experience. Don’t let the “perfect” image portrayed by the sorority houses intimidate you. The girls in the sorority are dressed to the nines to impress YOU!!! We want you to like us JUST as much as you want us to like you. So just be yourself!
Look at the Girls Around You.
Once you get to the last few rounds, take a good long look at the girls you are standing outside the house with, because THOSE are the girls in your potential pledge class. Those are the girls you’ll get initiated with, go to chapter with, tailgate with, laugh with, and cry with. It’s great looking inside the house at all of the actives- but really pay attention to those around you.
Remember How You Feel Waiting Outside the House.
How the members make you feel inside the house will directly determine how you feel waiting outside of the house. I remember when I went through I was so torn between two houses. Outside one house I was a hot mess, stressed about how my hair & makeup looked, if they would like my dress, or if I would say the wrong thing. All around not a great feeling. At the other house, although I still wanted to look good, it wasn’t this stressful feeling like I had to be perfect. My heart wasn’t racing because I knew that the girls in the house liked me for who I am as a person, not just what I was wearing or how I looked.
Be Yourself and Choose for Yourself.
Being yourself is SO important. If you’re putting on an image just for a house to like you- you shouldn’t want to be in that house anyway. You truly won’t end up in the house that was made for you if you aren’t being authentic throughout the process.
CHOOSE for yourself. Beginning with dropping houses. There might be a girl in house ABC that you got along great with (she might even say “omg I can see you being my little”), but if the rest of the house didn’t mesh well… don’t keep the house for the sake of that one nice girl. Just because you don’t join her sorority DOES NOT mean you can’t be her friend. And I can PROMISE you won’t hurt any of the actives feelings, we want to find the pledge class that best fits our chapter, equally we want all the girls to find their own home, and we entirely understand and respect if our house isn’t your home.
Don’t pick a house because your BFF or roomie wants you to “be sisters for life!”- you’ll be friends regardless of your letters.
If you don’t see yourself in the chapters you are a legacy of, DROP THEM! Don’t feel like you have to keep them just because you had family in it, I promise you all of your family members want you to be happy, whatever those letters may be!
Don’t Take It to Heart.
Every single girl will likely get cut from at LEAST one house throughout the process. The first house that cuts you will sting a little bit. Your mind will race with questions like, “What did I do wrong? What did I say? Why didn’t they like me? They seemed like they loved me.” It’s normal, we all do it. However, don’t let that get in the way of being your bubbly self the rest of the day. The “cutting” process is not easy, but there is more to it than a simple “keep or cut.” There are number quotas, legacy quotas, and so many variables houses have to meet. Chances are high they didn’t want to cut you but they got stuck with number games. Also, the image portrayed from the houses during recruitment is different than what the chapter is actually like. The members know their sorority WAY better than you do, so if they cut you, they just see you finding your home elsewhere.
Overall, you should feel excited to go into whatever house you end up choosing. You shouldn’t have this feeling of having to maintain perfection. Give each house a fighting chance, and don’t hold on to judgements you make the first day. My little tried to cut our sorority day one because she wasn’t crazy about the girl she talked to…BUT she gave it time and grace and now LOVES the sorority. Once the recruitment makeup, hair, and outfits are off, they will still be the same person on the inside, so base your decisions on your interactions, conversations, and where you think you’ll find your bridesmaids.