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  #1  
Old 09-06-2011, 11:38 PM
redlady2 redlady2 is offline
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A Decade Old SEC Sorority Recruitment Tale!

Hello! I’ve been reading Greekchat for the last few weeks now and after reading a handful of 2011 recruitment stories from women who are disappointed with their invitations or who decide to withdraw from the process, I wanted to post my vintage (ten-ish years old) rush story. I kept a diary during undergrad that I came across while cleaning recently, and that’s what got me looking up Greekchat in the first place! I kept pretty detailed records of my thoughts and impressions during recruitment, so hopefully I can provide a detailed account of my recruitment experience that will inspire PNMs to stick with the process, even when they are feeling heartbroken or disappointed!

A bit of background: This story is around a decade old, and is based at an southern school with a strong greek system. At the time of my recruitment, there are 15 chapters on my campus, and all chapters have their own houses. The comments here are taken straight from my notes, so bear in mind that they are the verbatim thoughts of an 18-year old PNM and are not the way I'd phrase or interpret things now as an older, more seasoned Panhellenic alumna!

I’ve nicknamed the 15 chapters after characters from the greatest television show of our times, The O.C. (Mostly season one, of course, but I couldn’t resist throwing in Taylor Townsend.)

Summer
Marissa
Seth
Ryan
Taylor
Kirsten
Sandy
Jimmy
Caitlyn
Julie
Theresa
Luke
Caleb
Haley
Anna

Let’s begin!

***
During the summer before my freshman year, I decided that I wanted to do something that no woman in my family had done before me: join a sorority. I was the first woman in my family to go to college - my mom had not, and neither of my grandmothers had, either. Unfortunately, as a result, I was woefully unprepared for recruitment. (Note: Watching Legally Blonde does not constitute preparation for recruitment.) Great grades, lots of activities, but no recs and no legacy chapters. Essentially, I had no idea what I was getting into - a recipe for disaster at an SEC school with a competitive system. I scoured the chapter websites before recruitment and decided that based on that alone, combined with the published panhellenic GPA rankings, I wanted Julie, Anna, or Sandy.

I woke up at 6:30 am, got ready, and arrived on the first day to Round One sitting under the tent at Summer, nervous and completely perplexed by the process of Panhellenic recruitment. At each chapter, women would pour out of the house with military precision, standing at attention on the steps or porch, while a woman (usually the recruitment chair, also wearing a stopwatch) would step to the front and welcome the PNMs. I felt like I wasn't part of reality anymore. Stopwatches? Really? But such is recruitment at a large southern university. The members would “rush” the tent, select a PNM from underneath, and usher her into the house.

My first day began at Summer. My thoughts: “Nice house, though a bit of a walk. The girls were OK, but the one who rushed me had a tongue piercing I think, which struck me as odd. Gorgeous house inside. I left with a somewhat ‘blah’ feeling.”

I then proceeded to Marissa. “The house itself is not as nice inside, and the girls are friendly but I don’t feel like it is genuine. I connected with the second girl I met at this chapter but am not sure it is for me.”

After this, it was on to Seth. For some reason (that I no longer remember!) I was initially not expecting to like Seth. “I’m shocked, but it is very high up on my list! I didn’t click perfectly with the girl who rushed me, as she seemed more athletic and I’m fairly clumsy, but she introduced me around to the chapter president and to women who are heavily involved in student government, which felt very special! The house had a grand piano, which is a nice perk I wouldn’t mind having around! I’m really hoping to be asked back.”

The next house was Ryan. To preface, through my Googling, I’d come upon a news story about Ryan that made me nervous about the chapter (hazing/initiation process). The chapter at my university was only mentioned in passing in the article, but it still made me apprehensive. As luck would have it, I fell head-over-heels with this chapter. “I was hoping to hate it, and I fell completely in love. The girl who rushed me was sweet and involved in Student Government - something I’d like to do as well. Then she bumped me to someone who is a musical theater buff like me and we talked about performing 42nd Street. It felt right. It felt like home. I got a big case of ‘I NEED TO BE HERE!’.”

Up next was Taylor, which I did not know much about before recruitment except that one of their prominent alums was my idol. As luck would have it, I did not like this chapter at all. “I wanted to love it, I really did. But it was incredibly blah. Long, awkward pauses. The girl I was passed off to was the social chair and she did not have much to talk about. I just did not like it at all.”

Next, Kirsten. “I had no idea what to expect, and the girl who rushed me was very nice, very genuine. I hope to get asked back here, but it wasn’t a perfect click like at Ryan.”

The next house, Sandy, was one that had been on my “watch list” based on the website and chapter GPA. “WOWOWOWOW! Just when I thought it had been sealed that Ryan was my favorite, Sandy gave them a run for their money. Cute house, and every girl was ‘super-perfect-friendly-can-I-be-like-you-please’ type girls. Intimidating! The girl who rushed me talked about how involved they are on campus, and oozed genuine happiness. The house radiated class, character, and general sweetness.”

I then made a note that I think a lot of women going through recruitment may identify with: “Ryan is the place where I fit in perfectly now, as I am. Sandy is where I want to fit in perfectly. Does that make sense?”

Finally I visited Jimmy: “I don’t think I fit here. The girls were nice to me but at one point politics came up indirectly. The girl brought something up a bit controversial and I had to bite my tongue. I am pretty sure this chapter is not for me.”

I had a break that evening and then came back for Day 2 of Round One.

First up that day, Caitlyn! “I’ll be honest, I had not heard good things about this chapter. I know I shouldn’t listen to what other people say, but even though this chapter had a beautiful house, I didn’t expect it to go well. I was pretty wrong! Of course I really liked it. The girls were sweet and nothing felt like an act. The house also seemed to have flexible membership options in terms of living in the house and getting the meal plan, which appeals to me since I don’t live that close to the row.”

Then, Julie! Julie was one of the houses I was initially interested in (GPA and website). “I badly wanted this to click, but it felt a bit like an act. I’d heard wonderful things about Julie. I know they have a lot of involved sisters and are a strong chapter, so I’m really hoping to be asked back.”

Up next was Theresa. “I adored it, but I think that my hair color means I won’t be invited back. It seems crazy, and I thought it was just gossip, but after going through the house and seeing the sisters there, I’m stunned! The whole thing was very professional, though, and you could just tell that this chapter really has its act together.”

The next chapter was Luke. “I kind of tripped on a rock on my way out of this chapter. Oddly enough, that was a bit symbolic of how the party went. The girl didn’t seem interested in me, and I couldn’t keep the conversation going. I wound up asking about their crest, which given her reaction I am now assuming is a thing you are NOT supposed to ask about. I probably won’t get asked back here, but I felt blah about it, so it won’t hurt my feelings badly.”

Then, onward to Caleb! “When the girls come out at other houses, it feels very polished. Put together. I didn’t get that here. It didn’t seem like they’d fully polished their recruitment operation. I don’t know if that matters much, but it felt a bit like the opposite of Sandy. The impression it left me with wasn’t great but I’m open to meeting more of these women because I feel ridiculous judging ANYONE as a potential sister based on their ability to form a line of perfectly-postured women on a sidewalk on a summer afternoon.”

We took a lunch break and then there were two more!

At Haley, I “got a real ‘party-girl’ vibe from the house which didn’t really mesh with me. I know they’re very involved in other campus activities and have a good GPA, so I’m willing to give it another shot if they’ll have me.”

Then there was Anna, the last of my pre-rush “preferred” houses based on website and GPA. “I got a great feeling. I felt like the girls were all just like me, like me-sitting-around-with-my-friends mode, while Sandy is like me-but-more-put-together-and-confident mode and while Ryan is like me-in-super-overachiever-mode. I loved it! Really want to be invited back.


At the end of Round One, I was exhausted, nervous, and already a bit disheartened. I had met so many women that I loved, and so many chapters that I was excited about. I couldn’t believe that with only 20 minutes per chapter, I already had to make a judgment! My favorites were Anna, Sandy, and Ryan in no particular order. Women are allowed up to 10 parties for round 2, so I ranked the following five chapters as my “bottom” chapters, though I was just hoping to have a shot at going back to as many as possible to get another look.

(in order, from “most preferred” to “least preferred” of my bottom chapters)

1. Caitlyn
2. Marissa
3. Taylor
4. Jimmy
5. Caleb


Stay tuned for Round 2 & 3...
  #2  
Old 09-07-2011, 12:06 AM
amycat412 amycat412 is offline
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YAY!
  #3  
Old 09-07-2011, 12:17 AM
redlady2 redlady2 is offline
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I'm going to post the pieces at a faster pace here so that if there are any women in the process now, I haven't dragged this out into a long soap opera to much!

Back to the story...

“Well it looks like my high school friends were right. Perhaps this was a bad idea." - my journal

There are fifteen sororities, and you can get invited back to as many as ten for this round. Me? I got my paperwork. Four. Four chapters. Most of the women around me had full or nearly-full schedules. And there it was. Empty spaces where parties should be.

The initial blow of only getting four invitations hurt, but was cushioned by one bright beacon of hope - Ryan. The four chapters that had invited me back included one I loved (Ryan), one I liked (Caitlyn), and two I was not thrilled about but would certainly give another shot to (Taylor and Caleb). But oh, did I love Ryan!

It was the fact that I was still invited back to Ryan that kept my spirits up.

Nonetheless, I wrote in my journal, “I’m hurt. Confused. What did I do wrong? I feel like everything happens for a reason. I just can’t stop wondering, though, why - after twenty minutes - did eleven chapters decide that they’d rather not even give me a second look?”

But nonetheless, though I only had one party the first day, it was at Ryan, and that energized me.

About Ryan, I wrote: “When I went here, I felt home. It felt right. It felt fantastic to feel wanted. The girls I met seemed to know what I’d talked about with their other sisters the day before. Either they really love me, or this is a fantastic logistical trick they have pulled. (Or both.) At this point, I’m assuming the best! I was the last girl out of the house. And this was philanthropy round, and I absolutely love the cause they support! I loved it. I was myself. And I hope, hope, hope they felt the same way.”

But after Ryan, my day was not over. Most cruel of it all was the way Panhellenic handled the “break” parties. Now, in hindsight, I completely understand why the system was arranged this way, because I suppose it would be impractical to let hundreds of women run off during their free parties, but for “break” parties, women had spend the duration of that party in a large room in a campus building near the row. Sure, there was music playing and rush counselors played games with the PNMs, but there was always an unfortunate sense that it was only where you went if you weren’t good enough for a full schedule. (Remember, this is before the new recruitment figures system that made it rare for any woman to have a full schedule.) At the time it felt awful to see women heading to their next party and instead, to be headed off the row to wait in a classroom, biding your time, spending thirty, forty, sixty, ninety minutes waiting until your “break” parties ended. I luckily had a merciful recruitment guide who dismissed me since I had three “breaks” in a row and no more parties for the day.

As I was walking out of the room, I looked around and started to recognize faces - a lot of faces. There were easily two hundred women in the room. Women I’d known through high school programs in the state, women that I knew to be fiercely intelligent, beautiful inside and out, accomplished, forces to be reckoned with, women to be admired. And here they were, in the “break” party, without a full schedule. What houses wouldn’t want these women? And after one round! But my shock and frustration was quickly overcome with thanks that I was not alone, and the realization that having a short schedule was NOT a mark against me as a woman, me as a person. Where I was or was not invited back did NOT define me or my value.

I went home for the night to my dorm to think about how much I liked Ryan, and to get a good night’s sleep before the three parties the next day...
  #4  
Old 09-07-2011, 12:59 AM
redlady2 redlady2 is offline
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Remember what I said about a faster pace? Now I'm up typing this and can't go to sleep. So much for holding out the suspense!

***


Day Two of Round Two began and my outlook on things was getting a lot better. There was my serious adoration of chapter Ryan, plus my schedule for the day felt much more full with three parties to attend. I wrote: “The parties at Caitlyn, Caleb, and Taylor all went extremely well! I’m back to being happy. Everywhere felt...comfortable. I was able to stop dwelling on the places that cut me, and focused on how happy I was that some sisterhoods had invited me back.”

At Caleb, the girl who rushed me had done marching band and so we had a few good band dork inside jokes to share. You could tell the sisters love each other.

Then, at Caitlyn, I got some great recommendations about things to check out on campus and around town. I don’t know how or why, but we wound up discussing those tofu chicken nuggets that actually taste delicious and have become my dorm food staple. This, ultimately, was a very good thing, because I find totally random conversation to usually be the best!

Finally, there was Taylor, where my opinion totally turned around. I met that same social chair who had felt boring round one, and it was a thousand times better this time! Then, I was rushed by a recruitment committee member and she told me a hilarious, quirky story that is exactly the sort of story that would happen to me.

I was finally feeling good about all four chapters that had invited me back, which had really removed a lot of that initial sting that I felt upon being released eleven. Because Round Three involved a maximum of six parties, I was not able to rank any chapters as backups, but was happy and hopeful to return to any of the four houses where I’d gone for Round Two.

The next morning, I opened my party list...






...and all four chapters had invited me back! It was onward to Ryan, Taylor, Caitlyn and Caleb. The women I’d met at all four chapters really reflected a lot of great qualities and I found myself admiring them a great deal. While my Round Two invitations had hurt me badly, my Round Three invitations made me feel proud to have been invited back for a third round at four great houses.

At Round Three, parties are significantly longer and feature a sisterhood presentation video. I’m a sucker for a good soundtrack, so there was plenty of opportunity for my heartstrings to be tugged on...

First was Taylor. While my Round Two experience was so great, I was still apprehensive since I’d gotten such an unfortunate first impression of the house in Round One. For whatever reason, when I walked into the house, I just got a good feeling, like there was a reason I’d been made to give Taylor another shot. I was paired with a new sister, one on the executive board, and she showed me photo albums of her experiences and introduced me to her Little Sister. When I watched the video, I definitely got misty-eyed and found myself completely warmed up to this sisterhood. As I walked out the front door, I really hoped that it wouldn’t be my last time to cross through that doorway.

I visited both Caitlyn and Caleb next, though my journal actually includes surprisingly little about them except to say “I would be happy there, but what I was really waiting for was Ryan.

And then there I was, at Ryan, my beloved first choice since round one, the chapter that had given me the hope to hang in there when those Round Two cuts felt so painful. I wrote: “I was one of the first names called, and the women who rushed me mentioned specific things that I had talked about with my rusher from Round Two. Talk about a smooth operation! I was completely flattered. And the video, oh the video! It had footage from the previous year’s Bid Day. I could see the women running to the house, just like I hopefully will be in two days. And the song? That “Perfect Day” song from Legally Blonde. It’s practically cruel! The sisters sang, and I just felt so convinced that I wanted to spend four years in this sisterhood. And I really did feel like they wanted me too.”

At the end of Round Three, I was feeling very optimistic. I’d look over at the tent by Sandy and start to slip back into feeling down, but would quickly pull it together. For preferentials, PNMs could attend up to three parties, so I elected to attend Ryan, Taylor, and Caitlyn if they’d have me, with Caleb as my backup.

With that, it was onward to preference night...
  #5  
Old 09-07-2011, 01:42 AM
redlady2 redlady2 is offline
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The morning of preference, I was thrilled to have a full schedule, including my three preferred choices: Ryan, Taylor, and Caitlyn!

In my journal that night, I did not write much, as I was exhausted. (PNMs stay late at the three parties, and then must wait with their rush groups until ALL PNMs have filled out their selections. With incredible indecision, this means a late night.)

But what I remember is that each house made me feel wanted, made me feel honored, and yet each had a unique way of making you feel home.

Ryan was up first. The house was very dark inside, illuminated mostly by candles. PNMs spent most of the party talking with just one sister, and the girl rushing me had a very serious story about how the chapter had come together in the face of a tragedy. The ceremony was solemn, beautiful, and moving. We were reminded that we were loved just the way we were.

Taylor was up next. The house as much brighter, yet still emotional. Pairs of PNMs were taken by pairs of sisters, and the pairs of sisters jointly told a story of their sisterhood and their journey together. This let me get a sense of what other PNM they were interested in, and let me see the sisters interact in a way that is rarely able to be seen in the structured recruitment format.

Finally, Caitlyn, where they made me feel so incredibly loved and wanted, and where the feeling of the party was actually very upbeat and comforting.

I left feeling happy taking a bid from any house. That night, I spent a lot of mental energy going back and forth in choosing my ranks, but ultimately decided to rank:

1)Ryan
2)Taylor
3)Caitlyn


Going to sleep, I was hopeful. By morning, that hope had turned to fear. Memory of the sting of the Round One cuts came back, and I feared rejection all over again. Even if I got my second choice, didn’t that mean that my first choice didn’t want me? That if quota was, say, fifty women, that this meant there were fifty women they wanted more than me? Or even more, if not every women attending prefs at Ryan put them first?

I was not going to be sad about getting a bid at Taylor or Caitlyn... I truly did also want to be in those sisterhoods. It would be an honor and the start of a great journey. But if I didn’t get Ryan...could I handle heartbreak again?

I walked to the Bid Day ceremony filled with a mix of emotions. I could visualize opening the bid card. I knew everything happened for a reason. But I did not have the slightest clue what that bid card would hold.
  #6  
Old 09-07-2011, 07:17 AM
jenidallas jenidallas is offline
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Great story! Waiting anxiously for the conclusion....
  #7  
Old 09-07-2011, 09:12 AM
gee_ess gee_ess is offline
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Love this!! And thank you for speeding it along - it is so so satisfying!!
  #8  
Old 09-07-2011, 09:36 AM
redlady2 redlady2 is offline
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I opened the bid card, and saw the words that simultaneously thrilled and deflated me:

Taylor.

Some girls screamed, jumped up and down, and took off as fast as they could. Some gasped, standing in stunned silence with looks of terror. Me? I smiled. I was going to be OK.

I stood for a moment, processing the news, turned toward the row and began to walk. Quickly. I knew I would have to run past the lawn at Ryan before I got to Taylor, and I could see all of the decorations and screaming girls arriving at Ryan. I was not one of them.

But then I looked over at Taylor, a few houses down. Their decorations, their colors, their screaming girls. I gave a brief look to Ryan, smiled, and took off running full speed.

There were girls cheering, hugging, handing me a tote bag full of goodies, jumping up and down, just elated. I think the best way to brush off any sting of rejection is to show up at a loving sorority house on bid day as a new member. How can you feel unappreciated or unloved when a hundred women are excitedly opening their arms to you? Inside, there were moments when I got that clenched feeling in my throat, like I might begin crying, all welling up from my feelings of rejection over Ryan. I loved Taylor, and had a fantastic time, but there was a little something I couldn’t shake about feeling let down over Ryan. I kept it to myself and let myself be distracted and consumed by the love of the new sisters I’d found.

I loved my new house. But the first day of classes was surprisingly tough despite my adoration for Taylor. Each PNM wore her new chapter on a tote bag, or hat, or shirt, or all three (we’d not yet been warned of the perils of double- and triple-lettering. *shudder*). If I passed a girl in a Ryan shirt, it was hard not to wonder “why not me?”

My whole first year at Taylor was truly wonderful. The sisterhood was amazing, I found a big sister that remains my best friend to this day, and created bonds that have lasted through moves across the country and major life changes. I embraced my letters and made Taylor my home.

It was that next year, my first year recruiting on “the other side”, when I finally released that last little bit of sadness over Ryan. I know, I know, when we find our home we’re supposed to be so elated that we lose all thoughts of any other badge, but I couldn’t help it. That last little bit of wonder had lingered with me.

We finished recruitment, and on bid day, it was my turn to stand on the lawn at Taylor, holding a tote bag and a balloon, waiting for a new member to run over to me. Maybe she’d show up and scream and cry with joy. Or maybe she’d be like me: peaceful, joyful, yet reconciling sincere joy with a bit of longing for another house she’d hoped for. If she was, I knew I could help her. I’d been there. And hopefully I could help her see all the things I’d come to see in Taylor over the last year.

We could hear the din of the PNMs beginning their run toward the houses. I took a look over at Ryan, the girls on that lawn, their bags and balloons and decorations. And for the last time, I let myself think the question “why not me?”

But then there she was. A girl, a PNM - now an NM - with the biggest smile across her face, headed right for me at full speed. “I’m a TAYLOR!” she cried joyfully. I hugged her. And then I realized, the question had changed. Why me? What was it about me and my sisters that made this young woman so ecstatic, so elated?

The best part was, I knew the answer to that question. I knew all the answers to that question. I knew why Taylor was a home worth screaming and jumping around and crying with joy about.

I walked with my “bid day buddy” up to the house. Quickly, discreetly, I took one last, final look at Ryan. And I smiled. I turned to look at the letters on the front of Taylor, and I smiled more. I was home.


(Post-script...)

I’d go on to become President of Taylor. My best friends from college are all Taylors. And in many ways, I think because Taylor had to fully earn my heart, and had to win it away from a “first love,” I appreciated it all the more. My advice to any women who are hurting during recruitment, or who are happy but uncertain, is to stick with it. Let a sisterhood earn your love, and give them all you have to earn their love back in return.
  #9  
Old 09-07-2011, 10:02 AM
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AOII Angel AOII Angel is offline
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Loved your story!
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  #10  
Old 09-07-2011, 10:07 AM
canadajen canadajen is offline
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Thumbs up What she said ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by AOII Angel View Post
Loved your story!
This is EXACTLY what a number of new posters and lurkers need to read right about now ~ thanks for sharing!!

  #11  
Old 09-07-2011, 10:39 AM
wavycutchip wavycutchip is offline
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Beautiful Story! Taylor is lucky to have a woman with your compassion, class, and commitment.
  #12  
Old 09-07-2011, 11:20 AM
DeltaBetaBaby DeltaBetaBaby is offline
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Awesome story, thanks for sharing!
  #13  
Old 09-07-2011, 12:13 PM
gee_ess gee_ess is offline
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I think I love you....Great story and very genuine.

I always sympathize with those who come on here who are struggling with their results/outcome/choice. It is a natural feeling and a PROCESS to become entrenched and in love with your group. But, given some time and a positive attitude, things do work out and the disappointments fade.

Your story was very positive and encouraging - and a great success story. Thanks for sharing!
  #14  
Old 09-07-2011, 03:56 PM
redlady2 redlady2 is offline
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Thanks, everyone! I do hope that any PNMs who are uncertain or having second thoughts will really stick it out. Just think, a chapter has to make a (binding) decision about YOU based on a few short interactions, but YOU have the luxury of waiting, getting to know the house, and then making your "binding forever" (initiation) decision. I think it is worth it for any PNM to realize that even after initiation your relationship with your chapter and your letters is always growing.

By the way, I'm sorry I didn't reveal either the chapter name or the school! I assume the school is easy to figure out, but I hope the chapter is not.
  #15  
Old 09-07-2011, 04:08 PM
carnation carnation is offline
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Redlady, I'm glad that you were honest about lingering thoughts of "what if". Many women are embarrassed to admit that those thoughts rarely disappear instantly. Sometimes it takes a while and that's okay.
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