Lessons from Sorority Recruitment
by Cindy Kane, Director of Student Involvement and Leadership
(originally posted to The SA Blog at http://thesabloggers.org/2011/02/lessons-from-sorority-recruitment/)
I have recently confronted the realization that it has been twenty years since I participated in sorority recruitment as a student at Lafayette College. Given most of the readers on this blog probably assume I am 24, you know my secret of graduating from college at 5 years old.
Our campus is buzzing with Spring recruitment plans and just being with our student leaders helped me to recall some great memories with my sisters in Alpha Gamma Delta. When I was in college I spent a lot of time on recruitment activities with the chapter through various leadership roles, so sorority recruitment time always reminds me of the good, bad and YIKES! times we spent together. As a sorority member it’s easy to understand the recruitment process after it happens once, but I can only imagine the experience of those not connected with sorority life to observe these events in action. What in the world could all that clapping, singing, intense discussion and matching clothing have to do with student learning?
When I reflect on my co-curricular learning as a college student, I realize now that the preparation and implementation of recruitment programs had a huge impact. I wanted to share some of my learning lessons:
- There’s nothing quite like a sincere welcome to a group. Since my sorority days, I have been part of enough meetings and committees where I have felt like an outsider or “new person” and haven’t been brought in. I don’t care how old you are. It’s so valuable to have someone willing to “bring you in” and educate you about the standards, history and culture of a group. I appreciate those who have mastered it and use it to bring others into the fold.
- Remembering names is a skill you can work on. When you are meeting hundreds of women at lightning speed, you have to learn to remember names and details about people. Tricks for remembering names have paid off immensely in my work life and in my personal life as well. Even though I’m an extrovert by nature, sorority recruitment taught me to focus on the individuals just one at a time and the value of remembering names and details for the next conversation.
- Tasks and vision must connect. Motivating peers to do most anything is tough as a student leader, but experience as recruitment chair taught me how to clarify the “big picture” and help groups to work with the vision at the forefront. Writing hundreds of names on index cards (old school!) wasn’t all that much fun, but I learned how to help others focus on the fact that each step along that process would bring us closer to a great group of new women for our organization. I think this experience gave me great preparation for supervision roles today.
- Diversity is a pay-it-forward value. Our advisors and chapter leaders taught us the impact that diversity has on a group. They made this intentional membership education so that our voting decisions would be as open as possible to allow for the broadest possible diversity in our organization. Their teaching set a great example of how important it is to have open conversations and diversity education. Today, I am better equipped to teach where it rather than losing patience with people who may lack information or who may still be searching for positive role modeling.
- We all answer to someone. Back then, we were given recruitment rules from the Panhellenic, rules from our national organization, instructions from our faculty advisor, tips from our alumni and directives from any traveling consultants that may have visited campus. It seemed then as if everyone was telling us what to do and that we answered to about twelve different “bosses.” Life is still that way, as I’m taking direction from just as many places with even more “high stakes” involved. I remember thinking it would get easier “in the real world.” Now I realize that accountability is everywhere and that everyone answers to someone.
Sorority recruitment was a whirlwind, but when I think back on all of the life lessons I gained from that experience these are among my most used today. When I was a potential new member back then, sorority life looked like all kinds of fun that might pay off in some way in the end. Today, I look back and realize that the 18-year-old woman who made the decision to get involved during all that craziness made one of the best educational decisions for life and leadership in the future.
I’d love to hear from both sorority members and everyone else too. Let’s talk about recruitment!