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If your student has recently joined a sorority, they (and therefore you) have probably encountered a lot of new terminology. One of them being a “big sister” or often just shortened to a “big.” A big sister is an initiated sorority woman who acts as a mentor to your student. All new members of a sorority are matched with their big during the new member period, which takes place before initiation. The new member who receives a big sister is often called a “little sister” or “little” for short. The purpose of this relationship is to give your student someone they know they can go to with questions and who will help ease their transition into college and sorority life.

Some other terms that your student might hear around this time are:

  • Matching: Big and little pairings are done through a “matching” process. These differ by the organization but are typically done by the chapter officers who interact most with the new members in order to match them with initiated members of similar interests, majors, values or backgrounds. Your student will have the option to list a few women from the chapter who she would like as her big. Chapters typically have events, like organized coffee dates for new members to meet with older members who are taking littles so that your student can have an idea who they’d like as their big.
  • Twins: When there is a larger new member class than the number of initiated women who are becoming bigs, some bigs might be matched with two littles. Having two littles is often nicknamed as having “twins.”
  • Family: In some NPC organizations, your student might reference joining a “family” when they get a big. This may include a Grandbig (their big’s big), Great-grandbig, etc. The family structure gives your student mentorship from various class years and can be a great source of connection to the larger chapter.
  • Reveal: Every organization and individual chapter has different traditions around this time, but big and little reveal is when your student will find out who is their big. 

As a friend and mentor, a big builds a relationship with your student to navigate college and sorority life and strives to be a positive role model. They do so in a variety of ways. Some may be as simple as attending chapter events together and introducing your student to other older members in the sorority. Others relate to scholarship by encouraging academic efforts, connecting their little to campus resources like writing centers and being a study buddy.

Every big and little relationship is different, but what they share is a relationship. It is a great opportunity for your student to transition into both sorority and college life. As this and other testimonials will share, the mentorship from a big and little relationship can be special and extends beyond the new member period throughout college and after graduation. 

Written by Camille N’Diaye

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