As an alumna, watching your daughter prepare for recruitment brings back memories of your own rush week. She is going to be just as nervous and excited as you were. But her experience will be very different than yours – and that’s not just because of the virtual aspect that the coronavirus pandemic has led chapters to embrace. Things have changed so much that you may find yourself at a loss of how to advise her. Managing expectations is the key to guiding your student through the ups and downs of recruitment and getting to share in her excitement on Bid Day.
Expectation #1: The process is different now.
Mothers of collegians signed up for “rush,” but today’s women go through “recruitment.” Those mothers may have called the rush counselor who guided them from house to house a Rho Chi; their daughters are led by recruitment counselors often called Gamma Chi, Rho Gamma or Pi Chi. The rounds of parties may have different names, and the songs and skits of yesterday have been replaced by sisterhood and philanthropy videos. Even the Bid Day process may be different than you remember.
Let your student share the terminology, schedule and events with you the way she is experiencing it. We suggest sticking to those terms when she calls to discuss her day – it’s the easiest way to avoid confusion, help calm her nerves and make her feel supported. Many Panhellenic organizations publish a recruitment guide that shares the week’s schedule, offers suggestions on what to wear and bring and gives some details about each house and membership obligations. While this guide is intended for potential new members, it’s also a great resource for parents.
Expectation #2: Your daughter may need your help in navigating the process.
By the time the doors open at the first chapter your daughter visits, she’s already talked to her friends and studied that sorority’s Instagram. Additonally, she may be remembering the stories you have shared about your recruitment and sisterhood experience. Just like you, she will be thrilled to be invited back to her preferred chapters. On the flip side, she may be heartbroken when she doesn’t get a callback she really wanted. Reassure her that the process works to match her with a chapter that is a good fit, that most cuts aren’t personal and every chapter has something to offer.
Remind her to get a good feel for the personalities in each chapter and to really embrace those where she feels most welcome and where she has the most in common with the sisters she meets. Let your daughter share her impressions of each chapter and avoid talking about any stereotypes or stories about other sororities from your days as a collegiate member, even if your daughter is at your same school. Chapters can be dramatically different from school to school and year to year.
Expectation #3: Manage your own expectations.
The day your daughter first visits your organization during recruitment is exciting. You can’t wait to hear what she thinks, and you may find yourself dreaming that she gets a bid from your house – giving you a sisterhood bond to strengthen the mother-daughter connection. If you do, keep those feelings to yourself. The reality is that at many schools, the number of girls going through recruitment has doubled in the past 30 years, while the number of houses has remained essentially the same. At some colleges or universities, the number of legacies going through recruitment may exceed the quota of girls a chapter can extend a bid to. When that happens, many moms and grandmothers are hurt and upset.
Although it was long believed that legacy status guaranteed a bid, that wasn’t always true and is logistically impossible now. Your daughter may have grown up wanting to be just like you, but what if she doesn’t see herself in her school’s chapter of your sorority? If she does love it and gets cut, it may come as a shock and disappointment to her – don’t let your thoughts make deepen those feelings. Remember this is her choice, not yours. In the end, the goal of recruitment is for your daughter to find a place to call home and sisters to share it with – just like you did. No matter where she ends up, she will still be a member of the Panhellenic community and that is something to celebrate!