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If you’re thinking of joining a sorority, or just received a bid, you’ve probably encountered a lot of new terminology. One of these new terms 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 you. 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 you someone you know you can go to with questions and who will help ease your transition into college and sorority life.

Some other terms that you 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. You will have the option to list a few women from the chapter who you would like as your big. Chapters typically have events, such as organized coffee dates for new members to meet with initiated members who are taking littles so that you can have an idea of potential mentors.
  • 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, but not all, NPC organizations, you 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 you 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-Little reveal is when you find out who is your big.

As a friend and mentor, a big strives to be a positive role model for her little. They do so in a variety of ways. Some may be as simple as attending chapter events together and introducing you to other members of the sorority. Your big can also be a great resource for academic help, giving advice on what courses to take or connecting you to campus resources you may not know about.

A big sister is someone in your chapter who will encourage you, cheer for you and always support you. As a new member, knowing you have a specific person to rely on can be very comforting. During the new member process, you will need a lot of new women in your chapter and in other sororities on campus. You’ll also learn more about your organization and having something there who has been through this exact situation is meant to help ease any anxiety or worries.

Every big and little relationship is unique and will look different, but what they share is a strong bond. It is a great opportunity for you 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 to throughout college and after graduation. 

Written by Camille N’Diaye

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