Oh my goodness, the days of sorority recruitment feel like an eternity ago, but not that much has changed. We, of course, have the entire world watching through Bama Rush and TikTok for a solid three weeks and thousands of OOTDs, but besides that, same ol’ same ol’! I pledged Chi Omega in 1997 at the University of Nebraska Kappa Chapter. I remember bid day like it was yesterday and one of the best days ever. I’m not entirely sure I remember our secret handshake. Sadly, I lost my pledge pin somewhere in the past 25 years. However, I haven’t lost the values instilled during that guiding freshman year. I still have many dear friends I am privileged to call sisters today.
Some women have strong feelings against Greek life. There are two sides to everything and what I’ve learned through my life is that wherever you are, whatever you are doing, there are groups of people, and you’re in a group, or you’re not. It’s really no different than being in a sorority. I have my own “grown up” Greek life through business networking groups, executive MBA alumni board, coaching mastermind programs, etc. At the end of the day, a sorority just helps pick a friend group with similar values. I think for first-year students entering college who are all but lost, instant “good girl” friends, relationships, mentors, and a safe place to go “home.”
Growth Lies Beyond Comfort
Anytime, regardless of whether you live there or not, is priceless. If my children decide to go to college, and yes, it will be their choice, I will 100% encourage them to go through the recruitment process. It is one of the most stressful times of your life, but growth happens when we push beyond our comfort zones. There are no shortcuts. Although, in the Greek world, recommendation letters and legacies help!
So, let’s assume your daughter or granddaughter just pledged…now what? You need to give her a gift! That’s just how this works. :) Here is the tricky thing, you can’t order anything until you know which sorority she ends up in, and stuff sells out quickly, so once you know, get on the fast track and order! The “national” sorority will have a website with a store. Still, many other cute options exist on Etsy, Amazon, and other online independent businesses.
Guide to Gifts
A couple of quick notes (or more like warnings) for the moms who may have never been through this process - there are a LOT of gifts. Before during, and after recruitment week, big sister/little sister gifts, pledge gifts… you get the idea. Get an Amex for Greek life. I’m half kidding. Again, equate this to an adult sorority - there are charges in every membership group I am involved in. Such as dues, monthly luncheons, golf outings, sponsorship asks, baby gifts, etc.
Your daughter is joining a networking group she just can’t afford…yet. Here’s the thing, top sororities tend to produce top women, which is why “legacies” are such a big deal. The connections she will make are significant. Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, was a Tri Delt. Think some women in that sorority are proud to call her a sister? Absolutely. Think there are a few houses to this day that regret passing on giving her a bid to their chapter? Absolutely! The process is what it is and, by and large, works pretty well. Trust that everyone ends up, or not, where they are supposed to. Suppose you can have this conversation with your daughters before recruitment week. In that case, it will help level the expectations and mental preparedness they need to get through it. The picking/cutting process is horrible for everyone - the rushers and the rushees. Unfortunately, no one I am aware of has adapted a better way, so it stays.
When it comes to gifts, generally, the style is more important than the color associated with the school or the sorority. The point is to use it/wear it/hang it, and if it doesn’t match the rest of their life, you will waste your money. Trust the independent companies and Etsy retailers that sell merchandise. They will only promote top-selling items because that’s how they make money. What they are selling is most likely what the girls want.
Here are some suggestions to get started.
- Every college student needs something to carry drinks to class or fill up at the water fountain at the dorms. Whether their choice is water for hydration or coffee for staying alive after an all-night study session.
- There are so many cute tote bags, from simple Greek symbol prints to full sorority representation. Your child will need a bag when walking to their friends' dorms, apartments, and sorority houses to prepare for game days and weekend formals! No one wants to get ready alone in college.
- A blanket is the easiest way to add sorority representation in a dorm room. Not only is it cute and easy to throw at the end of a bed or over a futon, but it's also super practical for cozying up to watch a movie.
- The easiest way to rep your house letters around campus? Big cozy sweatshirts! Depending on where your kid is attending school, you might think a sweatshirt is too hot of a gift in August. Still, those classrooms get cold, and sometimes you need an extra layer of coziness at the library.
- Don't get grossed out when I say this next part, but shared living and shower space might call for not as many hair washes as you think! A hat with greek letters is not only cute to show off house pride, but it might turn a greasy hair day into a very easy coverup.
- A cute sticker is the easiest way to show off your sorority during classroom hours! They can adorn their laptops or water bottles with sorority stickers that fit their personality perfectly. Seriously- there are stickers with anything you can imagine on it!
- If you have a child who learns better without a screen in front of their face, get them a notebook for handwritten notetaking or study sessions!
- Quite possibly the most essential part of college- feeling like you're at home away from home. What better way to show your kid you care than a personalized door sign with their sorority letters and name on it? You can add on a monthly subscription, so they have something to look forward to each month and keep their door the best-decorated door on their whole floor!
Always remember any gift you give to a new member in a sorority will feel exciting, because they are just finally excited to wear their house letters with pride! Whatever gifts you decide to give, just make them personal and if you get confused which Greek letters are the correct ones: check their instagram bio (it will probably be the first thing they update even before classes start!)
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