Greek life is a great opportunity to be involved on any campus. You have a built-in support system through your sisters, and you have ample opportunities for leadership, philanthropy and community service. IU’s Greek life is no exception. We have 21 amazing chapters on this campus, and the Greek community as a whole is something very special with a large presence. But to become part of it, you must go through the recruitment process – which is considered one of the most competitive in the country.
I’m now in a chapter and am very happy and lucky to be part of it – but the journey wasn’t so easy. I want you to know about this process from experience so you can make the right decision for you.
IU has a unique system called bed quota that decides how many new members a chapter will take each year. This means that the number of beds available in the house for the following year is the maximum number of new members a chapter can allow in a pledge class. (There are two unhoused chapters, so this system doesn’t apply to them, but they still have quotas.) Those numbers vary from chapter to chapter based on whether or not seniors live in, how many girls study abroad, and a variety of other factors. We are the only campus in the nation that decides membership based on bed quota, according to the National Panhellenic Conference. While it’s a great idea to have every member living in the house, this system makes the process competitive because many more girls go through recruitment than there are spots available.
Luckily, you and your floormates have someone to help you through all this. She’s called a Rho Gamma, and she’s actually a member of a chapter here on campus. She disaffiliates from her chapter for a few months to help you through recruitment. She tells you what kinds of conversations are and aren’t appropriate during rounds, she gives you guidelines for what to wear, and answers all your questions. She prepares you for each round and even makes you a cool nametag to wear in the beginning. Mine was Tory Burch!
Beginning the Process
The first round is called 21 party because you visit all 21 chapters (or however many chapters are on campus the year you go through recruitment). You spend only 30 minutes at each chapter talking with 2-4 girls. Some chapters might even give you a house tour. You visit every chapter in two days, and you spend that time either talking or waiting in line outside the house (or room for the unhoused chapters). It’s exhausting. You’re tired, you’re hungry, you’re cold (unless you luck out on weather like we did this year), and you’re losing your voice because you’ve talked so much.
Other than that, I really like this round. You get to see each chapter and begin to learn more about them. You get to meet all sorts of different people. Those that had houses are beautiful. Those that didn’t are just as great! Sisters in the unhoused chapters still live together and have great sisterhood! Each chapter had something special to offer me and I wanted to give them all another chance. However, I could only select 14 to rank as my top. I had trouble deciding. Three chapters clearly stood out, but there were so many I liked and wanted to learn more about! I even had difficulty choosing a “bottom 7” and putting them in order.
I felt good after 21 party. Many of my conversations flowed and were over before I knew it, even those at the chapters where I was “double rushed.” This means that you and another potential new member (PNM) are talking to the same current member, and it happens often in the early rounds.
Between 21 party and the next round, 14 party, you used to have to wait an entire month. This is because your new GPA was factored in and each chapter had to come up with their lists of people to invite to the next round. (You have to have a 2.7 GPA to go through recruitment, so keep those grades up!) Then, you came back early from winter break to finish the rest of the process. But next year, that’s changing. All of recruitment will be after winter break, but the dates are still undecided. Regardless, you return to a maximum of 14 chapters during 14 party.
The Next Steps
However, many people don’t get 14 chapters back, and it’s very common for chapters in your “bottom 7” to be bumped into your new list. Don’t get discouraged if your favorites aren’t there, or if you didn’t receive all 14 slots. Go to those rounds because by not doing so, you take yourself out of the running to be in a chapter. Besides, during this round, each chapter performs a funny skit about themselves! They’re hysterical and usually make fun of celebrities or movies/TV shows. I saw 2 skits with Honey Boo-Boo, one with Ryan Seacrest and Ellen, and one with Khloe Kardashian. I also saw renditions of America’s Next Top Model, Toy Story and Bring it On. All were entertaining and had me cracking up!
Out of a possible 14 chapters, I only received 7. While I was disappointed to not have more than 10 and to not see the names of chapters where I felt I had excellent conversations, I wasn’t completely unhappy – all 3 of my favorites were still there! I thought all 7 chapter visits went well, and was confident I would receive at least 4, maybe 5 chapters, for 8 party. I connected especially well with two particular chapters, where I was hopeful I would stay in the running.
8 party was the following day. You return to a maximum of 8 chapters, but like 14 party, you might go to less than the maximum number. This round is a little more serious. Each chapter shows you a video about their sisterhood and talks about their philanthropy. On this day, you began earlier in the morning than for any other round. You dress nicer and have more in-depth conversations. All eight visits were in one day, so once again, it’s exhausting.
My Rho Gamma entered my room around 7:45 a.m. to reveal my list. All I saw were blank spots. To my complete surprise, only 2 chapters remained out of the possible 7. All of my favorites were gone, and I was devastated. Many emotions ran through me at once, but the hardest part was having to turn around in two hours and go to the rounds, pretending like nothing had happened. I wish I had known my list in advance. This way, I could have had more time to shift my focus.
My confidence took a hit, and I contemplated withdrawing from recruitment altogether. But I didn’t. I had incredible support from my family, floormates, and Rho Gamma, who pushed me to keep going and gave me optimistic words of encouragement. So I kept going.
The Final Stretch
3 party (also known as Preference Round) was the following day, where you can return to up to three chapters for an even more serious, ceremonial round. Although my two 8 party rounds went well, I was anticipating not going back to any for 3 party. I was pleased and relieved when my Rho Gamma knocked on my door to reveal one of them on my list. I went, enjoyed the round and had a wonderful conversation.
After 3 party ends, you rank in order the chapters from which you would accept a bid (not necessarily all 3). I had only one option left, but I decided to write it down. I wanted to take my chances because being part of Greek life was so important to me.
The next day is bid day. Normally, it’s the first day of second semester, but that will probably change next year. I had to go to all my classes and wait until about 5:00 p.m. to find out whether or not I got a bid. I sometimes had trouble paying attention in class because Bid Day was all I could think about.
5:00 came, and I had never been so nervous. One by one, girls on my floor learned whether or not they received a bid. Most did; I was ecstatic for them. Finally, my Rho Gamma came into my room – with an envelope. I did it. I received the bid. Through all the exhaustion and tears, I persevered. It was a chapter where I initially didn’t envision myself, but I felt nothing but happiness and gratitude to be given the opportunity to join.
The Opportunity of a Lifetime
I am now honored to be a member – and founding one at that – of Alpha Sigma Alpha. The support I’ve received from family, friends, floormates, and even girls from other chapters is truly remarkable. I may not get to live in a sorority house, but I still get the sisterhood, philanthropy and service, social events, and leadership opportunities that every other chapter offers. I still have friends in other chapters and have the bonus of living in my own place next year with a completely different group of people. I truly have the best of both worlds.
Since joining Alpha Sigma Alpha, I’ve learned that many of the sorority’s values are similar to mine. I’ve met people I never would have met had I not completed recruitment (including many with my major!). I got to participate in the installation of a new chapter. I have a “big sister.” I’ve even had the opportunity to attend social events with other sororites at their houses! It’s been nothing but a positive experience since bid day. Even though you may not get your first choice, stick with it and make the best of what you have, because you’ll still get the sorority experience no matter what chapter you’re in. (Pictured here are my “big” and me with our charter!)
But not everyone was fortunate enough to receive a bid, and some people I knew withdrew themselves from recruitment because they weren’t happy with the chapters on their lists at the various stages. It’s hard for everyone to get a spot when not enough are available. I hope for a day when every girl who wants to get involved in Greek life can find a place. It’s not for everyone, but those who want it and feel it’s right for them should be able to experience it.
My cousin goes to a school (in the Big Ten) where everyone who makes it to preference round receives a bid somewhere (not necessarily their first choice, but somewhere). I have a high school friend at another school who doesn’t live in her sorority’s house even though other women do – and she’s perfectly happy with it. I wish we could adopt some of those ideas so that the process is less competitive and tiring for the women on both sides of recruitment. I’ve talked to some older members of chapters about how tired they were throughout the rounds. I barely slept myself. My cousin took more than two weeks to complete the recruitment process, but we took less than a week. (Again, could change next year.) Everything happens so quickly that you barely have time to process it. But once you do, you’ll feel satisfied, no matter what the outcome.