Life After Formal Sorority Recruitment: The Social and Financial Realities

Bid Day is the final day of the exhausting, two-week formal recruitment process. Not only is Bid Day the end of recruitment, it is also the beginning of a whirlwind experience that is joining a sorority. It is the first day in the journey of becoming an initiated, life-long member of a national organization. If you are like me and signed up for formal sorority recruitment on a whim–without any family members who had ever participated–you are probably feeling completely overwhelmed in the weeks following Bid Day.
bid day

I began thinking about signing up for sorority recruitment during my first semester when I felt nostalgic and missing my girlfriends from home, who I had spent endless hours with rehearsing and performing. It occurred to me that a sorority might be a way for me to replicate that community of girlfriends that I cherished. I loved high school because of friendships with older girls I admired and then becoming that person who younger girls looked up to. In other words, I wanted to be someone’s little, and then be someone’s BIG.

That right there was the extent to which I thought through the decision to sign up for sorority recruitment. I didn’t ask questions about how much it cost. I didn’t ask questions about the new member process. I was completely unprepared for being a member of the Greek Community.

What I wish I had known as a first-year student going Greek:

The Costs

According the most recent data, the average new sorority member will pay $1,280 per semester.

  • $1,280 x 7 semesters = nearly $9,000 over the course of four years
  • I need to earn $80/week during the 16-week semester to pay for it
  • Some chapters have payment plans and additional scholarships – for example, my friend washes dishes to help pay dues.
  • The reality: The majority of students are not paying their Greek life dues on their own. There is limited socioeconomic diversity.

Financial barriers

Our campus should be sensitive to the fact that access to participating in Greek life is limited to those who can pay for it. If you have a friend who may really have wanted to try Greek life, but cannot afford it:

  • Only 11% of Ohio State is Greek! Encourage your friend to seek out involvement that provides a similar community – you can find incredible friends in other student organizations.
  • Invite her to hang out with your friends in your sorority. My best friend from freshman year did not go Greek but I take her as my date to different functions and she was always welcome at my sorority house.
  • Be careful with how you paint your experience and be aware of your friend’s feelings. It’s important to share the exciting moments as well as the overwhelming ones. A sorority experience is not a perfect one.

columbus half

The realities of sisterhood

  • A sisterly bond is stronger than friends, right? That bond does not form overnight. You become sisters with 100 girls and getting to know them takes time. It might take a whole semester just to learn names. Be patient. I wasn’t sure if Greek Life would be for me until my sophomore year when my sisters became some of my best friends.
  • Go to your new member meetings! The New Member educator’s primary responsibility is to care about your transition to the sorority. The New Member educator cares that you feel comfortable–talk to them.
  • Not everyone who goes Greek drinks alcohol. In fact, it is an expectation that as a member, you act responsibly and represent your chapter well. There is a team of sober monitors to enforce the rules at every event with alcohol present. In my sorority, the other sober monitors dress up in ridiculous outfits like footie pajamas! If you feel pressure to drink to make friends, or feel that a majority of the experience is drinking, talk to your chapter advisors and executive board.
  • It’s unrealistic to think you are going to be best friends with every girl in your chapter…or even want to be. This is where that sister component comes in. Sorority sisters should value each individual and respect them regardless if you like them.
  • The reasons you join are different than the reasons you stay. Look out for the reasons that make your sorority a really positive influence in your life.

Lastly, keep in mind that sororities that fall under PHA are just one branch of Greek life. Members of multicultural Greek organizations, academic Greek organizations, and fraternity men go through this transition into their chapters as well. No branch of Greek life is better than any other; support and honor your fellow Greeks!


pl greek


Ohio State Spotlight: The Application for Special Scholarships

Recently I had the chance to talk with Ellen S. who works in Student Financial Aid, specifically with Special Scholarships. She was able to provide me with answers to my questions as well as give me some advice on certain things that they like to see on the application.

What is it?

The Special Scholarships application enables Ohio State students to be considered for several thousands of special-eligibility scholarships that encompass a wide variety of eligibility criteria. The application is also free, just like the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

How many scholarships are offered?

Thousands upon hundreds of scholarships.

What do I need to do to apply?

First, access the application through the Student Financial Aid website. Students are encouraged to fill out both their FAFSA and the Application for Special Scholarships by the priority date of February 15.

The application asks basic questions regarding a student’s activities and affiliations, family information, and diversity. It also asks for a personal statement. [Cue dramatic music]

I’m only a freshman–How could I ever have enough to write a personal statement?

Don’t panic: the Financial Aid office understands that by the time this application is due, first-year students have been in college for less than a year. While it’s okay to highlight personal accomplishments from high school, take some time to reflect back on your first year and the things that make you proud. Maybe you can write about a professor that you’ve gotten a chance to know better, or about some affiliations–student organizations, religious groups, residence hall, etc.–that you have on campus.

The personal statement prompt has no structure or format but does require that you stick to the 900-word limit. The application gives students some prompts to get your started, but you are not required to stick to those. Make sure to talk about some things that you can bring to the Ohio State community, as well as some of the struggles that you’ve had to overcome. It is recommended that you complete your personal statement in a Word document or similar software that can be copied and pasted into the application text box; if the application timer (found at the bottom of the application page) runs out, your response will not be saved.

Common mistakes to avoid?


In a world where everyone is more text-savvy, it’s easy to forget how to properly use certain words and punctuation. Make sure to have someone proofread your work before submitting any of your essays. You can check the Writing Center’s walk-in hours in Thompson Library to get some quick feedback on your writing.

Having an “okay” personal statement

The personal statement is where you need to shine. When talking about how a scholarship can help you, an “alright” answer would be “College is expensive.” A better way to answer this question is to take some time to reflect on how a scholarship can help to alleviate some of the stresses in your life , or how it can help you accomplish some of your long-term goals.

I hope this has inspired you to get started on your Special Scholarships application! Financial Aid wants to award as many of its scholarships to as many students as possible, so take some time–winter break is a terrific option–to complete your application by February 15!

Your Week in First Year Success: September 15-19

Congratulations! You have made it through your first few days of classes!  Now that you are ready to explore what the First Year Success Series has to offer, here are some sessions to consider for the first week of sessions (which begin one week from today!):

Comfort Zone
September 16, 4-5 p.m.
Theme: Health and Wellness

Are you already feeling stressed about college? You’re not the only one! This interactive session will provide an overview of stress, how to prioritize things in your life, and manage your time wisely. Join your friends from the Student Wellness Center to identify ways to relax and overcome your stress.

Book Discussion: The Glass Castle
September 17, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Theme: Buckeye Book Community

You’ve read the book. Now let’s talk about it! Join fellow first-year students to discuss the themes of The Glass Castle.  A staff member from First Year Experience will help guide your discussion while exploring the themes of the book. Attend this session before you come to see Jeannette Walls on September 23!

A+ Research: How to Structure a Term Paper
September 18, 6-7 p.m.
Theme: Academic Engagement and Career Exploration

You’ve heard that college writing will challenge you to be a better writer, but what does that mean? Come to this session and hear from an experienced Ohio State senior student about what it takes to craft a great paper in college! You will leave with tools and resources to help you get your writing to “A+” status.

Study Abroad Expo
September 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Theme: Diversity and Global Awareness

Sure, you may be interested in studying abroad while at Ohio State. But have you thought about which of the over 100 countries you will travel to for your study abroad experience? Do you know what things you should be considering now to make your study abroad dreams become a reality? Stop by this expo facilitated by the Office of International Affairs to hear from experts about what options are available to you.

Extreme Couponing
September 19, 2-3 p.m.
Theme: Finances

College can be stressful enough without worrying about finances. Come hear from two-time star of TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” and Ohio State student Cole Ledford about how you can start couponing and save your money. Save your money now to save yourself from headaches later!

Of course, these are just five of the dozens of sessions offered in any given week! See all of the options online by visiting and make sure to register for your favorite sessions before they fill up! Let us know which sessions have you most excited!

6 Themes Not to Miss This Semester

If you’re like us in First Year Experience, you love a good theme. Themes can take an experience from basic to amazing, and that’s why the First Year Success Series has six themes to help you have the best first semester ever. Here’s some insight into each of these themes; hopefully you will see some experiences not to be missed!

Theme #1: Academic Engagement and Career Exploration

To stay at Ohio State, you will need to be successful inside the classroom. College requires you to study smarter, learn faster, and think more critically. Once you have gotten the hang of that, you may also want to think about requirements for graduate school, internships in your field of study, or research with a faculty member. Mastering the content in this theme area grants you the opportunity to continue to explore the rest of the collegiate experience–like Welcome Week.

2014 sessions to consider:

  • A+ Research: Where Do You Start?
  • Is Your Major ‘The One’
  • Where’s Woody? Find Woody Hayes in Thompson Library
  • Study Smarter! Memory Tools for Effective Studying

Theme #2: Diversity and Global Awareness

Ohio State is pretty big–over 7,000 new students started here this fall, contributing to a total population of more than 50,000 students. With a community this size, we have people representing many cultures, genders, races, languages, sexual orientations, religions, nationalities, and experiences. Appreciating diversity means more than trying different foods or taking O-H-I-O pictures on a study abroad trip (although those are cool things that you definitely should do). Being a a member of the Buckeye family means learning about different people so that we can all advocate for each other and celebrate our differences. Sessions in this theme will help you begin to explore new cultures and issues, think about studying abroad, and connecting with others who share your identity.

2014 sessions to consider:

  • Take a Stand: A Guide to Learning about Yourself & Peers
  • Study Abroad Expo
  • How to be an Ally
  • International Coffee Hour

Theme #3: Finances

Few things are worse than getting to the end of your college experience and realizing you made poor financial decisions which will follow you long after your time at Ohio State is over. What can you do to stretch your dollar and be smart about how you plan your budget for the next fours years? Go to sessions in this theme to make smart decisions about financing your time at Ohio State.

2014 sessions to consider:

  • LANDLORDS, LEASING & LOTS MORE: Get the 43201 about Moving Off-Campus!
  • Personal Finance 101
  • Budgeting Workshop
  • Extreme Couponing

Theme #4: Health and Wellness

With all of the work you’ll do to succeed in the classroom and all of the energy you’ll put into making friends and getting involved, it’s important for you to find ways to take care of yourself; that may include eating healthy, making smart social choices, or hitting the gym. There are actually nine dimensions of wellness for you to think about as a student. Sessions in this theme will help you consider how you are taking care of yourself in each dimension to live a healthy lifestyle during your time at Ohio State.

2014 sessions to consider:

  • Party Smart
  • Counting Sheep: How Sleep Impacts Your Success
  • The Right Bite on a College Campus
  • Double Dare

Theme #5: Leadership and Civic Engagement

Were you overwhelmed by all of the opportunities you saw at the Involvement Fair or during Community Commitment? Everyone has told you to get involved, but what will that look like for you? You may want to go to sessions in this theme to think about what your leadership skills and styles look like. Then, you can think about what kinds of issues on campus or in the community matter to you, and commit yourself to those opportunities.

2014 sessions to consider:

  • Your Buckeye Leadership Plan
  • Service in Your First Year Experience
  • Becoming a Nut
  • How to Avoid Poverty Tourism

Theme #6: Buckeye Book Community

All members of the class of 2018 read The Glass Castle this summer…what a great conversation starter at a table in Kennedy Commons! Maybe you and your newfound friend will decide to attend one of the many Success Series sessions where you will have the chance to talk about the themes of the book. The book’s author, Jeannette Walls, comes to campus on September 23!

2014 sessions to consider:

  • An Evening with Jeannette Walls
  • A Different Look at The Glass Castle
  • Pastries and Perspective: The Glass Castle
  • What’s in a question? Research questions and The Glass Castle

Are you ready to check out these themes? Visit and register for your Peer Leader workshop before September 12 to learn more about the First Year Success Series from upperclass students!

Quick Guide to Getting a Campus Job

We’ve all been there. 

You’re going through the semester eating lots of 20¢ pasta, trying to make your money last as long as possible, but now you’re running low on cash!? It’s time to kick it in gear and get a job! On-campus jobs are a great way to stay involved and connected to the university, even if you live off campus.

On-campus jobs come with a lot of benefits:

• Flexible scheduling

• Little to no experience required

• Expectation that school comes first

• Meet other awesome Ohio State students

• Possible free food! (Half of the reason to ever do anything in college…)

• Easy transportation/commuting options

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Things to Consider:

1. Do you qualify for Work Study?

– Check on your Buckeyelink account to see if you qualify. Certain jobs require students to be in Work Study in order to get the job. If you are a part of Work Study there is a specific website with available jobs on the Student Financial Aid website. Click on the “Jobs” tab and a drop down box will show “Work Study”

2. Are you an International student?

Refer to this website for specific information regarding the number of hours you are eligible to work on-campus

2. How much time do you have to work?

– Pay attention to how many hours each position expects you to work. Make sure you can manage your schedule so you’re not too stressed! Also consider clubs, activities, friends, study sessions, significant others, etc. that also take up time!

3. Do you know anyone who works on campus?

– Ask them how they found their job, if the place they work is hiring or what it is like. The saying, “It’s all about who you know” is SO true when it comes to job searches.

4. What kinds of jobs are available?

– Students can work as research assistants, in the libraries, at information desks, or any dining service on campus.  These are just a few of the many positions available.

 5. Where do you apply for jobs anyway??

– On-campus DINING jobs can be applied for here:

– Other On-campus jobs can be listed here:

Also look out for emails from your college or advisors that advertise for different positions needed within your major!

6. What if I don’t get the job?

– Keep applying! It’s possible that your schedule conflicted with the hours they needed someone to work. There are many more places to consider applying. It can be time consuming but it will be worth it the second you land that job!

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It is important to remember no job is fun 100% of the time, that’s why it is called a job. There are ways to make it better though. Find out if the places you spend most of your time on campus are hiring. Also, remember working with friends can also make it more enjoyable too!

Lastly, if on-campus jobs aren’t quite what you’re looking for – another option to consider is off-campus jobs. Plenty of places around campus are hiring year-round. These jobs can be just as flexible and considerate that you’re a student first and foremost.

Now get to… 

Watch Britney Spears' "Work Bitch" video, and check out our GIF wall!


FERPA, FAFSA and Finances: Oh, my!

Who doesn’t like a little alliteration (and Wizard of Oz homage)?  And, let’s face it, when it comes to matters of doing business at Ohio State, we’ll take anything that can make it appealing!  However, it’s a good midway point in the year to pay attention to business. Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to suit up for this conversation.


I’m sure you all remember from your orientation program that we introduced the hottest acronym ever to hit the federal law books: FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99 for those of us nerdy enough to want to read it in its original codified glory).  FERPA basically instructs what, when and with whom Ohio State can share information about students and their records.  For you, that means that we can’t share anything about you other than directory information with anyone, unless you give us permission to do so.  That means that when your mom or your dad or your great aunt Betty calls to check to see if your bill has been paid, we can’t tell them unless you specifically tell us it’s okay.  Believe me when I say that your dad can get quite upset when he’s been on hold for 20 minutes only to be told that we can’t answer his questions because you didn’t complete the student information release like he’s asked you to do a million times.

For his sake – and ours – complete the release form.  You can control what information we share and with whom – and it’s relatively simple.  You can sign off on the release of academic information or account information or financial aid information – or any combination of the three.  (Three – it’s the magic number.)

Simply follow the instructions found on the Student Service Center website.


Yet another amazing acronym – FAFSA.  The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) needs to be filed annually in order to determine your financial aid eligibility for a number of need-based programs for next academic year (Summer 2014-Spring 2015).  At Ohio State, we expect you to file your FAFSA by February 15 each year for priority consideration.  It’s important to apply by that date, even if you and your family will need to estimate income information because your 2013 taxes aren’t complete yet.  There’s also a PIN number involved, so don’t wait until the last minute in case you need to get that reset – it will take a few days!  And, no, it’s not that kind of pinsetter.


I know I just glossed over the word in the FAFSA section, but another aspect of tending to your finances as a college student is doing your taxes.  Even though we’re months away from the April 15 deadline, ‘tis the season.  Something that you’ve probably not had to include on your taxes in the past is your financial aid.  You should note that any amount of a scholarship, fellowship or grant that exceeds the cost of tuition, mandatory fees, books and required supplies will be considered taxable income and is subject to federal tax.

One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever heard when it comes to finances in college is pretty profound: Live like a student now, so you don’t have to after graduation.  The translation?  Live way within your means now – learn to live on the cheap and within a budget.  Want some ideas on how to create a budget, how to start building your credit score or even start building an investment portfolio?  Ohio State students can access resources on these topics and others by reaching out to the Student Wellness Center.  It’s okay: there are ways to live on a budget and not be entirely dependent on Ramen…

I could go on for days about other things to keep in mind when doing business with the university, but all good things – including this post – must come to an end.

6 Tips for Second-Year Housing

You’re in your second semester. Everyone is already talking about where they want to live next year. Whether you’re completely clueless or have it all figured out, here are six things to think about as you plan for your second year:

1)  WHERE will you live?

You probably know the three keys to real estate: location, location, location. And you know better than I do about where you’d like to live. Two particular things I hope you’ll think about:

Connectedness to campus. When I was a second-year student at Ohio State circa 2008, I lived in an apartment East of High Street.  Although I was a 7-minute walk from campus, I felt less connected to the campus. I was no longer surrounded by hundreds of other students like I was in my first-year residence hall. It took more effort to travel to and from campus for class. I hadn’t realized how living on campus is great for staying connected, making new friends, and maintaining a large support network in your home (residence hall). You can still do this when living off campus, it just takes more effort (i.e. get involved!).

Safety. If you are unfamiliar with an off-campus area, check out the police crime reports for that area before signing a lease.

2)  WHO will you live with?

Perhaps by now you’ve figured out how to live with a roommate (if you live on campus). Yes, it can be stressful to share such tiny space with a stranger. You’re probably itching to have your own bedroom.

Lucky for you, upperclassmen residence hall options often contain more space and amenities than a traditional first-year room. If you make the leap to live off campus, you will surely have more space. With more space comes more room for problems to arise. I speak from experience when I say that seeing your roommate’s 4-day-old dirty dishes in the sink will drive you crazy. Also, a disagreement on the location of toothpaste in the bathroom somehow becomes the fight of the century.

Just because you move to a bigger place doesn’t mean the roommate problems will go away. They will continue, but you will improve your ability to solve them. The university can also help you find roommates.

3)  HOW will you pay for housing? How MUCH will you pay?

Residence hall expenses will be paid through your tuition and fees bill once per semester. Do you have the funds (whether it’s loans, aid, or pure money in da bank) to cover this twice a year?

With off-campus living, you will have several bills to pay on a monthly basis: rent, electric and/or gas, cable/Internet, sometimes water and trash. You will likely need a checking account and reliable source of funds (i.e. money in da bank) to pay these expenses every month.

Sure, living on campus is a bit pricey.  But consider the many benefits (safety, proximity to classes, activities, sense of community, meal blocks) and decide if those benefits are worth the cost.

When living off campus, your utility bills will change with the seasons. Do your research about these off-campus living expenses.

The words spoken by many Ohio State students after the Polar Vortex of January 2014.

4)  WHEN will you live there?

Pay attention to the move-in date (on-campus) or lease start date (off-campus). Consider any factors (e.g. summer job, fall commitments) that might affect your ability to move-in at the start date.

While residence halls close in the summer, most off-campus leases include the summer months. Check your lease for policies regarding moving out and subleasing (if necessary).

5)  RESPONSIBILITY…groannnnn

Living off campus means you must assume new responsibilities: cooking, cleaning, paying bills, and understanding the legal obligations of signing a lease.

Learning to cook for yourself is a skill that’s perfected with time and experience. Heck, I’m 25 and I still set off the fire alarm in my apartment when I use the oven sometimes (#truestory). But living off campus or in a residence hall such as Neilwood Gables) will require you to use a kitchen.

And seriously, that part about paying bills and legal stuff: signing a lease with your name means you are the adult responsible for the place you are living.

6)  Take ACTION!

University Housing contract renewals are available beginning Saturday, January 25th. Check your university email for more info.

Consider joining the STEP program.  Not sure what STEP is?  Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post dedicated to the STEP experience.

If you decide you’re living off campus, use as a starting point for finding a place. If you haven’t already started looking, do so ASAP – off-campus places in the University District will fill up fast.

If you’ve already signed a lease, get your plans in order.

Stay warm this weekend!