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.
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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.

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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!


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Life Unexpected

I decided I was going to attend The Ohio State University when I was in the third grade. I was nine years old, standing in my kitchen, clutching the USA Synchro magazine in my hand, and told my parents that is where I was going to college. Ohio State’s synchronized swimming team had come in second at collegiate nationals that year, and that was my sole reason for wanting to go to Ohio State. I worked for the rest of my elementary, middle, and high school career and synchro career gearing up to swim at Ohio State. I would dream about swimming in the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion, my mom coming down for all my meets, becoming friends with all the girls on the team, and swimming amazing routines with beautiful suits.

In my senior year of high school, I just missed the deadline for recruiting and I sent in my video late, but the coaches said I could try out in the fall. On a Saturday in September, I woke up nervous and excited about my try out. As I swam for the coaches, the entire team watched me, wondering who I was. They clapped after I finished my routine and it made me feel like I was on top of the world. They said they would email me later that week letting me know if I made it. I was anxious that entire week. On Thursday, I opened my email and saw the first few lines of the message that said:

Sorry Libby. You were really close, but you didn’t make the team.

My entire life had been about swimming for Ohio State. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t want to transfer, because I had already made friends and connections to the campus. It would be too sad to leave, so I made the best of my situation. I decided to get involved in other activities.

I kept in touch with the synchro team and for the rest of my freshman year I was the team’s manager. They welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like part of the group. I stayed in Columbus over winter break and helped with winter training and traveled with them. After winter break I went through formal recruitment through Sorority and Fraternity Life and joined my home away from home, Delta Delta Delta. They quickly became my best friends and truly my sisters. I joined University Choir where we performed in two concerts on campus.

In my second year, I went on my first Buck-I-Serv trip to Biloxi, MS, where we helped those who had been affected by Hurricane Katrina. In May Term at the end of my second year, I studied the History, Culture, and Politics of Great Britain in London, England with an amazing group of Ohio State students.

In my third year, I went on my second Buck-I-Serv trip to Costa Rica, where we helped build a road and cleaned up a beach. During both my sophomore and junior years, I participated in BuckeyeThon to help raise money for Nationwide Children’s Hospital. I have also served as a recruitment guide for formal recruitment and helped 75 first- and second-year students find their homes. I also started working at the RPAC teaching swim lessons, which brought me back to the pool I thought I was going to spend many hours in.

My college career has been nothing like nine-year-old Libby imagined it to be, but I have loved every second of what it has become. I want everyone out there who worries that college is not going to be how they imagine to know that will not be; it’s going to be even better. No matter what experience comes your way, go with it and see where it takes you–it might become the most amazing adventure of your life.

Debunking Myths of Student Leadership

Hey everyone!  Ryan here.  So, it is that time of year when it seems like all of the applications for student leadership positions and opportunities are out there (my email inbox is full of them and I’m not even a student here!).

In fact, here in FYE, we are currently searching for students to be Orientation Leaders, First-Year Connections Team members, First-Year Leadership Collaborative facilitators and interns, Camp Buckeye facilitators, Buckeye Adventures facilitators, Buckeyes Beyond Ohio Activities Board members, and Transfer Student Activities Board members.  So yes, we are looking for a few students to get involved.  Part of my job is to recruit, interview, and select students to serve in many of these positions.  I have been selecting student leaders for six years now and applied, interviewed, and was selected (and yes, often not selected) for several leadership positions myself when I was a college student.

As a first-year student, you may be wondering what “type” of student we are seeking to fill these positions.  I often hear students (especially during their first year) say, “I’d love to be an (insert student leadership position here), but I’m not what they are looking for.”  Well, I am here today to debunk some of the myths and let you know what we are really looking for.

Myth: You have to have all of the experience to be selected for anything.

If you have to already possess all the experience to become involved, then how does anyone become involved in the first place?  The truth is that many student leaders get involved simply because they are willing to put themselves out there and take a chance.

Myth: First-year students haven’t been here long enough to get involved.

If a position is not open for first-year students, then the application will say so.  In FYE, we particularly think that first-year students should be represented in our positions.  Think about it.  Who better to help first-year students than those who just lived that experience (and lived to tell the tale)?  In fact, the First-Year Connections Team only accepts current first-year student applications for that very reason!

Myth: Only overly excited people are chosen for leadership positions.

The thought of facilitating an icebreaker isn’t what gets you out of bed every morning, so clearly leadership positions are not in the cards for you, right?  I hope that logic seems as silly to you as it was for me to write it.  I get it.  I’m not always the super excited type myself (I can be when needed, often with the assistance of my best friend coffee).  What we really want are people who can relate to our new first-year students.  While it is certainly awesome to be excited about connecting with others, real people aren’t ALWAYS excited about EVERYTHING.  We want students who can relate to other students, and sometimes that even includes relating to feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, and frustration.

Myth: You have to be in a certain group/clique/circle/crowd/tribe to get selected for any type of leadership position.

Please.  That is SO high school.

So what are we looking for?  It’s actually pretty simple.  The most important qualities that are shared by all of our students are:

1)      A passion for helping first-year students be successful at Ohio State, and

2)      A desire to develop your leadership skills.

Of course, there’s more to it than that.  However, if those two statements apply to you, then you should look at our various positions and consider applying for any which interest you!  Still not sure about whether you would be a great student leader?  Watch the video below, repeat after Jessica, and apply!

To learn more about the various leadership positions, applications, and application deadlines, leave a comment for us, visit the website links in this post, or email!