At Auburn University, some sororities require a recommendation from an alumna member of that sorority before the sorority may extend a bid to that woman. A recommendation simply introduces a woman to the sorority so that the sorority members may become better acquainted with her before recruitment begins. Sororities appreciate and use the information obtained through recommendations. However, it is important that you understand that IF A SORORITY REQUIRES A POTENTIAL MEMBER TO HAVE A RECOMMENDATION, IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL SORORITY TO OBTAIN A RECOMMENDATION FOR YOU.
In 1992, the National Panhellenic Conference passed a resolution addressing letters of recommendation. The resolution, in part, states: “The responsibility of providing letters of recommendation for potential members rests with the members of NPC fraternities and recruitment information distributed through College and Alumnae Panhellenics shall contain nothing that infers letters of recommendation must be secured by the potential member.” Each of the eighteen sororities at Auburn that participate in Fall Formal Recruitment is a member of the National Panhellenic Conference and is bound by this resolution.
May I still secure letters of recommendation for myself?
Yes! It is permissible for a potential member to ask an alumna member of a sorority to write a letter of recommendation for her own sorority.
Who can write a letter?
The recommendation needs to be from an alumna member of a particular sorority, not necessarily someone who went to Auburn. As long as she is a member of that sorority, it does not matter where she want to college. If you are not sure who to ask, here are some suggestions: your friends mother, your mother’s friends, teachers from your high school, friends from church and in the community, and checking with your friends who are also participating in recruitment. You’ll be surprised to find out how many people you know that are sorority members and you just never knew it. Very often, the people who write you recommendations will know a few people in other sororities and help you get more recs. If someone you know is willing to write you a recommendation, but she is not quite sure how, encourage her to contact her local alumnae group, her sorority’s national headquarters, or to call the Greek Life Office (334-844-4600) and we will assist her.
Can I make up my own letter and send it myself?
No. Some people want to make sure that the sorority has their information and they think that sororities who don’t have their resume will not know about them. The sororities know about a potential member as soon as she registers. Her online registration form is a resume and that is what the sorority looks at. The resume a potential member makes helps the alumna who is filling out her recommendation form. The sorority does not need it. Only letters sent by actual members of the sorority are considered official recommendations. Letters from friends, teachers, or family members are not considered unless the author is a member of the sorority the letter is addressed to.
Who should I contact if I don’t know someone from a particular sorority?
Don’t stress about it! Some things you can do is ask other friends participating in recruitment where they are getting theirs. Remember that once you register for recruitment, each sorority will receive a copy of your information, so the registration is more important than the recommendation. If a sorority does not have a recommendation for you, but they require one, they can use the information you have provided to find a recommendation for you. It is not appropriate for you to contact the sororities yourself prior to recruitment. Any questions you have should be directed to the Greek Life Office. If a potential member contacts a sorority with questions, they will receive a standard response from the sorority and their question will be forwarded to the Greek Life Office, which will respond to the question. This helps make recruitment a fair process for everyone as well as helping to ensure that everyone’s questions are sent to a central location so that they can be answered correctly and consistently.
As a potential member does look for recommendations, here are some people to ask:
1. Your friends’ mothers
2. The friends of your parents
3. Favorite high school teachers
4. Friends who are undergraduate sorority members. They may not be able to write a recommendation, but they will know people who just graduated and are eligible to write them.
5. Other friends participating in recruitment, even if it is at other schools. You may not have thought of anyone who is a Beta Beta Beta, but your friend may have the answer.
Remember that women who write recommendations do it every summer and that they have quite an extensive network. When you find one person who can write a recommendation, it’s likely she will be able to name friends in a few other sororities who can do it, too. Once you find your first recommendation, others will come more easily.
When can the letters be sent?
Recommendations can come any time, but it is best if they come in June and July. Even if you haven’t registered with Auburn University Panhellenic yet, you can still have your letters coming in. However, it is wise to wait until you have completed your high school career to begin seeking recommendations so that the resume with your recommendation will be complete and will match what is on your recruitment registration form. Please don’t forget that you will need to register with us in order to participate in recruitment. Having letters sent in does not register you to participate in recruitment. The earlier your letters come in, the more time that the sorority has to look over your letter of recommendation. Conversely, if you are unable to secure a recommendation on your own from a particular sorority, registering for recruitment with Auburn Panhellenic lets them know that you will be participating and gives them a chance to begin seeking out a recommendation for you. So, early registration certainly has its benefits!
When are they due?
There is no real due date for letters of recommendation. However, the earlier that you can have them in, the better. A good guideline would be to have them all sent in by the end of July so that the sororities have time to thoroughly read through them and learn the information.
Where should the letters be sent?
There are three main ways recommendations are submitted. Fortunately, it is the responsibility of the woman writing the recommendation to know how and where to send the recommendation. In fact, sorority headquarters hold that information and they typically to not provide it to potential members.
1. Online. Many sororities are communicating to their alumnae that they prefer that recommendations be submitted online. The alumna will have a login to access the members only part of the site. She is able to complete the form, add any comments, and upload any additional items. It is quick and the information goes immediately to the chapter. This is also the only submission that is trackable. When an alumna submits her online recommendation, she can tell that it was received.
2. Mailed to a sorority representative in hard copy. All sororities have women who carry the responsibility of obtaining and reviewing recommendations. Some of them post the woman’s mailing address on their website. Others share it with alumnae through their quarterly magazine. Generally, potential members do not have access to this information.
3. Mailed directly to the Office of Greek Life. An alumna may mail her recommendation to the sorority in care of the Office of Greek Life. This is easy because it’s only one address and it works for all of our chapters. The mailbox is checked by someone on the chapter recruitment team and the recommendations are carried to the person responsible for obtaining and reviewing recommendations. If you would like to send them through our office, address them like this:
Sorority Name Here Recommendations
c/o Auburn University Panhellenic
Auburn University Student Center
255 Heisman Drive, Suite 1330
Auburn University, AL 36849
What should be included in the letter?
If someone is going to complete a recommendation for you, be sure and supply her with a few things:
- A resume. Create a resume about yourself, your activities, and your interests. It will most likely be forwarded in to the sorority, so it should look nice. It is not as important as your actual registration, though. You may format your resume any way that you feel comfortable. The information you put on the resume will basically be the same information you already included in your recruitment registration, so don’t worry if someone submits a recommendation for you without your resume. The resume only helps the woman completing the recommendation. It doesn’t give the chapter any new information. Again, since your official recruitment record is the registration you submit through our office (not the resume with your recommendation), it is most important that your registration be correct and complete.
- A picture, if you want to include one. Since there are so many women who participate in recruitment, the sororities value having a picture of the potential member so that they can put a name and a face together. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A color photocopy of a picture will be fine. You don’t have to look like a beauty queen, either. Just make sure that it looks like you because it is used for identification purposes. Again, you don’t have to include a photo if you do not want to. You have the option of submitting one with your registration, too, and that is the one the sororities will use. So, it’s more important to include one with your registration.
- An envelope. Don’t address it. Since the woman writing your recommendation is likely to submit the recommendation online, she can at least reuse the envelope for something else if you don’t write on it. Give her a pre-addressed label or a note letting her know where to mail it if needed. Go ahead and address it to the sorority so that the alumna can just complete the letter and drop it in the mail. Make sure that you provide enough postage.
- Postage. The alumna may not need the postage, but it is thoughtful for you to provide it. Don’t attach it to the envelope, so she can use it later for something else if she doesn’t need it. Bigger and heavier envelopes cost more to mail, so go ahead and include two or three stamps. You don’t want your recommendations returned with insufficient postage.
- A stamped postcard addressed to you. If you include a postcard addressed to yourself, you can write a note on it saying, “Your recommendation for XYZ sorority has been submitted.” Then, when the alumna mails your recommendation, she can also mail your postcard. Receipt of the postcard will let you know your recommendation has been sent.
- A thank-you note. If someone writes you a letter of recommendation, its nice to send her a thank you note a few days later. It is a compliment to write someone a letter of recommendation, and it’s nice to show the alumna that you do appreciate the effort she is making to help you. It’s also a nice reminder to get the letter sent in, in case she may have gotten behind and not completed it yet.
- When someone writes a recommendation, she will fill out a form that is specific to her sorority. This is the actual recommendation and the materials you provide only help her complete this form. It is not your responsibility to get a copy of the form. It is the responsibility of the woman writing the recommendation. Also, the sororities restrict access to this form so that only members may obtain copies. So, if the woman writing your recommendation doesn’t have the form and needs help, a quick Google search of the sorority’s headquarters should help you find a phone number she can call to get help.
What about my hometown alumnae group?
Many towns have local alumnae groups that combine to help potential members by taking care of their recommendations and helping prepare them for recruitment. If your hometown has such a group, its a good idea to join it. While joining a hometown Panhellenic group is helpful, it is not a prerequisite to participating in recruitment. Also, please remember that registering with a hometown Panhellenic group does not automatically register you for recruitment. You will still need to register with Auburn University Panhellenic.
Are recommendations really necessary?
Similar to the references that one might have when applying for a job, a recommendation introduces a potential member to a sorority chapter. It is simply a supplement to the information that the chapter will receive through the Panhellenic Recruitment Registration form. Think of obtaining a recommendation as completing extra credit for class. You can succeed without it, but it never hurts to try.
How many do I need?
A sorority will only need one recommendation on a potential member. Having more than one recommendation sent to a particular sorority will not necessarily increase your chances of joining that sorority. However, if you know more than one alumna from a particular sorority, it is perfectly acceptable for them all to write letters for you.
Overall, it may seem like most potential members have a recommendation to every sorority, but that’s not the case. Very few potential members will have one for each chapter. Most will have recommendations for about ten or less, so don’t worry if you can’t check every box.
Does having a recommendation guarantee that I will receive a bid from a particular sorority?
Securing your own recommendation does not ensure that a sorority will offer you an invitation or a bid. Conversely, not securing your own recommendation does not mean that you will not be offered an invitation or a bid from a particular sorority. Please remember that while sororities value their alumnae and all input that their alumnae provide, it is the active members of the collegiate chapter who are responsible for making the decisions involving who is offered an invitation to membership.