Greek Life

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What A Parent Should Know

What A Parent Should Know

While recruitment is stressful for our potential members actually participating in the process, it can be equally stressful for their parents, who care about their children.  Some parents are well acquainted with the Greek community and are sorority members themselves, but to others it is a completely foreign concept.  For both groups, it is important to familiarize yourself with the process before it begins so that you will be prepared to help your student as she participates in recruitment.  Below are some important points for parents to remember:

To some college students, sorority membership sounds like a great idea.  They look forward to having something to help them socially and academically while providing structure.  It is not uncommon for women to participate in recruitment and even join solely because of the pressure from their parents. Whether you were Greek or not, it is important to understand that, especially at Auburn, it is not necessary to be Greek if you want to be involved and make friends. There are many successful students at Auburn who choose to remain unaffiliated.  Be sure to check with your student to make sure this is something they really want to do. If the case is that they are uncertain and just need encouragement, don’t be afraid to encourage them.  But, if they do not want to participate, help them find other ways to have a great college experience.  If they are uninterested in completing their own registration or they don’t look forward to participating, those could be cues that they would rather do other things at college.  Our Student Government sponsors many activities and programs as does the University Program Council.  She can also join one of our many Student Organizations and Clubs on campus.  Remember that fall recruitment is not the only way to join, so if your student changes their mind later, they can join at a later time.

Coming to college is an important time for a young person.  Students are taking the first steps toward entering adulthood.  Our registration process is online and easy.  Too many times we receive calls from mothers who have submitted their student’s information incorrectly and want to change it.  In most cases, the sororities have already received the incorrect information and it draws attention to the potential member’s registration to send out corrections. The best way to make sure that your student’s information is correct, and is what they want to send in, is to let them complete the registration.  If you want to be present you can assist with grammar or punctuation, but your student should be the one at the keyboard entering in the application.

Also, when the week of recruitment arrives, the most important thing you can do is to be encouraging. Don’t influence decisions. If you know that your student wants to be in a sorority, but feels discouraged, encourage them to give all of the sororities a chance. Now is not the time to decide what chapter to join.  The recruitment week is when your student will meet each chapter and see what they are offering.

As your student moves away for the first time, we understand the urge to protect them.  We also understand that you want them to have friends and fit in. The best way for your student to meet others is for them to be able to devote time to the people they meet, rather than spending time with whoever came down for the week.  Also, recruitment week is jam packed with activities for your student. Even though recruitment parties don’t go on all day, there are things she must attend from about 7:30 each morning until as late as 7 or 8 pm.  Parents are not allowed to attend any recruitment events, so if you come to Auburn for the week of recruitment, there will be very little chance for you to interact with your student because they will be very busy with their Recruitment Counselor and recruitment group.

However, every sorority has many moms and dads helping out behind the scenes.  Recruitment at Auburn runs smoothly, in large part, because of the help from parents.  So, once your student joins a sorority, they would love your help in future years.  This would not only allow you to actually see your student, but would let you have fun doing things with the other moms.

Your student’s journey through recruitment is their own and it is up to them to share their experiences with you.  If a parent calls Greek Life, with questions we are very limited as to what we can share with you.  We can’t tell you which chapters invited your student back and we can’t tell you why a particular chapter released your student.  In fact, we aren’t privy to that information either.  Each chapter has its own selection process that it follows with direction from alumnae advisors who are well versed in Panhellenic policies.  They simply submit their invitations to us and we process them.  Once preferences are made, we can’t tell you which choices your student made and we can’t tell you where the chapters placed your student on any certain list.  What we can tell you is that each chapter has a democratic process of membership selection and that the lists are checked multiple times before submission to our office.  In addition, each potential member makes her own selections and, once made, they are final. Potential members are not allowed to go back and make their own changes to their choices and preferences, so we will certainly not allow any changes to be made upon instructions from a parent.

There is no doubt that the number one concern parents have regarding recruitment is “will my daughter’s feelings get hurt?”  This is certainly a valid concern. Over the last couple of years, Auburn Panhellenic sororities offered bids to 90% of the women who signed up to participate in sorority recruitment.  Many people hear that number and assume that the other 10% were released from recruitment, but that is not the case.  In fact, it is a much smaller number of potential members.

Over the past 2 years, only about 2% of potential members were released from recruitment, either during the week or on Bid Day.  We know that .7% were true releases in that they reached a point in the week when they received no invitations.  However, the remaining of them were released on Bid Day.  That is made of 45 women (over a two year period), who all listed fewer options than those available to them in their final preferences.  In other words, all of them would have received a bid from a sorority had they simply been more open minded and listed all of their options.

Although it is a small proportion of our potential members, the women released from recruitment are a very important population to us.  Here are some of the scenarios in which a potential member might be released:

  • Some potential members will reach a point in the week when no chapters invite them back for the next round of Recruitment events. Be aware that this might happen at any time.  As mentioned above, this happens with about 2% of potential members.  The number of invitations a woman receives at one round is not indicative of whether or not she might be released at the next.  If a potential member has two chapters inviting her back after the first round of parties, it is very possible that she will attend these parties all the way to preference round and receive a bid.  Also, some releases are women who received the full amount of invitations the day before.  It is important to know that most sororities will make their largest releases at the beginning of the week.  So, most potential members will not receive the full amount of invitations after this round.  Keep that in mind when talking to your daughter and don’t take a low amount of invitations as a sign of an impending release.
  • The other way that potential members are released from recruitment involves not receiving a bid through bid matching.  When a potential member submits her preferences, Panhellenic uses a system that will work to place her in her first choice.  If we are unable, we will then begin trying to place her in her second choice.  The actual mechanics of the system are too difficult to explain, but if a potential member is not placed, it means that she was ranked low in the preference list of all chapters she indicated a willingness to join.  The order you rank the sororities in your preference selections affects which chapter you join, but it can’t change whether you receive a bid or not.  However, most potential members who are not matched with a sorority are left unmatched because they chose not to list a particular sorority.  In most cases, women who are released in this way would have received a bid had they maximized their options by indicating a preference for every chapter they attended for preference round. Please know that the sorority they would have matched would be the one they chose not to list, but they still would have had a bid.  It is a misconception that listing a chapter you truly don’t want to join will help you get a bid into the one that you want.  This is not true.  Listing all of your options increases your chance of getting a bid in general.

Please know that the potential members who are released from recruitment are still important to us.  We have recruitment counselors (Pi Chis) who will work closely with groups of 10 to 15 potential members throughout the week.  When a potential member is released from recruitment, she is notified one on one by her Pi Chi at the earliest opportunity so she does not find out while others are present and accepting invitations.  Her Pi Chi will still try to involve her in group activities outside of recruitment.  Some released potential new members do choose to stay involved with their groups.  The Pi Chis also make a special effort to keep in touch with all group members and to help them get involved with other things on campus as the year goes on.

If about 90% of Auburn’s potential members joined and about 2% were released from recruitment, that means around 8% of potential members withdrew from recruitment.  In the recruitment surveys conducted last year, the information provided by the potential members showed that not receiving an invitation from the chapter they most desired was overwhelmingly the top reason that potential members gave for withdrawing (about 70% listed it), often while they are still receiving invitations from five or more chapters.  This scenario is unfortunate for our chapters and for the potential member who might be an asset to a chapter if she would only give membership there a chance.

It is also important that potential members be realistic about the possibility of ending up in one particular group.  With eighteen sororities and 90% joining, on average, that means that each sorority ends up with 5% of the total pool of potential members.  So, someone who attends recruitment with only one sorority in mind has about a one in twenty chance of joining that one sorority.  This is unfortunate because with eighteen sororities full of wonderful Auburn women, it’s easy to find the value in any group, provided you don’t make up your mind ahead of time.

In keeping with this concept, it is our policy that each potential member will attend the most parties that she can attend.  In other words, if the potential members are being scheduled for an eight-party round, the potential members who receive eight invitations must attend eight parties in that round. They may not choose a smaller number.  If a potential member receives fewer than eight invitations, she must accept them all.  This is our effort to help them maximize their options by investigating all that’s available to them.  When a potential member indicates her final preferences at the end of recruitment, she is not required to list every chapter she attended that day, although Auburn Panhellenic does encourage that for women who truly desire to be a sorority member.

Each chapter is limited in the number of invitations that they may offer at any particular time.  Not receiving an invitation from a favorite chapter can leave the feelings of a potential member hurt.  But, this is a time that she needs to consider whether she wants to be a member of a sorority or she wants to be a member of that sorority.  If she wants to receive the benefits of sorority membership, then she should move on from the groups she will no longer be attending and focus on the groups that chose to invite her back.  They all have wonderful members and do exciting things, so she should think about which ones are the best fit for her. Often, potential members will completely withdraw from the recruitment process over not receiving one particular invitation and soon regret it.  In the heat of the moment, they feel that they can’t be happy in any other chapter.  Once recruitment ends and the semester is underway, they see great things coming from chapters they were unwilling to consider but are no longer able to join. Withdrawing from recruitment is a big step and should be carefully considered.

At Auburn, we have historically used an accept/regret model of invitations.  This means that after each round of parties, each potential member received a list of chapters inviting her back and then made selections about which invitations to accept.  In 2007, we began using the priority accept model.  In the priority accept model, each potential member reports to us as soon as parties end for the day.  She then gives us a ranked list of the sororities in preference order.  For example, if we have just ended 18 party round and 13 party round is next, each potential member lets us know which 13 parties would be on her ideal schedule and then the other five in preference order.  Then, the sororities give us a list of their invitations.  Our system first tries to see which of those 13 have invited her back.  If one does not invite her back, the system then tries to see if she was invited back to her next preference, and then so on, until her schedule is full.  The potential member then receives a schedule letting her know where she will go the next day.  If a potential member has a favorite chapter and they do not appear on her schedule, it is not because some other chapter wanted her more or that Panhellenic thought she would be a better fit elsewhere, it is because that chapter did not issue her an invitation.  There has been some confusion about potential members having sororities on their schedule that they “dropped.”  In this method, the potential member does not “drop” any sororities unless they have more invitations than they need.  If the chapters on a potential member’s schedule are from the bottom of the ranked list, it is because the ones on the top did not issue her an invitation.  Think of it this way:  If a potential member goes to review a list of invitations, as in accept/regret, she already has a mental list of where she would most like to go.  In priority accept, she gives us that list ahead of time, and we try to give her what she wants, if it is available.  It’s like waiting in a fast food line and getting out of line, but first telling a friend, “I want a hamburger, but get me a hotdog if they are out of burgers.”  She will get what she gets whether she is the one speaking to the cashier or not.

The priority accept process is confusing for some people who are used to the accept/regret model, but here are some reasons that we use this method:

  1. A benefit to the potential members is that they get to make selections while their impressions are still fresh on their minds and they haven’t been changed by hearing the impressions of others.
  2. A benefit to the chapters is that they have much more time to make their invitation lists.  When we used the accept/regret model, recruitment parties would end at noon, giving the chapters about 6 hours to review 1,100 potential members and decide which to invite back to the next round.  With this new method, chapters have a significantly greater amount of time, allowing them to more carefully consider each potential member and make sure that any invitation lists submitted are correct.  This added time for more attention to detail ultimately benefits the potential members as well.
  3. Overall, the recruitment process relies heavily on math and statistics.  Throughout the week, there are statistical processes at work geared toward making sure each sorority is able to pledge the maximum amount of women at the end of the week, which gives the highest number of potential members a chance to join.  Each round, every sorority is allowed to invite back a specific amount of potential members.  If, for some reason, a sorority has fewer acceptances than were anticipated, they still have room for potential members who would have liked an invitation, but did not receive one.  In the accept/regret model, there was no real recourse because we did not have this information until after acceptances were over.  Now, however, we are able to tell how many acceptances there are, and, should a sorority need to issue more invitations, they have the ability to issue more invitations, allowing more invitations to be issued overall.
  4. One thing to clarify here is that the sororities do not know where the potential members have ranked them.  For example, if someone ranks a sorority at the end of her list and ends up scheduled to visit them, she should not feel nervous about that, because the sorority only receives an alphabetical list of who is coming back, not where the potential members ranked them.

As communicated before, the worst thing a potential member can do is approach recruitment with the attitude that only one or two chapters are “good enough” for them.  Most often, this attitude is not learned during the recruitment week but rather has been ingrained by friends, family, and neighbors who have told potential members which sororities are “good,” “bad,” and “acceptable,” and placed other labels on these large groups of women.  It also comes from acquaintances who do love her and have told her that she would be perfect for a particular group and will certainly receive a bid there.  When the rubber meets the road, a group can only take so many women and it’s up to the 300 collegiate members of each chapter to decide which 85 women to offer bids to. The truth is that each sorority has something unique and wonderful to offer and it’s up to the potential member to decide what she thinks is best with as little help from us as possible.  The advantage of such large groups is that anyone who will give a group a chance can make friends for a lifetime.

We are often questioned by students and parents from out of state wondering whether they will be considered for sorority membership, even if they aren’t from the area and don’t know anyone beforehand.  Each year, women from all over attend Auburn, have a wonderful time making friends in recruitment, and find their sorority home. Typically about 49% of the students participating in recruitment finished high school in Alabama and the other 51% finished school elsewhere, with about 49% of the bids going to students from Alabama and the other 51% going to students from elsewhere.  So, the pool of women receiving bids is reflective of the pool of women who participated in recruitment.

Please don’t assume that recruitment will be just like it was when you were in school, even if you went to Auburn.  During this time, many nervous parents turn to their own experiences as well as their friends for answers and advice.  Please know that The Office of Greek Life is the best place to get these things and that many well meaning friends have led potential members and their families astray.  The Panhellenic Council (especially through our website) is going to tell you everything you need to know. Panhellenic knows how nervous you and your daughter are and we want you both to be prepared for recruitment, so please look at our website first if you have any questions.  If a friend tells you or your daughter something that conflicts with the website, disregard it and go with the website.  Since we are the ones most closely linked to the process, we have the most accurate and up to date information on it.

It is equally important to educate you on the difference between “Rush” and “Recruitment.”  Across the nation, sororities have moved from a Rush model that requires potential members to jump through hoops and meet many requirements before being allowed to join.  We follow a Recruitment model that is more about the sororities showcasing what our sororities do and the value we can add to your daughter’s college experience.  Your daughter might be stressed about impressing the sorority members, but she should know that the sororities are also very concerned with impressing her and recruiting her into sorority membership.

Often, there are other opportunities for women to join sororities outside of formal recruitment. Some chapters have spots available and seek to fill those spots through continuous open bidding. The first two weeks of fall and the first two weeks of spring are the times that COB activities are mostly held.  If a woman is interested in COB, she can sign up on our online form.  Continuous open bidding is very informal and the sororities choose which events to have when and which potential members to invite.  Someone doesn’t to fill out the form to be invited. The chapters invite unaffiliated friends and will look through our spreadsheet of interested women we collect from the online form to get ideas of women to invite.  If someone fills out the form, she may or may not be called.  If she is called,  she doesn’t have to attend the event if she doesn’t want to.  She also doesn’t have to take a bid if she decides not to.  But, please remember that if someone receives a bid through formal recruitment and they decline it or later turn it in, they are ineligible for one year and can’t participate in continuous open bidding.

During recruitment, your daughter will already be in the place she will live for the remainder of the school year.  Even after recruitment is over, she will not be expected to move onto the sorority’s hall.  In some instances, a spot may open up on a sorority’s floor and new members are allowed to move there if they wish, but no one will be asked or forced to move during their first year.  However, women are expected to live on the sorority’s hall during their second year of membership.  So, if your daughter does join a sorority, do not sign a lease for the next year until you are certain that she will not have to live on the hall.  Sororities all have their own policies where housing is concerned, but there are generally very steep fines associated with not living on the hall at the required time.  The sorority halls are all located in The Village.  This housing, on the western end of campus, will be apartment style and allow each resident to have her own bedroom as well as a shared bathroom and living room area with other members of her sorority in suites of four.  Each sorority has about forty beds on a hallway protected by a locked door with card-swipe access. Living on the sorority hall is a lot of fun! Your daughter will have the opportunity to meet lots of new friends and make great memories.

Everything is different.  Many of our sororities are OVERWHELMED with legacies.  So, just because you are a member of a sorority (from Auburn or from a different campus), your daughter is not guaranteed an invitation or a bid.  The truth is, some sororities will have well over 100 legacies going through recruitment. If they can have 85 new members, it’s clear that they don’t even have room for all of their legacies.  In addition, each sorority meets many great women during recruitment who are a better fit for their chapter than some of their legacies, which means that no pledge class is only legacies.  In fact, no pledge class is even mostly legacies.  Usually, less than one in five of the women in our recruitment joined a sorority they have a relative in.  Even if you were the president of the chapter at Auburn twenty years ago and you are a big contributor to the chapter today, it is still possible that your daughter might not be invited back to that chapter.

It is a misconception that if a legacy is invited back for preference round, she is guaranteed a bid.  There are two explanations for that.  One is that some sororities do not guarantee bids to their legacies who attend preference parties.  Their legacies are given the same amount of consideration as non-legacies.  Also, sororities differ in what they call a legacy.  While every sorority wants to know if a potential member is related to one of their members in any way, legacy doesn’t mean the same thing to every sorority.  For one sorority, a legacy is for someone whose mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, or cousin is a member.  For another, it might be mother and sister only.  Every sorority has a national policy regarding legacies and the chapters at Auburn consult with their headquarters offices to ensure that they treat their legacies fairly and appropriately.  Legacy policies for many organizations have changed over the past few years. If you want to know what your sorority’s policy is, contact them.

It is also a misconception that, when a sorority releases a legacy, the relative will get a notification phone call.  Very often, we receive phone calls from confused relatives who are surprised to learn that most of the chapters at Auburn no longer do that.  There are many reasons for this. The first has to do with the sheer volume of potential members and legacies.  There is simply not enough time to call and discuss each situation with each relative.  Another reason goes back to the way that each sorority defines legacy.  If a sorority does not consider a niece to be a legacy, they do not need to call the potential member’s aunt.  The most important reason is that this recruitment experience belongs to the potential member.  She should be the first one to know what her invitations are and we want to respect her privacy and her ability to disclose that information to her family and friends.  If a potential member decides not to return to her mother’s sorority, we don’t ask her mother to deliver that message.  We also do not expect the sororities to share information with the potential members’ families before that information becomes available to the potential members themselves.




Last modified: May 9, 2023