Commonalities vs. Qualifications: Sorority Recruitment

by Tina VanSteenbergen

There’s a really special moment that can happen during sorority recruitment. It’s the third or seventh party of the day; you’re tired of smiling and making small talk, and if you have to complete your bump rotation ONE more time, you might cry. And then, like magic, the PNM sitting in front of you is special. She likes all the same fashion and food you do, has the same hobbies and even grew up in a town near to you! The conversation goes by too quickly because of all the fun you’re having. You’re sad to see her go, but as she walks away you know: you’ve found your rush crush, your new little—your future sister.

These moments are in fact magic. Meeting someone with whom we share interests, passions, and yes, even (especially?) food, is an amazing experience. Commonalities bring us together. They start friendships.

But friendship and sisterhood are different.

We often make decisions during sorority recruitment about who we want to extend bids to based on who we find commonalities with. If she’s passionate about watching “Gossip Girl” reruns like we are, we can talk to her for hours about our favorite characters and the latest plot twist. It can make us feel connected to, normal, and even like kindred spirits. The same can be said for any topic we cover during conversations with PNMs during recruitment—we feel connected to them when we find commonalities with them.

It’s not wrong to want to recruit women who you connect with, who you find commonalities with. Those things are important. They’re just not the only thing that matters.

We need to recruit her based not just on her commonalities, but her qualifications.

Loving mint chocolate chip ice cream, Ryan Reynolds or the New York Jets doesn’t make someone qualified to be my sorority sister. My friend? Without question. But sisterhood, sorority membership, requires more than interest in the same things.

How’s her GPA? Is she motivated and driven? Does she volunteer? Is she involved on campus? In what, and how frequently? Does she have a passion, or a dream? Does she believe in something? What kind of representation of your sorority would she be? Is she a leader?

These questions are about her qualifications for membership, and are just as important to our discussions about membership selection as her movie and food tastes. Honestly, they’re probably more important.

As you prepare your chapter members to search for their future sisters in this fall’s recruitment, be sure they’re all prepared to not only find women they share commonalities with, but ones they believe are qualified to be sorority members, to be your sisters. The moment when they find out their rush crush is also has all of the qualifications she needs to be a great member, a great sister, will be even more magical.