Five Ways to Help Potential Members Find Their Perfect Sorority

By Brittany White

As we talk more and more about implementing Values-Based Recruitment, it’s important for us to ensure that our Potential New Members (PNMs) understand what it means too. When I was on Panhellenic Council, I remember struggling to watch PNMs make decisions about a chapter based on frivolous things – like a rumor they had heard about the chapter or women in the chapter, or which chapter gave them more “social” capital. So from my experience, I can understand why PNMs struggle to determine what their values-based criteria for selecting a chapter should be. I could have used some guidance in what the expectations were of me as a member, and the questions that I needed to be asking chapters to find a group of women that I fit in with.

This list of  “Five Ways to Help Potential Members Find Their Perfect Sorority” was not given to me when truly I could have used the suggestions during recruitment. My hope is that Panhellenic officers and Recruitment Counselors will take these strategies to help the PNMs on their campuses.. I would have benefitted from a personal system that helped me choose a chapter rather than just using my gut or best guess in the heat of the moment.

1) Help them determine what they want out of their sorority experience.

It’s important for PNMs to know what they are looking to gain from this experience – whether it be sisterhood, leadership opportunities, academics, etc. If a PNM is passionate about volunteering and giving back to the community, then we need to make sure that they are gathering information at each chapter about each chapter’s philanthropic efforts. If a PNM is  looking for leadership opportunities, then it’s important for them to ask questions about women who hold office in the chapter or women who lead other organizations on campus. We also need to prepare PNMs that sorority women will probably ask them what they are looking for in their sorority experience so the chapter can ensure that they can meet their needs.

2) Help them identify their values.

We aren’t calling it values-based recruitment for nothing. If you are anything like me when I was 18 and heading off to college – I had ZERO idea what my values were, let alone how to determine them. Never fear, there are plenty of places on the Internet to help get PNM’s mind jogging (like Phired Up’s Values Bracket). We can help PNMs determine values by giving them a prompt. For example, think about a time in your life that made a significant impact on you (good or bad) and what some of the values and lessons were that you learned from that experience.

3) Provide PNMs with some reflection questions

It’s important for PNMs to have some reflective prep time for values-based conversations. They might get asked, “Tell me something that you are passionate about…” If they have never thought about it before – that’s a tough question. The goal of asking reflection questions is to help them identify qualities, experiences, and values that they possess which sorority women might ask them about. We don’t want them to be floored by any deep questions, but we also want chapter members to engage in intentional, values-based conversation. Panhellenic officers can send reflection prompts in a mass email leading up to recruitment or put them in the PNM Guide. It’s important that these reflective responses remain confidential. We wouldn’t want anyone to read our diary, so we shouldn’t read a PNMs either.  Here are a few examples of some reflective prompts for PNMs:

  • Tell me about something that you are passionate about.
  • Tell me about your best friend.
  • What are some qualities that you think are super important in a friend?
  • Tell me about your strengths.
  • What’s your dream job?
  • What adjectives would your family/friends use to describe you?
  • Tell me about your greatest accomplishment.
  • Tell me about your hometown and how it has shaped you.

4) Provide PNMs with some questions to ask

When I went through recruitment, I didn’t think I was allowed to ask questions. However, it is so important that PNMs ask questions to the sorority women in each chapter relevant to their values, and what they are looking for in a sorority. Once we have helped them to identify their values, we can walk them through some questions that they can ask sorority women to get a better understanding of each chapter.

5) Help them to establish their criteria

Once they have gathered their values, reflections, and questions it’s important to help them create a criteria. It will be the same for every chapter and as they go through the recruitment process. Recruitment Counselors and Panhellenic officers can encourage them to write about each chapter. So it might look something like this for PNMs:

  • Leadership Opportunities: [what I’m looking for in my experience]
  • Loyalty: [value]
  • Authenticity: [value]
  • Kind: [value]
  • Confident: [value]
  • Diversity: [value]
  • How much are dues? [question I need to ask]
  • How much time will I need to contribute to the chapter per week? [question I need to ask]
  • Where do women in the chapter typically volunteer in the community? [questions I need to ask]
  • Other general thoughts:

As they go throughout recruitment they will continue to make notes by each of their criteria. For example:

  • Leadership Opportunities: 1st day – met Sarah and she said that there were a lot of women in the chapter involved across campus – including the Nursing Honor Society; 2nd day – met Nicole she holds an officer position in the chapter…  I’m not sure which one and she gave me some great tips on how she balances

Encourage PNMs to make short hand notes because it might be easier. They may not have time to write a novel, but they can come back to their short hand notes and expand on them later.

By using these five tips, PNMs can create a criteria that is tailored specifically to their values during the recruitment process. Encouraging them to use these as a baseline will certainly help them find the organization that is best suited for their growth that they will love and enjoy!

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