Fraternity & Sorority at Orientation

Fraternity & Sorority at Orientation: A Formula for Success

by Alex Taylor

New Student Orientation, or whatever your institution dubs the experience, is for many campuses the first physical introduction to your community. While the importance of this impression needs no stating, a roadmap for success does.

Communities tend to fall into a few categories. Those are outlined, with a few key reflections for you to consider as your prepare for those fresh faces to arrive, lanyards dangling out of pockets and parents nervously collecting every shred of information they can find.

Orientation is Sign Up SZN – These tend to be campus communities where incoming students flock to fraternity/sorority. Tables are neatly ordained with computers opened to the recruitment registration website (shoutout CampusDirector) and the biggest worry is, “Do we have enough computers?!” Students line up, pay the fee, and are officially registered to participate in the campus-sanctioned recruitment process. If this is your campus or sounds similar, consider these questions:

  • Are these people signing up the right people for your community? How do we know? Apart from basic information, do you know the desires, wants, expectations they carry?

  • What people are you NOT capturing? What if a student is only slightly interested? How could they learn more before registering and committing to the “process”?

If this is your campus, the best advice is to evaluate your process before simply replicating it year over year. Most likely there’s data that exists from the past few years. Are there any trends? What are those trends hinting towards? Your biggest challenge is the changing demographic of college students. Students don’t want to just sign up to then have a possibility of finding a chapter. They want to be able to do research, meet people, and make a choice for themselves.

Paper, Paper, and wait for it… more paper – Incoming students wander a maze that our friends hosting orientation carefully orchestrated. Well-intended it might be, incoming students are lost. They collect paper, pens, lip balm, all branded with approval of the university’s marketing team. Each paper is titled the same way, but contains subtle differences gone unnoticed by the untrained eye of a new student. Got bad news for you friend, your brochure is going in the trash with the rest later tonight, no more read than it was upon delivery. You are lost in a sea of sameness. Consider the following:


  • What makes fraternity/sorority different than any other opportunity to get involved on campus? Don’t say brotherhood or sisterhood… It begins with a unique story targeted towards the people YOU want. However, if you don’t know what you offer, or who it benefits, you’ll just keep shouting GO GREEK. Save your laurel wreath branded pens, and be more human.

  • What’s the one resource in your possession? People! Include current students to tell their personal stories. If you’ve got some policy about them not “recruiting” (let’s talk about that offline, btw), just encourage them to include stories of their friends from other chapters as well. People join people.

  • Last, make sure your paper directs to a virtual platform. Got a website where they can read more? Make sure to point it out. Want to do one even better? Here’s what we do: Have them pull out their phone, and go to your website in front of you. No need to read it now, but bet your bottom dollar they’ll see it again. Or, direct them to your active social media channels.

Booths.. Tables? Uh, I gotta get me one of those! – You, dear reader, are the blank slate our team dreams every night with fire (phire?) puns dancing in our minds. Maybe fraternity/sorority isn’t “allowed” to table or be publicly announced at orientation, or you simply don’t know where to begin. That’s okay, here are some questions to consider, plus some bonus advice.

  • Usually there’s some reason why our organizations are not as welcome. Maybe orientation is Mach speed, and we’re not bogging people down. Or maybe some event happened in years past that pulled the invite. Whatever the reason, FIND IT. Simply start asking why. Not to be accusatory, but to understand the environment.

  • Determine what “success at orientation” is for THIS summer. Small tweaks over time lead to new ways that “we’ve always done it”.

  • People are your most powerful marketing tool. If knowing you exist is a challenge, physical people shaking hands is more compelling than paper in this instance. Telling the story of “who you are” rather than “who we’re NOT” is important as you prepare.

Knowing your current circumstances (and why) is a huge step for any campus finding themselves here. Begin by finding a few small wins that can be built on over time. Most likely, fraternity/sorority serves a pretty cool need on your campus. The story needs to be told, and reclaiming your narrative is key in this scenario.

Here’s a checklist to make sure you’re ready for orientation:

  1. People (students) ready and prepared to tell THEIR story. Testimony is more powerful than facts.

  2. Leads-Capturing Device(s), yes plural, that allow opportunities to shop around. These should then lead them down digital pathways to learn more.

  3. Clear instructions about HOW to join, WHAT that process entails, and WHO to contact.

  4. Any marketing materials should point to a singular virtual platform (website, social media, etc). Then data should be captured there as well.

  5. Quick meeting after each orientation to evaluate, tweak, and get better. Many campuses have multiple sessions each summer. Use that opportunity to tinker and perfect the process for next year.

  6. People crave human connection; our organizations offer that plus numerous benefits. Treat a booth, table, or orientation space as a place to create a microcosm of the experience.

Our team is here to help you ready yourself for Orientation. Did any of this spark more questions?  We’re always open to talk more about your specific campus! Just send us an email, and we’ll help any way that we can.