by Matt Mattson
Great news everybody. Your Fall 2014 Recruitment T-Shirt design is already done for you!
Pick a nice bright color, then print on the front: “Research Says You Should Join Our Group.”
On the back, put this inspiring quote: “The 16% of college graduates who were members of Greek organizations are more likely to report being emotionally supported and having experiential and deep learning activities while in college, all of which likely have contributed to their higher work engagement and well-being. In fact, fraternity and sorority members’ engagement advantage indicates that they are more likely to be intellectually and emotionally connected to their organizations and enthusiastic about their work. Overall, 43% of fraternity and sorority members who are employed full time for an employer are engaged in the workplace, compared with 38% of all other college graduates. Importantly, these differences are statistically significant after controlling for key demographic variables, including gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.”
Boom! You win recruitment!
Well not quite.
The truth is that it’s FANTASTIC news that the wildly credible folks over at Gallup partnered with some folks at Purdue to dig deep into some of their recent research. They unearthed what you and I already knew. Greeks are just more likely to be better prepared for a happy, successful, fulfilling life than their non-Greek counterparts. Fraternity and sorority is a powerful force for good in so many people’s lives.
Here’s the thing though. Don’t plan on skating through fall recruitment with a pocketful of hot stats to convince your classmates into joining you in a sacred lifelong bond. In fact, tossing out your cool new research-based facts will likely only annoy prospects (unless done correctly). The good news is that we now have something other than “18 U.S. Presidents since 1877 were Greek” to brag about. The bad news is that our new stats from Gallup are a little less easy to understand.
The T-shirt idea above is an excellent example of how NOT to use this research (or any research, really). Shouting, printing, posting, or blabbing positive supporting statistics is a good way to lose prospects. Understanding the data, however, and using it to shape the stories you tell and the relationships you build, might work.
The new research from Gallup essentially tells us that Greeks, after graduation…
- are more likely to be engaged in their jobs,
- are overall experiencing a higher level of well being
- are more emotionally attached to their institution
- are more likely to have started their own business
- report that college prepared them for a successful life
That’s some cool stuff. Now, let’s make it more than data. Let’s make it personal. Let’s make it meaningful. Have you had conversations with any alumni about this stuff? (you should) Do you have a membership education program that helps develop this stuff? (you should) Do you know how to ask questions about a prospect’s definition of lifelong success, happiness, and fulfillment? (you probably should) Can you share a story, right now if asked, about how fraternity/sorority is helping to truly prepare you for real life? (not a list of events/tasks the organization offers, a real story).
Let me pause and offer a personal thought. My name is Matt Mattson. When I came to college I had no idea about fraternities or sororities. My RA looked after me and brought me to meet some guys in this group called Alpha Sigma Phi. Throughout my fraternal experience I led meetings, built agendas, ran for office, planned massive charitable ventures, tried a bunch of ideas that failed. I also went to countless university events, had late-night talks about religion, purpose, values, integrity, and what it means to truly be a man. I met a bunch of successful business people, educators, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and artists at conferences that I got to travel across the country to experience. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Now, I’m an incredibly happy father and entrepreneur, with an exorbitant amount of pride in my institution (GVSU). I challenge myself everyday to live up to the oath I took as an undergraduate. I wasn’t hazed. I wasn’t a drunk. I volunteer. I contribute to society. I am a proud fraternity man.
This research is about me. It’s about all the people on our staff. It’s about so many fellow fraternity/sorority alumni I know.
This research can be about you, and I hope it can be about a lot MORE students than it’s ever been about. Let’s use this research to think of new ways to build relationships, share the benefits of being Greek, and to surprise people with what we already know. Fraternity/sorority, when done right, is a powerful force for good in our own lives and in the world.