It’s April: Don’t Tag Out

by Dr. Colleen Coffey-Melchiorre

As we all head into April you are probably focused on important stuff. You may still be reeling in a post-break high, making summer plans, looking forward to a study abroad journey, or starting to think hard about finals. It’s not a secret: we get lazy in fraternity and sorority come April. We tag out of our organizations and sometimes for good reason.

Before you decide that you are done for the semester consider this — the promise you made when you chose to join your organization was for LIFE. That means all day- everyday- even when you’re not in school — even when you graduate — you are always a member and with that comes continued and evolving responsibility.

In the coming weeks we will be sharing some important insight on our blog about recruitment, retention and membership engagement practices that you can apply especially during the down time. We will offer tips for summer recruitment, considerations for membership retention, and advice on engaging seniors and recent alumni.

Here are a handful of tips:
1. Prepare for the mass new student arrival in the fall. How will you engage your members with your campus first thing in the fall? Sign up to help with freshman move in, ask the admissions/ new student orientation office how you can be helpful come the first of the year. Consider hosting a welcome table to offer insight and directions to new students and pass out some water or treats. Ask your Greek life office for other ideas on how you can be helpful as the campus prepares to welcome new folks.

2. Plan for formal recruitment. Formal recruitment happens for many of our campuses in the fall. Make sure the food is ordered, t-shirts are purchased, the decorations are done, and the house is cleaned. Get all the logistics and semantics out of the way so you can focus on conversation and listening skills training- the important stuff (link to social excellence blog)- when your members are back together.

3. Communicate. Remember the adage: “Out of sight, out of mind.” Make sure that you are touching base with your members over the summer. Consider a bi-weekly update about what they need to expect when they return. Challenge them to make plans and set goals for their offices over these months. Let them know your still thinking about stuff so they will. Make sure fall practices and meetings are scheduled well in advance so they have time to prepare.

4. Get some lists. Know who’s coming to campus. Create a watch list from your membership of people they know who will be new students in the fall. Ask admissions or the Greek life office for a list of incoming students with a certain gpa. If allowed, ask those that are local to you to hang out a bit over the summer – just make a new friend- no need to talk Greek to them until they are ready. Talk to their parents and answer questions about coming to school. Consider creating, sponsoring and publishing a first weeks survival guide to your campus- what to bring, where to park, how to schedule classes, etc.

5. Scholarships. Some of the best groups in the country sponsor a scholarship for incoming freshman, they host a reception for applicants first thing in the fall. Discuss this idea with your Greek life office if your interested.

Don’t tag out! Keep the momentum going as school winds down and your members go on break!