It was winter break of my freshman year as I frantically searched online to prepare myself for Sorority Recruitment. Using search items like "what to expect as a PNM," "what not to say during recruitment," "how to know which sorority you like," and "what to wear for rounds," I thought I was in pretty good shape to do well during the rounds. I double checked (probably quadruple checked) each day's outfit guidelines to make sure my outfits were perfectly in line with what Villanova Greek Life wanted. Turns out, I had no idea what I was doing. The good news? No one does!! I can't make any promises, but here are some things I wish I had known going into the long, grueling weekend that is panhellenic recruitment.
1. No one cares what you're wearing.
Correction: No one cares what you're wearing unless it stands out as being unusually cute or unusually revealing or just plain unusual. I truly believe the people who do best in recruitment are the ones who feel good in their own skin and can be themselves, no matter what they're wearing. Wearing something that makes you uncomfortable, even if it's a trendy new fashion, can be such a mistake. Don't wear something that will make you feel different. Try to wear what you're used to, just within the guidelines panhel sets.
2. You have to be able to adapt.
Last year during recruitment, my school decided to change venues to an off-campus site. Everyone was used to the on campus location, so things had to change a bit. There were a few challenges: not enough pizza for everyone to eat, the rooms didn't have enough AC, and it was difficult for PNMs and sisters to avoid seeing each other during rounds. Girls who were able to adapt to these changes (not not having any food- that was a disaster!) did well.
3. The sisters don't know much (if anything) about you before you talk.
I was under the impression that all 9 sororities had researched every single thing about me before rounds. Obviously looking back on the situation and the day, that is just not possible. The only people doing a little background check on you are those who match you with who you will talk to that day. This is based on what you put down in your application as your interests, major, hometown, etc.
4. Girls don't have specific questions they are required to ask you.
I thought there was a script every sister had to follow. This is soo far from the truth. Basically, the first few questions are small talk, as in "where are you from?" "what are you studying?" "why did you choose to rush?" Buuuut, after that, pretty much anything is fair game. As a PNM, try to vibe off the sister and she'll do the same. Have a few backup questions just in case.
5. Responding with one word answers is a big no.
This is by far the cringiest thing you can do, in my own opinion. Talking to PNMs who did this was pretty painful. Imagine striking up a conversation with some cool girl you think you could be potentially really good friends with and having her respond with zero emotion and maybe one word. Do. Not. Do. This.
6. Asking questions about boys is questionable.
If you are prepping for rush, odds are you have heard the "3 B's Rule." That is, don't talk about Booze, Bars, or Boys during rounds. Personally, I wouldn't be particularly annoyed if anyone asked if I had a boyfriend (though that varies depending on the sister). But when you start asking me which guys I like to hang out with, start bringing up specific names of people you know I know, and talk badly about different frats, that's where I draw the line. A PNM said to me last year "oh yeah imagine if I had to be in a sorority that hangs out with xyz frat. that would suck." I couldn't believe it. What if that frat had some of my closest guy friends in it? Would've been pretty awkward. Regardless, the lesson is not to mention specific frats or names.
7. Don't sell yourself short by thinking they already have a pledge class in mind.
The sororities likely have only looked at a few PNMs who sisters have suggested would fit in with current members. They don't have 50 girls who are automatically in and hundreds who are out. Go in there with a positive attitude, show your best self, and try to make some good connections.
Lastly, don't freak out. After all, it is only panhellenic recruitment and there are more important things in life than being in a sorority you think is "cool." If you go in with the intention of making some great friends you enjoy spending time with, you will do well. Enjoy the conversations and remember it's just as awkward on both sides!