Only 10 days after I transferred to American University, I found myself in uncomfortable high-heels, being asked the same questions by about 20 different girls. I only knew two people at American University when I transferred from Dickinson College in the winter of my sophomore year. Since I missed the freshman initiation of bonding with random strangers in a dorm, I realized that I needed to expand my social circle fast. Given my introverted nature, I thought that maybe attending sorority recruitment would force my inner social butterfly to burst forth from its cocoon.
When I first signed up for recruitment, actually joining a sorority hadn’t crossed my mind. I just hoped going through the recruitment process would help me meet people as opposed to the awkward friendships we try to form in our classes each semester. At American, recruitment lasts three whole days. The first day you visit every sorority like a speed-dating process, then the second and third days are more exclusive to the sororities that give you the butterflies. The sororities decide if they want to ask you back, and then you decide if you want to go back. Mind you, this is extremely oversimplified, and even after being in a sorority for three years, I’m still not 100 percent sure how the process works.
I personally don’t look back on recruitment with fond memories and watery eyes. The first day lasted longer than finals season. I talked about the same topics multiple times, and I kept looking around for fear of being judged on everything from my hair to my conversation skills. I’m a person who really hates small talk, so my limit of answering, “What’s your major?” lasted about 20 minutes. To make matters worse, a lot of the girls going through recruitment kept talking about the importance of getting into a “top tier” sorority…what the hell did that even mean?
But my experience didn’t entail solely awkward conversation and fear of judgment of my hairstyle. I had some genuinely interesting conversations with some of the sorority sisters, and I met people I could see myself befriending. What really sold my decision to join a sorority came from the fact that every organization had a philanthropy that they supported, many of which focused on women’s empowerment. Who run the world? Girls.
Finally, on the last day, or “Bid Day,” I opened my special bid envelope and saw that Sigma Delta Tau wanted me to become a sister. At this point, I had to think seriously about whether I actually wanted to join a sorority, or whether I’d just done recruitment for the free friends I desperately desired. I thought back on my time chatting with the sisters from Sig Delt (gabbing about how much we loved the zoo), and I realized that I genuinely liked all of them. So, horror stories about the Greek system aside, I decided to take the plunge and join.
Accepting my bid became the best decision I ever made in college (along with dropping my Russian minor). I’ve met so many amazing friends through my sorority; people I probably would have blindly walked past everyday otherwise. For our philanthropies, I’ve done everything from raising awareness about issues like domestic violence and child abuse, to more lighthearted events like helping with a puppy fashion show coming up in April to benefit the Humane Society.
Even if you hate the recruitment process, you might love sorority life after getting a bid, so don’t give up like it was a horrific speed-dating experience. Three days of awkward conversations and having to wear panty hose was definitely worth the three years of great friends that came after.