Sunday, August 10, 2014

My blog, my rules: what to bring to college (pt. 2)

Though I attend a Jesuit school that doesn't have a Greek life, I am well aware of the importance of Greek events. As much as I wish I could give advice on the (often amazing) style of sororities, I'm unfortunately too inexperienced to do so. So, I finagled my friend MacKenzie into writing this piece for me about what to bring to college for Recruitment week. Read on if you're interested in rushing, or if you're looking for a glimpse into what Recruitment week looks like.

Recruitment week is a whirlwind for everyone involved. The days are long, the emotions run high and the anticipation can be both exciting and scary. With all that a potential new member experiences during Recruitment, it is important to come equipped with a few important tools that will help make things as easy and as comfortable as possible. Here are the top five things I recommend everyone going through sorority Recruitment bring along for the ride:

1. Comfortable shoes. You will hear this one from everyone you ask, but it is without a doubt the make-or-break comfort piece for anyone going through Recruitment. Depending on your school, the walks from each house can be long and trying to get from house A to house B in 10 minutes while wobbling in your five-inch heals will be miserable. While I am sure your new pumps are adorable, you will end up wearing your flip flops instead to run from house to house with your cute heels stuffed in your purse. As a final point on this topic, please do not feel pressured to wear killer heals at all. If you feel most confident in your sandals that are perfect to your feet, the house that you belong in will love that you wore those instead of heels!

2. Cough drops. Recruitment will take you into some of the loudest, noise-filled rooms you have ever been in. You will spend your days yelling in order to try to tell the story of what you did over the summer and by the time the day is done, you will most likely be hoarse. Being able to give your throat a coat in between parties will be your best chance at still having a voice by the end of the week.

3. Clothing options. Comfort and self-expression should absolutely be what you aim for when deciding what to wear for Recruitment. As with shoes, comfort is going to be your best route when you’re choosing outfits. It is also always best to err on the side of conservative rather than revealing. During the week you will be doing a lot of walking up stairs or sitting on the ground. The last thing you want is to be worrying about and focusing on making sure that you're not popping out of any of your clothing, no matter how cute the dress is. It just doesn't send the best message. I learned this the rough way on one of the days of my Recruitment experience. I wore these adorable pink shorts and, during a house tour, I glanced in the mirror and noticed that my bright blue underwear were completely visible. I was then so distracted by it that I spent the rest of the day trying to tuck my shirt into my underwear in the hopes that maybe it would hide my thong. I have no idea if I was successful, but I'm sure I looked ridiculous tugging on my pants all day. While I’m sure you know not to wear bright underwear with a light colored bottom, my story is just an example of how getting ready in the morning while nervous for the day can cause last minute outfit crises. It's best to try on all your outfits at home beforehand, keeping in mind that they should be comfortable, relatively conservative, and a confidence booster for you!

4. Questions! As someone who is now going through the prep process on the other side of Recruitment, I know that the girls already in the houses are not only going to be as exhausted by the speed-dating-like conversations, but are also nervous just like you! It is important to know that about one third of the girls in the houses are only a year older than you and that they want to seem cool, nice, and collected. It's great to break the ice by saying things like, "I am so nervous! How are you doing?" or "How does it feel being on this side of rush? Did you feel differently going through?" or "When did you know you wanted to be in this house?". The girls already in the houses want to give you the most information possible, so feel free to ask any questions you may have. Your Recruitment leader will go over what is and is not appropriate to ask, but in general you should ask anything you might be wondering. After all, it is your choice where you end up and you should have as much information as you want before making the choice of where you are going to be living for the next couple of years. A piece of advice my dad has always given me when I'm nervous to talk to new people is to remember that people always love to talk about themselves. Ask your conversational partner about themselves if there is a lull in the conversation!

5. An open mind. "Be yourself and everything will work out" is something you will hear constantly throughout the rush process. While it may be the oldest advice in the book, it really is the best mantra to remember while embarking on Recruitment. You may know girls in the houses from high school, have heard stories or reputations about each chapter, want to follow what houses friends are leaning towards, or even want to form an opinion on a house based on really liking or disliking a certain girl that you meet during rush. However, no matter what you hear before or during rush, you should base your opinions and decisions only on your own personal experiences with the houses. The popularity of the houses does not matter because, at the end of the day, it's the girls inside that you will be spending time with. On a related note, trust that the girls in the house know whether or not they think you will be happy in their house. So many girls start fixating on a house early on in Recruitment and get their heart set on only being in that house. But if that house doesn't think that that girl will be a good fit, chances could be they aren't going to call that girl back. While it may be upsetting at the time to not be invited back to a house you felt you had a connection with, it’s important to trust that because the girls in the house know their chapter best, they will know that you wouldn’t be as happy in their house. Houses may love you as a person but just not think you will fit well in their own chapter. What a great opportunity, then, to gain those girls as friends! In setting her sights only on that house, that girl could become discouraged from the process and not be able to see that the other houses that DID invite her back really do want her as a sister, and think that she would be happy there. Keeping an open mind and being yourself really will be your best bet.

If you end up choosing the sorority life, the right house is out there and those girls are waiting to greet you with open arms. Take a deep breath, trust the process, have fun along the way and you will do great!

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