Big & Little

I’ve written on the topic of Greek Life a few times before (see here, here, & here) but realized that there are SO many aspects I have hardly even mentioned on the blog. I hope my posts about Greek Life help to shed some light on the amazing benefits of joining a Greek organization and how positive the experience was in my own life (both collegiate and post collegiate!). Since my lovely sorority little Melissa recently moved to New York City (she’s going to Columbia, nbd!) we have been spending a ton of time together. It is amazing to have one of my closest friends only a neighborhood away! I also realized that even though she is my little (and a memorable part of my Bucknell experience!), somehow I never really discussed Bigs & Littles before!

big and little sororityOne of the most incredible aspects of joining a sorority is gaining a Big and Little sorority sister. I do not have any sisters, so I was really excited to join Delta Gamma to experience sisterhood. Although you gain tons of sisters after the recruitment process, you only have one Big and one Little (sometimes twin bigs or twin littles depending on pledge class sizes).

To give you a breakdown in Greek Life “Families” at my school there were 3 generations, G-Big, Big, and Little. The “oldest” generation was the Senior Year Sorority girl who was graduating at the end of the year and in Delta Gamma we called them G-Big or Delta Grandma. The Junior Year sorority girl was the Big, and the new Sophomore sorority girl was the Little. You can see a picture below of part of my Delta Gamma Sorority Family tree. On the far ends are my two bigs, Chrissy & Rachel, and my little Melissa and I are in the middle!

This photo was taken at Big/Little Revelations! My big Chrissy made these shirts for all of us to wear, GBigs, Big & Little!

Your Big is typically a sister who is one (sometimes two!) year older than you. The process varies by sorority but essentially you pick the older sisters you think would be a great fit for you as your Big, and the Bigs pick Littles the same way. Luckily, we had several weeks after joining Delta Gamma to get to know all the upperclassmen which made it easy to find those girls you just clicked with. After only a few weeks of being a Delta Gamma member I discovered that I had two Bigs! It was such a fun week leading up to the reveal, filled with presents, and lots of surprises. I knew that once I was a Big, I would shower my Little with love!

Melissa and I actually met my sophomore (her freshman) year at Bucknell when we were in the same International Politics class. Our professor held a very strong resemblance to Ferris Bueller’s teacher… “Bueller, Bueller?” We wound up sitting right next to each other the first day and bonded over the constant monotone lectures, with a few dry jokes thrown in every now and again. I knew when Melissa joined Delta Gamma that I had to have her as my little. And as luck would have it, we both picked one another to be big/little. It was a match made in heaven. Melissa is not only my little, but she is also one of my best friends.

I am so thankful to Delta Gamma for a variety of reasons, but gaining Bigs and a Little were hands down the highlight of those three collegiate years. It is crazy to think that now only one year out of college I am a Great Great Great Grand Big.

God I’m old.

But in all honesty, it was so incredible to have this family in Delta Gamma, it made up a support system within the sorority. Although you gain HUNDREDS of sisters when you join, there is nothing quite like the bond between a Big & Little. I am absolutely ecstatic to have my little Melissa living nearby and I cannot wait to see what adventures we get into in Manhattan.

Basically, my little is my soulmate.

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5 Lessons of a Sorority Recruitment Counselor

As mentioned in previous Greek Life posts, I have covered all possible roles in sorority recruitment. After all the positive responses from my earlier posts as a potential new member (PNM) and a sorority member, I thought I should also touch on my experiences during my last year of sorority recruitment. Senior year, instead of singing alongside my sorority sisters, I applied to be a recruitment counselor. This is an upperclassmen sorority member who is assigned to look after a certain number of sophomore PNMs to help them through their recruitment process. Throughout this week I was completely disaffiliated from my sorority. This meant that I could not wear my letter shirts, be seen with more than three women in my sorority in a public setting, and I could not divulge my affiliation to my group of sophomores. Becoming a recruitment counselor was a very interesting role and looking back on this experience I learned several lessons that apply to more than just that one-week.

So here it goes, the 5 lessons I learned about life as a Sorority Recruitment Counselor…

1. Everything always has a funny way of working out

Over the years I have come to realize that everything always has a strange way of working out, even if you do not realize it at first. There have been countless times where I was very upset over something that ended up okay in the end. Often times we become so fixated on one idea that we fail to recognize the other possibilities. In sorority recruitment this lesson is very important. Most PNMs go into recruitment with their hearts set on one sorority. In many cases, they do not end up in that sorority, but that is not to say that their new sisters and sorority are not right for them. I have had tons of friends end up in sororities that they were not expecting, but they gave it a chance and were open to this new sisterhood. Ultimately they have told me that looking back they cannot imagine being anywhere else. In the end, like most things in life, things have a way of working out!

2. Give it a try…all the way through

One piece of advice that I gave my group of sophomores throughout the entire week is to stick it out and see what happens. You have to be in the game to win it. I unfortunately had a few girls who chose to stop the recruitment process before bid day. I understand that in these cases it is a personal decision to leave, but I think it is so important to be open to the possibilities and go through the entire week of recruitment. This is a life lesson that is applicable to every new adventure we try. In a world where instant gratification is a part of everyday life it is unsurprising that people give up easily. Whenever I take on a new challenge, I work on it all the way through or to the point where I truly believe my goals have been reached. I hate to leave things unfinished. Giving up before a project or process is over will make you look back and wonder, “What would have happened if I stuck it out a little longer…?”

3. It is okay to be upset

Crying is okay. No really, it is okay to be upset sometimes. I am a huge fan of you have a little pity party, let out your emotions, then take a deep breath and refocus. Sometimes we just need a moment to let out our feelings, and that is okay, we are only human after all. Part of the role of a recruitment counselor is to speak with the PNMs after they found out what sororities they were returning to that afternoon. Many girls were upset that they were not asked back to their top choice. I always offered up time to speak with me behind a curtain away from the rest of the room to let the girls talk to me or honestly to just let them cry for a moment. I am not going to lie; this was a difficult moment. When I had girls crying to me I took it on myself. One of my friends asked me if it was hard not being with my sorority sisters during the week, but I told her that these 16 sophomores were my priority, I felt like a mother hen. During those moments when I had girls crying to me, I reminded them that it is okay to be upset. You have every right to be hurt or confused, but at the same time they had so many other wonderful sororities that were excited to have them back. I think it is important in life to remind ourselves that we are allowed to show emotion and be upset with an outcome. However, it is how we move forward that really shows our character and our willingness to give things a chance.

4. Listen.

Part of my role as a recruitment counselor was to speak with each girl before she cast her votes of sorority ranking after each day of recruitment. Through this process I took on somewhat of a therapist role. I listened to their thoughts and feelings and tried to help them come to their own conclusions. I did not attempt to sway a single girl. Instead, I noticed that by speaking out loud to me about how their day went each girl realized what she truly felt/wanted. Lately, I have noticed that listening seems to be a dying art. Everyone is so ready to talk to you about themselves that they hardly listen when you talk; instead they are waiting for a pause so that they can bring themselves up again. I love to talk, but I also understand the value in silence. Listening to each PNM gave them time to express themselves and ask for advice or just to simply verify their choices. I think that throughout life it is fundamental to remember the importance of sitting back and listening. After all we have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

5. You are always a mentor

This is a lesson that took me a little longer to truly recognize. I understood that during this week my group of PNMs would be looking to me for advice, a shoulder to cry on, or just an ear to listen to them. However, it was after this experience that I realized how much the younger girls looked up to me, especially those that joined my sorority. From my group of 16 PNMs, 4 of them ended up joining Delta Gamma. I was the first person that they knew in DG and became a role model for them. Even if you do not realize it, there is always someone looking up to you. As an upperclassmen sorority member it made sense that someone may look up to me, but I think that this lesson expands so much further than sorority recruitment. If you ever feel like giving up, remember that there is a little girl watching you who wants to be like you, so don’t disappoint her!

This week as a recruitment counselor made me reflect on so much more than sorority life. Lessons come from all different types of experience, this week of recruitment craziness included!

Recruitment Tips from a Sorority Girl: Part 2

Earlier this week I wrote a post about helpful tips for potential new members (PNMs) going through recruitment! Part 2, however, is all about sorority members! There are tons of articles out there that provide advice to PNMs, but very few for the women who are jumping up and down and singing their lungs out. Although every sorority has different ways of handling recruitment, I have found these tips to be helpful across the board. So here are my top pieces of advice for sorority women during the crazy week of recruitment!

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Tips for Sorority Women

1. Coffee, coffee, coffee

Keep your caffeine levels up because recruitment is a very long process. You never want to make a PNM feel slighted because you are tired and it is the last round of the day. Make sure to keep caffeine or sugary treats nearby for a quick pick me up in between rounds. My tried and true choices are a large iced coffee and plenty of swedish fish and peach rings.

2. What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Instead of asking the same old questions, try to keep things interesting! Come up with a few funny/random questions in advance and pull them out when a conversation lulls or if you want to help a PNM come out of her shell. Asking a PNM if she were a candy what candy would she be is not only really fun but also memorable for both of you!

3. Use your breaks wisely

In between rounds you only have a matter of minutes before the next group comes through the door. Instead of talking with your sisters about the PNM you met who you know will be your future little, use this time wisely. Take a bathroom break, grab a snack, drink some water, make sure to give yourself a minute to breathe before you have to start singing again! Those few minutes go by fast, so make sure they count!

4.  The most beautiful word…

One of the best pieces of advice that I received during my junior year of recruitment was from our president at the time. Before the first round of the day she told us that the most beautiful sounding word in the world to a person is hearing their own name. Now, I know this sounds incredibly narcissistic, but bear with me. Whenever you meet a PNM remember their name and make sure to use it throughout the conversation. This will help their name/face stick in your mind but it also creates a connection between you two. Also, when they leave at the end of the round say “Goodbye Allison.” This reinforces a connection with a PNM, plus who doesn’t feel special when they hear their name?

5. Let it go

Recruitment is a lengthy process filled with many late nights. A room full of sorority girls voting for hours on end can lead to lots of frustration and hurt feelings. Voting can be difficult and disagreeing with your sisters is never fun. However, remember that this process always has a funny way of working out. Ultimately you must trust your sisters. It is okay to be upset if a girl you really wanted to be your new sister was not extended a bid, but nothing is stopping you two from being friends! I think it is important to remember that even if things do not go as you would like, this does not limit your connection to certain PNMs after the week is over. Sometimes the hype of recruitment can be overwhelming, so try to remember that it is just a week, and not the end of the world if things do not go exactly as you planned.

Recruitment is a tiring process but it is a great time to bond with your sisters after the summer apart. I hope these tips help you get through the crazy, fun, exhausting, and ridiculous week that is sorority recruitment!

Recruitment Tips from a Sorority Girl: Part 1

This time last year I was returning to Bucknell for my senior year. Every fall the first week of classes mark the long days and late nights of sorority recruitment. Now you are probably wondering why I decided to write a post about recruitment since I have graduated. Well I am a little nostalgic and when it comes to recruitment I have covered it all. Sophomore year I went through the process as a potential new member or PNM, junior year I sang my sorority’s songs and met many excited sophomores, and senior year I served as a recruitment counselor. Each year I saw and experienced a new aspect of sorority recruitment, which has provided me with an arsenal of helpful recruitment tips for PNMs. Stayed tuned later this week for my tips for sorority women! So here it goes, my helpful tips for PNMs during the crazy week of sorority recruitment!

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Tips for Potential New Members

1. Have your 30-second pitch down

This is like the elevator pitch but slightly modified. Every round you will meet new sorority women who will ask you the same questions, “Where are you from?” What’s your major?” “What activities are you involved in on campus?” “What did you do this summer?” By the end of the first day you will feel like you said the same thing over and over again. Before your first round, take the time to go over all your different activities and accomplishments. Familiarizing yourself with all the interesting things that you do will allow your confidence to shine and will put you more at ease.

2. Uniqueness is key

Sorority members are meeting tons of PNMs throughout the day so it can be hard to keep track of everyone. However, if you visited Austria this summer or learned to scuba dive make sure to talk about it! Don’t feel pressure to brag, but dropping an interesting story will make sure the women that you meet will not forget you. Plus, when you talk about your hobbies or recent adventures your enthusiasm and energy will be unforgettable!

3. Don’t be nervous

Remember that each sorority is trying to win you over. You hold more cards then you even realize! There is nothing to be afraid of, that fear you have of finding the right place for you is the same fear the sorority members feel in trying to find their future sisters. Take a deep breath and relax!

4. Dress like you

It can be so easy to get caught up in what you think you should wear during recruitment. Just be yourself. No seriously, be yourself! If you want to wear American flag jean shorts or a massive statement necklace, do it! Where whatever you feel most comfortable in and represents you, after all the women you will meet want to get to know the real you. However on that same note, remember to be presentable. No bra straps or coffee stains please! An added bonus to dressing uniquely is that it can be a great conversation starter.

5. Be enthusiastic

Whether or not you are at your first or last choice sorority, be happy to be there. These women have put countless hours into making rush a great experience and are letting you into their homes to get to know them. Be honored to be a part of this process. Smile, ask questions, and make eye contact. In many ways this is like a job interview, so you always want to put your best foot forwards. On the flipside, do not bash another sorority. You have no idea what connections the person you are talking with has at that sorority. Also, instead of making yourself look bad/like a gossip, focus on the place you are at currently. They are the ones putting in their time and energy into meeting you, so be enthusiastic to be there.

6. Reputations are fickle

Do not rely on what you have heard about a sorority through the grapevine. Gossip is constantly changing, and most of the times is completely fabricated. Keep an open mind and use your own judgment while visiting each sorority. You may think that a sorority is the perfect fit for you based on its supposed reputation, but quickly realize that you do not really click with the members. It is impossible to avoid campus stereotypes, however make sure to form your own opinions instead of leaving it up to random snippets of gossip.

7. Mums the word

One of the best things my friends and I did before recruitment started was make a pact not to discuss our experiences at each sorority at the end of each day. I know you are probably wondering why we bothered to do that because obviously it is all we would want to talk about. Honestly after each day all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and go to sleep. Also, I wanted to make sure that I picked the sorority that was right for me. If a friend had a negative experience at a sorority I liked, that could have swayed my opinion. Instead, whenever we saw each other between rounds we would ask how everything was going, but that was the extent of it. In the end it turned out that many of my friends ended up in the same sorority as me! However, I am really glad that we decided not to talk our choices and opinions during that crazy week; it reinforced the need to focus on our own vibes and to make the best choice for ourselves.

8. Wear comfortable shoes

No seriously, your feet will thank me for this later!

9. Talk with your Recruitment Counselor

Your Recruitment Counselor is there for a reason…talk to her! Most schools have a system where upperclassmen sorority women disaffiliate from their sororities and serve as mentors to the PNMs. Ask them questions, because if anyone understands what you are going through it is someone who just went through the process themselves only a few semesters prior.

10. Have Fun!

I know this last tip is cliché but it is true, enjoy the ride! Recruitment is a whirlwind of a week but it is filled with so much fun. You get to meet new people, listen to some crazy songs, and by the end find sisters to call your own. It is a really fun process so try not to stress out and instead just enjoy!

 

I hope these tips help any PNMs who are nervous about going through sorority recruitment! Don’t forget to check back later this week for my tips for sorority members!