#SororityLifeSundays (2): Model the way.

Hello, collegiate members!

If you’re reading this, you may have already gotten back into the routine of lectures, seminars, and labs, and are simultaneously mentally preparing for recruitment.

The privilege of sorority is only possible because of two things: the mutual respect between your organization and the host campus (go [insert name of your school’s mascot here]!), and your commitment to academic excellence. I might become blue in the face, but here’s your reminder: you’re a student first.

I worked consistently throughout the duration of my undergraduate degree. Work was a priority because I needed the money to pay for school and other essential costs. Because I couldn’t study at work, I had to manage my non-work hours effectively to have enough energy left to attend classes and complete assignments.

During my junior year, I was asked by a PNM if I had straight A’s. There are personal, extenuating circumstances that explain why I didn’t have a capital-A awesome grade transcript, but I was honest about my academic goals. I explained to her that although I did not have straight A’s, I could still be successful academically. Could I have simply said “Yes” to this potential new member, and ended the conversation there? Absolutely. However, if you’re looking to sell a potential member on the idea of lifetime membership, you may want to consider that honesty remains the best policy here.

Everyone learns differently; that is to say, you will meet brilliant people who don’t have straight A’s, students who don’t appear to try as hard to study or learn (some people may consider them ‘naturally’ smart) who have a 4.0 GPA, and plenty of varieties of learners in between. Don’t promise that sorority will make you a straight A student; share how sorority promotes you being your most successful as a student, and as a person.

Here are three things I did to model the way for potential new members:

1. I didn’t talk about how much studying I wasn’t doing: recognize that you aren’t the first person ever to procrastinate. Don’t share stories of how you pulled an all-nighter to cram for an exam you had weeks to prepare for. You can acknowledge that distractions happen, but when you do study, you buckle down and get it done.

2. I shared the names of resources I had used: my campus has an academic writing help centre. Over the years, I have been told that I have a gift or talent for writing (which extends to both my creative and academic writing). I got into a terrible habit of writing 10+ page essays in the span of one night, specifically on the night before it was due to my professors. Some people would say this is ridiculous – and they’re right – but no one ever asked about the level of detail and preparation that went into these writing assignments. Yes, I put off writing papers until I felt midnight hour sweats, but I prepared by collecting double the required number of sources, annotating citations and specific pages for reference, and developing outlines with detailed notes on where each citation might fit. I did that to ensure I didn’t need to open another article, book, or web page during my writing session. I always promoted our writing centre, despite only visiting it twice, because the resources provided are invaluable.

3. I wasn’t ashamed to say I didn’t know something: this should be self-explanatory, but it’s okay if a PNM knows more about a topic than you do! Trying to impress by claiming you know more is disingenuous.

You can also seek academic support from your sisters, or be that support for sisters who may need it! Be enthusiastic about sister study groups or group visits to academic resource centres!

Yours in sisterhood,

Maya

Let’s chat! How can you emphasize academics as a priority during sorority recruitment? Think of innovative recruitment events or themes that involve academics/scholarship officers like recreating Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune, engage them through days of service or philanthropy that engage community partners, or plan outings to art galleries and museums.

Stay tuned for next week, I’ll be breaking down the financial aspect of sorority for potential new members, and discussing important questions you should be asking, as well as answers you should be receiving.

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