Once upon a spring semester, a female college freshman innocently walked to her early morning class. It was a late January morning, but it was warm enough that people were doing the unthinkable by actually staying outside in between their classes.
As the girl walks, she observes the different types people around her, wondering where she fits in on her college campus.
She notices a girl in a foreign lettered shirt walking towards her, and she puts her head down. "Why is she approaching me?" she thinks, and goes along her way.
"Come to our general interest meeting!" the lettered girl cheerfully says as she hands the freshman a flyer.
The freshman smiles and says okay, but she's clearly confused. However, she decides to go to the meeting that following night since she had nowhere else to be.
That meeting changed the course of her college career, and probably her life. How would I know that?
That college freshman is me.
Looking back on that January morning, I still can't figure out why I was so confused by the idea of a recruitment process. All I knew about sororities was that my "cool" older cousin was a member of one while she attended The University at Buffalo, and that a majority of her bridal party were her sisters. And that was enough to make the part of me that aspires to be like her want to join one too -- even if I had no idea what a sorority really was.
Realistically, I'm probably not the only girl out of the 285,543 members of a Panhellenic organization who had no idea what a sorority was -- let alone what recruitment was or how to go about it. And to be blunt -- if I read The New York Times article, "Pledge Prep," as a freshman, there's simply no way I'd ever even consider going greek.
There's something alarming about girls dropping hundreds (and even thousands) of dollars to better prepare themselves for joining a sorority, when it's simply not necessary.
Think about it. Is it really essential to call a member of the Rushbiddies for advice at $50 per hour, or hand over $25 per hour for a hair and makeup consultation? Is it worth it to pay image consultant Samantha von Sperling $8,000 for a weekend course?
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's necessary and affordable at large schools such as University of Wisconsin, Madison or New York University, but at smaller schools such as SUNY New Paltz, it's not. Putting it into perspective, Ms. von Sperling's weekend salary is about a semester's tuition at the New York state school. I wonder if her sorority prep class comes with a diploma too.
To be honest, I don't think I dropped a single dime during my recruitment process. There was simply no need to. I didn't need a coach to tell me what to say, or to show me what to wear.
I knew what I wanted to say -- I wanted to tell them all about me. I knew how to act -- I stayed true to myself. And I didn't need a coach to help me solve a last minute fashion crisis -- that's what my friends were there for.
And clearly I did something right-- at the end of an informal three week recruitment, I decided to accept my bid to Alpha Epsilon Phi.
So what does that say about these outrageously priced coaches? Or better yet, what does it say about the girls who choose to use them?
I think it speaks volumes about what those girls want out of a sorority. They want letters. They want a resume builder. And they won't stop at any cost to get those.
But better yet, what does it say about the active members of a sorority who chose to give bids to these girls? Are they fooled by the person the dollar signs brought to them?
No amount of money in your bank account can change your personality, which is ultimately what you are judged on (for better or for worse). You can't buy your way into a sorority, regardless of how much you spend on coaches.
So close your checkbooks, hide your credit cards, and put away your cash. The secret to a successful rush process is simply being yourself.