The Ultimate Guide to Sorority Recruitment: Recommendation Packet

Welcome to my sorority recruitment series! I started this blog two years ago to help women like me through college, Greek life, and every little bit in between and I'm not slowing down now! This series is purely to help you in your search for the perfect sisterhood.

Sorority recruitment can be very stressful for a lot of sorority women. Who knew finding your BFFs could cause so much anxiety? Although I really hope that's not the case for you, it's so common and happens to most, if not all, going through recruitment. I'm here to (try) to save you from your nervous jitters.

The Ultimate Guide to Sorority Recruitment: Recommendation Packet

I'm baaaaaaack. Who missed my sorority recruitment posts? Well, it's that time of the year again. Whether you're a PNM getting ready to dive into Greek life, or an active member like myself, I want to give y'all even more advice! Remember, if you don't see something in my Recruitment Series you want to know, you're more than welcome (actually, encouraged) to either comment below or email me with anything you want to see!

Enough of the chit chat, let's begin! One of my most popular posts, 'How to Write a Sorority Recruitment Resume' showed PNMs how to format their resume in order to receive the best possible recommendation letter possible from alumnae. After some feedback, I realized I need to go into more detail about this!

Like I mentioned in the first post, there are a lot of differences between what sororities request of their PNMs at each school. For some, recommendation letters are required. For others, it's merely a suggestion (like TCU!). Whether you're at one school or another, these letters will likely boost your shot at becoming a member of a chapter. So how do you get one of these coveted letters? There are a few things to do first.

(Just a reminder that it's not the end of the world if you do not have a recommendation letter for every single sorority. This can be especially hard for schools with 20+ sororities. Like I said above, a lot of the time it's not even required! Don't sweat it!)

Ask and you shall receive
The first step to getting a recommendation letter is to let people know you need one! Make a list of all of the sororities your university has on its campus. Remember, each school has a different mix of them! Next, if you know someone is an alumna of a certain sorority (i.e. your mom, your BFF's mom, your dance teacher) list them next to the sorority so you can be sure to ask them. Chances are, you'll have a lot of gaps in your list. It's unlikely you know an alumna from each sorority. This is when the asking comes in. One option is to post a Facebook status. Sooooo 2008, right? Wrong. Considering the amount of adults on Facebook these days, this is actually a fantastic resource. (Make sure your privacy settings for this post is set to "friends of friends can view"!) All you need to do is post a simple status saying something like: "Next fall I am excited to be attending the University of ____ and plan on going through sorority recruitment! I am looking for alumni to write me recommendation letters for the following sororities:" And then list the sororities you don't know alumnae for! This could be hit or miss, depending on how many sorority women you're friends with on Facebook, but you could be surprised how many women are willing to represent their sorority and help you out! The next option would be an email. You could include adult women who might be in sororities, and encourage them to forward your information to their friends. It's all about exposure. 

Get the "a-ok!"
Now that you hopefully have a list of sorority women that are willing to write you a recommendation, you need to follow up and be sure they're still able to. This is especially true if it's a circumstance where someone else volunteered them (i.e. I tend to volunteer my mother to write women recommendation letters for ADPi). Write up a quick email or Facebook message ensuring they're still onboard and get their information for when & where you can deliver your packet.

Packet? What packet?
When someone agrees to write you a recommendation, you want them to know as much about you as possible. Even if it is your BFF's mom since age 2, she may not know everything you were involved in in high school. To aid your generous volunteers, you provide them with a packet.

Everyone does this differently. It ranges from a simple manilla envelope with a few pieces of paper inside, to an elaborate monogrammed folder with matching monogrammed stickers. Obviously, this part is up to you. The only people that will likely see this packet are the people writing you letters, so there's no real need to get too fancy. 

Here's what is expected to be included in your packet:
  • Pre-addressed envelope with postage. This part might be the most important part. Once your recommender has written her letter, she's going to need to mail that letter somewhere. Rather than her having to go to the trouble of looking up who is collecting the recommendation letters for that chapter, you should be the one to look up that information. To do this, go to the specific website of each chapter at your school (for instance, Kappa Alpha Theta at TCU) and find the address for the 'reference chair.' It should be very clear, but make sure you get this specific address because often times the actual sorority houses are closed during the Summer, so sending a letter there would be a total waste. Either hand-write or stick a pre-printed label with this address on an 11x14-sized envelope, with a postage on it. This will make things 900 times easier for your recommender and it is basically expected of you.
  • A "cover letter." This isn't exactly a business cover letter, but more like a little note to your writer that thanks them for agreeing to write you a recommendation letter, and a chance to explain what you did in high school (keep this very brief considering your resume will be included as well). This is your chance for the writer to hear you "voice," especially if they don't know you personally. Be sure to include your cell phone number and/or email in case your recommender has any questions.
  • The resume. To learn more about this part, read this post.
  • Headshot. Make sure to get your senior picture or a nice, individual picture printed on photo paper. Also, include your name, high school and hometown on the back of the photo, so if your photo gets separated from the rest of your items, it will be easy to put it back in place. Photos are included for a few reasons. First, it gives the writer a face to match the name with. Secondly, some sororities ask that recommendation writers send in a headshot of the girl with their letter. Third, if your writer is an old family friend or one of your mother's friends, they enjoy seeing how much you've grown up! 
  • Something to hold it all together. Like I mentioned above, it can be a manilla envelope, a folder from Target, whatever. Just make sure you have something to keep your items organized and together for your writer.
Here are a few things that might go into your packet:
  • Your high school transcript. This one I'm not too sure about. I know a few girls that have asked my mom for recommendations have provided this, but others have not, and I did not when I was doing my packets. I would say check with your panhellenic council to see 1) if recommendation letters are either required or recommended and 2) if they expect a transcript. 
  • Extra headshots. Some sororities that ask for headshots like multiple angles/positions, just to get a better idea of the girl. If this is the case, it will probably be very clear in their instructions. Like I said above, be sure to include your name, high school and hometown on the back of the photo.

Seeing as I did this two whole years ago (wow time flies in college, folks) I might've forgotten a thing or two. Be sure the check back for updates! I genuinely hope this helped in your Greek life process. Now that you've conquered your packets, check out the rest of my sorority recruitment series here! As always, be sure to comment below and give me a follow on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

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