Your Greek Letters DO Not Define You

By Hadley McIntyre, MSW, LMSW
It is that time of year again – The buzzword around my therapy room lately has been “recruitment”, formally known as rush. ‘What do I wear?’ ‘What do I say?’ ‘I absolutely must be in XYZ house because that is THE house.’ The truth is that nothing can prepare you for the chaos and confusion that recruitment week will bring into your life. Recruitment season is exciting, chaotic, maddening, and exhausting all wrapped into one. While these emotions can be overwhelming, there are some keys to surviving recruitment season.
The most important thing you can do to not just survive but to thrive is to be your true and authentic self. When going through recruitment you are searching for what will become your home away from home. Who wants to be a part of a home that they had to pretend their way into? You should be striving for a home where you feel comfortable, where you can be yourself, and where you feel safe. At the end of the day, being a part of the coolest house on campus won’t matter if you are having a really hard day and you don’t have a house of friends to turn to.
Another thing to keep in mind while going through the process is knowing that every feeling you are feeling is valid. Recruitment isn’t always the happy experience that we see on “Bama Rush Tok” or every cheesy and generic college movie ever made. It can be exhausting, infuriating, exciting, and at times disappointing. You may find yourself questioning your self-worth. Many of these houses will try to make you second guess every move you make. The bottom line is that you matter. You are worthy of love and acceptance. I beg each and every one of you – do not let the recruitment process take your worth. Those Greek letters do not define you. Keep in mind that those members you are trying so hard to impress have been up since 5 am preparing for you that day, and are trying just as hard to impress you as you are them. They have been exactly where you are. They are feeling a mix of emotions as well.
Lastly, keep an open mind. There are so many twists and turns – both good and bad – during the process. That so-called “bottom tier” house might be the house where you meet your future maid of honor. That house that cut you might turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Even
if recruitment ends up not being for you, it is a fabulous way to meet new people and see parts of campus before the hustle and bustle of school begins.
Parents – This is a process that from your end is likely anxiety-inducing and sometimes heartbreaking. You’ve spent the past 18 years raising this outstanding human being whom you have just sent away to be on their own for the first time, and it may not go as either of you planned. Here are some things you can do to make this transition easier on you and your child:
1. LISTEN! Be an ear for your college student to vent. Give advice when it is asked for but keep in mind that listening is the biggest asset for your college student. Let them laugh, cry, scream, and do whatever else they might need. Remember you are their safe space.
2. If you’re able to visit, plan a visit after a few weeks of school starting. Let them get settled and comfortable on their own.
3. Reiterate to your college student the importance of choosing a house where they feel at home – not the coolest house on campus.
4. If recruitment doesn’t pan out or Greek life isn’t for them, help them identify other groups or organizations they can join prior to even stepping foot on campus. A support system at college is essential. There are plenty of options on college campuses – anything from student associations to the movie-watching club. There are endless
5. Remind your child just how amazing they are.
6. Have a conversation with your college student that being dropped is a possibility. Piece together a Plan B so they don’t end up in their dorm room alone for the rest of the week.
7. Help your college student find their new path. Whether that path includes Greek life or not, this is the beginning of four imperative years.
8. If you were a member of a sorority, don’t push them too hard to follow in your footsteps. You never know if the experience that you had will be the same experience that your child is searching for.
As someone who had a firsthand look into Greek life, I want parents and college students to know that being in a Greek organization can be awesome, but there are plenty of other fun and fulfilling ways to keep you busy while at school. As cliché as this will sound, you will end up exactly where you are meant to be. So, take a deep breath, be yourself, and remember that the letters which might soon adorn your shirt do not define who you are. You are starting college and you have the world at your fingertips. Don’t limit that experience by feeling the need to earn a particular set of Greek letters or by trying to be someone you aren’t – just be authentically YOU.