Tag Archives: college student

Don’t Judge a (Face)book By Its Cover

Welcome to the first of the Myths of Residence Life Series! This post was actually written BEFORE the idea for the series came about…but I realized it fit so well! Incoming students have the ability to see YEARS of their future classmates’ lives on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever else social media platform that’s out there.

So I might be dating myself here, but I was in college when Facebook became open to everybody. I didn’t think too much of it. The only change for me was now I could be Facebook friends with my friends that were still in high school (I mean, I wasn’t that old).

And then housing assignments were released…I was working at my good ol’ Undergrad U student employment job. I was told that typically we get slightly more phone calls after assignments go out. People are unhappy with what building they are in or what floor they are on. Somebody’s precious darling has allergies and needs air conditioning. Typical calls. The calls started coming that very day and did not stop until the school year started. My supervisor said that she had NEVER heard the phones ring that much.

Why the incredible increase in calls? Students could now look up their roommates on Facebook. That was something I honestly never thought of. Yes, Facebook existed before I left for college, but my roommate didn’t (and still doesn’t) have Facebook. For the friends I did make on Facebook, all of our profiles were NEW. While this was only the first year, that’s still a whole year’s worth of photos. We’re currently several years past this point so now my incoming students are seeing photos of their future roommate’s high school career. Ugh…I couldn’t imagine having those awkward years documented on the internet.

The point is, so many students were making assumptions about their future roommates based on what they saw on Facebook. People use their Facebooks (and before that MySpaces) to display who they want the world to view them as. Back when all these phone calls were flooding in, people didn’t think about privacy settings on their pictures or censor themselves just in case a future employer might stumble across their profiles one day. Some students were calling to complain that they didn’t want to live with their future roommates because all they saw on Facebook were party pics or offensive jokes. Others were calling because their roommate seemed “lame” or “different”. It is impossible to describe what a person is like based off of what you see on Facebook.

While my roommate and I didn’t have the anxiety-laden opportunity of stalking each other on Facebook prior to moving in together, I wonder what a stranger would think of me based off of my Facebook profile. I have my profile set to super secret, so the stranger would have to request me first but that’s beside the point.

First off, we have my cover photo and profile picture. These tend to be absolutely ridiculous. In fact, when I first arrived at college, my Facebook picture was one of my comics. Oops. Right now my current cover photo is a close up of my favorite food and my profile picture is actually a poorly photoshopped photo of one of my friends. So at the moment random stranger would probably think I’m a fat man (not that my friend is fat…just the food and all).

Next, my “about” info. My main network is Hogwarts and my relationship status lists me as being in a relationship with one of my lady friends. My quotes and “info paragraph” haven’t been changed since 2008 and are just a listing of inside jokes. The only musicians I like are my friends bands or singing groups. I don’t have any books, movies, or TV shows listed, but at the moment Facebook is recommending kids books and movies…

And last but not least, photos of me. Since that’s where 99% of my students complaints come from. There are a LOT of pictures of me with my friends’ pets. Not too many party pics…but several photo bomb pictures. And lots of sorority pictures. Of course. Sorority squat!

I don’t think any of that accurately describes me. I don’t use Facebook to list every like and dislike and chronicle every moment of my day. Sorority pictures are in there a lot because those are a lot of the big events I go to…and that’s where the cameras are. At the same time, when I think about students “cleaning up” their Facebooks before they begin their job searches (or before applying for college housing), I don’t think the “after” version of their profiles represent them either.

It’s been a few years since I heard from those angry parents at Undergrad U. I’m still hearing from angry parents. They’re checking out their kid’s roommate’s Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. “He tweeted rap lyrics, my son doesn’t like rap, MY SON CAN’T LIVE WITH HIM!” I wish I was making this up. Now that I’m no longer a student, I’ve started telling parents that we will not change a room assignment just based on something they saw on Facebook. The whole idea of college is to figure out how to live on your own. If there are major issues or lifestyle differences that cannot be worked out once the students have arrived at school and given it the ol’ college try (pun intended), then we will look into finding your precious anti-rap darling a new place to live.

Student affairs professionals of the world…what are some of your most bizarre “well I saw it on the internet” moments you’ve experienced?

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Anxiety

When I was MUCH younger, I hated doing homework. It wasn’t that I was a bad student or anything. The pressure of doing well in school just overwhelmed me. I was a stressed out nine year old. I would be too busy worrying about doing my homework to actually DO my homework. On top of that, my mom would see that I wasn’t doing my homework and yell at me to do my homework. This clearly did not help the situation. There were many nights that I would be up until ten or eleven (remember, fourth grade) doing my homework.

Everybody just thought I was a procrastinator. And to be fair, I am. But this was different. When I procrastinate, I will do everything else that can be done before I do what actually needs to be done. Laundry, dishes, cleaning…I’m a productive procrastinator! Instead, this seemed to be the opposite. I wasn’t getting anything done.

By the time I was in high school, regular homework didn’t overwhelm me so much, but major projects did. Life was also starting to overwhelm me – relationship issues, responsibilities, decisions. I would routinely have others make major decisions for me either by asking people’s opinions or by waiting so long that the decision would have been made for me. I had major freak outs when it came to making decisions about college. I remember being so overwhelmed about choosing a meal plan that I cried for a week straight. OVER A MEAL PLAN.

If you’re sensing that this issue didn’t get better in college, you are correct. Remember how I would be too overwhelmed to do homework? That happened. Except, since I didn’t have my mom to force me to go to school, I could just skip class. Sure, plenty of people skip class in college. Except instead of being hungover or playing video games or whatever normal college students do, skipping class made me even MORE stressed out. I would just stay in bed and cry. I couldn’t do anything else. I would be unable to do anything for a day or two and then I’d snap out of it and go back to normal. I didn’t think it was a big deal.

And then one day everything seemed to happen at once. I was having relationship issues. I had two major projects due. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t think I was good enough to be interested in anything when I grew up. I couldn’t leave my apartment. I didn’t do any chores around the apartment because I knew I could have used that time to do homework. Except I was too stressed to do homework. After the third day of not leaving the apartment and not going to classes, I realized that I didn’t know how to bounce back from this. I was going to be behind in my classes. I was going to get in trouble for missing work. The only way out I could see was to drop out of college. But I couldn’t do that, that would mean going back home to my parents and they would be so disappointed. I felt trapped. So I stayed trapped in my apartment.

My friends were worried about me. They reported me. I became one of those Student Alerts you hear about. I was forced to go to my college’s counseling center. Suddenly I was one of those disheveled girls with dirty hair walking in that everybody sees but pretends not to. I would like to say that after a trip or two the counseling center, everything was fine and dandy and I was going to my classes and doing my homework and doing regular life tasks, but that’s not what happened. Clearly my anxiety was a lifelong problem – it couldn’t be fixed in a day or two. Those first few times, I didn’t even want to go. I could have been using that time to do all that homework. But if I stayed home I wasn’t going to. (And if I stayed home, I was going to be dismissed from the college, so yeah, that kind of got me out of the apartment.)

Counseling wasn’t an easy road. I had regularly scheduled sessions and every so often when I started getting overwhelmed, I’d try to cancel, saying that I was too busy, but my counselor knew that’s when I was at my worst, and the next thing I knew, a professor or Residence Life person was marching me back into the center. Counselors don’t just give you answers and tell you how to live life without being an anxious person. And it’s not like the movies where I got to lie on the couch and tell her all about my life without interruption. I would tell her things and she would question me. She’d ask why I thought these things and why I wasn’t doing my work. She’d make me answer instead of saying “I don’t know”. She got me back on track for the rest of college.

I would love to say that I live an anxiety-free life now, but that’s not the truth. Every so often I feel that overwhelming feeling creeping up on me and I have to find a way to combat it. Most of the time, I win. I’ve had two days in the past year that I couldn’t leave the apartment or do anything because of life. But I was able to bounce right back. I’m also able to recognize when things are getting to be too much for me and set boundaries or say no. And most importantly, I’m able to ask myself the same hard questions my counselor used to ask me. And I’m able to answer them truthfully. It also helps that I read all these blogs written by other twenty-somethings and can see that I’m not the only person my age who has NO CLUE what they are doing.

This was a really hard entry for me to write. Really, there are only two people in my life that know how bad things got. And now here I am posting it on the internet for the whole world to see. But if this can help even just one other person feel “normal”, then it’s worth it.

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So You’re In Grad School: August

Here we are. The start of a new school year. This is when I should have started my SYIGS series, you know, so it started with the school year. Oh well. If you’re new to this, SYIGS provides some tips as well as gives information on what to expect in a Student Affairs-esque grad school program. Everything I write is based on MY experience at Grad School State…your program might be somewhat different, but it shouldn’t be TOO drastic.

If you’re a first year student…

You’re probably getting ready to leave for grad school if you haven’t already. I’ve said it time and time again – grad school is VERY different from undergrad. It’s an adjustment and it will take you some time to get used to it. That’s okay. Oh, and you’ll probably also learn a theory that will later explain your behavior during this time period.

My first few weeks at GSS were jam packed with training for my assistantship…why yes, I was in ResLife! Not only did I have training for my position, but I also sat through all of RA training so I could know the campus and the procedures better. It was a big help, especially since GSS and Undergrad U were VERY different institutions.

GSS held a graduate school orientation. The ResLife office made sure to have it on their schedule so us newbies wouldn’t be missing anything important. It wasn’t like the fun-filled orientation that I went through as a student and that I saw GSS freshmen going through. No campus tours, no entertainment, no ice breakers. I was so confused! I went to a resource fair, but instead of showcasing the different departments on campus, I was provided with bank and insurance options. At one point I was told I needed to pick up my student ID, but I didn’t know where to do that! It was at this moment that I realized graduate student services is an area that will probably be on the upswing in the next few years…

Another eye opener was that there were a lot of people in my program OLDER than me. Many of the students had graduated from college and worked “real” jobs before realizing they hated being mindless corporate robots whatever they were doing and making the decision to start a new career. So at the end of the day while I wanted to go to the bar and get to know my new classmates, they had homes and husbands to get home to. Who does that?

I guess all of my previous “points” have been stories about my experiences, my major tip for this month is DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS. I can promise you that there will be somebody in your program or working at your assistantship who thinks they “know everything” and will roll their eyes at your question, but do not let that deter you! Training and orientation are the times to ask questions!

If this is your second year…

You might be a little bored right now. I’m sure there are training things that you are being forced to go to that you feel you don’t need to go to because obviously you learned it all before. Obviously. Yes, you might be bored, but please don’t let this attitude show! It might stop one of the new students from asking a question (see above).

I definitely recommend getting to know the new grad students in your program. Did you have a second year take you under their wing last year? Be that person for someone else! It is great to form a friendship like this now so you can help someone with this whole grad school process.

I had someone take me under their wing and then I took someone under my wing. I am in touch with both of these people. My “older” friend helped me as I was navigating the job search process. I just helped my “younger’ friend with hers and I also talked her through some tough decisions that she had to make during grad school.

No matter what year you are…

August is a crazy month for Student Affairs…students are returning, orientation is happening, training is happening, and of course there is a HUGE programming push during the first few weeks of school. Good luck to all of you out there!!

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Unpaid Internships: Post Grad Edition

Lately there’s been a lot in the news about the legality of unpaid internships. Many of the articles (and their comments) focus on college students that are required to do internships as part of their degree requirements. I was required to do an internship as part of my degree and my academic department had very strict rules as to what would count. They couldn’t be “coffee and copies” internships. Our supervisor had to be willing to sit down and have one-on-one meetings with us. While my classmates and I weren’t paid, several of us were compensated with meals during working hours or small stipends to cover traveling expenses.

A lot of colleges want their students to do internships. It gives them “real world” work experience. Companies like it because they essentially get to work with someone for a bit of time and train them now and if they like the person, they can hire them in a year or two when they graduate. Some companies are a little greedy and see it as free labor. Maybe more academic programs need to have restrictions for internships like mine did just to protect the students.

But that’s not what I’m hear to talk about today. You know what the good thing about doing an internship while you are in college is? YOU ARE IN COLLEGE. You don’t have to pay back your loans yet, you’re probably still under your parents’ insurance plans, and if you play your cards right and get an internship in the same city that your school is in, you might still get to take advantage of the cushy college lifestyle – dorm rooms and dining halls. Unfortunately, too many industries are now expecting that recent graduates take unpaid (or barely paid) internship positions.

I have a friend, let’s call her Elizabeth, that majored in Art History. Real smart girl, really knew her stuff. I had to take just the basic art history course and wanted to bash my head against my desk throughout each three hour lecture. Not Elizabeth. She was fascinated. While we were in school, she did an internship at a local, but well-known, museum. She had phenomenal grades and I’m sure if Undergrad U published a class rank, she would have been the top of the class. At the end of senior year, Elizabeth started applying for museum jobs. Now, she was well aware that entry level museum jobs were not the most well-paying, but she liked what she was doing, so she didn’t worry about it (sound familiar, student affairs folk?!). Time after time, Elizabeth was turned down. From her internship at the local museum, she had some connections and found out through the grapevine that she was a great candidate and well-liked, but just didn’t have enough experience. She asked her former supervisor and several professors how she could get enough experience to qualify for an ENTRY-LEVEL position and they all told her that she would probably have to do an internship or two AFTER graduation.

Plenty of students in the more creative fields probably hear the same thing every year. I know plenty of people who have gone out there and done it – worked for free for a year or so and then landed some awesome job. How did they support themselves? They didn’t. Their parents gave them money for rent and they worked some small part time job to get some cash for other expenses. Or maybe they were close enough to a large city with a booming industry that they just lived with their parents or other relatives! The point is, it’s hard to be an unpaid intern after graduation if you don’t have the support of others – and I’m not talking emotional support. I’m talking about money. Who’s going to pay your rent or your phone bill? What about when student loan bills start rolling in six months after graduation? The world doesn’t get put on hold because you need to do an internship before you can get a job.

Unfortunately Elizabeth did not have that sort of support. Her parents passed away during her freshman year of college. Elizabeth needed money for rent and other bills. She needed a job that provided benefits – something that a part time job wouldn’t do. She took a full time office assistant position which made finding an internship really hard – many required her to work more hours than she was able to with her full time job. Elizabeth stuck it out for quite a bit, living in the expensive New York City area, hoping to get an internship at one of the many museums in the area, but never got one. She eventually returned to our college town, as the cost of living is MUCH more manageable there.

I’m sure there are tons of people out there reading this post…okay reading articles SIMILAR to this post that are wondering why Elizabeth and many other students would choose to major in something that isn’t guaranteed to lead to a lucrative career path. Clearly Elizabeth knew that she wasn’t going to have financial support after graduation, why go for something that would require an internship? My question is (and this goes beyond the creative industries) when did entry level positions become…well…non-entry level positions? Elizabeth played her cards right – she got good grades, she did an internship in college to gain experience – but at the end of the day it wasn’t enough experience. All of the museums were looking for people that had work experience after graduation. How can these new graduates get work experience when nobody will hire them because they don’t have work experience? It’s something I see happening to a lot of my friends.

More and more lawsuits are being brought against larger companies due to their use of unpaid interns. The Labor Department has guidelines for what can be “intern” work and what needs to be paid work, but I don’t think too many companies are paying attention to those – until now. I am hoping that since these stories are getting pretty widespread coverage, the culture around unpaid internships will change, making it easier for new graduates to get started in their careers.

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TBT – Graduation

I was not looking forwards to my graduation from Undergrad U. At some point in February, someone made mention of there being 100 days until graduation, and it was like some switch flipped in my brain. Before then, graduation had been some distant event with little meaning. It seemed long enough away that by the time it eventually rolled around, I would have my life together. But once that countdown hit the double digits, I was panicking. I didn’t have a “grown up” job yet. I wasn’t “over” college yet. Heck, I had just started to enjoy myself! And so I spent the next 99 days dreading graduation.

I had no time to process the fact that I was a graduating senior. I literally went straight from taking an exam to listening to some CEO of some company tell me to go out there and make a difference in the world. No cushy senior send off event for me. If I thought that college went by too fast, it was nothing compared to how fast I went from enjoying mixers with my sisters and nights at the bar to packing my apartment up and moving back to my parents house. Speaking of my sisters, there were only two others that graduated when I did. TWO. We didn’t take cute-sy senior pictures or anything of the sort. Not only was I leaving with nothing exciting in my future – nobody was coming into the lonely world of adulthood with me!

As PDFM U gets ready for graduation, I can’t help but to think back on my own graduation and all those thoughts and feelings I had. I wonder how all my students feel – if they’re excited or sad or scared or all three. Are they going to look back fondly on these last few weeks of college or be like me and wish that they had “done more”?

How did I spend my last few weeks? I remember sleepovers in my sorority house’s living room. Late night Taco Bell runs. Driving all over creation with my friends as they looked for a house to rent the following year. Enjoying things at Undergrad U that I had never tried before (true story, I don’t think I used the gym at UU until my last month of college). Maybe I did do enough. Maybe I just wish that college was longer.

I’ve had a few talks with some of my students adjusting to the post-college world. At first I thought that it was just me, that I was the only person having some MAJOR transition issues to life after college. Part of the problem with having only a few sisters graduate was that I had nobody to talk to these things about. Now that all my friends have (finally) joined me in the real world, I see them going through the same struggles I went through. It turns out everything I felt was completely normal. It takes time to get used to not living twenty feet from your best friends and not having something to do every night.

The good news is, I was MUCH more excited about my graduation from Grad School State. All of my friends were graduating with me, we had plenty of adventures together in our last weeks of school, and while I still didn’t have a job, I had a Master’s degree and for some reason that made me feel much more important. It didn’t make me think I could change the world, but it did make me think that I could help somebody that someday might change the world.

I wish there were more resources for those transitioning out of college. For now, there’s a nice network of bloggers that you can count on.

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Moving Home

As a young adult, the idea of visiting home sounds wonderful. Family, friends, HBO that I’m not paying for, FREE MEALS…seriously. It’s like a vacation minus the hotel and airfare. When I was in college, I LOVED going home for weekends…maybe a little too much at first. Even now I try to make it home for big events and I still try to see as many people as possible in a short three day weekend.

However…the idea of MOVING HOME?? That had me running and screaming in the other direction. I had spent most of my life and most of college thinking that I’d finish college and move into my own apartment or at the very least an apartment with friends.

This seems like an accurate representation of what I thought my twenties would be like from the ages of…oh….ten to twenty-one.

Except…just like the “Friends” theme song…no one told me how life was going to be this way. Once I graduated college, I had a part time job lined up, but it wasn’t enough to cover rent my security deposit and I was completely SOL.

It actually started a few weeks before I graduated. My mom called. WAIT. No, no, no. This story starts MUCH further back than that.

Part of the reason I didn’t want to move home after graduation was that my family was VERY strict. I distinctly remember my first only summer home during college. The summer actually started off easier than it ended. During dinner, I told my mom I was going to hang out with one of my friends after she got out of work. “Be home by eleven,” was her response. “But mom…she doesn’t get out of work until 10:30.” “Well, I guess you two won’t be seeing each other tonight then!” “Mom, I’m supposed to pick her up from work. She had someone drop her off because those were our plans.” My mom finally agreed that I could go get her (you know because we’re nice people and all) but that I couldn’t hang out afterwards. It was too late. This seemed absolutely archaic to me after nearly an entire year of not having to follow any rules. At school, we wouldn’t even LEAVE for some parties until after eleven. By the end of summer, my 11:00 pm curfew included the computer. I might have gotten in more trouble for calling my house Guantanamo Bay at one point…oops. By the time August rolled around, I was looking for any excuse to move back to school early. After that summer, I didn’t go home for anything longer that a four day break until graduation.

So…back to where I was. It was a few weeks before graduation. My mom called. “When are you moving home?” I laughed. Out loud. While on the phone. “Mom, I’m not moving home, I have a job here. I have an apartment I can stay at. By the way, can I have $1200?” It’s really hard to convince a parent that you are a grown up in the same sentence that you’re asking for money. And that is the story of how I wound up moving home. I was not happy about it. I was dreading the rules and the boredom. Back then there weren’t blogs or advice articles on how to handle this because my graduating class was the start of the wave of students moving home due the recession. My solution was to spend as much time as I could AWAY from home which didn’t exactly please my rule-loving mother. But, as you probably know from reading other posts here, I eventually found my way to grad school, moved out, and got a big girl job.

What can you do if you’re moving home?

Whether you are moving home for the summer or heading back after graduating, there are a few things you can do to make your life (and your parents’ lives) easier.

Have a nice, sit-down discussion about rules. What is a reasonable time that you should be home? Who might be allowed or NOT allowed to spend the night in your room? Do you need to call home with your plans? Certain families are much more relaxed than others. Also, your life situation might be MUCH different than when you last lived at home. Asking a parent if a significant other can stay over in your room while you’re in high school is laughable in most homes. (Granted, it’s still laughable in mine, but that’s another story) In college, your boyfriend or girlfriend might have spent the night with you loads of times. Your parents might tell you that he or she can’t stay in your room. Yes, it sucks, but you know what? I’m not even going to fight that one any more because I know they aren’t budging. I did eventually break my mom down on the curfew…after I graduated I had to come home “when the bars close”. Good thing I live on the border…2 am closing time on one side, 4 am on the other. Sorry not sorry.

Know what’s expected of you. Do you have to help with any chores around the house or baby sit for your younger siblings? Do your parents need help with the rent or paying any bills? Even if your parents tell you that they don’t want your money or your help, offer from time to time! Make dinner for the family one night or help out with raking the leaves. I bought my parents something they had wanted for awhile but didn’t really have the extra money for. Another time, I surprised them by paying their bill at a restaurant.

Find something to do. I had lost touch with my home friends so while I was home, I really had nothing to do. I wound up joining a gym and eventually creating a new friend group consisting of old and new friends. If you’ve been gone for awhile, it’s really like moving to a new city.

Lastly, come up with some sort of timeline. If you’re just moving home for the summer, that’s pretty simple. You’re going back to school. If you’re moving home with no end date in sight…that’s a different story. Once you have a job, set a goal for yourself! You will save $X per month so you can get your own place in Y months. Tell your parents this goal so they can help in any way they can, whether it’s looking for apartments, finding furniture, or even helping you move!

What advice do you have for those moving home?

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Talkin’ About First Generation

I was a first generation college student. Not only had my parents not gone to college, but nobody else in my family had gone to college either. I was the first.

I never thought it was a big deal. My parents and everybody else around me made it very clear that college was just what came after high school, just like middle school came after elementary school. When I went to college, I didn’t say anything about it because I thought there were others like me. But no, the second I started having trouble at Undergrad U, suddenly it was a BIG DEAL that I was a first generation student.

The counseling center enrolled me in a special program for first generation students. The program offered a lot of services (free tutoring, special sessions with financial aid, pamphlets to send home to parents) that I’m SURE helped other students, but they weren’t of any use to me. I was a white girl raised in an affluent area. Probably the most awkward moment was when I was sitting in a session about diversity…as the only white girl. Everybody kept staring at me like I didn’t belong in the program, like I was some sort of spy for the non-first generation students. Shortly after that I just stopped going to anything the program had to offer.

It wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I learned more about first generation students any why they need more support than non-first generation students. It was also during grad school that I felt like some sort of zoo animal. I was the only first generation student in my class and everybody kept asking me all sorts of questions. The one I hated the most? “What’s it like to be a first generation student?” “Oh I don’t know…what’s it like to not?”

One time I brought up this issue with my mom and she got mad. She also didn’t think it was a big deal. I told her that I didn’t think it was a big deal either and thought that was going to be that but it seems once every few months she brings it up again except she turns me into the bad person. Basically she thinks that by my bringing that topic up, I feel that my parents disadvantaged me by not going to college. Um. No. That’s not why I brought it up, I brought it up because it was something that came up in class.

Just like anything else, you can’t make assumptions based on a certain status. Helping first generation students IS important, but you have to find out more information about each student’s situation before helping them. If the counseling center or even the program coordinator would have talked to me, they could have directed me to workshops that did apply to me.

What are some program your institution has in place for first generation students? What are some of the challenges you face in your department when working with first generation students?

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My First Formal Recruitment

Truth: the first time I experienced formal sorority recruitment was as a working professional. Undergrad U had a small Greek system and did not have formal recruitment. I had certainly heard of it but was positive it only existed in the large, Southern schools until I started grad school. Grad School State DEFINITELY had formal recruitment (it seemed to last forever!) and one of my friends there had an internship in Greek Life so I got to hear all about it.

Now, while some schools have their formal recruitment in the fall (well technically summer since some schools do it before move in), both GSS and PDFM U hold formal recruitment in the spring and don’t allow first year students to go through until spring. I can see both sides to this argument. It’s super easy for freshmen to sign up for recruitment before they know of anything else on campus. However, I had to see a lot of my friends and sisters that went through as a freshmen be placed on academic probation by the organization and sometimes even by the school because they couldn’t handle the heavy workload AND being a new member their very first semester. Forcing students to wait means that they might get involved with other activities on campus, but it also means they will be more prepared to balance everything and less likely to “grow out of” the organization.

For those of you who weren’t or aren’t involved with Greek Life, formal recruitment is a style of sorority recruitment put in place by the National Panhellenic Council – the governing body over 26 national sororities (or women’s fraternities). Recruitment isn’t just as easy as Sally Sorority inviting Nancy NewMember over for cookies at the sorority house. Actually, there’s rules against that. Sally would be accused of Dirty Rushing (ooooooohhh) and have to meet with her campus Panhellenic association and would receive a sanction and her entire organization might receive a sanction.

BACK TO THE POINT. Formal recruitment is a set period of time where sororities hold different recruitment events and women who are interested (Potential New Members – PNMs) register and are given a schedule of “parties” to attend. During the process, the PNMs rank the organizations they like and the organizations rank the PNMs. In theory, it works great because people can tell which organization they feel comfortable with and nobody has their heart set on an organization that hates them unless they are completely delusional, right? Wrong. In reality, PNMs wind up disappointed when they get cut from their “favorite” organizations and NOTHING sucks more than when a PNM is on the bottom list for all the sororities on campus and gets released from recruitment. If you want to know more about how recruitment works or hear different recruitment stories, head over to greekchat.com and be prepared to lose several hours of your day (WARNING: I went to greekchat.com just for the link and wound up getting distracted).

We had a lot of women that expressed interest in going through recruitment back in the fall. I was so excited to have huge classes and started dreaming of raising total and expanding. Unfortunately, not all of those women were interested when it finally came time to sign up for recruitment. We lost some to grades. Some transfered to other schools. Others were just not interested. One lied to my recruitment director and told her she transfered to another college…only for me to see her ALL OVER CAMPUS the following week. Not cool.

At first I was upset that there were so few women going through recruitment. I felt like I had somehow failed. Except. I didn’t. The current sorority women were the ones responsible for recruiting women. And I saw plenty of things that they were doing wrong. This made me feel a little better (does that make me a bad person?) but it wasn’t until my Panhellenic President pointed out that having a small recruitment with myself and so many members of our executive board being new was a good thing that I was truly okay with it.

I definitely learned a lot during formal recruitment. It was interesting to see the process, both because I hadn’t before but it was also my first time seeing recruitment as a professional. Now that I’ve seen it, it’s time to sit down and review how things went and try to think of improvements for next year. I definitely want to use the computer system more and update some of our older materials. I am also really excited to start working with my new Panhellenic executive board!

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Throwback Thursday – Something New

I’m not a fan of change. As old and dinosaur-like as my laptop is, I refuse to get a new one because that means I’d have to change all the settings and move all my files and it’s just a hassle. I know, I know, total first world problem.

I have this bad habit of hating the first year of anything. First year of middle school? I missed recess. I wanted to go back to elementary school. First year of high school? Despised. First year of college? Loathed.

Many students are excited to start fresh when they arrive at college. Not me. I kept my EXACT routine even though my earliest class was HOURS later than when my high school started. And of course, to make sure I wasn’t exhausted for my early morning alarm, I went to sleep early. Like, 9:30. Because that’s when I went to sleep in high school. And luckily since Undergrad U is full of weirdos, my roommate never thought twice about my early bedtime. However, a few weeks into the school year, I realized I was missing out. All the fun things were happening after 10 pm!! Finally, my friends dragged me out of bed one night. Okay, friends might be a longshot. They were people from my floor that were friends with my roommate that basically didn’t believe I existed because I was always asleep. One night they literally dragged me out of bed and brought me to Walmart at midnight…while I was wearing my pajamas. At first I was embarrassed  but then “People of Walmart” became a thing and I realized that I was not the worst dressed shopper.

Since I hated new things and change and all that jazz, I refused to try the food our city was famous for. I’m a picky eater. Eating too much of foods I like can make me sick to my stomach. Also, it seemed gross. I didn’t understand everybody’s obsession. It looks terrible, smells terrible, and probably contains more calories than all of McDonald’s menu eaten in one sitting.

And then two days before graduation, I tried it…and it was amazing. I suddenly understood everybody’s obsession. I was actually upset that I hadn’t tried it before. And then it got me thinking of all the things I wish I had done sooner in college. I wish I had made friends sooner. Joined clubs sooner. Had fun sooner.

College is a great time to try new things and I think everybody could benefit from leaving their comfort zone a bit, but that does not mean you need to succumb to peer pressure and disregard your values. Peer pressure is bad. In “I Am Charlotte Simmons“, Charlotte’s friend Laurie says that college is a time to experiment. Try new foods. Go to different types of art exhibits. Go see “Vagina Monologues” because I’m sure you wouldn’t have gone to a showing of that in high school. Some people want to experiment sexually or with alcohol or drugs. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. Whatever you choose to do, please be safe. And try not to do anything illegal.

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So You’re In Grad School: March

I know that February is a short month, but honestly that was the fastest four weeks of my life! I hope it felt a bit slower for all you grad students out there…

If you’re a first year student…

By now you should definitely know what you are doing for the summer, even if those plans are working at the town beach Snack Shack. Some awesome last minute opportunity might come up, but if you don’t have plans to learn more this summer, you better have plans to EARN MORE this summer. (See what I did there?) But really. I know you. I know your past. You graduated with a degree that you’re currently not using and have loans you’re currently not paying off because you’re in grad school. You might spend too much time and/or money at the mall…okay maybe that was just me in grad school. ANYWHO. If you haven’t already been offered an internship, now might be the time to come to terms with being a camp counselor/nanny/retail worker for the summer.

Registration for next semester (aka next year) is right around the corner. As a second year student, you probably have more room to take electives. Ask some of the current second year students what they took and what they liked. Think about your future career goals and see how those electives fit in. Also, you might be required to do an internship during the school year at some point during your second year. I might have mentioned this before, but if your grad school is in a city or located a reasonable distance from another college, see if you can do this internship at another school, particularly if this school is a different type than the one you currently attend/work at (small vs. large, public vs. private, etc.).

Your friends in their second year are probably VERY into their job searches right now, but see if they have some free time to grab a drink or hang out for a bit. They will be gone soon and you won’t be able to ask for help or advice…at least not as easily as you can now! But don’t worry…you know who will be taking their place soon? YOU! Which means…new first year students! Try your best to squeeze in some volunteering during interview days. I unfortunately did not get to do this, but I remember the student who (literally) took me in and showed me around during my interview weekend.

If you’re a second year student…

You probably skipped the first part of this entry. THAT’s how busy you are right now. Actually, you’re probably reading this while sitting in the airport waiting to board your flight to TPE. I wish you the best of luck!

What can you expect at TPE? Well, it’s going to be huge. Like, no matter how much I say that, you still will not be prepared for just how huge it is. The room with mailboxes that was at your regional conference? At least ten times more. Oh, and that’s just candidate mailboxes. But if you did go to a regional conference, the set up is rather similar, just bigger.

There’s a room with candidate mailboxes. You will want to check this room every five minutes but you MUST refrain from doing so. It will just make you feel bad about yourself. When you do go in there, try to ignore all the goodies you see stuffed into or on top of people’s boxes. I swear, I somehow managed to interview with the only schools NOT giving out water bottles or t-shirts or stuffed animals. That also made me feel bad. As much as you’re going to want to go check your box with friends, try to not go with friends that interviewed for the same position as you. Nothing feels worse than one of you getting invited to a second interview and the other one not. There’s also a room with employer mailboxes. You will not go in this room. Instead, there are boxes you can leave it in in each of the candidate work rooms.

So yes, there are candidate workrooms. There are some that are more quiet than others and there are some with computers and printers. Unless it is first thing in the morning or the end of the day, you will never find a completely empty table, so be ready to make some new friends! I actually stayed in touch with the friends I made at TPE and it was nice to hear about somebody else’s job search that wasn’t in my program.

There’s a candidate waiting area, but this time it’s grouped by alphabet. You will begin to know the people in your section. If they are set up like they were last year, interviewers could come to either end of the curtained-off “room”, so sitting in the middle was your best bet. Try to get there a bit early so you can sit in the front row and won’t have to awkwardly step over people’s feet and bags when trying to leave your middle row seat. Also, try to avoid scheduling interviews back-to-back. This will KILL you.

Have a wonderful March and I cannot wait to hear about either your internships for the summer or next year ORRR your first big kid jobs! Also, if you have any ideas about what to tell first year students in April…just looked in my notebook (and on the SYIGS page) and saw that all I wrote was question marks. Sigh.

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