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Your Guide to Traditional Sorority Recruitment Letters of Recommendation

pre-recruitment

How to stand out before formal recruitment even starts!

Article: Your Guide to Traditional Sorority Recruitment Letters of Recommendation

pre-recruitment

Your Guide to Traditional Sorority Recruitment Letters of Recommendation

As you prepare for sorority recruitment, you will hear about recommendation letters, academic letters of support, and RIFs. These documents can play a significant role in the recruitment process, giving sorority members a snapshot of who you are and giving them a reason to keep an eye out for you during recruitment. This guide will help you understand if you need these letters, how to request them, and what to include to ensure you stand out in the best possible way.


Do You Need a Letter of Recommendation for Recruitment?

First things first, do you even need a recommendation letter (aka “rec” or “rec letter”)? While recommendation letters can be a great way to bolster your application, they are not required. Many sororities view them as optional, and some don't accept them at all. To that end, check out the policies for the sororities on your campus to ensure you're not wasting time and effort. If a sorority values these letters, having one can give you an edge. However, if they're not part of the sorority's process, redirect that energy towards your conversational skills.


Get Organized

Create a digital and/or physical folder to collect everything you need for recruitment. The folder should include your resume, headshot, and academic transcript, or links to them. You should also draft your request letters here, whether you choose to handwrite them or send them via email. It’s good to keep a record of exactly what you’ve written to or asked each requester so you’ll sound organized during follow-ups. 


Creating a Tracking Worksheet

Create a tracking worksheet to keep tabs on everything, especially if you’re at a school like Indiana University Bloomington, which has 22 out of the 26 NPC sororities. Your worksheet should include columns like:

  • Sorority Name: Include every chapter participating in recruitment, even if you think you’re not interested. You want to maximize your opportunity every step of the way in recruitment.
  • Submission deadlines: Check your school’s recruitment information for these deadlines, they can be as early as July 1 but most chapters usually accept them through the end of registration.
  • Who: The name of the alumnae and their contact information
  • Contact points: Track when you spoke to or contacted each person, how you did it, and a link to the content so it’s handy if you need to reference it. You may want to include individual columns for first request and any follow ups. Do what’s easiest for you to manage
  • Submission Status: Mark as “not started”, “pending”, and “complete” so you can easily sort and find where you need to follow up.
  • Notes: Any other notes, like how you met the recommender or key information you’d like them to include in their letter.

This worksheet will help you manage deadlines and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.


Prep Your Content

You already know the list of sororities you’ll be meeting in recruitment, so you can get a head start by capturing each sorority's values and then collecting examples of where your experience and background matches each of those values. There will likely be a number of repeats in the values, so it’s not as much work as it might sound like. It’s a good idea to do these really early so you have a chance to revisit a few times. At first glance, you might not have any great ideas for a particular value, so you don’t want to bang these out at the last minute!


What are Recommendation Information Forms (RIFs)?

When you look up each sorority’s Letter of Recommendation policy, you’ll likely see info on their site about RIFs or PNMIFs (Potential New Member Introduction Form). These are standardized forms that an alumna submits with brief details about the PNM. Some sororities, like Alpha Omicron Pi, now allow non-alumnae to submit PNMIFs and don’t even ask the recommender if they’re affiliated with a sorority. Not all sororities accept them, though. RIFs can complement Letters of Recommendation, and they can also stand alone if you have not found an alumna to write a Rec.


Why Do You Want to Submit Sorority Recommendation Letters?

Before you collect the letters, it’s helpful to understand the point of the letters so you’re strategic about who you ask and how. A sorority recommendation letter is essentially a glowing review of you from someone who knows you, and preferably knows you well. It provides the sorority with insights into your character, achievements, and why you'd be a great fit for their sisterhood. These letters can make a significant impact during recruitment by giving the sorority a peek into who you are beyond your application. For example, if you volunteered at a local animal shelter every Saturday for three years, your recommender can highlight your dedication and compassion. Authenticity and personalization are key here—cookie-cutter letters won’t do you any favors. People remember details and you want to give the sorority members reasons to look out for you during recruitment so you don’t get lost in the shuffle.


Who Should You Ask for a Sorority Recommendation Letter?

Not every recommender is equal. The perfect recommender is an engaged alumna *and* knows you well so she can write a thoughtful letter. But it’s not realistic that you’ll have that perfect contact for every chapter on campus, and you might not have any. That’s ok, you don’t need perfect, you just need someone who can write a compelling letter. Let’s think about who could vouch for you:

  • Family: Congratulations, you’re a legacy!
  • Friends’ Parents & Family: You’d be surprised by how many people you know who are in sororities, even if it’s not a big part of their life today.
  • Family Friends: Ask around.
  • Teachers: Teachers went to college too! They can highlight your academic achievements and leadership qualities. Imagine your math teacher detailing how you led a successful project or tutored struggling classmates.
  • Community Members: Maybe someone you interact with regularly, like a coach or youth group organizer, is an alumna. An alumna who can recount your shared experiences at leadership camps or community service projects can offer a relatable and credible perspective.
  • Work or Volunteer Supervisor: Perfect for showcasing your work ethic and dedication to community service. A glowing review from your boss at the part-time job you’ve held for two years can speak volumes about your reliability and responsibility, and they can speak to your ability to balance work and schoolwork.
  • New Allies: If you don’t know any alumnae at all for a particular sorority, you can still get a recommendation from an alumna; it’ll just take a little networking.

Of course, names that chapter members will recognize are gold in recommendations. This can include a notable person in the local community or campus, a chapter alum who knows members, an advisor (though advisors sometimes steer clear of writing recommendations to avoid an appearance of favoritism), or even a famous person. It won’t guarantee a bid, but we’re pretty sure if Meghan Markle writes your Kappa Kappa Gamma recommendation or Melinda Gates writes one for Kappa Alpha Theta, you’ll be remembered!

When choosing, aim for people who can provide specific examples of your character and contributions. Vague praise is less effective than detailed stories and accolades. For example, instead of saying, “She’s a hard worker,” it’s better to say, “She consistently managed the front  desk during our busiest hours, maintaining a calm and friendly demeanor.”

To find New Allies (aka sorority alumnae you haven’t yet met), first identify potential recommenders. Tap into your network—ask around, use social media, and contact your local alumnae chapters. There’s even a Reddit thread dedicated to connecting alumnae with PNMs. Alumnae often list sorority affiliations on LinkedIn, too.


How Should You Ask for Recommendation Letters?

Once you’ve identified potential recommenders, you’ll need to introduce yourself and connect with them. While this might seem intimidating, don’t be afraid to reach out; most alumnae remember the anxiety of recruitment and are happy to help. When you connect with an alumna, use your best manners and recognize that they’re doing you a favor. While many alumnae are happy to help out a PNM, you don’t want them to feel used or disrespected.

An easy way to break the ice is to compliment someone or find common ground. For example, if you find a Sigma Kappa alumna on LinkedIn, you might tell her you appreciated their recent post or how much you admire her commitment to volunteerism. If you’re lucky enough to find an alumna who plays the same sport as you or shares a passion for architecture, mention that. We recommend you introduce yourself and ask if the alumna would be open to writing a recommendation before you give her details and deadlines.

A friendly hello, a compliment/connection, and then explain that you’re [your name] and planning to go through recruitment at [school name] and would very much appreciate a recommendation letter. Let her know how much effort it will take (maybe 20 minutes), the deadline, that you’ll provide a resume and details, and that you’re open to a phone, video, or in-person meeting if that’s her preference.

From here forward, the same applies to the recommenders you know and the ones who are new allies. Here’s how to go about it:

Once you’ve secured their agreement, you’ll want to send them the specifics they’ll need to write a great letter. Many schools suggest you give your recommender your resume (or social resume), academic transcript, and headshot along with your request, with the idea that your recommender will mail the whole package to the sorority. We’re not sure how often that happens these days, so ask around.

You’d start the request note with your basic info like age, GPA, major, and any major awards or recognition. Then, to make it easy for them to write a great letter, we suggest structuring your details to match the sorority’s values. For example, Kappa Delta’s values are Confidence, Sisterhood, Leadership, Academics, and Philanthropy. You could put these in a bullet list and add a specific example of how your activities and experiences align with each value. That way, all your recommender has to do is put that info in her own words. The easier you make it for them, the more likely they’ll do it quickly and won’t need any reminders!

Remember, timing is everything. Start the request process well before recruitment season. Ideally, give your recommenders at least a month to write their letters. Close the letter by thanking them in advance for their time and energy. Make sure to include specific instructions for how the letter should be submitted. If it’s to be mailed, give your recommender an addressed and stamped envelope. If it’s to be submitted online, include the exact link (and test it before you send!).

No matter how easy you make it for them, you may need to remind your recommenders about deadlines. Don’t feel awkward; you can send a simple, friendly email reminding them about the timeline and asking if you can provide any further information. Don’t take it personally if they’re slow to follow through (or even blow it off entirely). Everyone’s busy, and even though recruitment is very important to you, it’s probably not top of mind for any of your recommenders.

Please remember to send a nice thank-you note, either by email or handwritten, even if the recommender is a teacher you see every day. A handwritten thank-you note can go a long way in expressing your gratitude (for recommendation letters, and just about everything in life!). If you know the recommender well enough, you could bake for them, offer to babysit or dog walk, or make any other small gesture of thanks—that’s even better. If you don’t know the person well, you can still include a note saying, “If there’s ever anything I can do for you…,” though, as with everything, specifics are better than broad offers.


What Should You Include in a Sorority Recommendation Letter?

A solid recommendation letter should cover the following elements:

Introduction

The recommender should introduce themselves, include their sorority affiliation, initiation date, and chapter, and explain their relationship to you. For instance, “I am Jane Doe, and I was initiated into the Pi Zeta chapter of Delta Zeta in 2002 at ASU. I am a teacher at XYZ High School, and I have had the pleasure of teaching French to Emily for the past three years.”

Detailed Discussion

This is where they talk about your qualities, achievements, and why you’d be a great addition to the sorority. Specific examples are gold here. For example, “Emily demonstrated exceptional leadership when she organized a school-wide charity event, raising over $5,000 for the local food bank.”

Personal Touch

The letter should align with the values and culture of the sorority you’re applying to, which is why we suggest providing that information to your recommender. If a sorority values philanthropy highly, your recommender might emphasize your volunteer work and community service.

Conclusion

Summarize why you’d be a valuable member and provide contact information for follow-up. For instance, “I wholeheartedly recommend Emily for membership in Alpha Beta Gamma. She will undoubtedly contribute positively and uphold the sorority's esteemed traditions.”

If your recommender hasn’t written one of these before, you might want to screenshot this info or download sample templates you can find online. The recommendation should be professional, well-structured, and about one page long.


Do I Need More Than One Recommendation Letter for Each House?

Good question. While having multiple letters can be beneficial, it's not necessary. One strong, well-written letter is often more impactful than several basic ones. However, if you can secure multiple personalized letters from different perspectives (e.g., one from your best friend’s mom and one from a teacher), it can provide a more comprehensive view of your strengths. That said, don’t go overboard—if your school has 18 sororities, securing even one per chapter will keep you busy. Again, check each sorority's guidelines—some may have limits on the number of letters they'll accept.

What are Letters of Academic Support?

Here’s where your teachers or other academic advisors can help, even if they weren’t in a sorority. Some sororities and/or Panhellenic Councils will accept a Letter of Academic Support to vouch for a PNM’s academic performance. Often, these don’t need to be tailored to each sorority, so a single letter will suffice. Given that Panhellenic already has your transcript, these may not carry a lot of weight, but they also won’t hurt, so we think you may as well add it to the list.

These letters start similarly to recommendation letters, with an introduction providing context. Then, instead of addressing sorority values, they focus on academic performance, work ethic, attitude, and character and leadership skills. If you choose to submit Letters of Academic Support, follow the same guidelines regarding planning ahead and making it easy for your recommender.


Conclusion

To wrap it up, recommendation letters can help you stand out during recruitment, so it’s worth the effort to collect them. Start early, choose your recommenders with care, and approach the process with confidence. You’ve got this!