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✎ sorority Q&A: new member academic motivation… ✎

Q: I am on the New Member Committee in my chapter. We are having a really hard time getting New Members grades up and it’s my job to find a way to get those grades up for the fall 2014 pc. Can you tell me some ideas that could help push them in the right direction? I’m open to ANY kind of advice. I am just really stuck on this. 

A: A mix of mandatory requirements and a generous reward and acknowledgment system usually works best. To encourage achievement there has to be some basic requirements, tempered with some sweet sugar and public praise. These are some ideas for your to consider:

✎ Required new member academic programs:

  • Establish once a week, 2 hour mandatory ‘study tables’ which new members must attend if their GPA is in a certain range. The higher achieving students don’t need to participate in the required sessions, but everyone’s grades should be monitored. 
  • Start a peer tutoring program within your chapter, where older sisters who are proficient in difficult subjects advise the new members. This mentoring could be offered when needed, or via an ongoing tutoring program. 
  • Hold a seminar on good study habits with required attendance by your new members. Hire a professional to lead the session, or organize it as a chapter if someone in your group is knowledgeable enough to lead the class. 
  • Career center workshops are also a great idea. Coordinate with your campus career office for additional ways to improve achievement in your sisterhood. Require new members to attend several workshops during the year. 
  • Have one-on-one meetings with sisters who are struggling. The personal approach is much more effective than reprimanding a new member at a chapter meeting. Counseling sisters who are not reaching the academic requirements can be very helpful in membership retention. 
  • More good ideas: Establish and enforce ‘quiet hours’ for studying. • Set aside a new member study room. • Schedule socials around important academic events. • Dedicate one new member meeting to scholarship. • Assign a pledge ‘study buddy’ to each new member. • Enlist big sisters to encourage their littles to study. • Offer class and professor evaluations, along with test files. • Start a new member academic announcements & info bulletin board. • Limit social activites for low GPAs. • Send letters to parents if there is an ongoing academic problem. • Ask an alum to be an academic advisor. • Use resources from your national HQ. • Set individual and pledge class goals. 

✎ Rewards for new member academic achievement: 

  • Participate in the Greek community academic awards system. Winning awards each year is a motivation for the entire sisterhood. 
  • Appoint a special new member academic chair to serve as motivator and role model for the pledge class. She can be the liaison between the new members and the e-board. This position should be a honor given to an new member with a high GPA. 
  • Give rewards and preferences to high achievers. Gift certificates, event tickets, special privileges, preferred parking, greek goodies ~ whatever your new members will respond too. Lots of treats for those who do their work! 
  • Host several class competitions during the semester. A grand prize for whoever gets the highest test score, or whoever raises their grades the most. 
  • VIP club for the top academics. Host a special breakfast, lunch or dinner club especially for the new members with the best GPAs. Pamper them with all of their favorite foods and drink. 
  • Challenge another sorority pledge class to an academic challenge for the semester. The best grades wins an amazing prize party that everyone loves, or mani-pedis for the class. 
  • Award your scholars. Honor a new member scholar of the week, scholar of the month, scholar of the semester and host an awards banquet at the end of each semester. Give lots of trophies or gifts. 
  • Decorations for achievement. When new members do a great job, decorate their dorm doors, hang door knob signs, leave balloons and candy in their rooms and leave pat on the back notes. 
  • Post study tips, vocab word of the week and inspirational/motivational quotes where new members will see them. Use the sorority social media to motivate your sisters. 
  • Hold once a month ‘library nights’ which end in favorite yummy desserts for everyone. 
  • Sponsor a new member Quiz Bowl or Trivia Game night. Make it fun and exciting, with a grand prize such as a special serenade, a favorite fraternity or sports team member dinner. Anything exclusive or very desirable will work. 
  • Book an inspirational speaker. Maybe you have an alumnae with a rags to riches story, or someone on campus who overcame great difficulties to achieve. Motivate your pledges with a speech from someone who will inspire and elevate them. 
  • Make a splash! Whenever you recognize sisters for doing well academically, make it public to the chapter, supersize it when making certificates, publish photos on your bulletin board, submit winners to your chapter publications, etc. Make a fuss and it will motivate others to seek the spotlight too. Positive reinforcement is catching!

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sorority Q&A: colony troubles…

Q: I’m a founding member of a colony of a science and engineering sorority at my school, but a lot of the other girls treat this as a club. I even caught girls who were giving out information saying that we aren’t really a sorority. How can I make these girls that are holding us back get with the program?! It’s super frustrating and it seems like sisterhood means nothing to them. It’s made my twin want to drop and I don’t want to lose her.

A: the #1 thing you need to do ASAP is strengthen your RITUALS. what differentiates a sorority from a club are the unique traditions that emphasize the mystical bonds, special sisterhood and the importance of keeping these practices 100% confidential. the “secretive” nature of the rituals give added importance and meaning to your greek organization. without them, you are just a girl’s club. also important are the songs, poems, creed, history, stories, mascot, symbol, flowers, candlelight and everything else that makes a greek group one-of-a-kind! i am not an expert on science/engineering sororities ~ but i am assuming you have a full ritual program as a ‘greek’ organization! 

your flaky members are not taking your creed and sorority standards seriously enough. they are breaking the code of honor which is expected of all greek members. if you have advisors and alumnae available, i would get them involved right away. before your colony falls apart, you need a heavy dose of loyalty rituals. your members should value the meaning and emotions behind your greek letters.

if you don’t have enough traditions to “hook” your new members into your chapter, it’s time to establish some! you could start with a chapter spring retreat after christmas break. you should add more sisterhood events, more weekly bonding sessions, more member recognition, etc… etc… launching a colony and making it stick is a BIG job! i just hope your organization has enough substance to keep members loyal and true.

make a list of all the things you think will attract and retain your members. even things like lawn letters, greek jewelry, paddles and tee shirts add to generating chapter love, pride and spirit! make sure you have ALL the sugar components you need to function properly on campus. being a founding member is a privilege and an honor. i hope you can light a fire in your sisters to see it that way!! xoxo ;)

I am a founding sister of my chapter. We've only been established for a little over a year. During recruitment we always get a good amount of girls but over the summer a bunch of them disaffiliate. Do you have any advice on how to get girls to stay? A lot of them say the money is too much but we can't really help that. Any suggestions would be great

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i’m surprised that your new members stay throughout the year, then drop out during the summer! your #1 goal needs to be getting your sisters more attached and fully committed during the fall and spring semesters. that way they won’t even think of quitting. your new members are not ‘hooked in’ heart and soul. please increase your rituals, traditions, retreats, bonding, education and even your fun socials. your chapter has to be so meaningful, so exciting and so much a part of the member’s lives, that they value it above all else. they should want to work hard all summer to help pay their dues, not disaffiliate! 

if a “good amount” of girls are leaving, your chapter is not giving them something they really want. i suggest your e-board takes a poll/survey of your membership and discover for sure what’s missing. people will pay for what they value highly. if your members say the money’s too much ~ that means they are not getting enough value for their dollars. find out what they want and meet your member’s needs. the sorority is not living up to their expectations in some way.

maybe you need better socials and mixers, maybe you need more sisterhood time, maybe the mission of your national organization is not being communicated affectively, maybe your sisterhood is unfriendly or snobbish…. something is amiss internally and it’s masked by the money excuse. discover what that issue is ~ and your chapter will be on the way to retaining a high number of members. xoxo ;)