On almost every college campus, Pledge Week is a major event. It doesn’t matter whether it’s during orientation or halfway through the year. For several days, freshmen — and many sophomores — scramble to find the Greek organization that feels like home away from home.
There’s a good chance your campus will have more than a few chapters to choose from. So you’ll need to be proactive in helping your fraternity or sorority stand out from the rush crowd. If you follow these six steps, you’ll have a strong class of pledges who will gladly accept your bids. Give it a shot to build the strongest brotherhood or sisterhood that you can.
1. Print Some Memorable T-Shirts
If you have an older sibling who went Greek, you’ve likely seen their stack of funky T-shirts. Most chapters print a custom T-shirt for nearly every event. Just like shirts for formals and beach weekends, your shirt for Pledge Week needs to be unique and memorable.
Brainstorm with your Pledge Week committee to land on a catchy slogan for the week. Be sure your shirt includes your organization’s colors and letters. If you have an artistic brother or sister in the chapter, have them draw up a cool design. Then get enough printed for everyone in your chapter and prospective new members. Years from now, it will remind them fondly of Pledge Week.
2. Serve Superior Snacks
A huge part of college life is socializing. Going Greek is one of the main ways students kick-start that aspect of their university career. That means you must create an environment that promotes hanging out and building friendships. And good food plays a huge role in establishing your chapter as the popular place to be.
College kids today have lots of dietary restrictions and preferences. Be sure you have tasty tidbits that will suit everyone’s tastes and dietary needs during Pledge Week. Your potential new members will remember your thoughtfulness and put you at the top of their preference list.
Don’t worry if your chapter’s budget can’t swing a catering bill. Rally your troops in the kitchen and have everyone pitch in for food prep. You can even make it a social event for the chapter — that’s a win-win!
3. Beef Up Your Intramural Activity
Most students aren’t going to college on an athletic scholarship. Plenty of them still want to play sports, though. Having the chance to be part of a winning team is certainly an enticing offer. If you can highlight your chapter’s intramural success, your chapter will stand out from the crowd.
Plan ways to mention your chapter’s sports prowess during conversations with your possible pledges. If you’re performing a skit, make it about flag football or frisbee golf — whatever’s most popular on your campus. Be sure everyone knows they’ll be part of the team the moment they accept your bid.
4. Plan Unique Events
Sure, house or hall parties are super popular in college. There’s plenty of loud music, dancing, and romantic prospects. It’s a recipe for high attendance — especially during Pledge Week. Even then, though, all the parties can start to blur together. If you want to be remembered, focus on planning events that are outside the norm.
If most chapters on your campus host fancy dinners during the week, yours can opt for a bonfire or barbeque instead. Consider holding a game night and bringing everyone together for a cornhole tournament. You could even be philanthropic. As a group, put on your letters and help new students move into their dorms. If you help them carry heavy boxes, it’s a guarantee they’ll remember you.
5. Ask Good Questions
With all the focus on parties and socializing, sometimes people forget what Pledge Week is about. Mainly, you’re trying to find people who share some of your interests. After all, you’re going to be seeing a lot of each other over the next few years. For that reason alone, you need to ask your brothers- and sisters-to-be some good questions.
Go beyond the standard “What’s your major?” or “What high school did you go to?” Ask what they like about your chapter and why they want to join. Find out their favorite book or where they’d love to travel someday. Make it clear that you’re interested in getting to know them. They’ll remember your extra effort when they’re choosing a bid.
6. Let Pledges Know You’re Interested
Pledge Week is hectic, and it goes by quickly. Both you and your possible new members will talk with a lot of people. One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to let candidates know you’re interested.
Many chapters may try to be coy and leave people wondering whether they made the cut to receive a bid. That’s rude. Be open and let a potential pledge know you think they’d fit right in. Personally invite them to future events. If you do, they’ll likely think more highly of your chapter and will eagerly anticipate your invitation to join.
For many college students, Pledge Week is an exciting and nerve-wracking time. Will you receive a bid, or will the chapter of your dreams pass you by? It can be just as stressful for active brothers and sisters. To ensure your chapter stands out on Greek Row, try these six strategies. They’ll help you recruit the best pledge class possible.