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Reference Letters, Recs and RIFs, Oh MY!

It’s the last semester of high school, your daughter has been accepted to her favorite universities and has made her selection. She will begin her college education next fall. Then, in passing, she tells you that she wants to go through recruitment and join a sorority. You break out in a cold sweat and have an internal panic attack. This is an area you know absolutely nothing about, and you have no clue how to support her through the process. You know she needs to have references but how do you find them?

Today I am going to share with you vital tips in gathering the references your daughter needs to have in place to join a sorority.

First things first, let’s talk terminology briefly. References, Letters of Recommendation, Recs, RIF’s (Recruitment Information Forms) Rec Letters, etc. are all different names that describe the same thing. Formal paperwork (usually a form) that an alumni member will complete and submit along with your daughter’s information to their sorority chapter at the university your daughter will attend. Over the years the name and format of the documents have changed but the reasons why they are needed has not.

So, why are references needed and what is their purpose? You may have been told that your daughter does not need them to go through recruitment. And whomever told you that references are not required to go through recruitment is correct. However, to join or pledge a sorority, most chapters require a reference written by an alumnae member of their organization.

The purpose of references is to introduce your daughter to the chapter and let them know she is interested in Greek life. This gives the chapter an opportunity to know her before she arrives on campus with 1,500 other freshmen potential new members. By getting to know her on paper before she arrives, the members will try to introduce her to other chapter members she might have something in common with when she comes through the doors. References also tell the chapter that an alum knows your daughter before she arrives, can vouch for her and more than likely has begun to let her know what to expect during the process.

So, who writes references? Alumnae members of every sorority on campus where your daughter is going to go through recruitment may write references for your student. They do not have to have been members at the chapter where she is going through recruitment. For the most part collegians are not allowed to write references; with some exceptions but that varies by sorority and frequently it is with restrictions. My advice is let the alums take care of the formal references.

Now that you know who may write references, let’s talk about securing them. Many mothers worry that because they were not in a sorority or were not involved alumnae themselves that they do not know any sorority alums and cannot help their daughters find references. I would argue that you know many sorority alums; you just do not realize it. To help you find them try the following:

· Work your personal network. Ask around; check with the women in your neighborhood, the ones you are closest to from work, church, and volunteer groups you have been a part of over the years; especially if they know your daughter. I strongly recommend that you do NOT post on social media that your daughter needs references. Some alums will not care, others will consider it bad form. If someone asks you directly if your daughter is going through recruitment, share that she is and that y’all are actively seeking references for her.

· Your daughter has a network that is separate from yours. Have her do the same thing. Perhaps women she has worked with or for, teachers at school, etc.

· If there is an Alumnae Panhellenic in your area, check their website for information about recruitment. Part of their responsibilities as an alumnae organization is to provide information and support to potential new members. They may even have a list of alums who will make themselves available for your daughter to contact for references and support.

Once you both begin the process, you will need at least one reference for each sorority on campus. The best way to track everything in my experience is a spreadsheet. Use whatever tool works for you. If you are offered more than one reference, be sure and let the alums offering know you have one already, but if they believe it will help, absolutely have your daughter connect with them.

I hope this demystifies references for you. Please let me know down below if it did or if you have any questions. Enjoy this transition as she prepares to leave for college. You are both about to start new phases that can be challenging but also fun-filled.

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Bio – Susan Mallios is a blogger, a parent of two Ole Miss college students and an active sorority alum. Her blog Partial to Pearls, shares her experiences about the emptying nest including the recruitment experience and can be found at You can also follow her on Instagram @partialtopearls

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Carrie Pacini
Carrie Pacini
Apr 07, 2021

This is so helpful! I know nothing about the process and still learning how it all works.😅 Thank you!


Great information 💕

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