Two Recruitment Classes

Brothers from a fraternity in Illinois read my article Should We Have Two Fraternity Recruitment Classes a Semester and informed me that they had recently made this change. They allowed me to interview them about how the process is working out for them. Below is what they said:

1) Why did you guys make the change to two recruitment classes per semester?

The change to two classes was originally motivated by an effort to recruit more quality men while maintaining the smaller class sizes that had been tradition in our fraternity.

This change was complimented by a shortened membership education program (6 weeks) that we could repeat in a semester.

2) What successes have you had?

The biggest positive note of this change comes in continuing the momentum of fraternity recruitment through the passion of the new associates. Early on in the membership education process the associates learn about the recruitment process and utilize it reach out to other new freshman and sophomores that are likely outside of our normal sphere of influence.

The smaller class sizes maintain the strong bonds between the associates. We have also found that the more concise program enables us to focus on academics and other extracurricular commitments – something that we highly encourage.

While we were unable to formally start a second round of membership education we have been able to maintain consistent contact with potentials and their friends.

Maintaining this momentum has been so vital. As a result members have integrated the importance of meeting new people and generating names into their daily routine.

3) What difficulties have you had?

The transition to this new system has taken time– we were not able to fit in an entire member education due to time it took to implement the new changes. We have however will be pre initiating the next class whose member education will begin immediately in the spring.

Our new program also really demands for continual recruitment, which is a good thing, but the adjustment in keeping members motivated throughout the semester has sometimes been daunting. We have had to focus more upon small opportunities and more informal events to maintain relationships and generate names. Tabling – something ubiquitous to our chapter – has been an important part of this process.

We are about to face the completely new territory of recruiting over breaks in semesters. With it will come more obstacles– the summer may be particularly difficult in our area. We may refine our recruitment to three classes over the two semesters Fall/winter/spring.

4) How did two recruitment classes impact the rest of your new member program?

The 6 week program put more demand on our membership education and ritual team but it appears to be a stress that they will be able to handle. We still will need to figure out the timing of the second program and I week — whether it will overlap with the first program or begin immediately after.

At this point I’ve begun to think we really should transition to a “classless” or at least less class based membership education program. The program would be similar to how Sigma Phi Epsilon’s Balanced Man program works but shorter in length.

Revolving regular membership education would occur, for all members not only associates, focusing upon our 5 tenets of class, our philanthropy Push America, and an additional portion spent on history of the fraternity.

Important rituals would be spread throughout this time period. When all of these portions are met an associate could then be voted upon for the next initiation date. Classes would still happen but much more informally as groups of friends or associates decide to begin the process together.

This is a radical departure from our current status quo and would require overcoming obstacles that we cannot forsee — But given the informal nature of our university’s recruitment it would be a perfect fit and eliminate the organizational stress of holding back to back/overlapping formal associate membership classes.

5) Would you recommend having 2 classes to other chapters?

I would, regardless of having formal recruitment or not there are almost always dead periods of time when a chapter is not recruiting. I would also challenge younger chapters to look into a classless revolving membership education program– It really appears to be the new horizon of where membership education and recruitment is going.

Our biggest obstacle is the barriers formed by the tradition we feel obligated to maintain with our system of classes. A fall/winter/spring system may be best for my chapter. Regardless of the chapters situation I would urge chapters and their leaders challenge the one class per semester system.

Each organization will have its own unique set of both obstacles against and opportunities for recruitment. Take advantage of what is normally those periods of little activity and continue recruiting– so many potential members are simply lost from lack of contact during the mid-semester lull.

To learn more, check out our most in-depth article on fraternity recruitment: The Complete Guide to Fraternity Recruitment.

2 thoughts on “Case Study – Two Recruitment Classes in One Semester

  1. I guess I should clarify… I’m not saying everyone you pick up off-cycle is bad quality. Just that it’s harder to grab a consistent high quality standard under those conditions, and that I’m weary of who is available then and why.

  2. I have really mixed feelings about this concept.

    I’ve seen 50man pledge classes and 5 man classes. There’s pros and cons on all sides. I agree small classes bond faster and it improves the education process. It also limits your manpower. When a chapter tells me they’re taking a small class for quality reasons, I believe they’re full of it and that’s what they’re actually able to pull in competition against better chapters.

    I do not agree at all that off-cycle classes improve quality. The people you pick up 6wks in either didn’t get a bid or didn’t go through. If they didn’t get a bid, you’re set up for quality issues. I have two issues with them not having gone through. First, they’re jumping at this chance when they may have many other options in two months. I don’t know if immediate gratification guy is who I need in my chapter. Second, I think the head to head survival of the fittest competition sorts people out to where they fit best. I think you’re setting yourself up for a lot of mismatches that will impact active retention and may cause long term problems.

    More broadly, I don’t like the optempo – I feel like this is too much burning the candle at both ends. Everything leading up to the formal rush process is a very high intensity. You may be able to keep that going for a while, but eventually there is a price to pay. That moment after bids are out when you can relax for a little while is important. We all know recruiting is critically important, but I don’t think anyone joined a fraternity so they could spend all their time recruiting guys. In everything from the military to business to fraternities, there is a cyclical rhythm that has to be balanced and maintained. If you shift too much focus in one direction for too long, the whole thing will collapse.

    I don’t say that to negate the idea of year-round recruitment. If you’re going to do this, you need to have an organized programmed recruitment period for the off-cycle class. It can’t actually be constant.

    I do actually believe in year round recruitment. I could probably give these guys some good ideas for how to make summer work to their advantage. I just think you have to keep it one-on-one most of the time & then designate a certain limited number of events you want to open to a limited number of rushees at a time. I still would rather see that used as a building tool for a formal rush process, but that’ll be campus dependent.

    Specifically to something these guys said – the moving more classless. I hate that idea. I felt like they were describing a revolving door. It sounded like they were doing the minimum education to cause these guys to memorize and regurgitate some information while becoming friends with a small group of guys. That’s not a fraternity at all. We permanently change who people are. We root in their soul a lifelong top priority dedication to a fraternity specific philosophy and mission. Maybe the guy is not relating it well or I’m misreading something, but I didn’t get that feel from the pledge program he described. That’s not to say that cannot be accomplished in X number of weeks, but the emotional investment by actives, the workload, the time… it is not insignificant. When you spread that out over a longer period, it is manageable to effectively accomplish while also making grades and having fun. When you force yourself into a shorter schedule, something has to give. If you tried to do two such very high intensity programs back to back, I think you’re going to burn out your best mentors/educators. The advantage of a class system is it builds brotherhood on a small manageable scale before integrating them. If you’re having trouble integrating classes or too much class loyalty on the other side, that’s a different problem that needs to be addressed in a different way within your pledge program.

    So big picture, I won’t fault a chapter for doing this. I have seriously considered it a few times. I would do it in a colony situation or in a critical down period when a quick boost in numbers is the infusion needed to jump start the business cycle. But, I would absolutely not do this on an ongoing basis. I think the long term consequences would be bad. I think in an effort to grow my chapter it would destroy many of the things I value most about it. I’m not scared of change. I’m strategically aggressive when it’s a solid move. I just think this is s technique best used sparingly when really needed to get something going. I’m not saying out of desperation, but sparingly.

    Anyway, good luck to this chapter. If you guys will send in a question with some details about your over break/summer recruiting concerns, I’ll try to put together a response for you. We’ve had success with summer programs & improved alumni relations in the process.

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