I have had many girls ask me about recs recently. There seems to be a lot of confusion around them, and why they are necessary. Ladies, let me tell you - RECS ARE NECESSARY.
1) What is a rec?
A sorority recommendation, or Rec, or letter of reference, is a form filled out by an alum to recommend potential new members to her sorority. The purpose of a rec is to have a member's go ahead on you so that when you go through recruitment, girls know that a member of their sorority has already okayed that you are a good girl to look at.
Many women also include a letter of support to send in with their rec. This is just a letter explaining why you are awesome and should be considered for their sorority during rush! Many PNM's (potential new members AKA rushees AKA girls trying to get into a sorority) will get several recs and letters from alum for each chapter at their school.
2) How do I get a rec?
One way to get them is to get hooked up with your local (as in your hometown) Panhellenic Council. Most places will have them! In most cases, you will need to make a Rush Packet to give to Panhellenic. This will typically include a copy of your transcript, resume, and a few pictures. Please contact your local panhellenic council as well as your school's Greek department to figure out exactly what you need in your packet (or if you even need one). I know for sure that the following schools prefer rush packets (Ole Miss, LSU, Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M, OU, OSU, and Auburn). While I am not 100% about other schools, it won't hurt to make a rush packet. You typically make a packet or two for each sorority at your school (so if there are 10 chapters, make at least 10 packets). Your local Panhellenic will find ladies to write recs for you!
Tip- Use a good senior picture as your headshot, and include one full body picture as well. The chapters will use these to see what you look like. MAKE SURE you still look similar to this during recruitment. So if you are going to drastically cut or color your hair before college, do it now and send in pictures with the change!
Another way is to ask around and find out what ladies in your area are alums for the chapters that you will be rushing for. A lot of ladies will offer to write you recs, and it is okay to ask someone to write you one if you know them well. DO NOT have your mom do this, it is tacky. Be a big girl and call them yourself. A good resource is your mom's friends, and your friends' moms!
UPDATE- A lot of sororities have switched to online recs. Ask your alum what she would prefer- an email of your pictures, resume, etc, or an old fashioned rush packet.
3) Why is a rec important?
Most sororities are not able to give a bid to a girl without a rec for them. So, if you don't have recs and you find out you REALLY want to be a Tri Delt during recruitment, they might not be able to give you a bid even if they loved you, too. Which would be terrible for both of y'all! Some sororities have the ability to get a last minute rec for girls who don't have them, but not all do that. If you didn't put the effort into getting a rec for them, they typically won't put in effort to extend you a bid. Especially when 800 other girls DID take the time to get a Delta Delta Delta rec.
I also advise girls to get a rec for EVERY sorority at their school, even if they don't think they want to be in a certain sorority. You never know what house you will fall in love with, and it would be a shame to not get it just because you thought you wanted to be a Kappa Kappa Gamma with your bestie. You might like Chi Omega and think that the Kappas weren't a good fit for you! Basically, be prepared for anything.