“Why Did You Come to Texas?”

Dear Out of State PNM,

“Percentage of out-of-state students at University of Texas at Austin: 10.6%.” To some this is just a mere data point, but for me this one little number almost changed my whole college decision. The idea of living thousand miles away and only knowing two other people at UT scared me endlessly. Knowing so few people, going through sorority recruitment felt like a no brainer. It gave me an opportunity to meet people from all over and to find the friendships like the ones I left behind in Virginia.

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Over the summer, I spent hours on Greek Rank and College Confidential trying to figure out where I belonged (they were all useless). Greek Rank is only filled with rumors that will drive you insane. Days were put in to each recruitment outfit. Although I was excited, I felt so unprepared. I went into the whole experience completely clueless, and I have to say that was the best gift I could’ve had. It gave me the chance to go with my gut and make choices based solely on my opinion without influence from my family or friends.

Even though I am extremely happy where I ended up, recruitment wasn’t always fun and games. It was tough hearing about the connections other girls had. While other PNMs spent 30 minutes in a house talking to their friends, I spent it with total strangers. It was hard not to be jealous and feel like I was at a disadvantage. It’s important to remember that recruitment is a mutual selection process. Choose the houses that make your week fun and easy.

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Walking into the Kappa Delta house felt like a breath of fresh air. They were genuinely interested in who I was, not who I knew. On Open House my conversation went pass the basic questions of “Why did you choose UT?” and “What is your major?”. The next round, I got to talk to an active, Bailey, who ended up being my amazing future big. I found myself comparing all my other interactions to the ones I had at KD.

One important thing to remember on Preference night is that the girls surrounding you may be your future pledge class. As I waited to enter KD, I talked to the PNMs around me and they were just as genuine and loving as the girls on the other side. Some of these girls who I talked to are now my sisters and some of my best friends. It’s also important to be confident and candid about how you feel. I still remember when I told Bailey that Kappa Delta felt like home. She and the two other actives I talked to during the week came over and gave me the biggest hugs. It was the best feeling in the world and I knew I was making the right decision.

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The friendship that I have made through this organization has changed my life. These girls continue to support me and drive me to be the best person that I can be. They are some of the smartest, hard-working, and funniest girls I have ever met and I am so proud to call them my sisters.

A year removed from the experience, here is what I wish someone had said to me as an out-of-state PNM: only your first-hand experiences truly matter. Ignore everything else and be true to yourself throughout the process and the right house for you will be made clear. Being from out-of-state will make this whole process harder but I promise you it is so worth it.

If there is one thing you should take away from this letter it’s this:

Be ready to answer “Why did you come to Texas?”

Sarah Van Houten (PC ’17)

@sarahvanhou

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