It’s that time of year again: the time when seniors realize graduation is less than a month away, and approaching adulthood becomes all too real. Seniors have sent out their invitations, their families have arrived, they’ve coordinated outfits, had their senior pictures taken, and they’ve paid their final sorority dues. If you’re a senior, there are several ways you could react. You could play it completely cool, like it’s no big deal. You could go about your business as if the perfect little bubble that is undergrad sorority life will never pop, only to get to graduation day, when you freak out on stage as you accept your degree. You could try to smile as your less than enthused mother tries to take some pictures–let me tell you from experience, not even the skinny arm can make a graduation photo look good mid-breakdown. The alternative to that scenario is that you could accept the fact that this transition is going to be even harder than you thought it would be, and realize that preparation is necessary if you want to avoid reality hitting you at a random moment.
If it was up to me, I would wave my magic wand and prevent any more sorority girls from going through what I went through the week of graduation–we’re talking “Keeping up with the Kardashians” levels of emotional drama. Even looking at the paintings on my sorority’s formal room walls made the tear up, because I knew I only had a few more days to be in their hideous presence. No matter how many times I tried to think life as I knew it as a sorority girl–the cream of the college crop–wasn’t about to change drastically, I knew I was lying to myself. I’m here to keep it totally real with you and tell you that it is going to change. But change isn’t always a bad thing. Change doesn’t have to be a problem. It’s not like graduation means sorority life comes to a screeching halt. Quite the contrary, actually–it speeds up in various other ways. Look at the transition from active sister to alumna as an opportunity rather than a problem. I know you think all of this is easier said than done as you top off the glass of wine you’ve had in your hand since your cap and gown came in. But just like your favorite adviser who gave you the benefit of the doubt each time you went to Standards, I’m here to ease the blow. Here are some tips on transitioning from active sister to alumna, told by someone who has been there, done that, and has the sorority tank to prove it.
Say Your Proper Goodbyes
Closure is so important, especially when moving onto another chapter of your life. You don’t want to leave anything unfinished, and you can handle this with a simple goodbye. I’m not just talking about saying goodbye to your best friend from the sorority next door over gossip, dinner, and drinks. I’m talking about tying up loose ends with those you don’t like so much, too. Make sure that the friends and sisters you love know how important they are to you and that you’ll miss them, but don’t leave with any unnecessary grudges, either. Suck up your pride and say goodbye to that one bitch who stole your boyfriend freshman year who has apologized to you ever since. Maybe that’s not the case on your end, but whatever it is, make sure it’s not something weighing on your mind before you graduate. Most importantly, don’t forget to properly say goodbye to your favorite hangout, bar, or club and those who served you at those places. Contrary to popular belief, they are totally going to miss you too…and your amazing bar-top dancing skills.
Spend Some Quality Time With Your Little
Honestly, she is taking this graduation thing even harder than you are. She has bought you so much Starbucks this week that you literally have skinny vanilla latte pouring out of your ears. She showed up at your room with your favorite flavor of Ben and Jerry’s and the entire series of “Sex and the City” on DVD several times last week. If you see one more application for a chapter adviser position mysteriously appear on your desk, you may actually consider trying for the job. Each time you make eye contact with your little, it’s like bid day all over again. You can’t help but crumble at the thought that you won’t see each other every day anymore. There’s really no way to make this separation not feel as bad as it’s going to, but what you can do is spend as much time with your perfect little as humanly possible before you make the leap into adult life. The good news is, just because you’re leaving campus, it doesn’t mean you’re leaving the planet. There are tons of ways to stay connected to your sisters after graduation. Make sure you let her know that in between figuring out your first career move and getting settled in your new atmosphere, you’ll take the time to keep your bond tighter than ever. Luckily for us, Skype and FaceTime exist. Set a few dates to catch up with each other using these tools and it might make leaving your little a bit less devastating.
Study, Study, Study
This is how a lot of time you could use doing the previously mentioned things could disappear. If you procrastinated getting your study on for finals, you’ll have to spend your remaining time stuck in the library trying to cram while jacked up on Adderall and Red Bull. If you had planned and studied ahead of time, you would only have to brush up on a few things here and there before kicking finals week in the ass. In other words, you would have totally been able to go out for that last hoorah with your girls, the way you totally planned doing it up for the final time. But instead, you’re sweating out your curls at the thought of performing poorly on your exams since you haven’t even looked at the material. Margarita Monday is now marketing exam Monday, and instead of downing tequila shots, you’re taking espresso shots. Of course, education comes first–that’s why we do the whole college thing in the first place. News to some, I understand. But if you plan accordingly, you can make sure it doesn’t get in the way of having fun with your sisters before you say bye to the party that is undergraduate life. The last thing you want to do is transition into postgrad life without the satisfaction of that last rage as an active sister.
Now let’s talk a little about some things to do after graduation.
Connect With Your Local Alumnae Group
Sorority life accustoms you to a certain lifestyle, which is based on the trust and reliance of a group of women who have similar values as you. Joining an alumnae group can lead you to a support system, best friends, family, and a home away from home essentially. For the last four years of your life, whether or not you got close to every sister you had, you understood you all have a unique bond. Although you have to leave that lifestyle behind, there are ways to maintain that connection with your sisters after graduation. A very important part of transitioning from sister to alumna is seeking out your local alumnae groups. Whether it is through networking or conducting a search yourself, these groups are relatively easy to find. For example, I can access each active alumnae group nationwide in my sorority and I can contact them through a portal on our national webpage. Most also have Facebook pages, websites, or Twitter accounts, which all have information on how to join. Joining my local chapter was one of the best decisions I ever made after graduating. I was able to meet women from other chapters, hear their stories, and bond with women who could give me valuable advice on being a postgrad trying to start her career. Do yourself a favor and make sure to connect with your local alumnae chapter; it will make for a much smoother transition.
Being an active alumna sister isn’t all about networking, meetings, and other adult obligations. Just like in undergrad, there is just as much play as there is work. Whether it’s through engaging in local philanthropic events, taking trips to assist with other chapters, or just getting together for dinner and drinks, there are many ways to be active within your local chapters. Being as active as possible gives you the opportunity to create the same sort of bonds you made during undergrad with your new group of sisters. You may not all live in a house together, but you have various opportunities to cultivate those friendships in other ways. Don’t just join your local alumnae chapter; be as present as you can be within that chapter. Give back to your sorority as much as you can since it has done so much for you–this is a great way to start.
Visit for Alumnae Events
Just because you graduated, it doesn’t mean you won’t go back to campus. I’m not giving you the green light to become that sister who basically never left–no one likes her. I’m just saying that it isn’t all tears and goodbyes. My sorority holds several reunion events each year, not to mention the university’s annual reunion events and homecoming. You will have many opportunities to come back to see your girls. You just have to be patient and use it as something to look forward to. I’m sure your little will be just as excited to hear about all of your adventures as a new young professional as you are to hear some crazy college stories that take you back. It may be hard to get back into the swing of things following your first reunion, but it does get easier.
Sorority life is something that can literally be a part of who you are as long as you want it to be. The transition is tough, but it’s something that we all go through at some point. The question is whether or not you’ll be prepared to handle it. Hopefully after reading this, you feel a little more assured that you can handle it like a champ. If you aren’t so sure, it’s probably nothing a little wine can’t fix.