Many people may wonder what issuing a scholarship has to do with recruiting young men into your fraternity. Well first, think about what kind of information goes into a scholarship application: grades, involvement, contact information, etc. Does this sound like information that you like to know about your recruits? Next, think about what kind of people apply for scholarships: they generally make good grades, were fairly involved, and are proactive enough to fill out an application. Does this sound like the type of person we would want to recruit?
Another one of the beauties of issuing a scholarship is that the chapter can emphasize the characteristics that are important to it. For example, if the chapter’s grades have been suffering, it can make GPA the most heavily weighted factor. If the chapter is seeking to improve its intramural standing, it can grant points specifically for involvement in athletics. While different scholarship applications will generally ask for similar pieces of information, small adjustments can be made to emphasize the traits that are important to your chapter.
Goals of the Program
There are two goals of the scholarship program, the first is to find the most outstanding male students, and the second is to pledge them. In the process your chapter will be making a commitment to academics and will portray an image to the public that is often overlooked. A chapter that stresses academics will attract men that feel academics is the priority. Likewise, a chapter that portrays a "party house" image will attract men that feel partying is the priority.
The recruitment scholarship program seeks to reward men who demonstrate devotion to academic achievement and a commitment to making both the University and community better places to live. The program will consist of an application and interview process to determine who will receive the award. This process will enable the chapter to identify and contact the most outstanding men, in addition to creating a scholastic culture in the chapter and doing a positive thing for the University.
Cost of the Program
The most important question to ask in the developing stages is: How much money does the chapter have to facilitate the scholarship? Like anything, the more money you have the better, but money should not be the deciding issue. A chapter with healthy finances may offer three scholarships, a first place of $500 and two runners-up at $250 each. The amounts are completely up to the chapter. Likewise, a smaller chapter may decide to award one finalist with a $500 scholarship. The most important objective will be to establish a legitimate scholarship - a $25 scholarship will not attract the most outstanding men.
Items to budget for are:
- Initial mail-out
- Response to applicants (Finalist and non-finalist letters)
- Awards Banquet/Bid Party/Reception (Printing and postage)
- Finalist awards (Certificates, plaques)
- Telephone expenses (Contact with finalists)
- First Place Scholarship
- Second Place Scholarship
- Third Place Scholarship
Putting the Right Person in Charge
Selecting the right person for the job is critical to the program’s success. The chairman will work closely with the recruitment chairman and must attend all interviews of the candidates. It is suggested that the chairman be on the recruitment committee and live on or near campus during the summer. The time commitment is substantial in order for the scholarship to be an effective rush tool. Availability must be a consideration.
Because the ultimate goal of the scholarship program is new member recruitment, the scholarship coordinator must present a favorable image of the fraternity and be well versed in the recruitment process. Many applicants will have little or no interest in joining a Fraternity and it is the responsibility of the scholarship director to get them thinking seriously about Pi Kappa Alpha. In addition, superb organizational and time management skills are a must.
The Application Process
One of the first things you need to do is create the scholarship application. As stated previously, the scholarship can emphasize whatever characteristics you would like it to. But generally speaking, the types of information it needs to seek are grades, leadership experience, and community involvement. Beyond that, the application needs to have a clean and professional look to it, as this will reflect well on the chapter.
The next step is to get the application out to high school seniors. The easiest ways to do this are to mail packets to area high school guidance counselors, include them in mail-outs through the admissions office, or to email them directly to incoming freshman. Your university’s admissions office should be willing to send this out to some sort of list-serve, since you are sending something that will attract students to the university and provide them with funds to spend at the institution.
The packet should include an explanation of the scholarship (amounts, requirements, etc.), applications, and a personal letter from the scholarship director. Follow the sample given at the end of this section to create an effective application. Each packet should be followed up with a telephone call and a visit if possible. Letters should also be written to all rushees informing them of the scholarship program.
The Interview Process
You are now ready to interview the finalists. It is important to schedule interviews as soon as possible after the finalist letter is mailed. As stated earlier, it is best to schedule interviews during orientation at the chapter facility or on campus.
The interview should last no less than 45 minutes. Parents are invited and should be encouraged to attend. Meetings should be scheduled with plenty of time between meetings to review the applicant’s information.
Before calling each finalist, the chairman should familiarize himself with the applicant, a quick review of the application is necessary. Keep the application in front of you while you speak to the finalist. It is also good practice to make notes during the conversation. This will make the interview process more comfortable for you and the finalist because you will be able to refer to your earlier conversation.
When you talk to the finalist on the phone, make sure he is well aware of why you are calling. He should have received the congratulatory letter by now and is well aware of Pi Kappa Alpha. Start the conversation with general small talk, make sure he has received the letter you sent, answer any questions he may have.
Once all questions have been answered, inform him of the interview process and set up the best time for him to meet, ideally during school orientation. Orientation is an informal affair, so don't anticipate finalists wearing coat and tie. If he asks, tell him it is informal. The interviewers however, should be dressed in coat and tie. Once the date and time is set, give the finalist your name and number again and repeat to him the time of the meeting. Make sure you give accurate directions to the chapter facility or campus facility and offer to provide transportation.
The interview can be the most effective event in the entire scholarship process. The goal is to find out more about the applicant and by the end of the interview his interest in Pi Kappa Alpha should be at its highest level. Each finalist should leave the interview as a recruit.
The format to follow is very similar to the interview used by the recruitment chairman. Start with an explanation of the interview and give a brief overview of the subjects that will be covered. Begin the interview with an introduction given by the finalist then proceed with the agenda utilizing comfortable conversation at every point. Follow the outline below:
- Start the interview off by welcoming the finalist and his parents then give a brief description of the things you will cover in the interview.
- Give a brief description of the scholarship (amount, basis for choosing a winner, etc.). Also give an overview of Pi Kappa Alpha. Start with the history of the Fraternity including your chapter. Explain briefly your goal is to foster academics and leadership and to provide opportunities for undergraduates to excel in all areas of college life.
- Move to personal introductions beginning with the finalist and moving to the interviewers.
- Interviewers should begin asking questions. Conversation should be relaxed at this point and the finalist should be made to feel comfortable. Start with high school activities and interests. Ask questions pertaining to his high school career. What were his successes and regrets and what would he do if he could live it over again.
- After you have talked about his high school experience, move to questions about college. How did he decide to attend ______ University? The goal is to find out the degree he will pursue, classes he will take and his interests in college.
- It is important to mention activities during this part of the interview. Does he have interest in campus activities and is he planning to get involved at your school? The answer will most likely be yes. He was active in high school and wishes to remain involved. It is important to ask if the finalist has any interest in becoming Greek. If there is no interest, drop the subject. If he has an interest, be prepared to give information about Pi Kappa Alpha later in the interview and answer any questions he may have.
- The next step in the interview is to ask more involved questions. The responses should require a certain amount of thought, stay away from yes or no questions. The goal is to get the finalist to talk about how he sees himself. Some sample questions are: "Do you see yourself as a leader or a-follower?” If he is involved in sports, ask him questions that are related to athletics. "What is the most important position on a basketball team, why and what position would you play?” "Where do you see yourself in ten years?", "What qualities do you look for in other people?", "What would you improve about yourself?” This will give the interview a more businesslike tone. The final question is "Why should you be the winner of the Pi Kappa Alpha Scholarship?"
- The final part of the interview is for additional information and question answering. It is important to press the issue of campus involvement. Generally, students will have questions about the Fraternity. The approach you have taken is totally different than any other Fraternities rush efforts. You have raised his interest by appealing to the things he places value on, like scholarship and leadership. This is where we have missed quality candidates in the past.
- The meeting should end by giving the rushee a date he can expect to hear from the scholarship director and giving him a contact number should he have any questions. Included with the number should be an invitation to any rush events you may have planned-including the event you plan to award the scholarship.
Once the interview is complete, make notes of the conversations you had. Take note of his strong points, weaknesses, etc. Follow the evaluation form example given below. If the finalist told you he has an interest in becoming Greek, contact the rush chairman immediately. The more people he is in contact with the better. Follow up with the finalist by writing him a letter thanking him for his attendance.
Awarding the Scholarship
The winner should be selected by combining the application and the interview. This can be subjective because of the nature of the application and interview process. A finalist that appears excellent on paper may be average in person. Considerable emphasis should be put on the personal interview.
The manner in which you award the scholarship is up to you. Your options are:
- A banquet dedicated to the scholarship finalists.
- Award the scholarship at a bid/signing party.
- Awards announcement reception.
- No event, simply award the winners personally.
The decision will most likely be made according to the amount of money you have to spend. If you choose to set up a banquet make sure it is a success. The final piece of this puzzle can prove to people you are a quality organization. Work within your means, an ill-prepared banquet with low attendance will scare off rushees. On the other hand, a well-planned reception can make the entire program a success.
For supplemental resources (sample scholarship application, sample interview evaluation form, etc.), check out page 96 of the recruitment handbook. Again, a good recruitment scholarship takes some work and organization on the front end, but the payoff is invaluable!
Jarrett M. WayDirector of Educational Content & Strategy