Happy back-to-school season! I know that many of you are just beginning your junior or senior year of high school, but today I’m going to ask you to peek into the future and start thinking like a college student. Why?
Because, believe it or not, your college journey doesn’t start in a year or two. It starts right now! There will be many stops along the way – AP classes and ACTs, resumes and essays, volunteer hours and senior award banquets – and they all revolve around one important event: College Application Day!
To help you on your journey I’ve worked with an expert (AKA, a stellar momma) to create a comprehensive timeline that’s sure to get you to and through your college applications. From scheduling your SATs, to compiling a standout college resume, to sending off your Recruitment Information Packets, we’ve got you covered. Get all the goods below!
Download our College Application Timeline to learn how and when to apply to college. Hint hint: our timeline starts in the fall of junior year! [Click button to download]
Create a completely custom, totally professional College Resume. [Click button to navigate]
Design a Recruitment Information Packet that matches your style. [Click button to navigate]
Thanks for taking a quick peek at the future with me today! Now go ahead and get back to enjoying every second of this present moment knowing that you’re as prepared as possible for all that’s to come!
It’s finally here (for most universities, at least): sorority recruitment week! Over the past few months I’ve been sending out every last bit of information I can think of + sharing inside tips from current sorority members via my Sorority Scoop group, and now the time has finally come for you guys to put that info into action and discover the process for yourselves!
If you’re still feeling unprepared at this point, have no fear. Study up on today’s Rush 101 crash course and snag my free download, and you’ll be reciting the Greek alphabet by heart in no time! (Or, you know, just feel a little more comfortable with recruitment terminology.) Work your way through the links below then download my Rush 101 Guide as soon as you’ve finished. Consider it your “Certificate of Excellence” degree for finishing up on your required reading!
Even though I’ve been sharing sorority recruitment tips with members of my Sorority Scoop group since early spring, it’s difficult for me to believe that rush week is just weeks away at this point! With that in mind, I figured that a few of you girls might be in the midst of pulling looks together for each round of recruitment. Although the specific rounds of recruitment may vary from campus to campus, the list below will provide you with a fabulous starting point if and when you find yourself waist-deep in summer sale racks.
OPEN HOUSE: One of the most casual days of sorority recruitment. Some campuses will give each PNM a t-shirt to wear. Otherwise, stick to something in the casual-cute family. A sun dress, slim pants and a flowy top, gladiators or flats, and a stack of bangles will do the trick.
PHILANTHROPY DAY: A cute dress topped off by a denim jacket and paired with wedges will fit the bill nicely. Come prepared to listen and learn about which organization is closest to each sorority’s heart!
SKIT NIGHT: Semi-formal is the name of the game. Not quite a cocktail dress, not quite what you’d wear to church on Sunday, but somewhere in between. A more structured dress, a chic romper, or a pair of patterned billowy pants accented by heels would both be great.
PREFERENCE: Break out the cocktail wear! A cute LBD, LWD, colorful frock paired with statement heels, or a dress accented by an understated pattern will work well. Avoid ultra-formal wear, i.e. anything with too many feathers, sparkles, or a floor-length hemline.
BID DAY: Today’s the day! You’re finally receiving your bid card, and most likely a t-shirt from your chapter! Put on your favorite denim shorts to ensure a perfect match when you exchange your top for your new sorority colors.
PS: If you love wearing heels, don’t be afraid to rock them during recruitment! Just make sure to follow the advice below…
“Depending on how big the campus is, I would bring comfy sandals to walk from house to house and a bag full of makeup and other things you may need throughout the day!” -Nicole, Delta Delta Delta, University of Texas at Austin (via Sorority Scoop)
“I made the awful mistake of thinking that I could make it through the whole day in my heels and I was very quickly humbled. Just pack whatever shoes you find the most comfy to walk in, and you can throw on your heels before you go in the house!” -Ashtyn, Alpha Chi Omega at The University of Texas at Austin (via Sorority Scoop)
If you’re saying “it’s all Greek to me” more often than not these days, be sure to download my FREE Rush 101 guide. It’s filled with recruitment tips + terminology that you’ll hear throughout recruitment week!
I’ve created a Pinterest-ready graphic for you below so that you can easily reference these suggestions when selecting outfits. Pin away, and cheers to looking and feeling your best during recruitment week!
Because many of you have already sent off your Recruitment Information Packets—and because I’m betting that you’re also up to your eyeballs in graduation gifts—I thought today would be the perfect time to discuss thank you note protocol! While I’m not an etiquette expert like Emily Post, I am an alum who frequently writes Letters of Recommendation for girls going through sorority recruitment. Based on that experience, here are a few tips to keep in mind when it’s time to show your appreciation:
1. INCLUDE A SHORT + PERSONAL NOTE OF THANKS VIA YOUR COVER LETTER
Your cover letter is your first opportunity to tell the alumna writing your Rec Letter just how much her time means to you. If you’re modeling your cover letter off of my free download, you can include a handwritten note of thanks at the bottom of your typed (generic) letter. I also recommend including your university’s deadline for receiving recruitment materials!
2. SHOW YOUR THANKS STRATEGICALLY
I’ll admit it. I have received a Recruitment Information Packet(or two) well in advance, and have still almost missed the deadline for forwarding the packet on to the appropriate sorority house along with my carefully-crafted Rec Letter. This is by no means intentional—it’s just that as a working momma of two girls, l have lots of opportunities to be distracted over the course of any given week! Because many of the alumnae writing your Rec Letters will be juggling a similar schedule, I recommend strategically sending a thank you card to each woman’s home address two weeks in advance of your university’s deadline. If she has already mailed your packet, she’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness. If she hasn’t, she’ll be reminded to do so…as quickly as possible!
3. CONSIDER INCLUDING A SMALL TOKEN OF APPRECIATION
Along with her Recruitment Information Packet,one of my sweet clients recently sent me a $5 gift card to Starbucks as a way of saying thanks! This is one of those above-and-beyond gestures that is by no means mandatory, but from personal experience, is highly appreciated. If you happen to know that one of the alumnae on your list is extra busy, but still agreed to write you a Rec Letter, this is a great way to acknowledge the time she’s investing on your behalf.
I hope today’s blog post will prove helpful when it’s time to send out your thank you notes! And on that, ahem, note (couldn’t resist), I JUST launched a line of folded note cards that are available for purchase via my shop—you can take a peek at four of the designs below! Order an extra set that matches your Recruitment Information Packet, or create a custom set using yourfavorite senior portrait.You can browse all of the options right here!
Our Rush 101 series continues today with a short little how-to on printing a social resume! Whether you purchased one of our custom recruitment information packets in digital form, or you decided to tweak our free resume template to fit your style, or you went totally DIY and designed your own letterhead, OR you want to turn the digital files that came with your printed packet into a personal stationery set post-recruitment (we’ll talk more about this later), the following instructions are for you:
How to Merge Your Resume + Cover Letter Verbiage With Your Custom Letterhead
How to Merge a Word Document and a PDF
Step 1: Open Letterhead in Adobe Acrobat
Step 2: Add Text Box and Text
To open the editing toolbar showcased below, go to View>Tools>Edit PDF>Open
Select the “Add Text” button on the toolbar. Click and drag the cursor to create a text box. This is where you will insert your resume information.
Select a text size around 12 point and utilize a standard, streamlined font (such as Minion Pro or Calibri).
Type or copy and paste your resume information into the text box. Then, use the text formatting tools on the right-hand column of your screen to give your text the look you want. (I recommend using the same font throughout the document and emphasizing different sections by utilizing bolding, italics, or varied capitalization. You can also experiment with the text alignment!)
Step 3: Align Your Textbox to the Center of the Document
Click on the edge of the text box and drag to position the alignment of your text. Your text box should be centered beneath your name, and there should be an even margin on either side of the box.
Step 4: Save and Print
Save your resume or cover letter for printing by clicking File>Save As.
And there you have it! You have officially merged your resume verbiage with adorable, customized letterhead.
PS: If this all sounds like a big headache, don’t forget that we can print your packets for you if you choose to purchase one of our designs!If you do not have Adobe Acrobat, I recommend taking your letterhead and cover letter + resume files to FedEx Office for printing. Most stores will be able to receive the Word Document or PDF containing your resume and cover letter verbiage via email, but to be on the safe side, I recommend bringing both documents with you on a thumb drive as well.
It’s time for another installment of Rush 101! This blog post is specifically for those of you who are still in the process of gathering Letters of Recommendation/Letters of Support. While I know that a lot of you registered with your local alumnae Panhellenic organization in order to obtain Rec Letters, I’m also guessing that several of you are managing the process + sending out yourRecruitment Information Packets entirely on your own this summer. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few tips for rounding up recommendations!
First things first…let’s break down the difference between a few commonly-confused terms: Letter of Support (LOS), Letter of Recommendation (Rec Letter), and Recruitment Information Form (RIF).
LETTER OF SUPPORT: A personal letter written by a current collegian or an alumnae endorsing you for membership in their sorority house. These letters are also sometimes called a…
LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION: Simply put, the terminology just varies state to state! The main thing to keep in mind is that a LOS or a Rec Letter is not the same as a…
RECRUITMENT INFORMATION FORM: This is a “fill-in-the-blank” type of document that can be found on each sorority’s website, and can be accessed by a current collegian or an alumnae. In other words, each woman that you approach with a request for a recommendation will log on to her sorority’s website, and will download her sorority’s unique endorsement form in order to meet your request. A LOS or Rec Letter is typically a complement to, rather than a replacement of, a standard RIF.
Now let’s talk about where to find the lovely women who will be submitting these items on your behalf! I recommend beginning with your innermost circle, then moving outward. That means you should start by approaching…
FAMILY: Identify if you are considered a “legacy” of any of the sororities on your campus. Keep in mind that mom’s affiliation isn’t the only one that matters—many houses will consider you a legacy if your sister, grandmother, aunt, or cousin was a member. Request a LOS/Rec Letter and a RIF from as many sorority members as you can identify! Next, speak with…
FRIENDS: Do you know a current member of a sorority that’s represented on your campus? Ask her if she would be willing to submit a LOS/RIF on your behalf! If you’re still lacking a few letters, move on to…
FRIENDS OF FRIENDS: Sororities constantly attend “mixers” not only with fraternities, but with other sororities as well. If you’re having trouble rounding up a letter from a particular house on your campus, reach out to friends and family members and ask if they know anyone who is currently, or was formerly, a member of the house(es) in question. Although these friends-of-friends may not know you personally, your Recruitment Information Packet will provide your letter-writer(s) with everything they need to submit an informed LOS/RIF on your behalf.
PS: If you feel like doing a little extra reading, this article has a lot of additional tips and terminology! If you’re looking for more helpful recruitment information, be sure to join my Sorority Scoop group—I send out must-know information, fabulous articles, free resources, and more via a once-a-week email to my group members.
After five weeks of being home, I flew back to Pittsburgh, feeling as if I was starting completely over again. The same gut-wrenching pain crept in, taking over my ability to try to think positively. I hoped that being reunited with my friends would overpower my doubtful attitude, but unfortunately this was not the case. It was a huge sign that things weren’t how they should be when my uneasiness and unhappiness grew stronger than my love for friends.
A true advantage, however, was being able to learn from some of the most outstanding artists with so much knowledge and experience in my new dance classes. I knew how great of an advantage this was, and yet still felt unhappy while in class. When I found that my goals and dreams started to frustrate me, when I lost my peace and wasn’t enjoying myself, that was a sign something needed to change.
“When I lost my peace and wasn’t enjoying myself, that was a sign something needed to change.”
I stood there in class thinking, “I don’t want to be a professional dancer. I don’t want to be with a professional company when I’m older. So why am I even here? Am I wasting my time?” At this point in the year, I could tell the difference between feeling homesick and feeling uncertain about my future. Dance wasn’t just about doing it for fun anymore, it was about making it a career. After much thought, I decided this route was not for me. This is not what I want to do the rest of my life. I was only back from break for three days when I made the call to my parents that I was done. So my parents got a flight, I packed up all my stuff, withdrew from the school, said goodbye to my closest friends, and was out of there in two days. I hope you believe me when I say it wasn’t easy.
Ever since I’ve been home, I’ve felt like a million bricks have been lifted off my shoulders. Right now, I am happier than I have been in a very long time. When I left Pittsburgh, my plan was to come home to attend Texas Christian University for fashion merchandising. I patiently waited for months to receive an acceptance letter, and finally, after many prayers and wishes, I got it. I don’t think you could have seen anyone else in this world happier than I was at that moment. Not only did I get into the school that feels like home in my heart, but it was confirmed that my plan was finally going to work.
Yes, I miss dance greatly. It was my life! I chose it because for me at the time, there was no other option. I will always consider myself a dancer because it is what made me who I am. Dance taught me how to take rejection and instruction, how to be who I want to be, and how to be confident and strong both physically and mentally. Do I regret my decision? Not at all. Would I have regrets if I hadn’t gone to Point Park in the first place? Definitely. I would have always wondered what I could have been missing out on. I would have seen my friends there and thought, “That could be me.” Now that I have experienced it for myself, I know the answer and I can stand strong in knowing what I truly want to pursue as a career. Leaving home, although I’m not good at it, taught me a lot as well. I became more mature and independent because of it. I had to learn things and figure out things by myself. Would I want to do it again? No, but I am glad I grew from the experience.
“I would have always wondered what I could have been missing out on.”
If I had the choice to go back and change everything leading up to this point—fifteen years of dance, Booker T. Washington, Point Park University—I wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, no matter the struggles, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. All I can really say is I am beyond lucky to have parents that support me and my decisions 100 percent. Not only did I receive great support from them, but from my friends as well. I am thankful for true friends who loved me at my worst, and acted as a spark of light in my darkest moments. Most of all, I am thankful for my God. I am not the ruler of my fate. He has a plan and a purpose for all who trust completely in Him. I quickly found that His plans are always better than mine and, without that, I couldn’t have been so sure about what’s best for me. So to those out there who don’t know the answers, I’m letting you know that it is okay to change your mind. Sometimes quitting is okay! It might not come easy, but the ending result may be a blessing greater than you could have ever imagined. And that’s where I am today.
“So to those out there who don’t know the answers, I’m letting you know that it is okay to change your mind.”
Aubrey, I don’t think you know just how many of us (of all ages!) can relate to your college journey thus far. Thank you a hundred times for sharing your beautiful, inspiring, hope-filled story of pursuing dreams in the face of obstacles, and being open to experiencing growth—however painful—in the process. It’s a skill that will always prove useful, and your faith and confidence will continue to grow every time you use it. “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25
If you missed it, you can read part 1 of Aubrey’s story here.
Today’s the day! I am so honored to share more of Aubrey’s story with you. As I mentioned in her senior session post,not everything about Aubrey’s college journey has gone as planned, but it HAS all helped shape who she is today. I could go on all day about this girl’s sweet spirit and the countless ways that she inspires me, but instead I’ll let her “take the floor” and share her heart from her own perspective. Much love to you, Aubrey, and thank you for your willingness to tell your story!
by Aubrey Chick
Quitting is typically known as failure. It is thought of as as the “easy” way out of a difficult situation, an action performed by cowards or slackers. However, sometimes this is not the case. Sometimes quitting is a good thing, which I learned firsthand. Fifteen years of dance, high school education at a performing arts high school, an outstanding artistic scholarship to a prestigious dance conservatory…all sounds pretty great right? Well, let me tell you why I threw it all away.
Ever since I was little, my ultimate dream for my future was to move to New York or somewhere up north to be a dancer. Once I reached high school, I was able to begin to make this dream a reality. From 2011 to 2015 I attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas. I can easily say that those four years were the best years of my life (so far). Yes, I actually had schoolwork, but the fact that I got to dance most of the day was pretty fantastic. After a full seven-hour school day, I would head straight to my dance studio to train there for another five hours for three days a week, and sometimes more. Not only did I dedicate my life to dance to eventually go to college for it, but because I truly loved it.
“I WAS DETERMINED TO FOLLOW THE DREAM I’D HAD MY WHOLE LIFE.”
My senior year at Booker T, I had the privilege of dancing in the week-long process of our Senior Showcase. Colleges for dance from around the country came to our school to award us with acceptances and scholarships after taking classes from them and performing our solos. By the end of the week I walked away with eight acceptances, one of these being Point Park University, the prestigious dance conservatory I had only dreamed about going to. I was awarded with an outstanding dance scholarship on top of it! Feeling very shocked and honored, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend Point Park. So that’s what I did. I left everything and everyone I loved behind to start a new journey as a dancer at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I wasn’t sure where dance would end up taking me after college, but I loved it enough to go for it. I was also very hesitant at first because of its great distance from home, but I was determined to follow the dream I’d had my whole life.
The two-day car ride to Pittsburgh was not the ideal, “Yay, I’m finally headed to college!” trip. You would understand what I mean if you could have seen the amount of tears that I cried. I knew that in just a few days, I would be left in a big, unfamiliar city without my family. For someone who has severe separation anxiety, this should not have been something that was at the top of my list of things to do. However, somehow it was. My determination was the only thing keeping me going. Luckily, four other dancers from my high school decided to attend Point Park as well, one of them being my best friend (who was my roommate). Despite all the tears, somehow I survived the day my parents left to go back home.
School eventually started and things were going exactly how they should have. I was placed in amazing dance classes, taught by professionals who were seriously the best of the best. I was receiving high-quality training and consequently improving as a dancer. My roommate and I explored the city, took part in fun events, and met a wonderful group of friends. This all sounds pretty perfect, right? I have to admit that it truly was…besides the fact that I never stopped crying from the day I left home to the day I quit. That’s right, I said I quit. Those two words just ring with negativity. But I don’t see my decision as negative at all, and it definitely was not easy.
Throughout the first semester, when things seemed to be going as they should, I was severely homesick. Not the kind where you miss home but are still okay, but the kind where it’s impossible to hold back tears even in class. I woke up every morning with what felt like a giant hole in my chest. Although I had some of my best friends from home there with me, I still felt like a piece of me was missing. I couldn’t possibly keep track of the amount of times I called home. I’m pretty sure I received every pep talk and combination of encouraging words possible from my mom. The best part of my day was marking off another day on my calendar, counting down the days until I could go home again. No matter how great my day could have gone, I really looked forward to nighttime because I knew another day was over with. I prayed and prayed for God to give me a sense of peace and contentment in a time when it was hardest to find it. Time went by, slower than ever, and Christmas break finally came. Feeling a bit relieved for a while, I enjoyed my time home, but at the same time battled many doubts about my future at Point Park.
Aubrey’s story doesn’t end here—there’s more growth, hope, and wisdom to come. Stay tuned for part two, coming to the blog tomorrow!
As you probably could have guessed from the way I talked about my first session with Aubrey, I was counting down the days until her senior year when I would have the opportunity to photograph her again. When the time finally arrived and we began planning her session, Aubrey let me know that she really wanted to capture her love of the city, particularly Dallas, where she spent four years at a prestigious high school for gifted visual and performing arts students.
I love collaborating with other creative people, especially when they are like Aubrey and her Mom, who totally trusted me to explore and try something new for their session. This was my first “rooftop” session, and it was just magical. I love a brand new location. It forces me to see and create for the first time and to dig within for inspiration. Once I’ve shot somewhere, it’s really a challenge for me to “unsee” what I’ve previously created. Since my goal is always to capture the unique personality of each teenager I photograph, however, the ability to see things in a new way is essential. I’m thankful for sessions like Aubrey’s that help me get back into the swing of mixing things up!
These rooftop images make me so happy because I can recall the feeling I had that night—pure joy! And since our last session, I could tell that something had changed and matured inside Aubrey, too. The uncertainty was gone, replaced by a humble assuredness. Aubrey has absolutely no idea just how beautiful she is, and honestly, as gorgeous as she is on the outside, her beauty really radiates from within. During her senior session, I was no longer trying to coerce an unsure 16-year-old to be seen. Instead, I was capturing a beautiful, confident young woman just before she took flight on her next adventure. She had stars in her eyes and was laser-focused on her dream of attending another prestigious dance conservatory in another big city, this time as a college student! She inspired me, and so did her mom. I remember thinking, “I want be as supportive of my own daughters’ dreams as Tiffany is…even if those dreams lead them thousands of miles away from me.” It’s a gut-wrenching thought to be so far away from your baby, but I so admire Tiffany’s willingness to let her daughter fly.
I don’t know what it is exactly about Aubrey—maybe it’s her comfort in front of the camera, or just her openness to exploration—but “firsts” always seem to happen with her. Not only did she help me create that iconic rooftop city image, which I’ve since reimagined for other seniors equally in love with the Dallas skyline, but hers was the first “upside down” image I created, too. Her Mom actually ordered this one on canvas, which I absolutely adore!
I have SO loved following along on Aubrey’s college journey. I think she would agree with me when I say that not everything about that journey has gone as planned, but that every step has grown her and lead her to the certainty of where she stands today. After going to dinner with a current senior I adore, and talking about pursuing dreams so that you never have regrets or those “What if?” wonders, I called Aubrey and asked if she would be open to sharing her story with you all. She has such an important message to share, and very soon, she’ll be doing just that right here on the blog, in her own words. I couldn’t be more honored to share it with you, and I know it will resonate with my class of 2016 seniors and senior Mommas alike!
Tiffany and Aubrey, I am forever grateful for the opportunity to play a small part capturing your journey. I think the world of both of you—big love to you always.
Is it just me, or is prom taking place earlier and earlier these days? For some reason I always think of prom as happening in May, but my Argyle High School seniors quickly reminded me otherwise…they have prom coming up this weekend!
On that note, I’m thrilled to debut every last detail from my prom 2016 styled shoot! The purpose of this photoshoot at Arlington Hall was to show off an avante garde yet completely achievable look that I could imagine my seniors sporting. To accomplish this, my sweet friend Hannah ofThe Cake By Hannah paired a pink tulle skirt from HiddenRoom boutiqueon Etsy with a striped Top Shop crop top from Nordstrom. The result? A fun, chic alternative to the traditional prom dress!
I had a blast getting the chance to work with LMP senior Maddy again. This girl completely ROCKED our out-of-the-box prom look, and is an absolute doll. (And I don’t just mean that she literally looked like a collector’s Barbie doll in this outfit, although that’s completely true too.) As always, collaborating with The Styling Stewardess was such a pleasure. The hair and makeup that Kaleigh and Magan styled was pure perfection…current and on trend, but still completely wearable.
Maddy’s sunkissed makeup is reminiscent of Gigi Hadid’s signature look with the addition of a just-dark-enough smokey eye, and that braid deserves all the heart-eye emojis and then some. It’s such a unique spin on an updo!
I hope this post has inspired your search for the perfect prom dress + hair and makeup look! For more fashion-spiration related to prom, be sure to stop by this post from the LMP archives. And Argyle seniors, you better believe I’ll be stalking your Instagram feed on Saturday night…and hopefully I’ll also be seeing lots of you in person! (No, I’m not going to prom, but I AM taking pictures at Denton Country Club for some of my favorite seniors. So if you happen to see me, you better come say hi and give me a hug!) I can’t wait to see you all decked out in your formal wear!