5 Reasons I Love COB (And You Should Too!)

From the dawn of sorority time, continuous open bidding or, COB, has been thought of in a negative context. We hear comments like “we HAVE to COB because we didn’t get enough women during primary recruitment” and “Nationals is making us COB” and “what about all the rules?” Does this sound familiar? This is how I felt when I was a collegiate member not too long ago. Through my time developing as a sorority professional and spending time with chapters that ONLY continuously recruit, I have fallen completely in love with continuous open bidding! I have seen the most intentional leadership in vice presidents of PR and recruitment when they are planning COB hangouts. I have witnessed the truest connections between women. I have felt the freedom and flexibility of continuous open bidding. So, here are five reasons why I love COB and you should too!

In COB, we are free to be fully ourselves in a much more comfortable space than a recruitment party structured by strict timelines, rules and being watched by recruitment counselors. We are free to hold whatever type of hangout we want! Yes, we can still talk about and showcase our sisterhood and national philanthropic partners, but we have more space to be creative. There are still rules and you should always reference your campus Panhellenic Bylaws and the National Panhellenic Conference’s Manual of Information, but COB allows for extra freedoms we don’t experience during primary recruitment.

2. COB is different from primary or “formal” recruitment
Every year, as we transition into COB after primary recruitment, we try to make them resemble each other. These two types of recruitment are so different for a reason and we need to keep it that way to make sure that they can both be successful! During primary recruitment, we plan beautiful and structured parties because we as a chapter have to stand out among the crowd. When we plan COB events, we need to think more through the lens of a “hangout.” A hangout is much more low-key, low-stakes and comfortable for all people involved, especially the potential new member.

3. Maybe Joiners and Never Joiners, let me hear you!
COB allows us to welcome populations of people that we would not have met during primary recruitment. These women are much more inclined to come to a low-stakes, close-knit hang out where they know people than they are an entire weekend of strangers and social battery usage. Listen to your members, listen to the campus culture and make sure you are tapping into every population of students on campus. Everyone needs a place where they feel like they belong, we just have to find them.

4. Intentional connections
When we can recruit with a little more creativity and freedom, we make space for special connections between women. We are stripping it down to the bare bones of what sorority is all about: connection. COB allows us to take extra time to get to know potential new members in a setting that is more conducive to genuine connection and that leads to more genuine friendships, which will lead to higher retention. Speaking of which…

5. You keep more of the members you recruit
Misaligned expectations are one of the main causes of membership termination. When we take time to get to know potential new members and visa versa, expectations are aligned before bids are handed out. We don’t have this time during primary recruitment. We know them, they know us and they will know everything that is expected of them as members of Alpha Sigma Alpha.

While COB may not be something your collegiate chapter has done (or appreciated) in the past, the last year and half of our lives have forced us to pivot expectations of ourselves and others.  COB is now something that makes a lot more sense in a virtual world. It has allowed us to think outside of the box. It has forced us to think about others and think about parts of ourselves that we might not have taken into consideration pre-pandemic. After experiencing all of the positives listed above, I have been able to fall in love with COB and I know you can too!

Maddy Field, BK

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