Friday, October 29

Visiting schools = Getting offers

I thought it might be good to light the fire on spending significant time and effort toward getting in touch with prospective faculty advisors and setting up school visits. This takes initiative, courage and work; in other words, it’s not easy. That’s okay though, because you know that we’re here to support you in this endeavor. It is true though that you each need to do the legwork in terms of finding people and reaching out. Through the years, scholars who made visits to their prospective graduate programs have typically received offers of admittance and funding. It some cases, it can really come down to a school visit. For those of you who wish certain aspects of your application to be stronger, making contact and making a visit could really help!

I am also posting this Winner’s Circle since I think it underscores my point – spend time doing the things that are going to be the most effective and don’t get stuck just doing things because you think they need to be done. Yes, you need to take care of all of the details like requesting transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc. etc. But, putting all the effort you can into making contact with faculty is likely going to have the greatest impact in the long-run.

"Efficiency and Effectiveness"

Did you know that there is an important difference between efficiency and effectiveness? Let's talk about that difference and why it matters. Most businesses focus a lot of energy on running an efficient operation – efficient in the sense that things get done with a minimum of effort and motion. It’s low input and high output. In other words, efficiency is doing things right. But doing what things? Ah! This is a very important question.

You see, effectiveness, to me, is doing the right things right. And effectiveness is what you want to aim for, because you can be extremely efficient at doing the wrong things. You can practice the wrong technique or the wrong moves until you've got it down perfectly. And then you're going to wonder and worry about why you're not doing any better, why the business is failing, why your customers don't come back when everything is running like a well-oiled machine.

So when you visualize yourself or your business, don't just see yourself doing things right. See yourself doing the right things right. And remember that sometimes the right thing done imperfectly can beat the heck out of a flawless performance of the wrong thing. Edward Deming, the originator of the total quality management movement, once said that if you run a company on numbers alone, you are sure to fail, because the most important numbers are unknown and unknowable. I have a feeling one of the things he meant was don't worry so much about doing things right, and concentrate instead on doing the right things.

--Lou Tice, The Pacific Institute

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