Donald Asher, an author and speaker on the topics of careers and higher education, gave a lecture at the UC Auditorium on Tuesday outlining the process of graduate school admission.
Asher's overall message was to stay focused during the admissions process.
"You've got to do everything in your power to be early," he said.
Asher said sending in a unique application is also important.
"You want every application to be read as if it is the only one you ever did," Asher said. "You don't want it to reek of recycling."
Some students were surprised by the complexity of the admissions process. Ena Robertson, senior in psychology, said that getting into grad school can seem daunting.
"When he talked about sending update letters and letters of continued interest to the program, I was surprised," Robertson said. "I had never thought to do that."
Much of Asher's lecture focused on customizing an application.
"The quickest and easiest way to customize your essay is to include the names of three faculty members that you are well-acquainted with in the first paragraph of the essay," Asher said.
However, name-dropping is not enough.
Asher said the best line he had ever read was when an applicant connected previous experience with faculty, personal interests and their relevance to the program in which the applicant was seeking acceptance.
He went on to discuss letters of recommendation. Asher advised auditioning for faculty and providing them with a portfolio.
"In your portfolio include a resume, graded papers and labs, transcripts, a description of why the program is a fit for you, and a rough draft of your statement of purpose," he said. "That's the stuff that you need to have and faculty want to see."
Asher also focused on funding a graduate education. An assistantship is a waiver of tuition in exchange for a part-time job, and they are not all academic.
"A lot of students say that they couldn't get an assistantship," he said. "Not true. If you are in grad school, somewhere there is an assistantship for you."
Asher spoke of an applicant who filled out an application for funding and support. The student marked every box on the application in an effort to get funding.
"She won a full waiver of tuition worth $70,000," Asher said, "and two years of support worth $30,000.
"My advice to you guys: check those boxes."
The lecture was not entirely business. Mr. Asher gave the audience a few good laughs.
"I did interview a guy once who applied to thirty-four medical schools. He's the guy who talks to a patient with a sore shoulder and says that it could be a hundred and fifty-five things. Let's try them all!"