Knight-Hennessy Scholars at Stanford [Application Tips]

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Do you aim to improve the world? Would you like to earn your graduate degree at Stanford tuition free? Then you will be happy to hear about the new Knight-Hennessy Scholars program at Stanford, a program that will cover 100 Stanford graduate students’ tuition for up to three years plus provide a stipend for room and board, travel, and personal expenses, in addition to offering complementary opportunities to develop as a change leader. The inaugural class of 50 Knight-Hennessy Scholars will enroll in the Fall of 2018.

What makes a strong candidate for this exciting new program? First, Stanford is seeking graduate students who completed their undergraduate degrees in the past 5 years (that is the class of 2013 or later (if you graduated in 2012 or earlier, you are no longer eligible for this program)) and will be attending Stanford in the fall of 2018 (applicants apply to their graduate program and the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship separately; admission to one does not guarantee the other). In addition to being recent graduates, applicants must demonstrate a pattern of independent thought and dissent, ambitious and tenacious leadership with purpose, and civic action and kindness.

That’s a lot to demonstrate! The good news is that Stanford does offer several application components to do so: a one-page resume, 2 required essays and an optional space for other critical information, and a 2-minute video essay to provide a more personal (and visual) impression of you.

Here are the prompts for those materials and my suggestions in blue:

Essay 1: Connect the dots. How have the influences in your life shaped you? For Essay 1, you may find it helpful to review the 2005 Stanford Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs.

This essay is the ideal space to share how you became an independent thinker, dissenter, ambitious and tenacious leader, and kind civic activist. While there is no limit for these essays, the recommendation is a length of between 750 and 1,750 words, so you have enough space to talk about a few experiences and how they shaped you. Do not describe your actions alone: go in depth about your fears, your frustrations, your doubts, and the voice that ran in your head to guide those actions. These are the keys to making a real impression.

Essay 2: Describe three different paths for your career and life. To prepare for them, what do you need to learn at Stanford as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar? For Essay 2, you may find it helpful to review the Designing Your Life work by Stanford faculty Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

I love this question because it offers you the opportunity to talk about the diverse paths your future may take. Visionary leaders are constantly exploring new fields and daydream about the impacts they could make in any one of them, so take the leap to talk about the areas and industries of the world that most excite you. Again, the suggested length of 750 to 1,750 words will allow you to share the ways in which you have already made inroads in some of these fields and the passion that drove you in each. What risks did you take? What pre-conceived notions did you have to throw out so that you could pursue these passions? What failures pointed you in better directions?

Additional Information: If there is critical information that you could not convey in your application (e.g., a factor affecting your academic performance), you may include it here. Please be brief. [The space allows up to 750 characters, which is about 115-120 words]

Video Essay: Please select one of the following options to discuss in your video essay.

Option A: Tell us about something for which you are grateful.

Option B: Tell us about your Crazy Idea.

Option C: Tell us about your most meaningful commitment.

The video essay must be recorded online; it is not something you can pre-record and upload. That means that only the content and your personality matter, not any standard of video skills. Regardless of which Option you select, your two minutes of air time should reflect who you are, your passion, your ideas, your humility, your tenacity, and your self-awareness.

The application for the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship is open now and may be submitted until September 27, 2017. In December of 2017, 100 shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend an Immersion Weekend in January 2018 to tour the campus and take part in individual and group exercises to further evaluate their candidacy. Yes, that should make you nervous: a full 50% of those invited to the Immersion Weekend will not be offered the Scholarship!

If you would like professional guidance with your Knight-Hennessy application, consider Accepted’s essay and resume editing to help you craft a successful application.

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

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Jennifer BloomJennifer Bloom has been a consultant with Accepted for 17 years and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW). She is an expert at crafting application materials that truly differentiate you from the rest of the driven applicant pool. If you would like help with your application, Jennifer can suggest a number of options that work with any budgetWant Jennifer to help you get accepted? Click here!

Related Resources:

From Example to Exemplary, a free guide to writing outstanding application essays
Get Accepted to Stanford GSB, a free webinar
Stand Out! A Critical Goal for Your Application, a podcast episode

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