Tips for Your Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program Application
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 2018-19 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, while offering complementary opportunities to develop as a change leader. The inaugural class of 49 Knight-Hennessy Scholars – selected from 3,601 applicants – will enroll in the fall of 2018, and the application for the second set of Knight-Hennessy Scholars is now open.
Applicants apply to their Stanford graduate program and the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship separately; admission to one does not guarantee the other.
What kind of candidate is this exciting program seeking?
Stanford is seeking graduate students who will attend Stanford in the fall of 2019 and who completed their undergraduate degrees in the past five years (that is the class of 2014 or later). If you graduated in 2013 or earlier, you are no longer eligible for this program unless you are a US military veteran.
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. Below are the prompts for that material and my suggestions in blue.
Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program Essay Questions
Essay 1: Connect the dots. How have the influences in your life shaped you?
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, courageous dissenter, ambitious and tenacious leader, and kind civic activist. 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 revealing how you have been shaped and making a deep impression on the admission committee.
Essay 2: How will you pursue your life’s calling? How will your Stanford education and your Knight-Hennessy Scholars experience support this?
Last year’s application phrased the question differently but pointed applicants to the Designing Your Life work of Stanford Professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. I still think that suggestion is relevant since Burnett and Evans’ work guides people through the process of thinking about and pursuing their callings to achieve fulfilled lives.
This essay can reveal much more than pipe dreams for the future if you share the ways in which you have already made inroads in some of your fields of interest and the passion that drove you in each. What risks did you take? What preconceived notions did you have to throw out so that you could pursue these passions? What failures pointed you in better directions? What creative solutions have you devised that effected lasting change? How will Stanford and the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship help you build on these experiences to even larger impacts?
Note that the combined word limit for Essays 1 and 2 is 1,750 words.
Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program Short Answer Questions
Short Answer 1: Please tell us eight improbable facts (things that are unlikely but true) about you.
For your eight improbable facts, you may write a total of 150 words (an average of around 18 words each). Since the application form offers you space to discuss your three most meaningful activities and three most significant awards (see the next question), this space is best dedicated to more unique aspects of your background. If you’re having trouble with this one, you may find it helpful to kickstart your brainstorming process by talking to your friends and family about things they find unusual about you.
Short Answer 2: Please list three goals/objectives that you are working toward right now. (No, being admitted to Stanford and/or being selected as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar can't count as one of those goals.)
All three current goals/objectives can only total 75 words, so you’ll need to be brief in your descriptions. Ideally, you will be able to illustrate your ambition, tenacity, purposeful leadership, civic action or kindness with each of these. If you’ve been perfecting your Cruyff Turn in soccer, building your fluency in Mandarin, or driving civic engagement among a disaffected community, then you have great material for this short answer question.
Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program Video Submission
Teach something to your cohort or fellow Knight-Hennessy Scholars.
You can certainly write a script for this video in advance of recording; however, you must record it live within the online application. Don’t worry, you can re-record your video up to nine times if you stutter or lose your place. Your video may last up to two minutes, but you can press Stop Recording earlier if your script does not fill the entire allotted time. Your topic can be anything, but the best lessons will share something you know well and are passionate about: anything from guitar or Tai Chi to the engineering of bridges. The point is to give the admissions committee a sense of your voice, your verbal communication, and, if possible, your personality.
Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program Additional Information Section
You may feel free to use the space below to share essential information not conveyed elsewhere in your application (e.g., a factor affecting your academic performance).
If there is something important that just didn’t fit anywhere else, you have 750 characters to share it here. That’s approximately six sentences.
September 12, 2018: You need to submit the Knight-Hennessy Scholars application by 1:00pm Pacific Time on September 12, 2018.
Autumn 2018: You must submit your Stanford graduate application during Fall 2018. However, different Stanford graduate programs have different application deadlines. Check with the individual graduate program for details and your program's due date.
Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program Notification Dates
January 16, 2019: On this date applicants will be notified if NOT chosen as a Knight Hennessy Scholar. If applicants are among the 150 fortunate finalists invited to attend the Immersion Weekend they will also hear the good news on this date.
February 9-11, 2019: The Immersion Weekend for those lucky 150 finalists. Stanford brings them to the Stanford campus at Stanford’s expense for the weekend. The Immersion weekend gives attendees a glimpse into life at Stanford and gives Stanford a chance to become more acquainted with the applicants.
Mid-February 2019: Stanford informs the Immersion Weekend participants if they are selected (or not) as one of up to 75 Knight-Hennessy Scholars in the 2019 cohort.
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions, and deadlines.***
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