Do you aim to improve the world? Would you like to earn your graduate degree at Stanford — tuition free? Then you may be an ideal candidate for Stanford University’s Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, 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 application to join the third cohort of Knight-Hennessy Scholars is now open.
Stanford is seeking graduate students who will attend Stanford in the fall of 2020 and who completed their undergraduate degrees in the past 5 years (military veterans are allowed an additional 2 years of experience). Applicants apply to their Stanford graduate program and the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship separately; admission to one does not guarantee the other.
What does it take to become a Knight-Hennessy Scholar? Obviously, such a generous scholarship at such a renowned university demands perfection: excellent prior academic performance is a given. However, what differentiates Knight-Hennessy Scholars is their commitment to and demonstrated impact in their fields of interest. Previous scholars have been published; shaped the fields of global health, science, agriculture, education and more; and been recognized and rewarded in their home countries for their excellence. Knight-Hennessy Scholars demonstrate independent thought and dissent, ambitious and tenacious leadership with purpose, and civic action and kindness.
Here are the questions for the Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholarship this year, with my tips in blue:
Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars program short answer questions
Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars short answer question #1
What are your immediate and long-term intentions after you graduate from Stanford? (100 words)
Stanford is seeking purpose-driven students for this scholarship, so use this space to share the issue or field that you will focus on when you graduate. What impact do you hope to make? I highly recommend focusing on an area in which you have already demonstrated an interest and/or activism in the past here, as evidence of your deep commitment to this field.
Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars short answer question#2
Please tell us eight improbable facts (things that are unlikely but true) about you. (150 words total for all 8)
For your 8 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, 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.
Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars short answer question #3
Please tell us when you: (150 words for all three answers combined)
You must answer all three of these questions within a total of 150 words, so these offer space for only 2 or 3 sentences each.
- Made someone particularly proud of you
Is there an achievement that seemed impossible to those around you? Did you take on and succeed in a leadership role far beyond you? These examples may make great fodder for this short answer prompt.
- Were most challenged
Knight-Hennessy Scholars are offered special learning opportunities to prepare to tackle complex global challenges. Use this space to share a time when have you taken on such a challenge in the past.
- Did not meet expectations
When you put yourself in extremely challenging situations, you don’t always succeed. What significant risk did you take that proved beyond you so far? Did you learn anything from that experience?
Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars application essay questions
Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars application 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 leader of positive change, humble and kind – the qualities that the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship is seeking. 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.
Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars application essay #2
How will your Stanford education and your Knight-Hennessy Scholars experience prepare you to realize your intentions?
Since you have already stated your intentions in short answer question 1, this space is your opportunity to share more detail about how you plan to effect the impact you are aiming for. What challenges do you foresee in your path? What type of organization will you join? With which other organizations will you need to partner? Then, you can talk about how the elements of the Stanford curriculum and the Knight-Hennessy opportunities will combine to prepare you for this future.
Essays 1 and 2 combined need to remain 1000 words or less. I don’t see these as 500 words each but rather believe that in most cases Stanford will appreciate a longer essay 1 and a shorter essay 2.
Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars application deadline
October 9, 2019: This deadline includes not only your application but also your recommenders’ letters.
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