Top 5 Tips for Applying to Singularity University

Socrates / , , ,

Posted on: January 22, 2012 / Last Modified: November 21, 2021

Those of you who followed last summer know that I was very fortunate to attend Singularity University on NASA’s campus in Mountainview, California. The 10 weeks I spent there were one of the most challenging yet inspiring periods of my life. I learned a lot about technology, leadership, entrepreneurship, and myself. I was inspired by meeting people such as futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil, space enthusiast and entrepreneur Peter Diamandis, astronaut Dan Barry, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and many others from across the globe. I had the unique opportunity to go inside the kitchen of technology, talk to some of the chefs and see what will likely be on the menu for the next decade or more.

Since I came back I have been getting numerous emails from people interested in applying who are asking me to read their applications or for tips on being successful in applying to Singularity University. Today I decided to make a short video with my top 5 tips. If you are seriously thinking about applying take a few minutes and watch the video below where for the first time ever I reveal all my secret shortcuts and hidden tricks which helped me get accepted to SU on a full scholarship.

My Top 5 Tips for Applying to Singularity University:

1. Do your homework: Learn as much as you can about Singularity University, its mission, founders, employees, and alumni. Try and connect with as many of those people as you can. Get to know their work, their dreams, and aspirations. Eventually, they may even begin recognizing your name or your face. For example, my personal strategy was to interview as many well-known singularitarians as possible. Once I did that I approached the top 3 people with whom I had developed very friendly relationships and asked them for letters of reference.

2. Do the Work! Regardless of what I promised above, I have to admit that there are really no shortcuts for your application. So, just do the work. I honestly hate paperwork and writing extensive applications but despite that, I probably spent at least one whole week writing and polishing my application for 4-5 hours each day. So, take the time and put the maximum effort to submit as great and as polished an application as you possibly can.

3. Submit your optional short video – it is the best way to showcase your passion and personality. Tell them what you’ve done in the past and what you dream of doing in the future. Tell them why you care. And, if you feel so, don’t be afraid to say that you’re different. But be authentic. Don’t fake it. Realize that once you actually make it to SU everyone there is either a rocket scientist or a geek or an entrepreneur or a genius so, one way or another, everyone stands out and is different. Don’t glorify yourself beyond measure and don’t be afraid to mention your weaknesses. Be honest. (See, for example, my own video: Don’t Accept Me To Singularity University: My Top 10 Reasons Why I Should Not Be Accepted. While it is clearly horrible as a video it worked in the sense that it managed to show who I am and what I am passionate about.)

4. Never give up and get lucky! There is an old proverb saying: “Everything I have accomplished in life – I owe it to luck. And the harder I work – the luckier I get.” So, if you fail in your first attempt don’t give up. Keep working at it until you get lucky. For example, I had to apply 3 times to Singularity University and was placed on the waiting list the last time that I applied. It was not even 36 hours before the beginning of the program when I was finally notified that someone didn’t show up and I was accepted on a full scholarship in their place. So, I just got lucky, but if you persist you will get lucky too.

Astronaut Dan Barry (who has been twice in space, worked on the International Space Station, and, for a while, held the record for the longest space-walk) had to apply 13 times to NASA. So, if you are sure that this is what you want to do and where you want to be, then, don’t let anyone or anything stop you. Just keep working at it and eventually you will get lucky.

5. Don’t wait for permission to change the world. Just go and do it. No institution can ever grant you or prevent you from making a dent in the universe. So, own up to the fact that it is really up to you. While SU may be both inspirational and a lot of fun, at the end of the day, it is really just a tool. Not the goal itself. The goal is to change the life of a billion people in a positive way. So, don’t wait for permission – just go and do it.

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