FAQ

FAQ

Applications

Can I take part if I have already started first year undergraduate studies?

No, students who have started college are not eligible to participate in the Atlas Fellowship India program. If you have been accepted but haven’t started college (for example, you took a gap year), you are still eligible to apply.

Can I take part if I’m starting 9th standard in Fall 2022?

Yes, students entering 9th standard this fall are eligible to apply. That said, we expect most Fellows will be graduating Class 12 students, so we encourage you to re-apply in future years if you’re not selected.

Does being nominated improve my chances of becoming a Fellow?

No, being nominated does not affect your chances of becoming a Fellow.

Can I take part if I’ve previously applied for the international Atlas Fellowship program?

No, if you’ve already applied to the international Atlas Fellowship program, please do not apply for Atlas Fellowship India.

What type of applicant are we looking for?

We expect that students who possess some of the traits and inclinations below or are determined to develop them will be great fits for the Atlas Scholarship:

• Exceptional intellectual ability: Indicators of this include working on a passion project that displays deep knowledge of a field, conducting original research, exceptional competitive exam performance (JEE-Mains AIR Top 1000, KVPY Top 500, NTSE Stage 2, representing India in olympiads, or similar), or achievements in competitions at the national level.

This list is only to give you a sense of what caliber of student we're aimed at—even if you're from a nontraditional background and haven't had the chance to excel in any of these ways, if you've got exceptional abilities it's very likely you'll do well on our application!

• Having agency: When faced with a challenge, do you invent and pursue your own solutions without being prompted or told to do so? Do you work on ambitious projects on your own?

• Carefully thinking through your values and actions: When asked to make important decisions, do you think through the precise reasons behind your decisions? Do you optimize for important goals by making a plan and considering many options? When shown a better way to do a difficult task, do you adopt the new method?

• An affinity for truth: Do you seek out ideas that challenge your opinions? If you find evidence that contradicts your opinions, do you eagerly change your mind? Do you enjoy learning and exploring?

• Intellectual curiosity: Do you have a keep knowledge of plants, or the customs of medieval Chinese peasants, or statistical mechanics? Do you wonder what keeps us from falling through the floor, or why plants are green as opposed to red or black, or why the Enlightenment didn't happen thousands of years sooner?

A good applicant probably possesses at least three of these traits, though there are sure to be plenty of exceptions. These are merely guidelines.

What is the acceptance rate?

This is our first time running the program in India, so we’re not sure how many students will apply. During our international application round, ~2.5% of applicants became Fellows.

Can I take part if I haven’t attempted the NTSE, KVPY, or IIT-JEE exams?

Yes, exam scores are not a required component of the application. That said, exam scores and rankings do factor into our decision-making process, so please include it when possible.

Can I take part if I don’t live and go to school in India?


No, students who don’t go to school in India are not allowed to take part in the Atlas Fellowship India program. Instead, please sign up for our newsletter to be notified for when international Atlas Fellowship applications open for 2023.

Why was I rejected?

We receive many wonderful applications, but unfortunately we can only accommodate a small number of students to maintain our low student-to-instructor ratio. You are encouraged to apply again next year. An application decision reflects only our guess about how good of a fit you would be for this particular program at this time, nothing more.

Are applications reviewed anonymously?

In general, applications are reviewed anonymously. If anonymity is not possible (e.g., we need to see your resume), we will try to make sure that the person reviewing your application is someone you have never interacted with.

In extraordinary circumstances, we reserve the right to waive anonymity (e.g., if someone sent us hate mail or we cannot find someone who doesn't know the applicant). We expect that this will be extremely rare.

Scholarships

What can I spend the scholarship money on?

Scholarship money should be treated as “educational and professional development funding” for award winners. This means the funds could be spent on things like professional travel, textbooks, technology, college tuition, tutoring, supplementing unpaid internships, and more.

We don’t expect award winners to spend their scholarship money all at one time. Students will receive ongoing guidance to manage and effectively spend their scholarship funds.

When will I receive my scholarship money?

Starting in November 2022, Fellows will be able to request scholarship disbursements. Fellows will complete a short form that states the amount they'd like to withdraw out of their ₹ 10 Lakh scholarship and what they intend to use the funds for. If the request is approved, the scholarship funds will be wired directly to the bank account provided.

Program

Will the program dates collide with school?

If you are a passing class 12 student in 2022 and going into an IIT, the Oxford program will happen before school starts. The IITs for first-year B. Tech students are expected to start in mid-late November.

If you are still enrolled in class 9-11, or attending a non-IIT school, you will likely need to take time off school. Atlas can provide letters explaining your situation and are happy to communicate directly with your school if you’d like to attend the program.

Will you cover the cost of my flight and travel to Oxford?

Yes! If you make it to the Fellows stage, we will sponsor your flight, travel, and visa costs to Oxford (in addition to food, accommodation, and any other expenses).

Do I need an Indian passport to get a visa to the UK?

You will need a passport to get a visa to the UK. If you are a non-Indian living in India, you will need a passport from your origin country. Otherwise, you will need an Indian passport in order to apply for a visa to travel to the UK. If you don’t have one, we encourage you to apply for a passport now. You can do that by following these instructions.

How do I get a visa into the UK?

If you are selected as a Fellow, you will work with the Atlas Fellowship operations team to apply for a standard UK visitor visa. Our team will provide step-by-step directions and cover all fees.

Are parents allowed to travel with me to the UK? 

We encourage parents to not travel with students because it negatively affects the program experience. That said, parents can accompany their child to the UK if they cover their own flights, lodging, and other expenses. Parents will not be allowed on-site at the program venue.

General

How is the Atlas Fellowship funded?

The Atlas Fellowship has received a total of $10 million USD in funding from Open Philanthropy and the Future Fund for the year 2022, and we expect further funders to join them. Our funders intend to renew their commitments for subsequent years if the program meets its goal of getting young people curious about impact-oriented careers.

How long has this program been around?

2022 is Atlas Fellowship’s first year. While we have run some experiments to tweak our curriculum, we will still be learning and shaping it as we go.

That being said, this isn't our first summer program—last year, an Atlas Fellowship founder ran a similar program called Uncommon Sense. It didn’t come with a scholarship, but the content was similar.

How is the Atlas Fellowship India different from the international Atlas Fellowship?

Atlas Fellowship India is an India-only version of the Atlas Fellowship program. Only citizens or permanent residents in India who have not applied for any Atlas Fellowship program previously are eligible to apply. Atlas India Fellows receive the same benefits as international Atlas Fellows, including a similar 11-day program, access to the Atlas Fund, books from the Atlas Library, college and career advising, a shared online community, and more.

The primary difference is that Atlas India Fellows receive a ₹ 10 Lakh scholarship instead of $50,000. This is primarily due to differences in cost-of-living between countries. Additionally, the Atlas Fellowship India program will be hosted in Oxford, UK instead of Berkeley, USA, and will likely have a greater number of instructors with Indian cultural context.

Is the fellowship's name a reference to Atlas Shrugged?

No. We’re called the Atlas Fellowship because, like an atlas, we want to help you navigate the world.

Is the Atlas Fellowship about effective altruism?

Our program is about math, science, history, philosophy, machine learning, global trends and risks, and models for understanding and affecting the world—not about altruism.

The Atlas Fellowship does not screen applicants based on how altruistic they are or whether or not they’ve heard about effective altruism. We’re creating a community where people are trying to understand the world and chasing whatever goals and projects they're interested in. If our Fellows are set on improving the world, we are excited to support them. But we're also excited to support them if they're bent on creating a startup, a book, or a flying submarine.

We’ll discuss some ideas that are popular in the effective altruism community to the extent that those ideas are broadly useful for understanding the world. For example, understanding how climate change or another pandemic might impact global supply chains and international relations is generally important for making large-scale, long-term plans, regardless of whether you are particularly interested in preventing climate change or pandemics.

How are you taking Covid precautions?

We take Covid very seriously. All instructors who attend the in-person summer program will be triple-vaccinated. Participants will need to be vaccinated or recovered from Covid. If a student is non-vaccinated and hasn't gotten Covid before, they will not share rooms with other participants and will be asked to mask throughout the program.

Regular testing will be done during the program. We will provide N95 or better masks to all participants for air travel. Participants may be required to estimate their COVID risk in the weeks leading up to the program.

We expect our policies to change as the COVID situation evolves.

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Atlas India Fellows join a community of thoughtful, ambitious peers who want to examine big, global changes in the next 50 years through a quantitative lens, and figure out how to act on these changes. Receive an ₹ 10 Lakh scholarship and a free 11-day program in Oxford, UK that helps you get started.