atlas fellowship application

By Laura Gao • 3 min read
May 2023

i often get dms like

Hi! I was applying to Atlas and was wondering if you had any tips for me?

first of all,

that's a terrible question.

as naman said, why would you talk to a person individually and ask them for general tips!!

second of all,

i am tired of answering everyone individually so. my thoughts:

if ur genuinely interested in the program's values and would enjoy it (ur ambitious / want to be agentic, care about truth-seeking / independent thinking, enjoy moral dilemmas, enjoy funky math puzzles, care abt making the world better, intellectually curious / have deep knowledge in a technical topic, the values on the atlas website resonate with you, or you enjoy the type of questions on the atlas application and you'd enjoy 2 weeks of discussing questions like that), then just wholly be urself and be honest, and itll come across. like try to demonstrate how u vibe with their values. u can read abt it more on their faq i think. if you dont vibe with their values, perhaps i wouldnt recommend applying.

some things other atlas fellows said that i agree with:

for atlas there is really no advice other than "be genuine"
be 200% genuine
don't like the question? say it's stupid and explain why
a bunch of fellows last year got in while doing this!!
but yeah, literally just be super duper genuine
let your individuality shine through


pay attention on the quantitative qs + dont try to goodhart cause the ppl reading it are smart enough to tell if youre full of shit


Think outside the box! Imagine the wildest, most unusual interpretations to the questions on the application and write an answer nobody expects.


other frequently asked questions:

what made you think you got in?

lol. idk. i do resonate quite strongly with atlas values. i enjoyed atlas a lot. i liked the "intellectual" conversations of this community. i care a lot about independent thinking but i'm not claiming to be good at it. i also care about being agentic but i think i'm generally bad at this.

luke says that before he applied he thought he had a 15ish % chance of getting in. and like even if he were to send his same application 100 times, maybe about 15% of them would get in. i'm a bit more arrogant so i think my odds are like 30-40%. but yeah smtn like this.

i think i stood out because my takes were well-thought-out and surprising/unconventional/contrarian/wtv.

what do you do at atlas?

In short, it was the most intellectually stimulating two weeks of my 2022. Great nerdy environment. People care deeply. (about ideas and learning and the world). Made a bunch of close friends.

70% of what i learnt at atlas was not from the official classes. but from 1-on-1 conversations, the culture, the implicit curriculum, the way people conduct themselves.

if you want a proper answer read/watch these things:

  • (go to "6. Atlas" on the bottom navbar)

leave a msg for laura

i respect your emotional rawness. keep introspecting, maybe a little less inspirational quote posting...

msgs are anonymous. optionally leave ur name & discord (or other contact info) if u want me to respond