Incubate Nepal is an 8-week virtual program that connects the brightest students across Nepal to collaborate on open-ended projects. The online application is the primary way applicants can apply to the program. The application form consists of 6 major sections: general info, eligibility determination, academics, core questions, parents’ information, and optional questions. Among these sections, the core questions section has the biggest weight and it’s also the section where you can truly stand out through your written answers. Core questions section also includes a video component that helps applicants share their interests in an interactive format. All other additional sections are utilized in understanding the complete life story of an applicant.
What are we looking for in the application?
We are looking for candidates who have demonstrated traits that can help them succeed in Incubate Nepal such as a desire to learn and solve problems, ability to collaborate, good work ethic and so on. However, there is no one checklist that will guarantee your admission into Incubate Nepal. We judge applications on a holistic basis and sometimes applicants are able to pleasantly surprise us in unanticipated ways. Thus, don’t hide your REAL personality while trying to show us these qualities.
Why are essay questions important?
The essay questions help us get a deeper insight into your abilities, experiences and personality. We believe that your grades are just one aspect of your life, and they don’t paint a full picture of how you are as a person. We want to learn as best as possible who you are as a person, and not just how much you scored in one particular exam. Your answers to the essay questions help us develop that better understanding of you. We take this understanding to then evaluate if your skills might be a valuable addition to the program. They also help us determine how you might fit best in Incubate Nepal once you are admitted.
Common Mistakes to Avoid:
The following are some common mistakes applicants end up making in their answers to the essay/video questions. We ask you to refrain from making these mistakes.
1. Non-Descriptive Answers
The answers to the essay questions help us understand who YOU are and what things matter to you the most. We want to admit students who we believe will excel in the program. To determine this, we want as much information about you as possible. We recommend you to be as descriptive as possible (while still adhering to the word/time limit) in your essay/video questions. For instance, if you are writing about a biology project, do not just write “I worked on a biology project.” Go into the details of the project, the scope of it and the impact it had, your role in the project, the challenges you and/or the team faced, how you resolved those challenges etc.
2. Grammatically Incorrect
We take applicants’ essays as a way to get a better insight into them and try to be agnostic about writing errors. However, something as simple as a grammatically incorrect sentence might make your essay sound inelegant. Grammatically incorrect sentences also often confuse application readers as to what the applicant is trying to communicate. Such errors could convey that the applicant is inattentive to details. Grammatically correct sentences will definitely help you. Thus, we recommend you to proofread your essays and make sure it’s grammatically sound. Also, feel free to use tools like “Grammarly” to help you enhance your writing. You can also ask your teachers or friends to review your answers for grammatical errors. Finally, one or two grammatical mistakes are fine, the content is what matters the most.
3. Repetitive answers
We want to get a holistic picture of you and your personality. The different questions in the applications are aimed at getting to know you across different dimensions. As such, it’s not helpful to re-read the same things over and over across different questions. Thus, we strongly recommend applicants to “NOT REPEAT YOURSELF” when answering the essay/video questions.
Anupa and Oshin Answer Two Common Questions
How should you approach Essay Questions?
To start off, do not feel overwhelmed by the application questions and/or the requirements. The questions are designed in a way to have you reflect on your activities and personal characteristics which even you might not have discovered. Since this might require a decent amount of thinking followed by development of a roadmap of your essay answer, we recommend you to start early. Don’t seek perfection in your answers, but try to discover your own passions and interests and how they might come to flourish in Incubate Nepal.
Make each of your words count. You only have a limited number of words for each of your essays. Therefore, make sure that you do not waste your words by adding unnecessary extraneous information. Asking yourself the following questions can help you cut out extraneous information. Can I explain this idea/story in fewer words? Does this sentence really need to exist? Am I repeating the same concept/idea? And if you are really radical about this, for each sentence ask why it is necessary. If you feel it’s not, remove it.
Avoid fancy words and heavy vocabulary that might make the reviewers confused. Make it sweet and simple because people at Incubate Nepal care about your experiences more than your expansive vocabulary.
Draft your essays multiple times. Your first draft (or even the second/third one) might not convey the point clearly, might have weird sentence structures or might have grammatical errors. Thus, you should iteratively make your answers better. Multiple drafts will give you the opportunity to make your narratives clearer and purposeful.
At Incubate Nepal, you will meet a variety of people, so we look for the diversity that you bring to the table. So tell us what makes you stand out in the crowd. It could be a hobby that you pursue, an impactful project that you managed, a competition you took part in or anything else.
How to approach the video question?
Making a video might seem as a challenging task but if you organize it properly, it’s the most fun part of the application! Many of the applications may coincidentally have similar things mentioned on their applications: research projects, personal challenges etc. In such cases, it could be the video that might make a difference.
Try not to mention the things you’ve already written in your answers to other questions. If you just repeat the personal details you’ve mentioned on the first page of the application in your video, it won’t add much value to your application. Think deeply about yourself, what else have you missed on your application that could make your video different from others, what is that something about you that shines in visual media.
Just because you have been provided with the reference videos doesn’t mean you are restricted to those styles. Throw in a bunch of creativity and originality to show what makes you ‘extra’! Pro tip, application reviewers love it when an applicant is able to surprise them with their original creative styles.
Yes, we agree that recording yourself can be tough especially since you see your own flaws in microscopic detail, but don’t shy away from it. Make a script of the things you’ll be saying, practice it and deliver it confidently. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to edit videos or don’t have a professional camera, it won’t matter. The way you present yourself is what will ultimately make the difference.
Further Tips from Incubate Nepal 2020 Alumni:
Keep the essays simple and authentic. Talk about your interests like you would normally talk to a friend. Or maybe mention an instance of a project that made your curiosity grow in your arena of interest.
Tripti Sharma, Team Arthashastra
Try keeping it short: nobody will reward you for an extra second of your video. Rather long videos can turn to be counterproductive causing redundancy of information and shifting your main focus.
Mandip Subedi, Team Diabeters
Do not make it complex — be clear, concrete, and concise. We only need to know who you are and what you stand for and if your essay can’t easily narrow it down to a short punchy description of you, you probably need to alter or simplify your essay.
Aabiskar Thapa Chhetri, Team Brahmanda
Don’t be repetitive. For the intro videos, Be Confident. Practice your script and deliver it like it’s coming naturally to you. In the end, it’s humans who are going to review your application, so make sure your application connects with them.
Shubham Jha, Team Kisan
Every sentence of the essay should justifiably portray your different strengths, weaknesses, passion for your subject, and motivation to take the experience further.
Benju Baral, Team Diabeters
Don’t try to write and say what you think the other person or the person going through your application wants to read and hear. Rather, write and say what is right and real. And do not think that you are less than anybody else. Don’t shy away from mentioning your achievements.
Aarasi Shrestha, Team Arthashastra
And this one’s going to be our favorite advice to all the applicants:
Even if you don’t get in, the essays and effort wouldn’t be wasted. I recycled some of my essays and used them in other applications. You can do it too!
Shrijan Pandey, Team Arthashastra