I can't believe how popular the scholarship has become. The DMT scholarship page has been viewed 27,000 times, and we've received 162 applications. (The deadline is in two weeks.)
Josh and I have read through every application and narrowed it down to eight finalists thus far. It is going to be INCREDIBLY difficult to pick one winner from so many outstanding candidates.
We are evaluating each candidate with criteria that best be kept secret, but I will say that we are looking for students who seek to challenge themselves; who wish to venture off the beaten path; and who desire to sever ties with the dominant institutions of our day—whether it be church or state or school. We have nothing against "institutions," but to live a whole life within their confines can be detrimental to one's development. Just as a sapling can only grow so much in a flowerpot, our growth, too, will be stymied if we're not given the space to freely thrive.
Institutions have a homogenizing effect. When we are part of an institution, we are fashioned—in ways big and small—like every one else in that institution. A journey, on the other hand—especially a journey that follows no one's footsteps—has the capacity to help a person develop into an individual. Because no one has embarked on that journey before and no one ever will again, the traveler will be shaped in wildly unique ways. To go to the ends of the earth under the auspices of a university or church—albeit for honorable reasons—is to, let's face it, participate in little more than glorified tourism.
Also, a true dream or a true journey cannot be "invented" haphazardly. You cannot merely say that you are going to walk across America, and that's your "dream" for lack of better ideas. A dream should come from you, your soul, your whatever—that’s because the dream is you in a sense; it’s a reflection of your beliefs and values; it will be the realization of the person you most want to be. Such a dream is a lightning bolt that rarely strikes. Josh and I are looking for people who've been struck.
The feedback we've gotten has been heartwarming. Students are delighted to see a scholarship that has nothing to do with GPAs, résumés, or professor recommendations. While students receive bountiful support for their pursuit of career goals, they rarely receive encouragement to pursue their "impractical" goals—which is regrettable because it is the impractical goals that they're especially passionate about.
While I wish I could provide aid to 100 of these applicants, I look forward to helping out at least one.