Each year, a select number of students are selected as Rhodes Scholars. Rhodes scholars are the recipients of academic scholarships that cover two years of all-expense-paid postgraduate study at Oxford University.
Applicants must undergo an intensive application and interview process. Moreover, the candidates must exhibit academic excellence and probity. In Rhodes Trust’s words, they are looking for academics with “outstanding intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service.”
Of course, with so few slots available each year, the Rhodes Scholarship application process is undeniably competitive. Winning candidates must possess flawless academic and extracurricular records. Serious applicants must strive to meet the lofty prerequisites, complete the online application, and gather extensive supporting documents.
Rhodes Alumni tend to go on to do great things. The list of past recipients includes big names, including Bill Clinton, Edwin Hubble, John Templeton, and Tony Abbot. Not surprisingly, the University with the most Rhodes Scholars is Harvard. It is trailed closely by Yale.
We gathered all the information that you need to complete your Rhodes Scholarship application. Before you get started, be sure to check out this Rhodes Scholarship flyer, as it contains a condensed summary of the prestigious academic scholarship program. Read along to learn more about the extensive application process. Be sure to check out our sample personal statement.
What is the Rhodes Scholarship?
The Rhodes Scholarship is one of the most prestigious scholarship award programs in the world. The Rhodes Trust delivers funds so that some of the most promising young students can further their postgraduate educations at Oxford University.
The scholarship has expanded significantly over the years. As of 2021, there can be as many as 250 Rhodes Scholars studying at the University of Oxford at any one time.
What Does the Rhodes Scholarship Cover?
The Rhodes Scholarship covers all of the fees associated with two years of full-time undergraduate study at Oxford University. Each scholar is also eligible to receive an annual stipend. The stipend can be used toward living expenses, such as food and accommodations. A Tier 4 study visa and the associated International Health Surcharge fee are also covered. Therefore, students needn’t worry about healthcare. Plus, students may receive reimbursement for economy class flights to and from the United Kingdom upon the start and finish of their tenure.
While the Rhodes Scholarship does not cover fees and living expenses beyond the third year of study, there are many alternative sources of funding available to students. Personal financing, grants, external scholarships, bank loans, and financial gifts can be used after all of the designated scholarship funding has been exhausted.
The Rhodes Scholarship currently covers the full price of Oxford University’s fees. Plus, recipients receive a £15,900 stipend each year. Scholars also receive a “settling in allowance” upon arrival. Previous scholars received an additional £225 at the commencement of their first academic year.
What is the Rhodes Trust?
The Rhodes Trust is a British charitable organization that was established with the help of an endowment left by Cecil J. Rhodes. The organization has over 2,600 donors. The Rhodes Scholarship was created in 1902. The first Rhodes Scholars began their studies in 1903. Over 3,548 Americans have been named as Rhodes Scholars since the scholarship program’s start.
The Rhodes Scholarship was established after the death of Cecil Rhodes. However, it utilizes the criteria expected of scholars as laid out in Rhodes’s will.
How Difficult is it to Become a Rhodes Scholar?
There’s no denying that the Rhodes Scholarship is one of the most competitive and prestigious postgraduate award programs in the world. The program currently awards just 100 annual scholarships. The limited scholarship pool is spread across 20 global constituencies or 64 different countries. According to the Rhodes Trust, the scholarship program’s overall acceptance rate is 0.7%.
Of course, your chances of winning a scholarship vary greatly depending on your geographic location. The United States has an estimated population of over 328.2 million people. However, only 32 U.S. citizens receive Rhodes Scholarships each year. You can find more details regarding the application process for your designated constituency here: https://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/scholarships/apply/.
What are Constituencies?
The Rhodes Trust selects a set number of scholars per global constituency. Constituencies are countries, territories, and states with a predetermined number of Rhodes Scholarship allocations. Every year, just thirty-two American academics are selected as Rhodes scholars. However, there are a total of 22 designated Rhodes constituencies around the world.
For more information on the Rhodes constituencies, visit the Rhodes Trust here: https://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/scholarships/list-of-rhodes-scholarship-constituencies/. Applications who are not eligible for one of the constituency scholarships may be able to apply for one of the Global Rhodes Scholarships. There are currently two global scholarships available each year.
Current constituencies include:
- Australia (9)
- Bermuda (1)
- Canada (11)
- China (4)
- East Africa (1)
- Germany (2)
- Hong Kong SAR (2)
- India (5)
- Israel (2)
- Jamaica & The Commonwealth Caribbean (2)
- Kenya (2)
- Malaysia (1)
- New Zealand (3)
- Pakistan (1)
- Saudia Arabia (2)
- Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine (2)
- United Arab Emirates (2)
- United States (32)
- West Africa (10
- Zambia (2)
- Zimbabwe (2)
Why Study at Oxford?
Oxford offers students incomparable academic and social experiences. As a distinguished ivy league school, work here is both demanding and rewarding. Students can look forward to working closely with the professors, lecturers, fellows, and students in their chosen programs.
Life at Oxford does not vary much from that at similar U.S. colleges. However, many students find the university’s tutorial system and graduate programs are quite different from those offered in the U.S.
The social interactions between students and faculty are rather impressive. It is not uncommon for associates to meet up for coffee or light fare. At the same time, many of the courses offered at Oxford require mostly independent study.
Since the university systems of several smaller, more concise colleges, you should research your target college to get an idea of what school would be like for you. If you get a chance, visit Oxford in person. You may also consider connecting with past graduates. These individuals will be able to offer you the most honest and detailed descriptions of life at Oxford.
How to Become a Rhodes Scholar: Submitting an Application
Most academics argue that the Rhodes Trust offers one of the most prestigious academic scholarships in the world. Whether you are applying for the first or second time, here’s what you need to ensure that your application stands out against that of the competition.
Keep in mind that the Rhodes Scholarship application is a lengthy and intensive process. Aim to begin the process as early as possible. Most applicants get the ball rolling as early as the spring of their junior year of college.
Check to Make Sure That You Meet the Basic Eligibility Requirements
With over 100 Rhodes Scholarships to choose from, your first task is to determine which geographical constituency is a good fit for you. There are currently 22 designated Rhodes constituencies and two Global Rhodes Scholarships. The Rhodes Trust’s “Which Scholarship?” page should help you hone in on the most appropriate scholarship.
All applicants that are eligible for a scholarship within a designated constituency must apply as such. Global Scholarships are only available to applicants that are not eligible for the current Rhodes Scholarship constituencies. Keep in mind that the countries that are eligible for Rhodes Scholarships change from time to time.
Students with dual citizenship or mixed origins may be eligible for two or more scholarship constituencies. In such cases, the applicant must determine which constituency is most relevant to them. In other cases, applicants may consider applying for an inter-jurisdictional scholarship.
U.S. Rhodes Scholarship applicants must be citizens of the United States, lawful permanent residents of the United States, or U.S. residents with DACA statuses as of April 15 of the application year. Applicants must apply through one of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, or one of the U.S. territories. DACA applicants are eligible for the scholarship and may apply for either the U.S. Scholarship or the Global Scholarship but not both.
As we mentioned earlier, there are just 32 scholarships assigned to the United States each year. However, the U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories are divided into just 16 targeted districts. The Rhodes Trust selection committee only chooses two candidates from each of the 16 districts.
A Note for DACA Applicants
While the Rhodes Scholarship is open to qualifying DACA applicants, the program does not assume responsibility for DACA students’ travel expenses or documentation. DACA applicants must secure their travel to and from the United States and the United Kingdom.
Age Requirements for Rhodes Scholars
Traditional U.S. applicants must be at least 18 but no older than 23 as of October 1 of the application year. Nontraditional U.S. applicants may be no older than 26 as of October 1 of the application year. You can find specific constituency age requirements here: https://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/scholarships/apply/.
Rhodes scholars must demonstrate exceptional academic achievements to be seriously considered for an award. All applicants must be on pace to complete an undergraduate degree with a GPA of 3.70 or higher. However, you should strive for a 4.0 GPA.
An academic transcript with two or more majors and multiple advanced placement classes is also going to be more interesting to the selection committee. Be sure to only register for classes that will help you to advance your knowledge and skills in your desired professional field. You can expect interviewers to question outlying classes during the interview process.
Applicants with lower GPAs must submit a GPA exception request. That request must be approved and submitted alongside the application for it to be deemed acceptable.
As one of the most competitive academic scholarship programs in the world, the Rhodes Trust looks beyond traditional academic transcripts. Applicants with two or more majors are sure to rise above. The same goes for students with multiple advanced placement classes on their transcripts.
While selection committees are looking for candidates with broad interests and skills, they do not want to see too many outliers on a candidate’s transcripts. Your classes should appeal to your academic focus. They should serve as a clear indicator of your desire and ability to advance your knowledge and skill in specific fields.
Demonstrate Exceptional Drive, Vigor, & Energy
In the past, the Rhodes Trust has sought out students with exceptional athletic achievements. Many Rhodes Scholars made sizable contributions to one of their college or university’s athletic teams. While athletic achievements are highly celebrated, they are not altogether essential.
Individuals that are not athletically endowed may consider demonstrating their drive and energy through alternative means, such as an extracurricular club. Keep in mind that many past Rhodes Scholars were able to demonstrate the criteria through their involvement in alternative sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, and taekwondo.
Get Involved in Service Projects
Rhodes Scholars are projected to make meaningful contributions to society. Such contributions should be led by good intention, including empathy and protection of the weak. Applicants can demonstrate their compassion for their fellow humans by participating in meaningful and momentous service projects.
A long record of service project involvement is likely to appeal to members of the selection committee. An applicant’s level of involvement may also help them to fulfill the Rhodes Scholarship’s leadership criterion. You may consider volunteering at a local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or other community-oriented nonprofit.
It’s best to start your commitment to service early. A last-minute resume add-on may be perceived as forced and inauthentic. Most Rhodes Scholars have service records that date back to their years in high school or even earlier.
The Rhodes Scholarship program recognizes young students who meet the following criteria:
- Literary and scholastic achievements
- Academic excellence
- Demonstrate the energy you need to use your talents in full
- Courage, truth, and devotion to weak
- Desire for fellowship
- Moral force, sympathy for the weak, kindliness
- Instinct to lead
Familiarize yourself with the Rhodes Scholarship’s conditions of tenure. Students are expected to complete two years of full-time study at the University. During this time, you are expected to adhere to the highest standards for personal conduct and academic performance.
Keep in mind that the Rhodes Scholarship does allow for a discretionary third year of scholarship. This extension is only made for students pursuing DPhil degrees. Furthermore, any student pursuing a master’s in the DPhil program can expect to attend Oxford for at least four years. Of course, alternative forms of funding will be needed once the initial Rhodes Scholarship endowments are exhausted.
Scholarships cannot be deferred. As such, you must be on pace to complete your undergraduate degree within the year following your application. You must also be prepared to move to Oxford for no less than two years.
Gathering Supporting Materials
All supporting materials must be submitted alongside the application. You will need:
- A valid passport, birth certificate, or government-issued identification
- If you are a lawful permanent resident but not a citizen, you will need a current Form I-551.
- If you are a DACA applicant, you will need an official document that can confirm your current DACA status, a current I-797 letter and an Employment Authorization Card.
- Official college or university transcript
- An application endorsement
- A complete curriculum vitae
- A “head-and-shoulders” photograph in .jpg form
- A 1,000-word personal statement
- Five to eight character and academic references
The Difference Between a Resume and Curriculum Vitae (CV)
You are expected to submit a full curriculum vitae (CV) along with your academic transcripts. This document should feature your past research, education, awards, certifications, memberships, training, publications, etc. Should you win a Rhodes Scholarship, you will also need your CV to apply for postgraduate courses. You can check out an example of an academic CV here: https://www.careers.ox.ac.uk/files/academic-cv-example-careers-2020pdf.
Identify the Application Deadline
This next step might seem like an obvious one, but do not forget to mark your calendar with the application opening and closing dates. The current application window runs between July and October. That gives you a limited amount of time to gather your supporting documents and piece together your personal statement.
The Rhodes Scholarship application window always closes at 11:59 PM Eastern on the first Wednesday of October. All application specifications, including academic standings, age requirements, and residency requirements, must be valid at the time of submission.
Familiarize Yourself with the Rhodes Scholarships’ Online Application System
The Rhodes Trust has shifted its application online. Applicants must upload all personal information, including personal statements and supporting documents, during the open submission period. There are also several signature prompts built into the online application. During the application, you will be asked to certify that your personal statement is not edited or altered by a third party.
Your institutional endorsee and referees will also use the online application system to submit their letters. However, you will not be able to read your referees submissions, as they are deemed confidential. You and your supporters should receive email confirmations after each successful submission. We recommend that you keep records of all successful application submissions.
The submission period is roughly three months long. The applications usually go live sometime in early July. The application deadline is always 11:59 PM on the first Wednesday of October.
Selecting A Degree
The Rhodes Scholarship covers two years of full-time postgraduate study at Oxford. However, eligible scholars may apply for an additional one-year extension so that they can complete a three-year DPhil (Doctors of Philosophy) program at the university. Accepted scholars must complete two years of full-time study. According to the Rhodes Trust, permitted degrees include:
- Bachelor’s degree (BA) with senior status (including a second BA)
- One-year taught Master’s course (available for two consecutive years and as a step toward three-year DPhil program)
- Two-year MPhil or BPhil program (with the option to circumvent to three-year DPhil program)
- Two-year MSc by research
- Three-year DPhil program
There are several exemptions. For example, students may not pursue a Masters in Financial Economics or Business Administration until the second year of their scholarship. Moreover, applicants may not pursue an MPP-MBA or MPP-MFE unless they completed a Masters of Public Policy during the first year of their scholarship. You can find more detailed descriptions of the rules and exceptions in the Rhodes Trust’s tenure requirement outline.
With that said, Rhodes Scholars may study any full-time postgraduate course offered by the University.
Check out the University of Oxford’s Courses
Follow this link to explore all of the University of Oxford’s graduate courses. Click on a course to learn more about it. You will also find details on the course’s entry requirements, resources, funding and costs, college preferences, and how to apply.
Craft Your Personal Statement
Each applicant must submit a 1,000-word personal statement alongside their application. Rhodes Trust has put together a short video with helpful tips on how to craft a unique and meaningful personal statement.
Personal statements should be written in size 10 or greater Times New Roman Font. They should be 1,000 words in length. Since you will be submitting your academic transcript, curriculum vitae, and reference letters alongside your personal statement, there is no need for this document to detail your personal commitments or accomplishments. Instead, the brief document should serve as a personal narrative, one which details your personal goals and/or interests.
Sample Personal Statement
While each applicant’s personal statement is going to vary from the next, we’ve crafted a sample essay so that you might get a better understanding of what’s expected. Our fictional applicant is
Sample Rhodes Scholarship Personal Statement
I will never forget the women and children of Mombasa. I spent eight weeks in the mental health department of a field clinic in Mombasa, Kenya, shadowing doctors who had dedicated their entire lives to an ethical, not-for-profit model of healthcare. I spent the majority of my time working with new mothers of young children who suffered from a range of depression and anxiety disorders. Many of them came to the clinic by word of mouth. While the coastal city was incredibly lively and beautiful, there was no denying the epidemiological setbacks that plagued its least privileged citizens.
I found it frustrating to see so many people who were in desperate need of mental health services. Those that entered the clinic were in good hands, but how many people would fail to access the healthcare that they so desperately needed? When I first arrived in Mombasa, I found it easy to overlook the statistics. The city is lined with white sand beaches, sprawling open-air markets, and gorgeous boutique hotels. Yet, there is a desperate and often unanswered call for healthcare in the refugee camps and slums.
Having grown up in Lewiston, Maine. I played witness to the overwhelming barriers that lay between new immigrants and mental health services. When I was a junior in high school, the community called for the help of French-speaking interpreters. My Franco-American family had always insisted on preserving their native tongue. As such, I attended a French-speaking parochial, where I was expected to write and speak fluent French. I never imagined that those formative experiences would prepare me to assist Burundian, Rwandan, and Congolese immigrants upon their arrival in my hometown.
Before college, my academic focus was angled toward art. I had grown up staring at my grandmother’s vibrant watercolor paintings. After college and a stint in the navy, she went on to teach fine art at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. She was a talented artist with a proclivity for fellowship and education. Yet, she left her art career to become a counselor for female victims of abuse. There is no doubt that her art and service work were both impactful. But she felt that it was her role to protect the weak, and she did so without accepting any resistance. After hearing the stories of so many newly arrived immigrants in both my hometown and Mombasa, Kenya, I knew that I wanted to use my skills to help those with the littlest chance of succor.
During college, I was the goaltender for my university’s field hockey team. When my coach first suggested I try the position, I was hesitant. It felt like the vulnerable spot on the playing field. In my preoccupation, I failed to recognize the protection and reinforcement offered by teammates. I would only need to stop the ball if it managed to break past them. Now, I cannot help but see the Mombasa clinic as I have come to see the playing field. There will always be disease and disorder, but a team of hardworking medical experts and science-backed medicine has a good chance of stopping the afflictions. I mean to say that even the most unfortunate playing fields can play host to successful tournaments.
If given the opportunity to study at Oxford, I would choose to pursue a one-year MSc in International Health and Tropical Medicine followed by a one-year MSc in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation (EBSIPE). These programs would allow me to explore and build upon evidence-based practices and policies that I observed and also employed during my time in Mombasa. I would be able to pursue meaningful research into public health and social intervention, particularly its implications on third-world survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
I would relish the opportunity to participate in yet another global health project, especially one under the supervision of the Nuffield Department of Medicine. I can see myself as an active player in the rebuilding of Liberia’s decentralized health care system. This is a country where one in five people suffer mental disorders. Yet, according to the World Health Organization, there is only one registered psychiatrist.
After I complete my Rhodes Scholarship studies, I would like to go on to obtain a DPhil (Ph.D.) in Experimental Psychology from Oxford’s School of Experimental Psychology under the supervision of David M. Clark. I would cherish the opportunity to participate in some of the research projects he is orchestrating through the Oxford Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma (OxCADAT).
Eventually, I would like to open a mental health clinic that serves refugees. One of my main focuses will be on eliminating language barriers that stand between refugees and their access to quality mental care. Moreover, I would like to find meaningful and effective ways to treat refugees with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder that are triggered by traumatic events.
An alarming percentage of the refugees that I treated in Mombasa were found to be suffering from PTSD, depression, or psychosis. While the clinic I was stationed at had an impressive mental health department, many of the other clinics I toured did not. Hospital beds are rightfully dedicated to those in physical discomfort. But I couldn’t help but think of how much more we could help these individuals if we were able to simply perform mental health screenings at the time of their visit.
There is a saying that French is the language of love. While I cherish the opportunity to speak this beautiful language whenever possible, I’m more prone to believe that love is a universal language. If we accept love as a force for social justice, we will be able to meet the need for healthcare reform in even the hardest-hit corners of the earth.
Word Count: 953
A Brief Overview Criteria You Need to Cover
The selection committee tends to put a lot of weight on the personal statement. In a stack of highly achieved academics, personal statements often prove to be the most defining elements. Of course, even the most creative yarns require careful framing. Here are the subjects that you’ll want to cover :
- Personal Interests: You want to paint a clear picture of your passions. Describe what it is that interests you, whether that be social justice causes or intellectual answers.
- Academic/Professional Goals: Identity what you would like to study if you were to win a Rhodes Scholarship. Then, explain how that degree will help you manifest your professional and personal goals.
- Achievements/Experiences: You may wish to tie some of your academic services, and work experiences into your letter. Keep in mind that your transcripts and CV provide most of the details. With that said, you may use some of your achievements to strengthen the narrative of your personal statement. Avoid gloating.
- Develop a Clear Voice: You probably already know that a genuine and distinct voice is what sets a quality piece of writing apart from the muck rack.
- Establish a Clear Link Between Your Achievements: There should be some common theme that ties all of your statements together. In our example letter, the narrator is determined to improve healthcare for impoverished people and refugees. They use their personal statement to strengthen the connection between their professional goals, internship experiences, service work, and athletic career. When you pair this statement with a collection of impressive transcripts and empathic recommendation letters, you get an ideal Rhodes Scholarship application.
Every essay should include a statement of authenticity and a signature.
Reach Out to Institutional Representatives
Reach out to your college or university’s official Rhodes Scholarship representative. Official U.S. institutional representatives communicate directly with the Office of the American Secretary. These representatives are hired to assist prospective candidates. They can offer detailed insight into the application and selection processes. If your college or university does not have a designated Rhodes Scholarship representative, you may reach out to a representative at the Rhodes Trust.
Inquiries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact the office by phone at (703) 821-5960.
Secure an Institutional Endorsement
Each Rhodes scholarship applicant is expected to secure a letter of endorsement from their current academic institution. An institutional endorsement must be supplied by the university or college’s president, dean, or another designated officer. Your endorser is expected to submit a generic letter of endorsement through the Rhodes Scholarship’s online application system.
The deadline for endorsement submissions is the same as the application deadline, which is 11:59 PM on the first Wednesday of October.
Many colleges and universities set up committees that serve to identify and assist potential Rhodes Scholars. In many cases, prospective candidates are sought and contacted by academic advisors and department heads. This is especially so in the realm of ivy league schools.
Do You Have to Attend an Ivy League School to be the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship?
Indeed, many of the Rhodes Scholars come from ivy league institutions, including Harvard, Yale, and MIT. With that said, the Rhodes Trust works hard to select students from institutes that have never had a Rhodes Scholar before. They provide a full breakdown of the number of winners per institution here: https://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/media/44935/2020-rs_number-of-winners-by-institution.pdf.
As you know by now, Rhodes Scholars are selected by region. However, applicants have the choice to list the state where they reside or the state where they attend college. If you live in an area that is home to a condensed number of ivy league colleges, then you may feel that you have a better chance of securing a scholarship if you are competing against the applicants in your actual residence.
Secure Your Referees
Applicants must submit a minimum of five or a maximum of eight letters of recommendation. Referees are expected to write detail-oriented, frank, and honest statements about the candidates. Applicants are expected to submit a variety of academic and character referees. Many applicants attempt to get an early start when it comes to collecting referees. Some students request references as early as spring.
Provide your referees with information about the Rhodes Scholarship and reference letter expectations. Reference letters are submitted through the online application system. Referees are expected to enter basic information about themselves before submitting their reference letters. Referees should receive confirmation of successful submission via email. Candidates are unable to view the reference letters. However, you will receive a notification when one of your referees submits a reference letter through the portal.
Your academic referees may choose to use their reference letters to paint a picture of your academic strengths. Academic references may wish to mention your academic standing as compared to other students in the same academic field. In doing so, they should be prepared to report the number of students that are participating in the same program as you. They should also describe whether they are assessing you on your class rank or a personal assessment.
Meanwhile, your character referees are free to make their assessments based on a candidate’s non-academic achievements, such as athletic, service, and work accomplishments.
Referees are expected to be honest and straightforward, even when that means talking about an applicant’s weaknesses. Selection committees tend to be naturally apprehensive when it comes to overly hyperbolic praise. It is your job to let your referees know what is expected of them.
More guidance on Rhodes Scholarship reference requirements can be found here: https://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/media/43499/guidance-for-referees-usa.pdf.
Jot down a list of all of your potential referees. Then, think about the cohesiveness of the references. Do they help form a complete picture of you as both a student and character? Once you have your list narrowed down to five to eight potential referees, you need to reach out to those individuals. Explain what it is you are looking to achieve and how they can help you achieve it.
A Few Reference-Related Reminders
Reach out to five to eight of your carefully curated referees. Follow up with them regularly until you receive confirmation that your referee has successfully submitted their promised reference letters.
All reference letters must be addressed to the Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee, be written on headed paper, and signed by the referee. Digital submissions should be in PDF form. References are often due before the October application deadline. Be sure to check the Rhodes website for the updated submission deadline.
Don’t forget to thank your referee for their willingness to produce a reference letter! While the Rhodes Scholarship is a great personal achievement, it isn’t possible to earn this scholarship without support. We also recommend that you send your referees thank you letters. Be sure to update them on the status of your application.
Keep in mind that references are only accepted online. Please be sure that your referees do not mistakenly submit their references by mail.
Building Relationships with Referees
Work to develop a rapport with your professors and other mentors. They will make up the largest portion of your reference file. Your professors should have no trouble writing about your intellectual and academic qualities. However, they are may come off as more genuine, committed, or empathic if they know you more
Utilize Your Professor’s Office Hours
Your professors and academic advisers do not have the opportunity to get to know you unless you offer it to them. Try to utilize professors who can write you strong letters of recommendation. Those same professors should be able to offer you valuable feedback about your personal statement and CV.
Avoid Exploiting Big Name References
Candidates often make the mistake of utilizing big-name references. The names of internationally recognized academics, community leaders, and other people are sure to catch the eyes of some members of the selection committee. With that said, selection committees are looking for compelling comments about you, not your famous teacher. If the writing comes off as generic or disconnected, it may prove to be less valuable than you intended it to be.
Applicants are required to submit a current “head-and-shoulders” photo along with their application. You should be dressed and posed professionally. You should be posed in front of some sort of neutral backdrop. You may choose to utilize the passport photograph service at your local post office or drug store. We recommend that you hire a professional photographer if at all possible.
Preparing for the Interview
After the close of the submission deadline, the selection committee reviews all applications. THen, they notify finalists if they are expected to participate in district interviews. The Rhodes Trust has not designated a specific number of interviewees. However, roughly 200 applicants make it to this stage of the application process.
District receptions and interviews are always held the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving. Rhodes Trust secretaries notify all finalists of their interview statuses at least two weeks before the interviews commence.
With that said, most applicants stage mock interviews long before the finalists are announced. Interviews serve as the last and most conclusive stage of the application process. Applicants should not overlook the importance of interview preparation.
Here’s what you can do to prepare for the Rhodes Scholarship interview process.
Get to Know Cecil Rhodes
Be prepared to answer questions that pertain to the Rhodes Trust’s benefactor. Most past interviewees have said that most of the questions are aimed at identifying applicants’ thought processes, However, questions about Cecil Rhodes legacy, Oxford University, and specific areas of study are not out of the question.
Prepare a Transcript
While the interview is all but scripted, it is still important that you have some preconceived talking points, including opening and closing statements. You will want to stay on pace with the interview committee but still possess several carefully crafted and practiced answers.
Understanding the Interview Process
After the application deadline, the Rhodes Scholarship selection committee works to hone in on district finalists. All interview candidates are given at least two weeks’ notice before the November interviews. However, the Rhodes Trust makes its best effort to notify finalists as soon as possible.
Individuals that are selected for a final interview will need to arrange for their transportation and accommodations to attend their district’s receptions. The Rhodes Trust will typically reserve several rooms in a nearby budget hotel.
What to Remember During Interviews
It’s natural for you to feel nervous about your Rhodes Scholarship interview and reception. It helps to know exactly what you’re up against. Past interviewees have been pressed by six- to nine-person selection committees. These committees usually contain their fair share of Rhodes Scholars.
You will be asked a series of questions that are expected to challenge your knowledge of academics, current events, and critical thinking. The committee may reference your cover letter, transcripts, or personal statement. Remember, they’re looking for an individual who is introspective, accomplished, and open-minded. You don’t need to know it all. However, you should be able to clearly articulate your thoughts.
U.S. Districts and Interview Locations
Be sure to check out the Rhodes Scholarship’s current U.S. district designates and interview locations. These designations are known to change from year to year.
Your Reception Performance Counts Toward Something
Recipients are expected to wine and dine with their competitors and the selection committee. During this time you will be offered food and beverages. While it’s completely appropriate for you to consume light fare, many past recipients have suggested that interviewees abstain from alcohol even if they are, in fact, of drinking age.
The selection committees have been known to take note of candidates’ performances during receptions. They are looking for candidates that are willing to engage with their fellow interviewees. While you needn’t be overly gregarious, you should bring something to the table.
Your contribution should demonstrate your eagerness to participate with your fellow interviewees and your interviewers. In the past, Rhodes applicants have said they were paired with individuals with different interests and backgrounds.
You should find your name plaque alongside a preassigned seat. The committee members will be seated amongst you. However, they are known to switch places during dinner.
The Possibility for a Second Round of Interviews
It is common for the selection committee to call a small group of candidates back for second interviews. Being selected for a second interview doesn’t necessarily mean you’re one of the strongest contenders. Just remember to preserve a bit of energy for a potential second round.
Winners are announced during the post-interview dinner. The dinner is held during the evening of the first Saturday following Thanksgiving. If you took the time to carefully execute every step on our “How to Become a Rhodes Scholar” guide, then you already know that you did everything in your power to win this award.
Keep in mind that only a small handful of applicants is selected each year. The “losers” of this competition, if you can even call them that, are still some of the brightest minds of a generation. Many interviewees claim that the experience boosted their confidence even though they were not awarded a Rhodes Scholarship.
You’re A Winner: Now What Do You Do?
If you’re fortunate enough to be selected as a Rhodes Scholarship winner, you probably already know that your work has just begun.
You now need to apply to Oxford. Since the official Oxford application window closes sometime toward the end of November, it’s likely that you only have a few days to do so. With this said, many Rhodes Scholars submit their application as soon as they are invited to an interview. Your Oxford application, course selections, and supporting documents can be submitted online. You can find the application here: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/applying-to-oxford/application-guide.
You’re Not a Winner, But You May Still Be Able to Reapply
Unsuccessful applicants are permitted to submit a second application. The application requirements are the same. Your second application must apply to the same constituency as your first application.
Check The Resumes of Past Rhodes Scholars
Check out the Rhodes Scholar database to find the names, regions, and colleges of past participants. You may choose to look at scholars that came from your geographical constituency or college. Since 19013, Rhodes Scholars have been chosen from 320 American colleges and universities. Many scholars have gone on to make notable contributions in their field of study.
We also recommend that you read through the profiles of the previous Rhodes Scholar winners. These short biographies will help you better understand the type of competition you are likely to face. You will undoubtedly notice a common theme of academic excellence, volunteer work, professional assertions, and scholarly achievements.
Follow the Rhodes Trust on Social Media
Engagement in a modern, globalized world often takes place through social media platforms. The Rhodes Trust has an established presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Linkedin, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Flicker.
The Rhodes Trust has its own social media database called Rhodes Connect. Visit the webpage to create a personal account and engage with your fellow Rhodes Scholarship candidates.
The Rhodes Scholarship currently has a large cache of application tutorial videos. Moreover, they frequently play host to Rhodes Scholar social media “takeovers” and question and answer sessions. You can find the Rhodes Scholarship’s QR code here: https://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/media/44647/outreach-flyer-a4-poster-_new_smallerfilesize.pdf.
Don’t underestimate the usefulness of these links. They are plenty of valid sources of information regarding the Rhodes Scholarship. They present you with the opportunity to take part in meaningful social engagement.
Keep An Eye Out for Third-Party Tips
While the Rhodes Scholarship is over 100 years in standing, there is still a limited pool of individuals that can attest to their experience applying for or winning a Rhodes Scholarship. Googling “how to become a Rhodes Scholar” isn’t going to yield many results. However, if you know where to look, you are likely to come across some meaningful information.
Many colleges and universities maintain online blogs with information for prospective fellows and undergraduates. For example, the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Undergraduate Research & Fellowships posted an article, “A Day in the Life: Rhodes Scholar.” The Rhodes Trust offers similar explainers. “Life at Oxford” is an article that will help prospective scholars understand if the prestigious University is a good fit for them. Even the New York Times has published an article titled, “How to Win A Rhodes.”
Everything Worked Out: Arrive in Oxford!
If all goes well, you’ll be making your debut at Oxford in September of the year following your successful application. Earning a Rhodes Scholarship is a mighty accomplishment. However, the scholarship is just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll now be expected to continue the legacy that got you to this incredible position. That means maintaining a high GPA, participating in extracurriculars, and continuing your service work.
Remember, the Rhodes Scholarship is one of the most competitive and highly regarded academic programs of its sort. You will need a long and steady record of excellence to be considered for such an incredible trophy. Many Rhodes Scholars begin curating their academic careers as early as high school.
The Rhodes Scholarship enables highly qualified individuals from around the world to pursue their academic and professional dreams.
Participate in Meaningful Work and Training
A Pre-Med or Pre-PA International Medical Aid internship will enable you to gain incomparable firsthand professional experience in a lively international healthcare setting. The contributions you make and the practical knowledge you gain will enable you to meet the Rhodes Scholarship’s competitive admission requirements.
There’s no doubt that the world needs more efficient, equitable, and reliable health care policies and methodologies. This sort of internship is sure to help you manifest your integrity, academic excellence, and leadership potential.