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Tips to Prepare a Rhodes Scholarship Application

Start Early

  • Be prepared to devote some time to developing your application. This includes: spending time researching the objectives of the Rhodes Scholarship, preparing your personal statement and curriculum vitae, applying to Queen's for institutional endorsement, and contacting your references.
  • Rhodes Scholars come from many academic backgrounds and pursue a wide variety of courses at Oxford.  Applicants should study the University of Oxford's course offerings to determine the degree for which they would apply.

Statement of Purpose

  • Given the prestige of the Rhodes Scholarship and the intense competition, many applicants struggle with the statement of purpose. Excellent Rhodes personal statements are infused with concrete examples, a self-reflective tone, a showcasing of priorities and service, and an overall picture of yourself as a person of accomplishment and character.

  • Keep in mind that the personal statement is your chance to tell your story: Who are you? What matters to you? What are you hoping to do in the world? Your academic transcript, your list of activities and your reference letters will provide the substantive detail of your commitments and accomplishments, but this essay gives you the opportunity to cast the overarching narrative for the selection committee. It is crucial that you give a clear statement of what you wish to study at Oxford and why. Your statement of purpose should also be free of grammar and spelling errors. Specific requirements can be found by consulting the 2016 Memorandum.

  • For many students, the statement of purpose can be the most difficult part of the application.  Career Services has a variety of resources available to assist students with personal statements. Career Services’ website provides a tip sheet which contains general suggestions for preparing Personal Statements for scholarships and further education applications.             

           Sample 1: Rhodes Scholarship personal statement

           Sample 2: Rhodes Scholarship personal statement

  • Please note the following regulation regarding your personal statement, found on p.3 of the Rhodes Canada 2016 Memorandum: The personal statement must be your own work and wholly truthful. In submitting this statement, candidates will need to attest to the following: “I attest that this personal statement is my own work and is wholly truthful. Neither it nor any earlier draft has been edited by anyone other than me, nor has any one else reviewed it to provide me with suggestions to improve it. I understand that any such editing or review would disqualify my application.”

  • Watch current Rhodes Scholars speaking about the personal statement.

Curriculum Vitae

  • The application process information provided by Rhodes indicates that candidates are to submit a “curriculum vitae/resumé or list of principal activities.” Read the 2016 Rhodes Memorandum for Canada for more information about what to include. 

Letters of Reference

  • Letters of Reference are not required for the internal Rhodes application to Queen's University, only the list of names and professional titles of the references. 

  • The Canadian Rhodes Scholarship application requires six letters of reference, to be sent directly by the referee to Rhodes.

  • It is strongly suggested that you give your referees ample warning of the deadline set by Rhodes (at least 1-2 months advance notice). You may wish to provide them with a copy of application documents, as well as links to the Rhodes website, the selection criteria and the deadline.

  • Contact your referees, one week before the deadline, to ensure that their letters have been, or will be uploaded by the deadline. Always let your referees know the outcome of the application and remember to thank them.

The Interview

  • Be prepared for an in-person interview, if one is requested. For candidates who apply to be considered for the Rhodes Scholarship within the Ontario region, interviews for the Canadian Rhodes Scholarships are held in Toronto, usually in late November.

  • Applicants who have been invited for an interview with Rhodes can get help preparing from Queen's Career Services. To make best use of your appointment, the Career Information Area offers a number of resources, including: "Get the Interview Edge" and "Best Answers to the 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions".

Rhodes - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Still have questions? Check the Rhodes Scholarship FAQs.