One of the most highly regarded scholarships in the world, the Rhodes Scholarship was established in 1902 in accordance to the will of Cecil John Rhodes. Rhodes was a British politician and businessman who really made his mark in South Africa where he helped establish DeBeers mining company and later served as the Prime Minister of Cape Colony. Many historians consider Cecil John Rhodes to be one of the most important figures in colonial South Africa. He attended Oxford University and upon his death Rhodes’ will created the scholarship in his name to help non-British scholars attend the prestigious British university. The scholarship was specifically set up for students in British colonies, the United States, and Germany. Rhodes believed that by establishing his scholarship he could help prepare a workforce that would help maintain the unity of the British Empire and instill education and good values in the colonies. Students from the United States and Germany were chosen because Rhodes felt that the three nations would help secure peace in the world. While Rhodes’ ideas that his scholarship would help bring the entire “uncivilized” world under British rule as well as to return the United States to Britain were certainly misguided, his scholarship has proven remarkably beneficial and has been awarded to several notable figures over its more than 100 years of existence. A list of former Rhodes Scholars includes Bill Clinton, Wasim Sajjad, Malcolm Turnbull, Ashton Carter, Susan Rice, Tony Abbott, Bob Hawke, and several others.
The Rhodes Scholarship annually selects 32 students from the United States to become Rhodes Scholars. These students are afforded post-graduate study at the prestigious Oxford University as well as the honor of forever being remembered as a Rhodes Scholar. Students are chosen based on academic performance, a proven history of leadership, and a demonstrated history of working towards the common good and community involvement. The deadline of applying for a Rhodes Scholarship is June 2nd. In 2016 there were 869 applicants out of which 32 were selected. Hopeful Rhodes Scholars must be between the ages of 18 and 24 and a legal U.S. citizen as well as academically advanced enough to have received a bachelor’s degree by October. Additionally, an endorsement from the student’s college or university, five letters of recommendation at least four of which must be from undergraduate instructors and one that attests to the applicant’s character, a personal statement of less than 1,000 words, a list of relevant activities, a passport sized photo, and an official transcript. Students who advance in the selection process must then be available for a reception and interview as well as for an election announcement and potential re-interviews on the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving. Students selected as Rhodes Scholars are notified the Saturday before Thanksgiving when they will also be told where to go to attend their local election announcement. Winners receive a full tuition to post-graduate study at Oxford University and although many of the most notable former Rhodes Scholars have been politicians the scholarship is available for other fields of study as well.