4 Reasons Why Everyone Should Apply for the Rhodes Scholarship

By Anuj Agrawal

In a few weeks, the Rhodes India website will publish details of the Rhodes Scholarship application process for this year. If the timelines are the same as that of the last year, the applications will open on the first day of June, and applicants will have until the end of July to complete the online application.

And, if the scholarship requirements too are unchanged, this will mean that the applicant will be expected to write a personal statement (not more than a thousand words), identify six referees who will submit references directly (by mid-August), and submit other documentation such as transcripts, CV etc.

A few weeks after the July deadline, the applicant will know if she has made it to the “longlist”, which will mean that the candidate will be asked to attend a preliminary interview. Based on this interview, the candidate may be selected for the final interview, which shall be held towards the end of the year, around November. This interview will be preceded by a “social reception”, an informal gathering the night before the actual interview.

The winners can be announced once the final interviews are done. And then, the winning candidates have a few weeks before they have to submit applications for Oxford University itself. By October of 2020, the winning candidates will find themselves at Oxford. On the Rhodes scholarship.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because I want you to apply, I do. And I will tell you why, in a manner that, perhaps, is most suitable for millennial consumption.

The 4 reasons why you should apply for Rhodes (Reason 4 may not convince the young).

Reason one: It is the Rhodes

 Of all the scholarships that are available to the Indian Law Graduate (ILG), I can think of few that are as prestigious as the Rhodes. And for good reason. Not only does it give you access to Oxford University, and the alumni network of Oxford, but it has a truly global recognition.

So, not only will you have (the supremely important) bragging rights, but the scholarship is something that will help in each and every stage of your career.

Reason two: The application itself is a fantastic learning experience

If nothing else, the Rhodes application can be a fun, yet challenging, “trial run” of sorts when it comes to law school applications.

Be it the clarity that a good personal statement should possess, or sourcing letters of recommendation, or even just getting all the documentation in order, the Rhodes application covers every aspect of the post-graduate application process.

And then some.

If you can submit a well-researched Rhodes application, then other applications will automatically become a lot easier.

Reason three: The Rhodes Trust wants you to

No really, they do. Take a look at this video interview of Rhodes’ Warden Elisabeth Kiss where she talks about encouraging applicants from the global south. (There is also this great question on Cecil Rhodes at 11:00).

And these are not just empty words.

Last year for instance, applicants had the option of applying through the Global Scholars category in case they found it difficult to meet residency requirements. They also launched an East Africa scholarship the same year. See here.

So, clearly, increasing diversity and reach is very much on their agenda.

Use this to your advantage.

Reason four: Avoid tasting the bitter “what if”

I can think of nothing more unpalatable than the taste of a “what-if”.

I just can’t.

Do you really want to look back, five or ten or fifteen years later, and wish that you had applied? Wish you had followed the final lines of a wonderful article you had read online? If only you had. If only.

So, there it is. Four reasons why you should aim to become a Rhodes Scholar.

One final point I would like to make here is that which institute one studies their law from has no relevance. And I think this is an important point to make.

At Amicus Partners, I get to visit law schools all over the country, and I have lost count of the number of students who genuinely believe that they do not stand a chance simply because of where they are studying law.

That is just rubbish.

Sure, there has been an “NLU” (NLS to be more particular) dominance over the past two decades or so but I don’t think that should dissuade you. I really don’t.

In fact, like I mentioned earlier, the Rhodes Trust is looking for diversity. Use it to your advantage. So, go ahead and take a look at the scholarship process. Join the Rhodes Google group here, watch the videos, and ask the questions.


Read more: Vrinda Bhandari (NLSIU graduate, Rhodes Scholar 2012) told us about her journey and advice here.


Anuj Agrawal is the founder of Amicus Partners, a legal education consultancy. 


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