York University students face daunting challenges to receiving the kind of support they need to win the most competitive scholarships and postgraduate awards. In a large University like ours, it is possible to complete four years of an Honours program with no grade lower than A, and still not know a single professor well enough to get a detailed letter of recommendation.
If you have been approached to act as a reference for a student who is applying for a Rhodes Scholarship, please be assured that this student is one of our very best students in every respect. Every potential Rhodes candidate has been vetted by the Vice-Provost, Students to ensure that s/he has the combination of outstanding academic achievement and extracurricular activity (whether on campus or in the community) that is required for serious consideration in the Rhodes Scholarship competition. Therefore, you can be confident that the student who asks you for a letter of support is someone who richly deserves an award of this sort.
It would be useful for referees to consult the rest of this Web site before preparing the letter of support. Further information is in the Rhodes Scholarship – Guidance for Referees document. The criteria for this award are detailed in these documents; please read them carefully before drafting your letter of support.
Each candidate will submit to his/her referees a full dossier of the relevant application materials, including transcript, list of activities and honours while attending university, and a copy of the personal statement. This will give you a good understanding of who the candidate is and what all his/her accomplishments are. Hopefully this will help you write the strongest possible letter of support.
Please be aware that the competition for the Rhodes is very intense. Your letter must highlight the applicant’s strengths in as much detail as possible and make a compelling case for favourable consideration. Proven intellectual and academic attainment of a high standard is the first quality required of applicants, but they will also be required to show integrity of character, sympathy for and protection of the weak, the ability to lead and the energy to use their talents to the full. We ask you to give serious thought to what you can say about the candidate to impress a selection committee and help him/her win this most prestigious award.
If you have any questions about applying to the Rhodes Scholarship, please contact Rheza Evangelista, Executive Assistant, Office of the Vice-Provost Students at (416) 736-2100 ext. 70705 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.