While the number of countries in the Rhodes Scholarship program has expanded, the basic criterion hasn't. The goal of the Rhodes Scholarships isn't just to find people who are good students now; rather, the selection committee tries to evaluate an applicant's potential over a lifetime. As a result, applicants are judged not only by what they've accomplished, but also by what they're likely to accomplish later in life.
Cecil Rhodes set out four standards for selecting Rhodes Scholars. He stated that applicants should be judged on literary and scholastic achievements, vigor (as shown through participation in sports), devotion to service to others and leadership abilities.
Because Rhodes Scholarships are so prestigious, many colleges and universities in the United States encourage their top students consider applying almost as soon as they arrive on campus. In order to win the scholarships, students must be nominated by their college or university. From there, district selection committees (there are 16 Rhodes districts in the United States) examine a student's application materials and the applicants undergo a series of formal and informal interviews. Each November, the winners are announced and the recipients enter Oxford the following October for two years of study.