Written by Lisa Bleich
Rice is a beautiful, expansive campus with a southwestern style architecture set right in Houston. The central quad is quite pretty surrounded by red brick buildings. Students easily navigate the flat campus on foot, bike or long board.
Our tour guide hailed from Houston and was a pre-med student majoring in psychology. She had already conducted research several times looking at industrial psychology and how organizational systems help within healthcare. She also worked for admissions as a tour guide and was active in the Houston Hillel (Rice and The University of Houston share a Hillel, the Jewish students club.) She said that Rice has a more intellectual community than a religious community. Politically 16% of students identify as progressive, 40% as conservative and the rest are apolitical.
Rice’s residential college system and strong academics appealed to her. She liked that students would be placed into a community for all four years without having to rush or compete for a space in a traditional Greek system. (There are no fraternities or sororities at Rice.) Ironically, the same residential college system that attracted her to the school was also what she found slightly negative as a junior. Because students live in the same residential college all four years, they cannot room with friends outside of their college without transferring colleges. However, she felt the benefits outweighed the negatives.
The residential college system is the hallmark of the social scene on campus with each of the colleges hosting parties and events. They also offer students a lot of leadership opportunities as each of the 12 colleges has its own governing body. The colleges are student governed allowing for the students to determine how to allocate their $45,000 budget each year. As a result, each college has a different set of amenities such as a gym or game room. Each college also puts on a show written, performed and directed by students. A College Master, a faculty member, also lives in each residential college to foster strong interactions and learning communities.
This self-governing philosophy runs throughout Rice from academics to student involvement on campus. Students have loose distribution requirements choosing from four classes in each of the three areas: humanities, STEM, and social sciences. This allows students to control how they choose their classes. Students also have the opportunity to teach a class, as do community members.
The academics at Rice are top-notch with strong faculty student interaction. 60% of the students conduct undergraduate research across disciplines. Rice is particularly known for its strong STEM fields as well as an excellent architecture school and outstanding music school.
The student body is diverse, academic, interested in learning, but also likes to have fun. Students were dressed in pea coats, boots, dress shoes (guys), sneakers, and jeans. Rice is a wet campus and students who are 21 or older are allowed to have alcohol on campus, however Rice banned hard alcohol two years ago. Community service is also big; 60% of admitted students come in having done volunteer work, but 85% of students leave having volunteered. Rice’s Center for Civic Leadership provides numerous ways to get involved.
Within walking distance of campus students can get to Rice Village with lots of stores, restaurants and bars, the museum district and the Medical Center with 23 hospitals. This provides a host of research, internship and volunteer prospects for students.
Rice is a highly select college. Admissions assesses students across four main areas:
- Intellectual curiosity and vitality
- Engagement in and contributions to their community
- Broad perspectives and differing points of view
- Variety of talents and potential for growth
The average ACT was in the range of 32-35 and the average SAT in Critical Reading was 700-750 and 720-800 in Math for the SATs. The acceptance rate for Early Decision candidates is 20% with 15% of those students receiving merit aid and 14.5% for Regular Decision candidates with 17% of them receiving merit aid.
Most students select a specific field when applying. The school of architecture requires a portfolio and the music school requires an audition for entry.
Rice is a beautiful campus with strong research opportunities and outstanding academics, particularly in the STEM fields. Its residential college system provides an excellent sense of community and opportunity for leadership.
Houston, Texas 77005-1892