Rice University is a gorgeous, highly prestigious research university set in Houston, Texas. The Spanish Mediterranean architecture literally took my breath away when I stepped onto campus for the first time. Rice was founded in 1912 after William Marsh Rice donated his personal fortune. For inspiration, Rice’s president traveled the world to decide what to do with Rice’s “grand plan.” Two principles were deemed key—there would be no upper limit to students’ educational goals (there are 40 centers of research on campus), and the freshman class would forever remain small. As a result, this campus has developed into a world-class research university with a student body of only about 3900 undergrads. Rice never, ever closes a class due to lack of interest—last year there were 18 classes that enrolled just one student!
Rice is most well known for attracting students who are interested in studying science, engineering or architecture. Curious students can study anything at Rice though and opportunities abound for artists, performers, or wonderers. Rice houses an Engineering Design Kitchen filled with any type of equipment a student might need to work on creating, developing, inventing or testing new ideas and inventions. One Rice student created a “Lab in a Backpack” –an innovative design for a 40 pound medical backpack suitable for remote locations. The Peace Corps loved it so much they ordered millions of them! They are also across the street from the world’s largest medical center—Texas Medical Center—so students interested in pursuing medicine have a distinct advantage.
There’s a brand new program called the Doerr Institute for New Leaders which is open to ALL majors, where students get paired with community mentors. Moody Center for the Arts is the newest building on campus so students have a lot of opportunity to study fine arts. Music majors do well to prepare well with a pre-screen and then a full day audition which MUST be requested by December 1st.
Rice admits a pretty significant amount of students Early Decision, and they are KNOWN for their generous financial aid packages, so if you are seriously interested in Rice, apply early—students end up paying far less than they would at other comparable schools around the country because Rice meets 100% of financial need & also offer merit scholarships. Rice works hard through their Career Office to make sure their students are well set up immediately upon graduation—and they are!
Rice wants to see ALL test scores and no more than 2 letters of recommendation—they only ask for one. They say the interview is optional, but DO THE INTERVIEW! Also it is critical that you spend a solid amount of time on Rice supplemental essays—those will make a big difference as they always do at selective schools.
Students go nutty for intramural sports at Rice, in part to blow off steam from heavy academic expectations. Honor System pervades the campus in every way. Students get a heavy discount in Houston for all kinds of performing arts—ballet, opera, symphony, movies, theatre, professional sports venues so there’s a lot to do. Rice has eleven (11) residential colleges and students are randomly placed as freshman in a college and remain a part of that community throughout their entire 4 years so community building is valued & evident.
Rice is a great school for a high performing student with a tremendous amount of intellectual curiosity and ambition.