Impressions Of
Rice University

Academic Experience

Female Cognitive Science Major C/O 2021

Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly academically?
Because Cognitive Science is interdisciplinary there is no one Cognitive Science major adviser. There are major advisors for each specialization, so you might have a Neuroscience advisor for Cognitive Science. That is something that could be done poorly, but I think they do a really good job because you have the professors multiple times and really get to know them. My first semester first year I went and talked with my advisers and it was super helpful and not stressful at all.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I wouldn’t say it’s really that competitive. I put a lot of stress on myself because I want to be in the top of the class, but no one else really cares about that. And since for about half the classes there is a group project, group paper, or group presentation, it is pretty collaborative.

How accessible are your professors?
Most of them are pretty accessible. Some of them during the first few days of class will say come by my office if you want to get coffee or just want to talk or have questions about the material. I’ve only had one professor that I didn’t like but the others were pretty good.

Male Bioengineering Major C/O 2022

Can you describe your weekly coursework for the first-year Engineering courses?
There are a fair amount of labs and problem sets. I used my AP credit to get out of General Chemistry, but that course has a lab. We have weekly problem sets and labs for Physics, but the major grades are primarily exams.

Is there anything you feel that Rice does especially well or poorly academically?
You have the opportunity to take a course called ENGI 120, where freshman engineering students get matched with a real-world client to develop some design solutions for their needs. I was matched with the Houston Zoo, and we developed an enrichment device for the animals there. This was a valuable experience that connected me with a lot of faculty that I’ve contacted for internship and research positions. You can take this course even if you’re not an Engineering major.

Female Economics and Social Policy Analysis Double Major C/O 2021

Can you describe your weekly coursework for majors?
Primarily I have problem sets and exams. For Economics, a lot of the more mathematical classes later on in the major have problem sets that aren’t graded and there are just exams. In Economics, I haven’t had a class that doesn’t have exams. The Social Policy Analysis major is broad in topic, so Anthropology, Sociology, and Economics all fall into it, so I have readings, essays, problem sets, and exams depending on the class.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s more collaborative than competitive in my experience. There is a sense of competition in that there are high caliber students who all want to do well here. People aren’t against sharing information they get from professors or studying in groups.

Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
People are generally open to different sorts of perspectives in class discussions. Politically, Rice more liberal than conservative, but within class discussions, barring extreme views, people are pretty open.

Social Opportunities

Female Cognitive Science Major C/O 2021

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in at Rice?
There is a lot going on in my college. I usually hangout with my friends in my suite or there is a balcony on the fifth floor of McMurtry that we can hang out on. There are also Publics at Rice, which are parties put on by each college that everybody across campus goes to. Those are super fun. You can also go off-campus to a few clubs and bars that are close by. I do a little bit of everything, but I spend the most amount of time in my college with different friend groups. We also work a lot, so I do that maybe one night a week, either Friday or Saturday, if I’m lucky. The rest of them are spent at the coffee shops or at the Coffeehouse on campus, but it can be social even if you’re doing work.

If at all, how has being a person who identifies as LGBTQ+ influenced your nightlife? Is there much of an LGBT nightlife scene at Rice or in Houston?
I still do a lot of the same things as my friends who aren’t LGBT+, but sometimes I’ll pick a different friend group to hang out with at the Pub, which is our on-campus bar. Montrose, which is the gay area of Houston, has some clubs that are really popular with people at Rice, but I don’t really go to bars and clubs that often. What is more common is going to the on-campus Pub because everyone goes to the Pub on a Thursday night.

Male Bioengineering Major C/O 2022

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in at Rice?
Every other week there is a public party hosted by every college. They are themed and are a great time. I’ll usually go to those with a group of friends. At Rice, we call these Publics. There are also private parties that are just a group of friends which can be fun too.

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
Rice is next to Hermann Park, where there are things going on such as concerts. Students have free access to a lot of museums in the Herman Park area, so there is a lot to do it you’re not into parties.

What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
Usually Friday and Saturday nights.

Female Bioengineering Major C/O 2022

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in at Rice?
Each residential college has Publics, which are public parties on campus. I go to those and some of my clubs have events and activities. I’m also a little involved in the African Student Association who has events. I may also just go off-campus to do homework.

Who hosts the parties? Where do they typically take place?
The residential colleges host the parties since we don’t have Greek life. Each residential college has its own culture, and people from all over campus go to them on Friday and Saturday nights.

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
There are lots of concerts in downtown Houston, but I haven’t really explored them yet. I’ll see Facebook events of concerts people go to. We have free access to museums such as the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Natural Science. There is a theatre district nearby so people will go to plays. We have something called Passport to Houston, where most weekends the Rice Program Council gets free tickets to go to specific things such as a ballet nearby. You can put your name in a pool, and they randomly select people for these events.

Campus Culture

Female Cognitive Science Major C/O 2021

How did you meet your closest friends?
Orientation Week. Orientation Week is super big here. It’s about half academic planning and half social. Even though it’s really tiring because you’re up from 7AM-12AM every day, there are a lot of ways for you to meet people. Incidentally, I met three of my best friends through that. They were all random interactions but during Orientation Week.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Rice?
It’s pretty much exactly what I wanted. There’s no Greek life, which for me is a big plus. The overall mentality is work hard play hard, but whatever that means for you. You don’t have to drink or any of that to have a good time. There was a period of six or seven months when I was entirely sober and I had a great time. I think Rice is pretty deliberate is saying that.

Male Bioengineering Major C/O 2022

How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my closest friends by going through the Rice Emerging Scholars Program (RESP). Students coming from high schools with [below average] resources compared to students that are typically admitted are invited to take preparatory classes [over the summer] to help them succeed in the academic year.

Going into your first semester everyone has an orientation week group of about 10 students. Some groups get really close and stay friends, but other groups will fizzle out. I feel like mine is pretty strong. If you’re a student coming into Rice, you are introduced to these people and go through an experience with them that bonds you.

How would you describe the student body?
When going on tours, I was treated the best at Rice. As a prospective student trying to find my way around campus, at least three people tried to help me find where to go even though they were on their way to classes. This has remained true since I’ve become a student. People genuinely care about your well-being. At Rice, we have a big culture of care, which could apply to helping someone find their way to class, taking time out of your day to see how they’re doing, or seeing someone at a party not in the best state and making sure they get home safe.

Female Bioengineering Major C/O 2022

How did you meet your closest friends?
Within my residential college. I think it’s easy to form strong friendships with people not on my hall because we’re in the same college.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Rice?
We have a strong culture of care. I also think that there are a lot of strong friendships within each residential college. The clubs you join make part of your experience, allowing you to have fun with people outside of your residential college. It’s very flexible, and you can make your own experience.

How would you describe the student body?
It’s diverse. Rice should do a better job at making diverse students feel included at the institution. There is a new investment fund, and more students that are first-generation or low-income will be admitted to Rice. Inclusion is very important and is their next step.

Houston, TX

Pros of

  • “The Texas Medical Center is right across the street from Rice and there are a lot of professional opportunities in the city. You can do basically anything you want professionally in Houston both after college, during the summer, and there are opportunities throughout the year.”
  • “We’re next to the museum district, almost in downtown Houston. It’s a busy area but doesn’t get too loud.”
  • “Rice is in right in the middle of the city, but inside of Rice is a very different environment. You can interact with the city or not interact with it. It’s nice to be in the city because you have the opportunities of being in a big city, like volunteering and interning.”
  • “The culture of art and music.”
  • “The food.”

Cons of

  • “Houston’s public transportation isn’t the best so it can be difficult to get around. There is no problem getting from Rice to downtown, but if you want to go anywhere else, it’s kind of a hassle.”
  • “If you’re trying to get into banking or consulting there are fewer relationships with the big firms. Rice still does a good job of building those relationships, but there is a narrower selection of firms that recruit at Rice if you compare it to a similar caliber school in California or the Northeast.”
  • “It is segregated in the residential areas. Rice is in a really nice residential area so when you go outside you have nice shops and nice places to go, but you only get one view of Houston. You have to be intentional about what you’re doing if you want to see more of it.”
  • “It’s about 1,000 miles away from my hometown, so I have to fly home. The price of tickets dictates whether I go back to visit my family over shorter breaks.”

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Female Cognitive Science Major C/O 2021

What is something you wish you knew about Rice before you entered as a freshman?
It’s not as liberal artsy it makes itself out to be on pamphlets. There is Distribution 1, which is the humanities, Distribution 2, which is the social sciences, and Distribution 3, which is STEM. It’s a running joke about how easy Distribution 1, which is frustrating even though I take classes in Distribution 2 and 3. It’s frustrating to me how so many pre-med students think anything that’s not pre-med is easy.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
The Coffeehouse. It’s where a lot of students hang out and do work. Their coffee is also really good and super cheap. You can pay for it through your meal plan. They also will have live concerts by students. It’s one of my favorite places on campus.

Male Bioengineering Major C/O 2022

What is something you wish you knew about Rice before you entered as a freshman?
For me, I was deciding going to Rice or the University of Michigan which are totally different in size and atmosphere. UM was going to be cheaper for me with in-state tuition, which was my main hesitation when deciding to come here. I feel like coming to Rice has given me way more individual attention than I would have at a bigger school. If I knew the degree of assistance and individual attention I’d receive from offices such as the Student Success Initiative, the Center for Career Development, and the RESP summer program that helped me adjust to the academic rigor here, I’d make the decision to come here quicker.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Maybe the surrounding area. Rice Village is a 10-minute walk from campus, and there are a bunch of restaurants and shops there.

Female Economics and Social Policy Analysis Double Major C/O 2021

What is something you wish you knew about Rice before you entered as a freshman?
I didn’t quite grasp how dominant the residential college system would be in my life. It’s who you spend your first week with and because you live there you always see them. I don’t think it would have affected my decision, but it would have been nice to know because I’m the kind of person who likes to branch out and have various types of friends.

What is something a prospective pre-law student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
The Rice pre-law community is pretty small. There is a pretty big pre-med community. If you want a big pre-law community of support, that’s not there. There are no other gaps in the program, like there is a Pre-Law Society.

Reasons to attend and not to attend Rice University

To Attend

  • “Rice is really diverse in terms of political opinion, racial identity, and all of that. Even if that’s what I want, it can be difficult to navigate sometimes. I have been challenged by that and have grown from it, so there are positives.”
  • “It’s small and not super competitive in terms of resources.”
  • “The residential college system, the culture of care, and the community here. I didn’t feel that to this degree at any other college I visited.”
  • “The individual attention. There are lots of ways to make the experience your own.”

To Not Attend

  • “If you’re a Distribution 1 major and in the humanities and not interested in anything STEM, it might be hard for you to find your people. Even though those people are here, you should be aware of that. I also think that it doesn’t mean that Rice is any less of an environment for you to be in because of that.”
  • “The residential college system can be isolating in that if you don’t make a conscious effort to make friends outside of your residential college you can get stuck only hanging out with and knowing people in your college.”
  • “There’s not Greek life, so if you want that you won’t find it.”
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