An Interview On
Rice University

Academic Experience

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Asian
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Private school in the Bay Area, CA with a graduating class of about 200 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Double major in Economics and Social Policy Analysis. On the pre-law track.
Minor: Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies
Extracurricular Activities: I write for the Rice Journal of Public Policy, I am part of the Baker Institute Student Form, and I have a part-time internship.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
No, not really honestly.

Academic Experience

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.

Is there anything you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
The Economics department is pretty organized and it’s a relatively small major. Nothing really stands out for either of them. [In Fall 2018 the Economics department has 146 undergraduate students.]

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.

How accessible have your professors been?
All of my professors are very accessible and willing to schedule meetings with you. It’s not like you are on their schedule and if you can’t make office hours they won’t meet with you.

Why did you pick to your majors? Are you happy with your choice?
Probably my experiences in high school. I took an Economics class and was involved in debate in high school. I’m on the pre-law track, so I’m interested in politics and how law shapes that.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Rice has a residential college system, when you matriculate you are placed randomly into one of eleven residential colleges. You live in the college when you are on campus.

Freshman: McMurty College in a double

Sophomore: McMurty College in a suite of six singles.

How do you like the residential college system?
I like it because it throws you into a community that’s diverse by nature, so you aren’t forced into bubbles of your major or classes. At the same time, it’s easy to get isolated if you only talk with people from your college and don’t try to interact with people in other colleges. The residential college can become a bubble within a bubble if you don’t make a conscious effort to make connections outside of it.

How was transitioning from the Bay Area to Houston, TX?
Fine. I expected it to be much more different in terms of political makeup, but that hasn’t been something that has been as relevant as I thought. I still get a different perspective to an extent, which I like. It was a pretty smooth transition because both places are urban and diverse.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
Rice is in a relatively well-off area of Houston. I’ve never felt unsafe. The university has a good police department, so I feel relatively safe. [According to AreaVibes, Rice is in a low crime neighborhood of Houston.]

Pros and Cons of being in Houston, Texas?
Pros:
1) 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.
2) It doesn’t get super cold like it does at the Northeast colleges.

Cons:
1) Rice is different from the city, so it’s easy to feel isolated from it.
2) 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.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in at Rice?
I go to parties hosted at the residential colleges or events held by groups at the campus pub. I also like visiting local coffee shops in Houston or trying different food places. There are off-campus parties but those are less common. All parties are pretty open because our ID’s can access the other residential colleges. There’s no sense of exclusivity.

What nights do you regularly go out?
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights are the most common.

What’s an alternative to going to a party or the campus pub that you like for a night out?
There are things in Houston that are fun. I have friends who I like to go out to eat with or go to coffee shops with.

How happy are you with the weekend activities and nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m happy with the weekend options. There’s no sort of pressure to do one thing or the other. It’s good to have a lot of different things to choose from in terms of what you have to get done or what you’re in the mood for.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
Through the residential college system. Everybody goes through orientation week with their residential college, so you’re spending almost all hours of the week with them. Most people tend to make their friends from that. The secondary tier I’ve made friends from is classes just because if somebody’s in your major you tend to see them a lot.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Rice?
I think it’s good. The only downside is the fact that you can be isolated from other people and get caught only spending time with your residential college unless you make a conscious effort to branch out.

How would you describe the student body?
There is a niche for whatever you want. There are people who are super into networking and are always in some sort of recruiting cycle, here is [Rice Outdoors Programs and Education (ROPE)] for the outdoorsy people, and there are people who are really into politics and some people who got really into the Beto O’Rourke campaign.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
To a very high extent. I don’t feel any exclusivity. Rice is working on diversity but already has pretty strong diversity. [33% of students are White, 26% are Asian, 16% are Hispanic, and 12% are International students.] It’s not so diverse that it is majority minority, but I don’t think it’s an issue.

How strong is the Asian community on campus?
There’s a South Asian Society that goes to nearby events in Houston and hosts events. Those are sometimes fun to go to. There is not a super strong presence overall. Some are involved in dancing and singing groups that are pretty close-knit, so if that’s your thing or your niche, or if you want to strongly identify, you can. But, in general, there is not a huge presence.

How do you like the size of Rice? How has that influenced your social experience?
I went to a small high school, so it was an easy transition because the classes at Rice are not very big. [Rice has an undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio of 6 to 1.] It can feel like a bubble, especially in your residential college where you see the same people all the time and if something happens everybody knows about it. It could be bigger, but definitely not smaller. I like the size academically, but things can get around faster than you want if you’re not conscious.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
To some extent. The career center has an externship program through alumni, and that was a cool opportunity. A potential drawback is that the alumni network is regional because a lot of Rice alums are in the South or in Texas. [The top four largest regional alumni groups are Houston, Dallas, Austin, and the Bay Area. Houston has over 17,500 alumni, with Dallas following with just over 3,000.]

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I use the career office for resume help but didn’t think that was super helpful, although I think they tried their best. Some of the firms who recruit from Rice only recruit for Texas here or don’t come here at all, so that’s a drawback.

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
I’ve learned R through Intro to Statistics for Data Science

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

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 student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Rice Coffeehouse. It’s a student-run coffee shop and you can see a variety of students working and chatting. That might give you some perspective on how students interact.

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 Rice?
1) The professors really care about the students are focused on the undergraduates and are interested in teaching.
2) The small size sets you up to thrive academically.
3) Rice provides a good way to find community through the residential colleges, so you’re much less likely to feel lost.
4) Rice gives you the opportunities of a big school in a big city, but in a smaller setting so you don’t have to compromise your learning style and developing real relationships with students and professors.

Reasons to not attend Rice?
1) There are schools that are “ranked” below it, or are at the same or lesser caliber, that have more name recognition. Although, once people know about Rice they know how strong it is, so I don’t think that’s a major detriment.
2) 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.

Notice: Rice University is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Rice University.

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