What is Rice University Known For?

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As a STEM powerhouse in Texas, Rice University is one of the most well-regarded schools in the South. However, there’s more to Rice’s reputation than its academic rigor and Southern charm. In this post, we’ll break down key aspects of the Rice experience to help you understand what makes this school special. 

 

Overview of Rice University

 

Location: Houston, Texas

Undergrad Enrollment: 3,900

Acceptance Rate: 8.7%

Middle 50% SAT: 1470-1560

Middle 50% ACT: 33-35

 

Like Vanderbilt, Rice does not have the bias against students from the South, particularly Texas, which is otherwise shared by many elite schools. Admission to Rice is more academically competitive for out-of-state students than it is at peer schools like Duke, Vanderbilt, and Cornell because they receive so many statistically strong applicants from Texas. 

 

If you’re an “Ivy-tier” student hoping to pursue the pre-med path at a top 15 school, Rice is an excellent choice. Its application standards for pre-meds are less stringent than those of HYPSM, UChicago, and Columbia, and Houston offers an abundance of medical research and patient care opportunities to boost your med school application. 

 

Unique Aspects of Rice University

 

Academics

 

The most popular majors at Rice are Computer and Information Sciences, Mechanical Engineering, Cognitive Science, Economics, and Biochemistry.

 

Rice tends to lean towards STEM emphases, especially science and engineering. Its phenomenal Wiess School of Natural Science has garnered a reputation for its strengths in artificial heart research, structural chemical analysis, signal processing, space science, and perhaps most notably, nanotechnology. STEM research is huge on campus, but humanities students often report receiving little support.

 

Prospective doctors might be interested in the Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars Program, in which students attend Rice for their undergraduate degree and then immediately enroll in the Baylor 4-year M.D. program, as long as they achieve a sufficient MCAT score and GPA.

 

Rice is also a top-ranked school for Sports Management, which deeply contrasts many schools’ practice of offering it only as a concentration area within another major. Inversely, Rice allows students to specialize within the major in fields of analytics, leadership, or law. Students are required to work a sports management internship to graduate, often landing prestigious ones as underclassmen, allowing them to gain valuable experience.

 

Extracurriculars

 

Varsity sports aren’t huge at Rice, but if there’s something they’re known for, it’s baseball. The Rice Owls are ranked both D1 and #1 in college sports circles. Those not topping national rankings frequently enjoy a wide variety of club sports through their residential college system. Intramural sports are wildly popular at Rice.

 

Perhaps one of the most common ways to get involved is through the student government in one’s residential college, where elected student officials plan events, work on committees, and run enriching programs. In fact, most Rice traditions and extracurriculars are in some way connected to their residential colleges. 

 

Some other interesting extracurriculars and events are:

 

  • Impact Rice Retreat (IRR) is a student-led leadership development retreat for freshmen and sophomores. Participating students learn how to become more effective leaders through skill-and-confidence-building workshops.
  • The Rice Outdoors Club organizes camping trips and weekly rock climbing trips amongst students interested in exploring the natural worlds of Texas.
  • The Shepherd School of Music often hosts free theater and music events, and residential colleges independently put on their own plays at their own theaters.

 

Traditions

 

Willy Week is perhaps the most well-known Owl tradition. The weeklong celebration of founder William Rice’s birthday includes lively debates and vibrant events leading up to Beer Bike, a residential college bicycle race.  

 

O-Week, short for Orientation Week, is an introductory rite of passage unique to Rice and its incoming freshmen. Students mingle with upperclassmen, start preparing for the semester’s ensuing academic rigor, meet with advisors, and a full social immersion into life at one’s residential college and the school as a whole. In this hectic, exciting time, students often play “jacks,” or pranks, on other colleges.

 

Dorms

 

Rice has no Greek life. Instead, it has a set of residential colleges created to build a sense of community among its students. Students are randomly assigned to one of 11 houses, where a faculty magister organizes opportunities for students to pursue their academic and cultural interests via social events, self-government, intramural sports, student plays, lectures, and more. As you narrow down your college list, it’s important to understand whether you’ll like this system or feel suffocated. Most students like it, however, and stay with their residential college all four years.

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Financial Aid

 

Rice is need-blind for domestic applicants and need-aware for international ones. The school meets 100% of demonstrated need, even for international students. In addition, Rice offers merit scholarships for select applicants which require no extra effort on the students’ behalf; they are automatically considered when they apply for admissions. They do not offer merit-based scholarships or financial aid to international students. 

 

75% of Rice graduates finish their degree debt-free, and through their financial aid initiative, The Rice Investment, full-tuition scholarships and grants are provided to those with household incomes of up to $130,000. 

 

Location

 

Houston is among the most populous, diverse, and largest U.S. cities; everything is bigger in Texas! The city’s versatility and overall largeness lends itself to restaurant offerings of virtually every culture, which students are often free to eat at using their Rice meal plan. Tex Mex is particularly popular, as is bicycling; the city hosts its state’s largest number of bike commuters and features various biking trails and bicycle sharing systems. In addition, Houston features the following fantastic locations:

 

  • Rice is right next to Texas Medical Center, providing ample opportunity to pre-meds and BIOE students.
  • Aerospace engineering students might appreciate Houston’s NASA Johnson Space Center for its internship, job, and research potential.
  • Hermann Park is adjacent to Rice and features numerous cultural institutions such as the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theater, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the Hermann Park Golf Course.

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at Rice?

 

Everyone’s shot at Rice is different. Depending on your academic background, extracurricular accomplishments, and more, your actual shot at Rice could be higher or lower than its published acceptance rate. If you’d like a clearer picture of your chances at Rice, we recommend using our free chancing calculator. Unlike other wholly stats-dependent calculators, we’ll also take your demographic information and extracurricular achievements into account. Additionally, we’ll give you tips on improving your profile!

 

You can also search for best-fit schools based on your chances, and on other factors like size, location, majors, and more to streamline your college search process.

 

Michelle Foley
Essay Breakdown Writer

Short Bio
Michelle Foley is currently taking a gap year before starting at Yale College in Fall '21, where she is considering majoring in Art, English, or Cognitive Studies while earning her Spanish certificate. In her free time, she likes to paint, run, and read!

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