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Rice is a great university to go to if you want to be thoroughly educated in an environment full of very bright, very dedicated students. The university is small-sized (for the most part this is a good thing, although occasionally I've felt trapped upon realizing that I recognize the faces, if not the names, of most of the 3000 people on campus). Rice is divided into nine residential colleges where students spend the entirety of their four years here; the college system is great in that it helps you find your social niche and serves as a nexus for activities spanning from matriculation to the yearly campus-wide water balloon fight. Rice's name recognition outside of Texas (everyone in Texas knows Rice) is mixed; I'm from California, and when I tell people I go to Rice two-thirds of them have never heard of it; the other third are instantly impressed. This is improving with time, though, as we are becoming more and more competitive and getting our name out there with the help of a new administration. A few problems - students spend too much time within our relatively small campus, especially studying non-stop in Fondren Library. Houston really has a lot to offer in terms of culture and especially interesting ethnic restaurants, but with the vast majority of students staying on campus in any given year, it can be hard to get people to leave the comfort of The Hedges (the boundaries of campus).
Rice is an all around great school with a gorgeous campus.
First of all, as a recent graduate, I can tell you that at least in my limited experience, every time I tell someone I'm a Rice graduate, they're impressed. Rice has a strong reputation as "the Ivy League of the south". Personally, I don't think that does justice to the quality of Rice's education or experience, but then again I will openly admit that I loved virtually every aspect of my time there, so I'm probably biased. The school is both big and small. In that I mean that the undergraduate population is in the low thousands, but we have a Residential College system that makes it so that, in many ways, you are part of a well-defined and closely nit community of only a few hundred. Rice is an extremely tolerant, and in many ways apolitical campus. Everyone has their views -- and usually has them quite strongly, but if you got in to Rice, you're probably pretty smart, and so everyone recognizes that you have a right to that opinion. There are debates and arguments, but for the most part they're respectful, not argumentative per se. Probably my biggest praise of Rice comes from the fact that everyone on campus realizes that everyone else is smart. That is, there's very little academic competition. I can honestly say I don't know what my friend's GPAs were, and they certainly didn't know mine. I've heard horror stories about the competition at other schools over grades, and not once at Rice did I hear of any such issue coming up. I think that if someone at Rice acted like they cared about such things they'd get laughed at. Overall, it's an easy-going atmosphere, with lots of opportunities to learn, grow, and have fun. I recommend it to anyone who will listen.
One of the best things about Rice is the Residential College system. There are currently 9 colleges (though there will soon be 11), and there is a lot of college pride. In fact, there are many more cheers (and anti-cheers) for specific residential colleges than for Rice as a whole. Most people have a lot of college pride, which comes out the most certain times of the year: O-week and Beer Bike. O-week is our orientation week that freshmen have the week before classes start. Everyone gets put in a group of about 8 people and basically learns why their college is the best. Beer Bike is the biggest social event of the year - it involves a huge, campus-wide water balloon fight, bike relay races (that used to involve chugging beer, thus the name), and pranks (college vs. college). The college system is great because it provides a community within the university that is diverse in terms of majors, ages, and everything else. Whereas at a lot of schools, upperclassmen tend to move off campus, most people at Rice try to stay on campus all four years. Many people get kicked off each year, which is one of the downsides of the housing system, but it is nice to have a strong community on campus that people fight to be a part of. Rice is in the middle of Houston, so there is always plenty to do. Every student gets a pass to use the lightrail for free, so even if you don't have a car, you can still get around. There are always performances, shows, and concerts going on, and often free tickets are given out to Rice students. However, Rice still maintains a beautiful campus in the midst of the busy city.
The College system is the best thing about Rice. I'd like to change the parking situation on campus and make it easier and more accessible for on-campus and off-campus students to park without forking over a large amount of money. It's a little too small of a school just because everyone knows everything about everyone. I spend most of my time at the varsity athletic facilities. What college town? The Rice administration cares about its students, but implement a lot of ideas that do not reflect this (such as when our breaks are, or how they spend tuition money). The lacrosse hazing incident a few years ago. There is a lot more college pride than school pride in your first couple of years, but then it turns into school pride based on the quality of education as you near graduation. Rice is a wet campus with a lax alcohol policy while most schools are completely dry. I'll always remember my first Beer Bike because it was the craziest, most unique experience I could have. Most complaints involve the food in our serveries, even though the food is just fine, and also the wide-spread apathy across campus.
Diane JuniorReviews provided by: Unigo