- Class: Junior
- Major: English
- Gender: F
- High School: San Jose High Academy
- Transfer Student: N
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 academically very selective, making the classwork at times very demanding. I came to Rice as the academic darling of my high school, only to realize that virtually everyone here was one of their high school's top students. At first the coursework can be very challenging; in an environment full of intelligent students, the only way to get ahead is to study a LOT, and for students who were able to coast through high school, this can be difficult to adjust to. Most classes besides the introductory science and mathematics classes are fairly small; my smallest upper-level seminars have had only 5 or so people, although my introductory physics and differential equations classes probably had over one hundred. Grad student teaching is limited mainly to labs and voluntary study sessions; professors always have office hours and are generally eager to talk to students. Research opportunities for undergraduates are easy to find, and while some of them are the typical monotonous busy-work, I have friends who serve instrumental roles as leading figures in small laboratories. In terms of general education, the requirements at Rice are relatively light, and many students already have them waived from AP; the requirements for majors vary much more, with engineering majors having their schedules almost predetermined while arts and social science majors have the freedom to take on two or three majors if they want to. Rice offers only three minors at the moment, although more have been proposed; right now those offered are mainly in business-econ-related fields.
Rice University considers itself diverse, and we have lots of groups and organizations committed to promoting diversity and dealing with any diversity issues. However, in actuality, Rice is currently at least half caucasian and a little bit less than half Texan. We do have many East Asian, South Asian, Black and Hispanic students, and more than ten percent (a sizable proportion) of our students are internationals, coming from countries as diverse as India, Lebanon, Brazil, and China. There are clubs devoted to all of these cultures (any students are welcome to join) that put on cultural shows and dances every year. I can't imagine anyone feeling out-of-place at Rice due to either ethnicity or sexual orientation, as the community here is very accepting. We also cover a wide spectrum of political views; Rice is not as liberal as many universities in other states, but I would say we're split fairly evenly between right and left (we have very active Young Democrat and Young Republican clubs), with a large libertarian population. Financial situations really vary, but short of the obviously wealthy students driving BMWs it is hard to tell who is rich and who is poor; Rice's financial aid system is very generous, so sometimes the students who seem to have lots of money to spend actually come from poorer families and simply have been blessed with large aid packages.
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Kelly Harp lol