- Class: Alum
- Major: Computer Science
- Gender: M
- High School: The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
- Transfer Student: N
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.
The quality of academics at Rice is very high, but of course various by department. On average, the classes are small; we only have two or three big lecture halls and they're usually not filled. On top of that, the professors are extremely accessible. If you e-mail them, you will almost always get a reply within 24 hours, and they all have office hours in which you can visit. On top of that, most of them don't care if you stop by at any time you like. I even had one professor give us his home phone number, and just asked us not to wake up his wife. I can't tell you how invaluable it was having professors be that accessible and amenable to questions! The first thing you'll notice when you look at Rice's curriculum is that there is no core curriculum. There are literally no classes you are required to take other than the ones for your major(s). Note, there is a writing exam you have to take when you first get there that,if you don't pass, you're required to take at least one of the sundry English composition classes available. Instead of a core curriculum, you have to fulfill "distribution requirements". Basically, 3 to 4 classes in each of three areas: humanities/arts, social sciences, and math/engineering. For many students most of these will be covered by their major(s), and the huge benefit of not having a core curriculum is that you can have multiple majors without a problem. I graduated in 4 years with a double major and had extra time for lots of electives. I know several people who triple majored, and even one who graduated with 4 majors. One note of caution: Rice is not trying to prepare you for a job. I know people from virtually every department, and excluding music, Rice is not trying to provide you with what you need to go into the workforce. Instead, Rice tries to give you the concepts that will help you to understand and excel at whatever you end up doing. I did not get an education that made me good at any particular job, but because of my education I am one of the best at the job I ended up getting.
Rice is very open. There are religious communities, and LGBT societies. There are political organizations of every strain, and people from every background. I can honestly say that at no time while I was at Rice did I know or care about the political leanings, socio-economic background, future salarly, or any other such aspect of the people around me. People at Rice just don't care. If someone walked into a dining hall and looked at the tables, you'd notice that there just weren't any patterns. If you get into Rice, the other students know you must at least be relatively smart, and that's all that matters. I can't tell you about the demographics at Rice, because in four years of living on campus, I just didn't notice them. And I'd wager that 95% of my classmates didn't either.
The Best Things
Your life while you're there
The Worst Things