Residential Colleges: More Than a Living Space

If you’re considering applying to Rice, you’ve probably heard about the residential college system. The residential colleges are interesting – they are a little bit of everything. Even now as a junior, I am realizing how much the diversity of socialization and experiences that the colleges provide play a prominent part of my undergraduate career.

At other universities, my friends describe their dorms as more distinct – as “humanities dorms” or “honors dorms” or “engineering dorms.” Rice’s residential colleges are more of a mix, with no one major or program dominating the spaces we live in. The residential colleges are an inclusive blend of everything – academic interests, social interests, cultures. Even for me, personally, living on campus at Wiess College for the past two and a half years has produced interactions and memories with different kinds of individuals. In my current suite, I live with an athlete, an artist, and a future chemical engineer. My freshman year, I shared a room with a Math major who stayed up with me every other night writing proofs while I wrote essays for my English courses. Sophomore year, my roommate and I (usually) both went to bed by midnight, juggling very different non-academic commitments and daily to-do lists, but still managing to attend social and campus-wide events together.

Rice’s residential college system can bring you close to very individually interesting, bright, and inspiring people – here’s my suite heading over to the fall formal, Esperanza, all together.

At any given time in the residential college commons, I often see groups of people working together. I also see people getting up and floating around, interacting with people who are working on something completely different (whether academically, or for another purpose – someone designing a shirt for a social event, for instance). The residential colleges really allow each and every one of us to bring our unique interests, talents, and experiences to the table. No matter where you live on campus, no matter which residential college’s cheers you learn during O-week, your residential college provides potential interactions and friendships with people of all kinds. And although each college has its own colors, traditions, and buildings, they each share one very important feature: they are inclusive of all academic majors, ages, cultural backgrounds, and voices.

There’s Something about that Job, Job, Job, Job…

Want to gain a sense of financial independence? (Not really) Then getting a part time job on Rice’s campus might be the best choice for you!

When I first got into Rice, I was overwhelmed by all my new financial responsibilities as an undergraduate student. It was the first time I had to manage my own money and I was not good at it at all. Therefore, I decided to get a job. There are a lot of jobs available on campus: from working in Rice Coffeeshop to writing for the Rice newspaper and grading for your math class. There is also a website for Rice students to check out what jobs are available. So you are very likely to find something you are truly interested in. However, when I was applying, I did not know for sure what I really loved since I was only a freshmen with zero work experience. I tried to narrow it down to three or four jobs. After a few interviews, I was lucky enough to get a job offer from the Rice Geographic Information System Data Center (GDC) as a student assistant.

The GDC is located in the basement of Rice’s Fondren Library. It mainly helps students or faculty visualize their research on a map with Geographic Information System (GIS). I came in with zero experience with GIS, but the GDC head, Kim, and GDC specialist, Jean, offered me great resources to learn GIS and trained me on almost everything I needed to excel using this system.

After the training, my main responsibilities as a student assistant were threefold: 1) Help patrons in the GDC when they run into problems, 2) Help Jean with her courses, 3) Work on my own projects. I have helped students from the Architecture to the Earth Sciences departments with their projects. Every time I work with them, I learn a lot from their projects and of course, how to debug common GIS system errors. I still remember for the first couple of months, whenever I was asked a question, I would always ask Jean for additional help because I had no idea what to do. I was so glad that neither Jean nor the patron got annoyed for me not being able to help, and it motivated me to keep learning! The good news is that after working at the GDC for a year, I don’t need to ask Jean all the time to answer patron’s questions!

The GDC offers many courses to help Rice students and faculty learn how to use GIS. If the class size is larger than around 10 people, one of the GDC student workers are there to assist Jean in the class and help answer any questions. Some student workers even offer their own courses, and that is a valuable experience for them!

My favorite part of working in the GDC is having my own projects to work on. Jean and Kim respect my own interests when assigning the projects. They worked with me on a GIS tutorial for a Civil Engineering class because I am a Civil Engineering major. They introduced me to a professor working on oil spills when they heard that I am interested in energy and environment. What I appreciate the most about my projects is that I am not alone. even when I am working on projects not related to the GDC itself. Jean and Kim are both willing to help and brainstorm with me when I have no idea where I am going. The GDC for me is truly like a family.

Besides job opportunities, the GDC also has really cool events going on. All GDC workers have a pizza party at the end of each semester. Each worker also gets a survival pack for finals – with my favorite snacks! Last semester, a few student workers went bowling with Jean and Kim (though I was unable to go 🙁 ) Recently, we have been busy decorating the place for the holiday season.

The GDC family board!

Working in the GDC and on Rice’s campus is a lot of fun. My experience is only a small portion of part time student workers’ lives. So if you want to work on campus and maybe learn something useful while earning money, Rice offers students lots of opportunities!

Holiday Spirit


Winter Break is almost here!

It’s that time of year again! Christmas trees are out, sleigh bells ringing, and joyous spirit is in the air. The beginning of December goes by in a blur as we switch from turkey mode to Santa mode. Sadly, the happy times also bring the deadlines of the last few assignments that students hurry to finish and the dread of upcoming finals. To bear the thought of study days and the end of my first semester at Rice, I’m going to explore the various holiday traditions and events we have around campus and in Houston that students attend to take a break from studying.

The Rice Program Council (RPC) hosts a lot of events to get students in the holiday spirit. I’ve been to a few of their amazing study study breaks, like a gingerbread house making competition, late night bites from Tiff’s Treats, and subsidized tickets to see the annual Houston Zoo Lights. It is a really fun, unique experience to see the giraffes, ostriches, and sea animals at night surrounded by gorgeous light decorations that cover every inch of the 55-acre zoo. The RPC always has great events planned which almost always involve food, a must for surviving the finals season. One really fun upcoming study break is the Winter Wonderland themed President and Dean’s Study Break. We get to have amazing holiday themed treats and hang out with President Leebron and Dean Hutchinson. It is guaranteed to be a wonderful time, and a break from the stress of studying for finals. Our very own student run business, Rice Bikes will also be hosting a special Rice Rides: River Oaks Lights. River Oaks is a neighborhood around Rice University and is known for decorating their lawns with gorgeous displays of light decorations to honor the holiday season.

PC: Tim Stanley Photography

With all the fun events, I am sure that the prospect of study days and upcoming finals will actually be more entertaining than I realize with these great events on campus and around Houston – I just have to make sure not to get too carried away in the holiday spirit!


Houston Winter is Coming

There are many things that join the Rice students as one. Similar classes, parties, Coffeehouse, and residential colleges can give Rice students from around the world a common bond. These experiences all give a chance for students to bring their past experiences and share them with one another, creating bonds through differences. But one experience at Rice causes everyone to forget their past and uniformly struggle through together: Houston Winter.

At the time Houston Winter arrives, everyone has been at Rice for about 3 months. This means everyone is acclimated to the fact that we don’t ever have below 90% humidity and summer lasts through October. No matter where in the world students come from, air conditioning is now cold, and a good day is defined by when you can’t feel the sun burning your skin. Everyone is convinced that summer will never end, and so the cries roll in at the first sign of a chill in the air. And when students have something common to complain about, that is when everlasting bonds form.


Houston Winter attire: Short sleeves and gloves or scarf (not both or you’ll sweat too much)

Houston Winter is defined in most other parts of the country as “fall”.” However, in Houston, winter is defined as any period of time where you prefer to be inside because air conditioning is now warmer than outside. This usually begins around the start of November, a confusing period of time because the outfits can no longer be planned based on how you feel when you wake up. You feel a brisk wind in the morning, and decide to break out that olive green sweater, only to find yourself trapped indoors after 10am because it is above 90 degrees and there is no sign of a single cloud.


Rice Snow fight when it is 80 degrees and sunny

Snow in Houston is like the Loch Ness monster: there have been a few sightings, but relatively few people have actually encountered it. Luckily, Rice brings us snow! As a study break last year, Lovett College decided to have some shaved ice brought in so we could experience “a real winter.” And Houston Winter is the perfect transition to when everyone goes home to visit their families where they may be able to see real snow, and try to convince their friends that a magical place where fall lasts 6 months really does exist.

I Wanna Be (Sid) Rich

It’s hard for me to believe that I’m almost done with my first semester at Rice. It feels like I’ve only just gotten here, and now Winter Break is right around the corner. With that being said, I wanted to take some time to reflect on my college experience so far. I am enjoying my classes, have made great friends, and have gotten way too many honey butter chicken biscuits from the Hoot at night (The Hoot is a student-run shop that sells Chick-Fil-A, Whataburger, and a bunch of other snacks and drinks – it’s my go-to for a midnight snack). However, I think the residential college system has become my favorite thing about Rice. Being a part of Sid Richardson College (SRC DFA!) has made my experience all the more satisfying and rewarding.

The traditions that Sid Rich has really make me feel part of something bigger than myself:

  1. Radio Free Sid: Walking back from class on Friday afternoons, I hear music blasting from the 7th floor speakers. Sidizens can submit their own playlists for Radio Free Sid, getting the opportunity to blast their favorite songs. Radio Free Sid always starts and ends with Sid’s unofficial theme song, AC/DC’s “Back in Black”. Hearing some of my favorite jams puts me in a good mood and gets me excited for the weekend.
  2. Sid Skate: This is coming up in the next few weeks, but I can’t wait! Sid rents out the ice skating rink at the Galleria for students to take a break from studying for finals. Though I’m probably gonna fall down a lot, it’ll still be fun to spend time with my friends and not think about the impending doom of final exams.
  3. Floor Culture: One of the things that I love most about Sid is our floor culture. Some of my closest friends are the people that I’ve met on my floor. People are always out in the common area studying, playing games, or just hanging out. In order to further strengthen this floor culture, the Sid master hosts a year-long contest called “Floor Wars.” Every few weeks, he hosts an event that the floors compete in against each other. All year long, the floors compete for victory, and at the end of the year the winner gets a fancy dinner at the Master’s house (and the unofficial title of Best Floor). My floor (3rd Floor FTW!) is in first place right now, so hopefully we can keep our lead until the end of the year. Some of the events that we’ve had so far include a puzzle making competition, a pumpkin carving competition, a karaoke battle, and an ice cream making competition. It’s a whole lot of fun and a great way to become even closer to the people on your floor.

The people in your residential college are some of the closest friends that you will make at Rice. They are the people that you go to the movies with on a Friday night and the people that you discuss the meaning of life with at 2 AM. It feels good knowing that even when I’m away from my family in Dallas, I’ll “OWLways” have a home here at Rice!

Sid is the tallest residential college on campus, and this is the amazing view from the 7th floor balcony. The sun is setting on my first semester here, and it has been a wild ride!

Sid is the tallest residential college on campus, and this is the amazing view from the 7th floor balcony. The sun is setting on my first semester here, and it has been a wild ride!

Branching Out with Classes

As fall semester is coming towards an end and spring class registration is underway, classes are on everyone’s mind right now, including mine. We all go to college to take classes, and they really make up a large part of your overall Rice experience. Choosing the right classes can be a stressful but important component of the Rice experience.

Luckily, Rice has plenty of resources if students need guidance. Fifty percent of Rice’s orientation week consists of academics and class planning, so you will definitely not be lost coming into college. Throughout the rest of the year, each residential college has Peer Academic Advisors (PAAs) who are there to help you plan your schedule based on your major, fulfill graduation requirements, and ask about any important deadlines or academic opportunities. As a PAA for Wiess College, I’ve found my role quite fulfilling because I have my own group of new students with similar interests to mine to help with academic planning in addition to my general role as an advisor for everyone else.

When I came into Rice, I had a general idea of what I wanted to major in but I wasn’t completely sure. Thankfully, the resources I had from the Office of Academic Advising ( and my PAAs were instrumental in my decision to change my major from Biochemistry to Cognitive Sciences. Through the major and the suggestion from PAAs to take classes that interest me, I’ve discovered and re-aligned my academic interests from a natural sciences background to more social science subjects (psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy). With Rice’s requirement to take 12 hours from each distribution (Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences & Engineering), students have the opportunity to explore beyond their majors. I know many people who switch majors or change their career plans because they unexpectedly became interested in a distribution class and wanted to further pursue the major associated with the class. Additionally, there are so many interesting classes for students to take, like an English and Biology combined class titled “Monsters,” a class about managing large cities taught by former Houston mayor Annise Parker, or a class formatted like the reality TV show “Survivor.” It’s also great because you get so much feedback from other upperclassmen who give useful advice about which classes to take in addition to the OAA and PAAs.

One of the main purposes of college is to explore your options and really find your passions, whether that be academic or non-academic. I’m thankful that I found what I’m truly interested in, and there’s no doubt you will too when you come to Rice.