Undergradautes Rule!

Undergraduates really do rule here, and that isn’t an understatement. When I was deciding between schools and whether to stay in state or not, undergraduate focus was the most important thing I was looking for. I didn’t want to go to an institution where I might get lost among the large populations of undergraduate and graduate students or one that is so focused on its own research endeavors that it doesn’t invest time in helping its new students. I have no regret in my decision on Rice seeing the attention, focus, and freedom in which Rice reserves for its ever strong undergraduate student population.

So many aspects of our daily lives are lie in our own hands. The residential colleges systems and college government puts the residential college community in the hands of its students. Students get to vote on what social events and physical changes they want to see within their college. Being from Martel College, our Fundeck Sundeck events get ever better with every legislation. But it doesn’t stop here. The Rice Student Association is the student government across Rice, creating important legislation at all times to change Rice as whole. Becoming more green, helping disadvantaged students, and supporting student mental health initiatives are some examples. And there groups like the Rice Programming Counsel that keeps things at Rice fun. Holding events like the Gingerbread building contest and Esperanza/Rondelet formals, the RPC keeps Rice students busy with social events to enjoy with their friends. All of this planned for and executed by Rice Students.

Overall, I was shocked and pleasantly surprised how easy it is for undergraduate students to directly have an impact on the Rice community. It’s empowering as a student and at the same time teaches us valuable lessons in responsibility, communication, and leadership. At the end of the day, undergraduates are just trying to figure out big life decisions; It’s just reassuring and exciting to know that the culture at Rice is centered around fostering that curiosity. A university built for the undergraduates, by the undergraduates.

Texas?!

I’m not going to lie here: being a Texan and Austinite for 18 years, I was dying to get out of Texas for college. Nearly 90% of the schools I applied to my senior year of high school were outside of (and far away) from the lone star state. A part of it was my insatiable craving for independence that developed after years of being the smothered only child. Another part was a desire to see something other than Texas, to be able to experience another culture, surrounding, and group of people.

By the end of the process, I had the opportunities to go out of state: some were phenomenal peer institutions to Rice and were equally financially generous (if not more) considering my family’s situation. It’s insane to look back and see that my life would have easily gone in a completely different direction. Of course, I am now a first year Rice student and only about two and a half hours away from my hometown. And to be honest, in the 3 months that I’ve been here, I can easily say beyond a shadow of a doubt that coming to Rice was the best decision I ever made.

The general consensus is that there are many mixed feelings about staying in Texas or coming to Texas for college. Some of you are so ready to experience the “yee haws” and the “y’alls” (kidding about the yee haws, not so much about the y’alls). Others aren’t feeling attracted to Texas as much, and it might even be the case that your parents are wondering how in the world did you end up finding a college option in Texas to begin with. For this post, I want to go through the reasons that prompted me to choose Rice, Houston, and Texas. To the prospective student in Texas, I hope you can get to know more about the perspective of staying in state and its benefits. To the students outside of Texas, I hope you can identify with some new experiences or new facts about Texas that make it a great college experience.

  1. Rice’s Unique Size, Student Body, and Culture

Rice’s medium sized population allows for the formation of close friendships and relationships but not at the expense of diversity. Being a student from Texas, I’ve enjoyed being able to converse with my peers who are in-state and celebrate the common experiences we’ve shared living here. But with nearly 60% of the student population not from Texas, I’ve been enlightened to so many perspectives around the nation and around the world. Even when it comes to something as polarizing as politics, the multitude of perspectives humbles everyone to listen and acknowledge rather than ignore and shut down.This intermingling, in classes, clubs, and even just during lunch in the commons, has allowed me to share my home state with others, help my out of state counterparts make Rice their new home, and feel at home myself.

  1. Houston and Surrounding Cities

Houston, being the 4th largest city in the United States, has so much to offer in terms of academic opportunities, cultural experiences, and recreational activities. Being a natural sciences student, I can’t speak for all of the opportunities, but the Texas Medical Center, Fortune 500 companies, and diverse metropolitan offer so many internship, research, and volunteer opportunities for students interested in any major. However, the best experiences so far have been the ones outside of the hedges. Going to the Chinatown area for some amazing bubble tea and ramen, going to a symphony orchestra concert, or just shopping at The Galleria have been some of the best memories at Rice so far. Being able to recharge with some quiet time has also been important and super easy with the museums and parks to walk through located near Rice. In addition to all of this, cities like Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas are all within reach and growing. Weekend trips can bring you to conventions, concerts, or job opportunities all around Texas. Just this past week I was able to go back to Austin to attend a Health Careers Fair.

  1. Family

The last factor that really influenced me was family, and being from Texas and going to Rice, family has two definitions. Going to college only two and a half hours away from home has allowed me the room and space needed to grow as an independent individual, but it is nice to be able to see family members at times. But as I mentioned, committing to Rice translates to being welcomed by a completely new family too. From day one of orientation week at my residential college, I immediately felt like I had a new family to support me through this difficult transition period. The fact that we are all from different parts of the country and the world (of all of freshmen members in my O-Week group, I’m the only one from Texas) makes the relationships that much stronger and meaningful. This is just a once in a lifetime experience that is special for whether you’re an in-state or out of state student.

O-Week Group in front of the Mystery Machine

Getting a world class education and being able to continue that with the experiences outside of the classroom is absolutely priceless. Doing it with a group of passionate and diverse individuals with a dash of southern hospitality just sweetens the deal. Not a day goes by in which I regret my decision to staying in state and coming to Rice, and I am super excited to see what will come in the next four years.