Approaching Your College Decision

For many of you, senior year is flying by as April nears its end.  I am sure you all know what that means: the May 1st deadline for committing to your college gets closer and closer, while your decision may not be getting any easier.  This is why I am writing this post.  I would like to give some tips and share my experience with this process, to help you as you decide which college to attend.

The first thing you should do is to try to visit all the colleges you are considering.  Not visiting would be like buying a car without driving it first.  Go on college tours, stay with an overnight host, and attend the admitted student events.  These are great ways for you to see if you fit in well with the student body and your future classmates.  When I was a senior, attending Owl Days and interacting with current and other prospective Rice students helped me see myself as a Rice student, which ultimately led me to choose Rice with confidence.  Also, actually visiting a campus is so much more than just looking at pictures or doing a virtual tour.  Visiting is the only way you can get a feel for the environment and the surrounding area.  Before I chose Rice, I was also considering the University of Southern California.  Before I visited USC, I looked at pictures and saw how beautiful the campus was; however, when I actually visited, I found out that Los Angeles did not really fit my taste.

After you have visited, you should weigh the pros and cons of each college you are considering.  Are you looking for a big or small school?  Do you want to live in a city or a rural environment?  Is money a factor?  I was looking for a relatively small school (but not too small) with small class sizes and a close-knit community, so Rice was a great choice for me.

Deciding which college to go to can truly be challenging.  If you think about it, where you spend four years of your life and who your future lifelong friends will be are all dependent on this one decision.  At the end of the day, going with your gut feeling will lead you to the right choice.  It did for me.

Rice University’s beautiful campus with the Houston skyline in the background

 

The Trees of Rice

Do you fear those humid summer days? One of the most common concerns of prospective Rice students, including myself when I was in high school, is the Houston heat. Luckily, you do not need to worry.  Here is why:

  • The hottest months in Houston are from June to August

During the hottest months of the summer, you may not be studying at Rice. You will be on summer break, which means that you will probably get to escape the heat (yay!). During most of the months that you are here (August-April), the weather is actually quite nice, especially during the winter. In January, you get sunshine and 60 degree weather instead of the freezing temperatures of the North. How awesome is it to be able to wear shorts in the winter?

  • All of the buildings have air conditioning

Even though the weather is still pretty humid when you arrive in August, you still get to escape most of the humidity. Much of your time will be spent indoors in classrooms or in one of Rice’s beautiful buildings, which means that you get to enjoy air conditioning. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, drenched in your own sweat? Well, you will never have to experience that here because every dorm room in Rice has its own air conditioning.

  • Trees, trees, and more trees!

Did you know that Rice was designated as a “Tree Campus USA?” Rice is an arboretum with 4,300 trees spread across campus. That means that each undergraduate can have 1 tree!

So what does this have to do with the Houston heat?

Well, these trees are not just for show. They provide shade all over campus. Sometimes on a hot day, students can take cover under one of the many friendly trees spread across campus to cool off.

  • Wrapping it all up

Although Houston can have some pretty hot weather, Rice has so many awesome features like air conditioning and trees to keep us cool. As a result, we do not fear the seemingly intimidating heat of Houston.

The endless lines of trees that cover Rice University

Rice University: The Hogwarts of the South

Have you seen or read the Harry Potter series? Well, just in case you haven’t, the only thing you need to know is that at the magical school of Hogwarts, where the story takes place, all the new students are sorted into four different houses (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin) based on personality. So what in the world does this have to do with anything?

Similar to the way Harry and his friends were sorted into one of the four different houses when they arrived at Hogwarts, you will be sorted into one of the 11 (the more the merrier) residential colleges (Baker, Wiess, Hanszen, Will Rice, Jones, Brown, Sid Richardson, Lovett, Martel, McMurtry, Duncan) when you matriculate at Rice.  The only difference is that it is completely random instead of personality-based (Yay! You will not need to be scared of having a talking hat abruptly yell over your head). Your residential college will become your home, your family, your support group, your social space, and much, much more.

Lovett College (my residential college)

Each residential college is extremely close knit and has its own culture and traditions that you will quickly learn once you arrive on campus in the fall. You will make many close friends at your college.  And do not worry about not fitting in because each college is so diverse that you will definitely find your niche no matter who you are. Regardless of the college you get placed in, by the end of O-Week, you will love your college so much that you will believe your college is the best one on campus.

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My awesome O-Week Group at Lovett

Rice’s residential college system also provides endless resources for your success in college.  Each college has its own academic fellows, upperclassmen who can help you with your coursework. You will also be assigned to a peer academic advisor who can help you with planning your academics. Additionally, there are college masters and associates who are there to help if you have any concerns, so do not hesitate to reach out to them. The culture of care is truly alive at Rice, so if you need assistance of any sort, there are so many people here that would be more than happy to help you.

You have probably read enough about the different facets of Rice’s residential colleges, so let me address some of the related concerns that I have heard.

  • Making friends with people outside of the residential college: Do not worry! You will have plenty of opportunities to make friends from outside through clubs and classes.
  • No Greek Life: Although Rice does not have fraternities/sororities, the residential colleges provide the same close knit experience that many people look for through Greek life at other universities. The only difference is that everyone is guaranteed to be put in a college so there is no stress over rushing. Yay!

Like Hogwarts, Rice is undoubtedly a magical place. The residential college system provides an undergraduate experience that can be found in very few places. The inclusiveness of the colleges at Rice will integrate you into a large, caring family that will always be there to support you.  hey are what make Rice the perfect place for all of its students.