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

 

Debunking Owl Days Myths

It’s mid-April, Rice, so brace yourselves: the prospies are coming. Owl Days is this week, Admit Days are today and next Monday – it’s the time of year when Rice welcomes on campus the hundreds of admitted prospective students – fondly called “prospies” – and helps them fall in love with Rice the same way we have.

I remember walking on campus for Owl Days with terror in my heart, mostly fueled by my anxiety about most social situations. Because I know many high school seniors feel the same way, I want to debunk a few of the myths your anxiety will try to tell you about Owl Days.

MYTH NUMBER 1: If you don’t meet your best friends over Owl Days, you will remain friendless and alone forever.

Owl Days is really great for meeting people. You’re likely to find a few people staying in the same suite/hall/residential college to talk to, but don’t worry if you don’t click and become instant best friends. I met great people that I still see around campus, but don’t feel totally alone if you don’t click at once with the people around you.

REALITY: Owl Days is great for getting to know your future classmates, but you’ll make friends in your classes and at your college as well!

More Reality: my only picture from Owl Days 2015 happens to be an appreciation of this artistic and tasty owl.

There will also be receptions and mingling opportunities galore, where you can pick up some tasty goodies like this beautiful cookie from Owl Days 2015.

MYTH NUMBER 2: The residential college you stay in is the absolute best college, and you must end up there.

Chances are, your host will be absolutely brimming with college pride and will explain to you that their college is the best college at Rice. It will be pretty easy to get attached, but don’t stay up late at night worrying about whether or not you’ll be placed in the “best” residential college. Every college is widely loved by its members. You’re likely to love whatever college you end up a member of, regardless of whether or not you stayed there over Owl Days.

REALITY: Residential college pride and inner-college friendly competition is strong, but most people absolutely love the college they are in. There is no “best” or “worst” college!

MYTH NUMBER 3: “Rice students are super cool and super busy and super superior to prospies and if you speak out of turn you’ll be shamed ahhhhhhhh”

Okay, so Rice students are pretty cool. Hosts come in every shape and size, from every residential college, and we all have different workloads. (Please forgive us if we have to study – our final tests and projects are happening now or are right around the corner!) Even if your host seems busy or way too cool to listen to your questions, ask questions anyway. People sign up to be hosts because they want to hang out with prospies. You’ll probably find people that aren’t hosts that want to get to know you, too! If you feel terrified and out of place like I did when I first stepped on campus, know that Rice kids are at most a few years older than you, they remember exactly what it was like to be in your shoes, and they’re volunteering their time because they want to get to know you!

REALITY: All we want to do is hang out with the cool prospies. Make yourselves at home!

A lot has happened in a year. I’m no longer the timid high school senior terrified of leaving home and making new friends. So if that’s you, it’s okay; we remember what that was like, and we can’t wait to meet you!

events092

What the picture says: WELCOME!

~Erika

Life Before Acceptance

It would be a little bit of an understatement to say that I am in love with Rice. Ever since middle school, I’ve dreamed of wearing the blue and gray colors of our school. My adoration and respect for everything Rice began with a small project in eighth grade that required us to pick one college in the United States and learn all we could about it. While most people presented on the Ivies or state schools, I somehow stumbled upon Rice. If I look back on it now, it was probably because I thought it was a strange name for a school. Whatever the case, I can’t think of how my life would be different now without that first spark of interest that was ignited when I discovered Rice. It was important to me that my future home not only have stellar academics, but also have an environment that was diverse, accepting, and supportive. The more I read about it, the more I realized that Rice was as unconventional as its motto, and I couldn’t see myself anywhere else. Every day after my presentation on Rice, I resolved to go to the university of my dreams and not let anything get in my way.

A tile that I painted in high school that is still being displayed in my English teacher's classroom

A tile that I painted in high school that is still being displayed in my English teacher’s classroom

When people asked where I wanted to go to college in high school, there wasn’t a moment of hesitation before I would say, “Rice University” with a kind of unabashed pride and certainty. The usual response ranged from polite nods when they didn’t recognize the name (very few people at my school did) to excited exclamations and questions about the future. It didn’t bother me when people didn’t know about Rice – I was more than happy to enlighten them, much to their annoyance, I’m sure – because it had never been about the title or prestige to me. The only comments that did bother me were those that tried to discourage me, even though I’m sure they were made in good faith. Such comments included things like, “oh, well, you know not many people get in, and they’re looking for a specific sort of person.” Yes, I would think, nothing worth having comes easy, and what do you mean specific sort of person? Why can’t that person be me? For every handful of positive comments I would receive, there was sure to be a single negative one that would plant itself in my head and eat away at my resolve. What I hope to convey to any prospective Rice Owl is to not be discouraged by what others say and to realize that you can achieve the things you want, regardless of your race, gender, or economic status. One of the great things about Rice is that it supports the achievers and dreamers. There is not one all-encompassing mold that represents what it means to be a Rice student – the incredibly unique and diverse student body here is proof of that.
With those ideals in mind, I applied to Rice, knowing that it would be difficult and that I would have to rely on the generosity of the university or others to be able to attend. Receiving that acceptance letter was one of the best feelings in the world. I think of it sometimes when I’m walking on campus, passing by the beautiful trees so quickly that I forget to admire my surroundings. I think of it when I’m staying up to do work, and it’s so early I can start to see the glow of dawn. I think of it when I see other students and wonder at the nature of fate and how we all ended up in one place at one time. Most of all, I try to think of it as a reminder to stay grateful and to remember that I am here for a reason.

Senior Interviewing

Hello, prospective students (particularly seniors)! Application deadlines are on the horizon, and I just wanted to make sure everyone was aware of the optional interview. Although interviews are by no means required to complete an application, I always encourage potential students to sign up for one. An interview is an excellent opportunity for you to personally express why you want to attend Rice and it allows the admissions office to get to know you as a person. I am actually a part of the senior interviewer team this semester, which means that once a week (and sometimes on Saturdays) I have the pleasure of speaking with prospective students about who they are and why they believe Rice is a great fit for them.

I know that interviewing can be intimidating, but rest assured that the interviews are not meant to be scary! Think of it as a conversation, not an intense round of questions. When I applied early decision to Rice, I opted to interview and it was actually the interview that reaffirmed my interest in the university. It’s a bit creepy, but I still remember exactly who interviewed me and how we asked each other questions (he obviously inquired about my academic interests/passions and I was able to ask him all about why he chose Rice, what he planned to do post-graduation, and my department of interest). He made me feel confident in my decision to apply to Rice, which is exactly what I hope to do every time I interview a prospective student.

 

Rice Message Boards

Eager for more student perspectives regarding Rice’s campus life and culture? Be sure to head over to the Rice Message Boards which may be found at https://rice.boards.edu.185r.net/. All of the bloggers are there, as well as other members (there are lots of us!) of Rice’s Student Admission Council. If you have any suggestions for message board topics, feel free to e-mail me at amc12@rice.edu. I really love talking to y’all, so don’t hesitate to contact me via e-mail or via the message boards.

 

The Real Reasons I Chose Rice

So it’s March, and if you seniors are anything like I was, you’re probably perfecting the art of doing the bare minimum in all of your classes to slide by with a passing grade. (Just kidding – that’s an awful idea! Don’t do that!) Anyway, you’re probably also spending a lot of time worrying or fantasizing about college.  And if you’re exactly like me, you may have applied to 16 different schools. And as the acceptances are beginning to roll in, you’re forced to admit that you have absolutely know idea what you’re going to do with your life.  And that’s where the list comes in.  Now I’m not talking about the list that you’re going to make with your parents that calculates academic rigor and financial value…blah blah blah. (Kidding again, that stuff is important.) But I’m talking about the real list. The one that determines exactly what sets each college over the top.

I stole this photo from my friend Joseph - he's an avid squirrel watcher as well.

Searching for some inspiration? Take a look at mine.

  1. My Hogwarts Application was denied.

On my eleventh birthday, I waited and waited and waited for Hogwarts acceptance letter.  When it never came, I assumed I’d be a late admit – that my powers just weren’t ready yet. When senior year finally rolled around, I had to face the truth: broomsticks and spells probably weren’t in my future.  So I began my search for the most Hogwarts-like college I could find and I found Rice. The residential college system has been explained umpteen times in this blog, so I’ll try not to do it again, but the best way I can describe the colleges at Rice is to compare them to the four houses of Hogwarts.  Like houses, each college is close-knit like a family. Like houses, each college has a faculty “head” who is there to support the students.  Like houses, each college has its own unique traditions, cheers, and rivalries with other colleges. And like houses, the entrance to each college is behind an enchanted talking portrait. Oh wait…now that’s not right.

  1. Squirrels

If you haven’t yet visited Rice, it’s something I strongly recommend you do. And while you’re examining the library or the physics lab, take a look at the squirrels.  Rice has the happiest, friendliest, most well-fed squirrels – and that’s a fact. The squirrel-watching opportunities alone should send Rice straight to the top of your list.

  1. Water Balloon Fights

At the end of March this awesome thing takes place on campus: Beer Bike. It’s this huge, campus-wide tradition that I will tell you all about once it occurs. Google it if you’re still confused.  Anyway, before this event takes place, there is a water balloon fight. And not just a couple of kids running around throwing balloons.  Oh no, this is a full-out water war that is prepared for weeks in advance.  Confession time: I haven’t actually experienced this yet – but just the mention of this epic battle gets my heart racing. And it should get yours too!

  1. Endless Food Options

Lots of schools have one cafeteria, maybe two or three at most.  Rice, however, has six serveries! With that many meal options, how could I ever get bored?  And that’s without the Hoot, Willy’s Pub, or Coffehouse.

  1. Dorms with Air Conditioning

Some schools don’t have air conditioning. We do. This one is kind of a no brainer.

My list was longer – but I know most of you only skim these posts anyway. So go ahead, make your list, come to Rice.