4 Unexpected Lessons that I Took Away From My Freshman Year at Rice

  1. The type of community that Rice has to offer is super unique and we’re super lucky to be a part of it– I have trouble explaining the social environment and the different communities at Rice to my friends at other schools because it’s very different from the social environment at most colleges in the U.S. The residential college system, Beer Bike (read about the glory that is beer bike here: https://riceprogramcouncilsite.wordpress.com/beer-bike/) , jacks (every year, typically during the week of Beer Bike, residential colleges pull pranks on each other) – these are all concepts that I ramble on and on about to my friends yet still feel like they don’t completely understand because they’re all unique parts of the Rice experience. That just goes to show how unique the Rice experience is and how lucky we are as Rice students to have a college experience that is as inclusive, fun, and memorable as the one that Rice has to offer.
  2. If you’re not trying to learn the material the first opportunity you have to learn it, you’ll most likely fall behind – I definitely learned this the hard way, but it’s probably the most important lessons that I took away from my first semester at Rice. No longer having to take quizzes and submit homework assignments everyday, I definitely started to become less disciplined, and I fell in to the unhealthy habit of cramming in learning weeks of material in the few days before exams. Adjusting to college academics is definitely a process, but you’ll soon learn to be responsible for your own learning.
  3. You probably won’t find your ‘passion’ during your first month of college – Since High School, I’ve heard over and over again that college is the time to find my passion, and I had completely bought in to this idea. I do agree with this, college is the time and place to find what makes your excited and the career path that suits your interests and talents. However, you’re most likely not going to find your exact passion freshman year. You’re going to be taking mostly intro classes during your few semesters and these classes rarely show you the most interesting and fun parts of the field. Rather, freshman year is the time for you to recognize what type of work you enjoy doing, what your strengths are, and then narrow down your options from there. Don’t worry if you don’t have it figured out by the end of your freshman year! As long as you’re learning a lot about yourself, you’re on the right track to finding your passion.
  4. There are hundreds of different combinations of majors and minors you can pursue at Rice, and many of them may seem completely unrelated, but Rice is the place to do it– We’re super lucky to have the low student to faculty ratio and academic flexibility that we do at Rice. It gives us the time and option to explore different majors across the board. Another added benefit of this is that many students end up pursuing double majors or multiple minors. During my first two semesters here, I have met students  For example, I have met students double majoring in political science and computer science, biochemistry and economics, and chemistry and english. Utilize Rice’s academic resources and flexibility to pursue more than one interest, even if they may seem completely unrelated!

No two people experience Rice the same way, but one thing for sure- every single person experiences growth in unexpected ways and learns to fall in love with different parts of Rice. So great ready and get EXCITED for this new chapter of your life.

What Are You Doing This Summer?

It’s a question that we students are asked a lot. With school out of session, there’s a lot we can do. For my graduating high school seniors, so much awaits you this summer. You can finally relax and know that all your hard work has finally paid off. A new chapter in your life is about to begin, so get ready, get pumped, and make the most of the time you have right now.

For those of you joining us in the fall, there’s a couple of things you’ll need to do before arriving on campus.

  • Fill out, sign, and send online forms. – These forms include your roommate matching form, health form, housing agreement, etc. and will be available to you on your Esther account. Make sure to complete each of them by their deadlines! You can look on https://success.rice.edu/checklist for more info on the different forms you need to complete.
  • Take the composition exam.
  • Send in your final transcripts.
  • Send in your AP/IB/etc. scores.
  • Get hype for O-Week!

In addition to the logistical things, if you want to make like Phineas and Ferb and “know what you want to do today,” here are some great things you can do over the summer!

  • Sleep in till noon. (check and done)
  • Read books.
  • Explore things you’re interested in.
  • Travel to new places. (even if it’s just within your hometown)
  • Share a meal with your friends.
  • Learn new skills. (I learned how to longboard!)
  • Pick up a new series.
  • Reach out to former teachers. (Even if it’s been 12 years, let them know how you’re doing and what you’ve been up to. They love hearing from old students!)
  • Develop a good exercise routine. (Freshman 15 isn’t a joke, y’all.)
  • Make something. (especially blanket and pillow forts)
  • Spend time with the ones you love most.
  • And most importantly, treat yo self because you’ve earned it!

Congratulations to the incoming class of 2022, have a great summer (HAGS), and welcome to Rice!!!

Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting College

As my senior year starts to wind down (seriously, only three weeks left!), I’ve really started to think about my time here at Rice and what I would’ve liked senior Serena to say to bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman Serena. The list isn’t that long – thankfully, I think freshman Serena did her best with the resources she had – but I nonetheless want to share with you some thoughts I had to make the college experience even better! I say all this in reference to Rice, but of course, this could apply to you no matter where your journey takes you!

Friends from Rice that I’ll have for a lifetime!

1) There might be some pressures on you to get a certain major, grades, or internships once you get to college, and you might feel pushed in a lot of conflicting directions. Whether that pressure is from friends, family, or self-induced, it can make your life so much harder when you’re trying to decide what you want to major in or do with your time at college if you’re trying to please others. It’s not easy, but try to ignore the voices. Follow your passion! As cheesy as it sounds, following your heart will lead you to where you need to be!

2) Everyone here is incredibly intelligent, well-rounded, and talented, which might be a little hard to cope with in the beginning. Be careful not to compare yourself to others. We all come here with our own stories and personal challenges, and you learn and work at your own pace. At the end of the day, you get to say what “success” means to you. Don’t forget that you’re a fantastic student and person that is deserving of every accomplishment!

3) Explore! Spend time dipping your toes, trying new things, and really making an effort to shape your time at college with things you care about! There are so many opportunities, but avoid overloading yourself. Narrow down your interests and really devote yourself to them. Delving into one or two things and giving it your all will reward you a lot more than small involvement in a lot of things.

I hope these pieces of advice help you going forward. Above all, do as President Teddy Roosevelt once said, and “do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Rice’s Culture of Care

As a new student, most especially during O-week, one of the first things you’ll hear about is the Culture of Care. And, believe me, it’s one of those things you will keep hearing about until it almost seems to lose meaning. At orientation, you’re introduced to all of Rice’s resources, which seem to take care of just about every need you’ll ever have. Need help making your schedule for next semester? Peer Academic Advisors (PAAs) are there for that. Come down with a cold? Need someone to talk to? Rice Health Advisors (RHAs) are prepared for all your basic mental & physical first-aid needs. Need general advice about academics or life at Rice? Your O-Week advisors are happy to help you figure things out. You hear about all these people–all this information is stuffed into your brain in such a short amount of time–and you just got here. You don’t know anyone at Rice. You wonder: are all these people really here to help? Can I ask them for help? Or are they just figureheads? Continue reading

Jacks on Jacks on Jacks

This past week was a particularly festive and upbeat time on campus. “Willy Week” is the week leading up to Beer Bike, and throughout this week, students are busy having fun (and procrastinating on homework). It’s great!

One of my favorite Willy Week traditions is the inter-college mischief that occurs leading up to Beer Bike morning. Throughout this week, members from each residential college will pull little pranks, called “jacks”, on the other colleges or on campus at large. Here are a few examples of “jacks” that have been done in the past:

  • Taking the hammocks from the Hangout, stringing them together, and outfitting Willy’s statue with a toga (which I may or may not have been a part of last year)
  • Sneaking into another college’s commons in the middle of the night and stealing all of their chairs
  • Making a Snapchat filter (last year, Lovett made a Snapchat filter that showed up over Sid that called us “Lovett’s Colony”)
  • Taking a building’s lettering and rearranging it to spell something else
  • Covering another college’s quad with plastic forks

This year, my residential college, Sid Richardson College, pulled off a particularly impressive “jack” that even got a shoutout from the Dean of Undergraduates, known to us as “Dean Hutch”.

Sid is the tallest residential college on campus. However, since Sid is built as a large tower, it doesn’t possess a central quad like a lot of the other colleges, like Martel or McMurtry. Other colleges use their quads as an outdoor hangout space, especially on Friday afternoons as a way to wind down after a busy week. To finally give Sid a quad of its own, some sneaky Sidizens went from college to college in the middle of the night. They stole hammocks, trampolines, and benches that other colleges had in their quads. They then took this furniture and put it in the middle of the main academic quad, giving Sid its own makeshift “quad” to use during Willy Week!

The Willy Week “Sid Quad”!

Every time I walked to class, I saw my friends lounging on hammocks and jumping on trampolines. I even took advantage of the nice weather one day to do some homework on one of the picnic tables, with Willy’s statue looking on!

These “jacks” are a fun way to stir up that friendly residential college rivalry that comes to a head during the races on Beer Bike. I think they really highlight the creativity and unconventional wisdom of the Rice student body, and each year, I can’t wait to see what Rice students will come up with next. It’s one of the little things that makes Rice a truly unique place, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be!

Shepherd School Concerts

I always loved classical music, but I never knew much about it. Growing up in India, classical music concerts were sparse, far away, or too expensive. I had only listened to Mozart and Beethoven on YouTube, and I was always enraptured by the lilting melodies and the intricate compositions. It was my dream to witness a live symphony perform.

When I began to research Rice University, I learned about the Shepherd School of Music. I heard that the concerts at the Shepherd School were free for Rice students and that it had a great reputation for good music. But I always thought that it would be too far away or too posh to be accessible to college students.

When I actually arrived at Rice, I was pleasantly surprised! Not only was the Shepherd School Concert Hall a short ten-minute walk from my residential college (Wiess College), it had concerts almost every weekend, and a large percentage of the student body attended these concerts. I began to attend concerts immediately!

I have had the wonderful opportunity to listen to Chamber Music, Symphonies, and World-Renowned Soloists. One of the most memorable concerts I watched was put on by the Campanile Orchestra, a symphony orchestra made up of non-Music majors from Rice and members of the Rice community. I watched my friend play the Clarinet in the orchestra, and was happy to support her and listen to amazing music!

To me, the Shepherd School Concerts serve as quality entertainment and a great stress-buster.  Not only do they feed my love for Classical music and help me learn more about new composers and compositions, they are a chance to dress up for a couple of hours, sit in the comfy seats of the concert hall and relax to the sound of great music!