Don’t Be Fooled by a False First Glance of Rice

A few weekends ago, our campus was visited by enthusiastic students from across the country in search of experiencing life at Rice. These prospective students were part of Rice’s fly-in program Vision, which draws a diverse range of people from this year’s pool of applicants. As I saw the excited, nervous, and awed faces of these prospies, I was forced to reminisce on my own experience at Vision last year.
I still cannot believe that it has been an entire year since I was in the same position as those high school students. My first year at Rice is passing by at a thousand miles per second, and soon I will be forced to leave my beloved residential college for the summer. Thinking back on my own experience at Vision, I came to the realization that it provided me with an incomplete perspective of student life at Rice. In all honesty, I disliked my first visit to Rice because it portrayed an academically-competitive, boring and challenging environment. I left with a bad impression , erroneously believing that this college was full of “awkward nerds”. Had it not been for the wonderful advice that I received from enrolled Rice students, I would have never committed to this school.
If you find yourself feeling out of place at Rice during your first visit, don’t fear. There is no way to capture a realistic image of student life at Rice in just a few days. You need to live through the sense of excitement during Matriculation, the bonding times during Orientation Week, and the college-pride of being in your residential college to truly experience a snippet of what being a Rice Owl is really like. From taking a selfie with President Leebron to attending the numerous cultural shows held by student organizations, life at Rice is unexpected, thrilling and worthy. There will be Friday nights when you will be stuck studying at the library or Sunday mornings where you will be overwhelmed by all the work that you procrastinated over the weekend, but that’s just part of the sacrifices that a college education requires. College life is difficult and challenging and never ending at times, but there’s a big Rice family waiting to help you out.

Selfie with President Leebron

 

Being BioE at Rice

Rice has a popular Bioengineering program. Whether you are pre-med, pre-grad or pre-industry, Rice’s top-10 ranked program, its proximity to the Texas Medical Center, and various research opportunities make being a Bioengineer at Rice an incredibly rewarding experience. I came into Rice wanting to be a Bioengineer (or BioE, as they are called), but not really knowing what it entailed. Now, two years later, I have grown to love the major, and am convinced that it is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Freshman bioengineering majors usually do not take any core bioengineering classes but must take the ‘big three’ – General Chemistry, Physics, and Calculus, along with Introduction to Engineering Computing. The first core bioengineering class that BioEs take is BIOE 252, Bioengineering Fundamentals, during sophomore fall. This class consists of a lecture portion and a project-based portion. While the lecture portion teaches you the basic conservation principles that govern engineering, the project-based portion makes this class by far the most interesting class I’ve taken at Rice. Students are assigned a team, and each team is given two open-ended projects to complete over the semester. These projects are mainly student-run, with the professor offering only basic guidance. Not only were these projects fun to work on, they also introduced me to engineering design, helped me polish my teamwork skills, and taught me how to approach real-life engineering problems.

As bioengineering is one of the most credit-hour-intensive majors at Rice, it is necessary to often check to ensure that you’re on track- most classes require multiple prerequisites. However, Bioengineering at Rice has an excellent advising system, with plenty of resources and helpful major advisors. Some students opt to do a minor along with their Bioengineering major. With a strong support system, it is easy to plan your time at Rice such that you get the most out of the opportunities.

Lastly, the heavy workload of being a Bioengineering major can at times be stressful and quite overwhelming. It is at times like these that the BioE community is helpful. As all the BioEs in your year take the same classes at the same time, there are always peers happy to with difficult assignments, to inspire and motivate you, and who understand your struggles. From my two years being a Rice Bioengineering Student, I am grateful for the interesting and challenging classes I have had a chance to take, but I am more grateful for the friendships I have made with my BioE peers!

Your Village At Rice

“It takes a village to get you here. And it takes a village to get you along your journey here.”

Reflecting on her undergraduate years now as a medical student, a Rice Alumni said those words during a discussion about her journey as a pre-med student at Rice. From the beginning of O-Week, Rice students hear a lot about the culture of care at Rice and how everyone is here if you need support and it’s incredible how evident that statement is in every part of life.

Last Sunday night around 11:30pm, I was finishing up some last minute work when there was an outbreak of noise outside my door. Unbothered by it, I continued working when there was pounding on my door. Opening my door, I saw my friend, who was holding his laptop and had a disappointed look on his face.  Hearing that he spilled half of his water bottle on his laptop, I took his laptop and attempted to wipe it off while also using a blow dryer to attempt to get some of the water off. I also called a friend who was at Fondren Library as she had uncooked rice in her room from when this exact incident happened to her last fall. She ran all the way from Fondren to McMurtry College to grab the rice and bring it to my room. Just as we were going to place the computer in rice and hope for the best after blow drying it, the laptop started making noise and turned back on, right to the document that my friend had been working on (but forgot to save). We all started cheering and he took his laptop to finish his assignment. While a simple example of what Rice students are capable of, this culture only increases as the time to choose Orientation Week Advisors arrives.

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The Highs and Lows of Life at Rice

Sometimes it’s just one of those weeks. It seems like everything that can go wrong does. Life at Rice is filled with fulfilling relationships, unique opportunities, and a beautiful campus, but also stress and academic commitments. When work piles up and exams are coming up, stress can build up and you can begin to feel overwhelmed.

I’ve experienced stress associated with academics across my life at different schools, and Rice is no exception. However, at Rice, there’s an incredibly supportive community that makes it better even when everything seems to be falling apart. Besides numerous academic resources like academic fellows at each residential college, review sessions, and TA sessions, it is incredibly easy to find other students to form a study group with. This collaborative environment works to alleviate stress and frustration that can build up when you’re trying to do a million things at once by yourself.

Further than just academic stress though, the Rice community has allowed me to meet individuals that work me through any of the numerous unexpected crises that have come up this year. Life at Rice is filled with highs and lows, but the friends I’ve made and the people I have met always find a way to make a rough time not seem so bad.

Rice is competitive, but collaboratively competitive, meaning you can always find someone who is more than willing to help you in academics or in life. I have never felt pitted against my classmates or felt an ‘every man for himself’ attitude since I’ve come to Rice. When you enter college, you never know what kind of situations may come up, and you may face things you never expected, encountered, or planned for. But at Rice, there’s always someone who’s gone through what you’re going through and is willing to be there for you.

Introducing our Brand New Instagram Account! @future_owls

This post is going to be a little bit different from the blogs that we normally post. Rather than talk about my favorite off-campus restaurants, my classes, or my residential college, I wanted to introduce you to SAC’s brand new Instagram account!

SAC, Student Admission Council, is the club on campus that works directly with the admission office in showcasing life at Rice to prospective students. Our job is to share our experiences with students exploring and applying to Rice. We give campus tours to visitors, we host students overnight in our dorm rooms, and we write this blog, among other things.

Starting this week, we are also making use of an Instagram account! We have created this in order to give a visual perspective of life at Rice to prospective students, from the perspective of current students. We hope this will give students a chance to picture themselves eating in a residential college commons, walking to class through the academic quad, or sipping a Nutty Bee from Coffeehouse while they study for that math exam. We hope this will be an especially helpful resource for prospective students who are unable to come visit campus themselves. You know what they say, a picture is worth 1000 words!

Additionally, we will use this account to provide information from the Admission Office regarding application deadlines, as well as information about Admit and Owl Days, which are coming up later this spring. We will theme the content on the account each week, so you’ll have the opportunity to learn about student life, off-campus food options, student events, and more.

Go ahead and follow @future_owls on Instagram! Check out our first few posts here: https://www.instagram.com/future_owls/

Happy Lunar New Year!

My friends and I formed a string quartet in our freshman year after we found that orchestra wasn’t our thing. I grew up playing cello, and luckily, I found some friends through the non-major orchestra who shared the same sentiment that I did. We played Dvorak and Beethoven quartets for our semesterly performances in the Rice Coffeehouse, but this year we were invited to play at the Chinese Student Association’s annual Lunar New Year Show, a cultural show for all Rice students that featured performances from dance groups, Vietnamese Student Association, and Rice Taiwanese Association as well as tons of delicious food.

Performing our pieces on the LNY stage

I’ve never celebrated Chinese New Year (which was yesterday, actually) despite being 100% Chinese, but it felt really good to perform in a show celebrating my heritage, something that I am learning to be proud of. LNY showcased modern and traditional Asian performance ranging from a traditional Vietnamese hat dance to modern hip-hop performances and a fashion show displaying statement pieces that are hot in the world of “crazy rich Asians.” Watching all the performances made me wish that I had put more effort into connecting with my heritage in college earlier on (I highly recommend joining a cultural club in college!), but I was nonetheless thankful for this opportunity to perform as a graduating senior. My quartet played two folk Chinese songs as well as the widely-known and loved pop song “Tong Hua”. Our performance was a success, and I enjoyed adding to the diversity of performances showcased that night.

My quartet! We’ve taken on a variety of names including Southside Quartet, Rice Farmers Quartet, and 7/8 Asian Quartet.