Most people think of Rice as a STEM focused school with most students majoring in natural science or engineering. I used to think the same thing and came into this university wanting to pursue a degree in natural science. However, I quickly found out that the people around me were not all studying science and a large amount of my friends were studying social sciences and humanities at Rice. Two of my O-week advisors, multiple people on my floor and in the campus band, and some of my closest friends are all pursuing a major in the social sciences. One of my friends, Claire, is a double major in political science and social policy analysis. Continue reading
Back in high school, I toyed with the idea of being an Economics major, but I wasn’t 100% certain. I took AP Micro- and Macroeconomics in my senior year, but I did not ‘fall in love’ with the subject immediately. While I enjoyed my Economics classes, I liked others more. I seriously considered my choice of major while I was working at my first summer internship at American Business TV. I was producing news segments that provided insight about different companies’ financial news. I was surprised to learn that I liked reading about stock prices and company mergers. With this newfound appreciation for business and my affinity toward economics, I decided to major in it.
I realized I wanted to major in Economics in the third week of my sophomore year. Why is this important? It was one week after the add deadline, a university imposed deadline to make sure people don’t add classes too late and get behind. I was unable to add my introductory economics class, the class I needed in order to take any other economics class at Rice. I spent the semester taking almost all electives, ranging from Naval Engineering to Introductory Russian. This was actually a good thing, as I had some time to think about my future, in addition to adjusting to my first semester living in an apartment off-campus.
In the spring of my sophomore year, I was able to enroll in my first economics class, Principles of Economics. I was also very motivated, as I had been trying for months to enter my chosen field. The introductory class was engaging and entertaining – I never wanted to miss it. At this point, I was excited to finally take classes in my major.
Aside from the academic aspect of the major, there’s something more important: the people! People play a huge factor in one’s education. For instance, in my World Economic History class, I am writing a group paper. In Energy Economics and Macroeconomics, I formed study groups with undergraduate and graduate students to do the homework. I gained so much from learning from my peers, and they have learned from me as well. The people who tend to major in economics are outgoing and friendly – sometimes they even introduce themselves to me. I’ve made some great friends in my major that I plan on keeping in touch with even after I graduate.
Going forward, I do not know what the future holds. I could be creating regression analyses using econometrics knowledge or creating long-run market price trends for energy sources. I could be tabulating finances or predicting the next market crash. The best part about being an Economics major is that it opens doors; I could enter nearly any industry in some capacity. There is a lot of flexibility in choosing classes, you could go heavy on the quantitative, law, or finance classes, or you can take a more generalized approach and take a smattering of each. I did not expect to like my major as much as I do. I am glad I took a chance to pursue what I love, and I hope to incorporate my economics knowledge in my work in the future.
For all you entering freshmen out there, congratulations on choosing Rice! Now that you are going to be a Class of 2020 Rice Owl, I’d like to give you some advice about choosing classes based on my freshman year experience.
1) Don’t overload yourself! This is crucial to ensuring that you do not get overwhelmed in the first few weeks. You have a lot of learning to do outside of the classroom, in addition to your classes. You will learn how to balance your social life, homework schedule, and any extracurricular activities that you take on, in addition to trying to get enough sleep. Taking six full classes with one lab and an LPAP may be tempting, but you’d probably appreciate having some downtime, too. In my free time, I picked up the Rice Owls Dance Team as an extracurricular activity.
2) Try a class outside of your major. Rice is unique because there are many departments that you probably haven’t been exposed to yet. For instance, my freshman fall semester I took a Sociology and Environmental Studies class called “Environmental Issues: Rice Into the Future” that I really liked. I learned about green living practices and worked on a group research paper, which was a nice break from my more technical classes. Taking classes outside of your major is important because you can try new subjects at the introductory level, and you might even major or minor in something that you tried for fun. If you aren’t sure about which class(es) to take, try talking with a peer academic advisor or any upperclassmen for suggestions.
3) Learn a new language. I took Spanish every semester in high school. When I got to Rice, I wanted a change of pace. I decided to take Russian last fall. The class had a large speaking component so we could practice our conversation in class and I learned how to read Cyrillic. My class was small with about 14 people, so we got to know each other well. Rice has 12 languages to choose from, so take advantage of these numerous options.
4) Take UNIV 110. At some point during your freshman year, take this class. It’s called “First Year Foundations.” UNIV 110 covers so many topics, including Rice’s Resources, Health, Identity, and Academics to name a few. There are also guest speakers and panelists, such as Dean Hutchinson, the Dean of Undergraduates. You see performances on campus, go to sporting events, or even to the Career Center to learn about different companies. You get to meet a small group of other freshmen and have an open space to reflect on life. You also have a peer advisor, an upperclassman who gives advice and co-teaches the class. I looked forward to going every week.
You may not be able to follow every piece of advice here. Maybe you want to be a Chemical Engineer, which has a 132-hour degree requirement and you don’t have time to cut back on your hours. That’s okay. Maybe you are double majoring and you don’t have time to take classes outside of your majors. That’s okay too. At the very least, try to follow at least one item listed above, to broaden your horizons.
I have a feeling you might be curious to know what I took my freshman year. Well, I’ve attached my old schedules below. Enjoy, and happy planning!
Wrapping up my freshman year at Rice, I can honestly say that one of the most influential classes I took was UNIV 110: First Year Foundations. As the name suggests, this class is geared towards helping new students navigate their first year (and beyond) at Rice. It exposes them to the many resources and opportunities available on campus. The instructor and the two upperclassmen Peer Guides give helpful advice on everything ranging from classes to off campus living.
Signing up for UNIV 110 was not only one of the best decisions of my Rice career, but one of the best decisions of my life. Through this class, I gained more than information about navigating Rice, on campus resources and opportunities, and helpful advice. I also gained another layer of community, strengthening existing friendships and forming new ones with people all across campus. The discussion-based format helped everyone understand each other’s perspectives, and helped everyone get to know each other. We have a strong group bond – for example, the Saturday before the first week of finals, we all reunited and went out to eat in Rice Village.
Additionally, I learned a lot about myself through this class. The reflective papers and projects allowed me to take a look at myself and the ways I’ve changed since first setting foot on this beautiful campus. Knowing yourself is the first step towards doing anything in life, and this class helped me accomplish that.
I highly, highly recommend this course to incoming students. It is a relatively stress free environment that allows for tons of identity and community building. If you have room in your schedule for UNIV 110, sign up for it. You won’t regret it.
Being a Rice Owl can take you to some exciting places. This Spring Break, instead of staying at home in Houston, I traveled to San Francisco, California on an Alternative Spring Break Trip to focus on the education gap in our nation.
What is an Alternative Spring Break trip? It’s exactly what the name suggests. No misnomer here! It is a service trip sponsored by Rice’s Community Involvement Center that you have to apply to. If chosen, you and the other members of your group go volunteer with the specified organization. There are several ASB trips each year, with various destinations and organizations. You can view a list of the 2012 trips at this link, under “2013 Trip Destinations”: http://cic.rice.edu/asb/#Student Information Sessions.
In San Francisco, I was paired with a teacher at a middle school. During the school day, I observed and helped out in the classroom, and afterwards, I volunteered at the built-in after school program. Not only did I get to help the kids, but I also got to learn about them, play games with them, and talk to them. I now understand the current state of our public education system better, and I learned that educational inequality involves many complex features. There isn’t an easy solution for educational inequality, but little things, such as telling a kid about your experiences in college, can potentially make a difference.
In addition to volunteering, my ASB group and I also got to tour around San Francisco. Some of the places we went to included Ghirardelli Square (I had the BEST ice cream cone in my LIFE), Fisherman’s Wharf, Coit Tower, and Baker Beach.
I mentioned how being a Rice Owl can take you to some exciting places. My group and I stayed in San Francisco for only a week. But, one night, as we were headed back on the bus to the place we were staying at, we met a Rice alumnus! One of my friends had been wearing a Rice hoodie, and the alumnus noticed it and started talking to our group. He had graduated a few years ago, and told us he now works in San Francisco. Owls, Owls, everywhere!
In short, my ASB experience was amazing, and I would not trade it for anything in the world.