The founding of Rice played out like a game of Clue: Massachusetts billionaire William Marsh Rice was murdered in his bedroom, poisoned with chloroform administered by his personal valet who was in cahoots with Rice’s personal lawyer. But one crime solving Houstonian lawyer, forged will, million-dollar intrigue, and litigation battle later, William Rice’s fortune founded Rice University in Houston, TX in 1912. Since then, Rice has left behind its unsavory beginnings and has become a premiere academic institution, earning the nickname the Harvard of the South. However, as many Rice students claim, Rice’s legacy could actually rename Harvard the Rice of the North. With a claim like that, College Compass Campus Profiles can only say one thing: Kudos!
William Marsh Rice University, commonly called Rice University or simply Rice, is one of the most prestigious universities in the South, and compares favorably to Ivy League schools. 77% of the ranked freshmen admitted in the 2012 admission year were in the top 5% of their graduating class, and 18% of the class of 2016 were national merit finalists. And, unlike the Ivy League schools, Rice offers a $1000/year scholarship for those finalists that is renewable each year for four years. Rice also offers a variety of other Merit-based scholarships as well as need-based financial aid.
The first step, of course, is getting in. The median SAT score for the 2012 admissions class was around a 2120 and the median ACT score was 32-35. The overall admission rate for 2012 was 17% (for a relatively small class of 939), but the early decision rate was much higher: 24% for 282 enrolled students: just over 30% of the entire class. If Rice is your first choice, then applying in the early decision round would increase your chances of getting in.
Additionally, the yearly tuition of Rice is $35,610 with an estimated total cost of attending at $52,237. However, an endowment with a market value of $4.45 billion means that Rice’s endowment assets per full-time equivalent student was $783,568 for the 2011-2012 academic year. For comparison: The University of Texas school system has an average of $69,483 while Rice has more endowment per student than Ivy League Universities such as Dartmouth ($559,508), University of Pennsylvania ($274,618), Columbia ($246,846), and Cornell ($242,057).
Yet, those students who choose to attend Rice will find a 295 acre campus along with 3,708 potential new friends in the undergraduate schools (and an additional 2,374 graduate students). A gender imbalance is not a problem, as 51% of the student population is male and 49% female. There are plenty of opportunities to fraternize with your fellow students (although there are no fraternities or sororities at Rice) by being placed into one of twelve Residential Colleges. The college system at Rice, most commonly compared to the house system from Harry Potter, places incoming freshmen in a coed residential college which they can call home for the next four or so years. Although Rice only has beds for 84% of its student population and can only guarantee housing for freshman year, most upperclassmen elect to live off campus and most students who wish to live in their residential college for all four years are able to do so. The colleges that make up Rice University are Baker College, Brown College, Duncan College, Hanszen College, Jones College, Lovett College, Martel College, McMurtry College, Sid Richardson College, Wiess College and Will Rice College.
As an undergraduate at Rice, students will find themselves in either the George R. Brown School of Engineering, The School of Humanities, the School of Architecture, the Shepherd School of Music, the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, the School of Social Sciences, or under the heading of the Interdisciplinary or Other Academic Programs.
Rice is also famous for its many traditions, which are often associated with certain colleges or college rivalries, such as: the annual Night of Decadence (NOD) Halloween party at Wiess, the nighttime escapade runs of the Baker 13, the Marching Owl Band (MOB), and the Beer Bike competitions. Rice is also home to 14 NCAA Division I Conference USA varsity athletic teams as well as numerous Club Sports and Intramural Teams. Perhaps all of these traditions and recreational opportunities are a few of the reasons why the Princeton Review named Rice the college with the happiest students for the 2011-2012 academic year.
All in all, Rice has done much to earn—and maintain—its reputation as one of the best universities in the nation and certainly the South. Nestled between the municipality of West University, the Museum District, and the Medical Center, Rice is one of the reasons Forbes.com named Houston as the coolest city in America to live in.