Established in 1912, Rice University is one of the youngest and most dynamic of America’s highly competitive universities. Although it may not boast the lengthy history of many of its peer institutions, it has taken advantage of the unique opportunity to create an ideal college environment by analyzing and emulating the successful attributes of its predecessors. Well before the first students matriculated, Rice’s founders commissioned a study of the premiere educational institutions of the world. After visiting seventy-eight institutions in fifteen countries, the traveling party returned to Texas and combined the best attributes of each into their own vision of a utopian university on the outskirts of the young city of Houston.
The Rice of today has achieved international prominence among educational institutions by adapting itself to the needs of the twenty-first century while remaining loyal to the well-crafted vision of its founders. That vision focuses on three guiding principles:
- A focus on undergraduate teaching and research led by world-class faculty.
- A commitment to making the Rice educational experience affordable to all qualified students.
- Development of a vibrant yet close-knit academic and social community based on an inclusive residential college system.
As a result, Rice students benefit from an atmosphere of learning that infuses the campus, both within and outside of the classroom, and that allows them to stimulate their intellectual curiosity while forging lifelong friendships with classmates and faculty alike. Perhaps what makes Rice most revered by its students, however, is its ability to provide a challenging and rewarding academic environment without stifling the fun-loving nature of its 3,001 undergraduates. The administration is known for being particularly tolerant of the mischief that often results from the collaboration of some of the nation’s most creative young minds.
The intensity and frivolity of the Rice experience are combined on a 300-acre wooded campus in the heart of Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city. The campus itself, which is closed to through-traffic and is bounded by an eight-foot hedge and live oak trees, is surrounded by the world’s largest medical center; an impressive museum district (offering student discounts); a city park that is home to a zoo, an outdoor amphitheater, and a public golf course; an upscale residential neighborhood; and a lively pedestrian shopping district that includes both conventional and quirky shops and a diverse array of restaurants and pubs. Though students do not have to set foot outside of the campus or the adjacent neighborhoods for learning opportunities or weekend entertainment, they do not hesitate to venture out to exciting venues throughout the lively and very navigable city of Houston. Whether students are enjoying the city’s internationally-recognized performing arts scene, internship opportunities at Fortune 500 companies, research projects in the medical center, or live music at the city’s numerous concert venues, they consider the city of Houston to be a very important partner in their Rice educational experience.
Rice students enjoy many luxuries during their undergraduate careers, including small classes, personal interactions with professors, first-rate research opportunities, an inclusive social structure, and a collaborative student environment. But what students come to appreciate most during their years at Rice is the culture of personal responsibility and self-determination that pervades the campus. The Rice administration treats its students like adults from the very first minute of orientation week through the end of graduation day. This trusting environment is evidenced throughout all aspects of student life, from the Honor Code and the flexible academic curriculum to the emphasis on student government, and the absence of hall monitors and curfews in the residential colleges. Such freedoms provide students with the ideal environment to mature and develop as intellectuals and as human beings. Although there will certainly be stumbles and challenges along the way, Rice students leave campus as some of the happiest and most self-aware, confident, and capable college graduates in the country.