I am wondering if the overall vibe and atmosphere at Rice be a culture shock to someone from the North east - particularly the NY metropolitan area? Since more than 50% of the students are from Texas, do out-of-state students feel out of place or left out? I would love to hear the views of current and former Rice students.
Though I have spent a lot of time growing up in Houston myself (though I actually come from another country), I still feel I can safely say that there is almost no cultural shock. While Texas does seem a bit austere and extremely conservative, Houston (and especially Rice) are not this way AT ALL. I don't know a single person here who possesses a legitimate Texan accent, everybody is very open-minded, and the student body is still very diverse. At a glance it is impossible for me to tell who is out of state and who is in state. You have to realize that these are some of the top students in the state and the nation. They don't reflect the general population around them necessarily. I have also never heard of anybody feeling out of place at Rice whether out of state or not. Rice does an excellent job integrating everybody into the community regardless of background or ethnicity. I hope this helps. Don't worry! Are you or your S/D going to be students here in the fall or are you still considering your choices? If you have any more concerns, feel free to PM me. Good luck!
Thanks for all of your informative and helpful threads. You are so positive about Rice and I'm please to read threads from a happy Rice student! Is there anything you DON'T like about Rice, or rather, what is one thing that frustrates you that would like to see change? Thanks in advance.
No problem! Of course there are, but they are pretty minor. I don't really like how the school admin sometimes spends money on things the students feel we really don't need to have money spent on - like a new football stadium extension. Also, in some classes, the grading takes a really long time like in physics. The class registration can be a bit hectic, although special registration makes it very possible to get into classes you couldn't register for. The admin can be stubborn about other things, but we definitely get our say in. Tuition is high, but that applies to all places. Some profs are better than others and have different ways of grading, but I also think that is true of most places. There really aren't that many serious things I feel and all of these problems aren't Rice-specific so I don't really bring them up. All schools have these problems and I feel they are less pronounced at Rice than anywhere else. I am obviously biased since I love my school, but still! Cheers!
I find that most people at Rice have small things here or there they don't like about the school, but it's very nuanced. I've had many late-night discussions with friends who are in their last couple years here, and we love discussing what needs to change to make Rice better, but again it's all nuanced and specific, and a lot of our motivation to discuss how to improve Rice comes from our sincere love of the place and desire to make it even better than it already is. The only problems I could think of that aren't so specific and small-scale are problems shared by other universities too.
I love Rice and so do most others who go here, hence our high ranking for happiest students. There's really not much else to say (even if we are a bit biased).
@NJ Mom of 2 - I come from the Midwest (like, middle of the country Midwest) and I didn't experience any real culture shock at all. That's not quite as extreme a transition to make, but it definitely says something. I have a handful of friends from the Northeast as well who didn't seem to have trouble adjusting to Houston's culture at all. It's a very charming and unique culture.
NJ mom, my son went to Rice from Los Angeles and had no trouble with culture shock. None of the students from Texas made him feel like an outsider, and in fact a number of them invited him for visits to their home towns. It is a wonderfully welcoming and friendly place. You may have to adjust to the occasional "y'all" that will slip into your son's vocabulary, but that's about it.
Like FallenAngel9, I am also from the midwest, and I was certainly concerned about culture shock before coming to Rice. I interpreted the high in-state percentage (40-45% depending on where you look) the same way you did. Would everyone here be stereotypical Texans? Would they all have the same culture?
Here are a few things that will help you understand this better. Some compare Texas to being its own country. They say that because the state is so large and diverse. Rice students from Texas are from all different parts of the state. They come from very different backgrounds and are here for different reasons. The other reason this number is so high is simply the size of the state. Texas is HUGE. If you stick something the size of Texas over any Ivy school, the number of students in that area will probably actually be higher (because the northeast is more densely populated). Some students just want to stay close to home. Rice is certainly THE school to go to in this state if you want a top notch small private university.
Since I've been here, I've certainly learned a lot about southern culture. I've learned that apparently 40 degrees is absolutely freezing (I'm from Chicago...who knew that was that cold...). I've found new foods. I've accepted that summer is a time to be inside...not outside.
I concur with adamb529. I'm from Philly and the most culture shock I have had is seeing people with scarves and coats and complaining how cold is when it is a gorgeous 60 degree day in like November. People saying things like "why is it so cold" and I just want to respond "because it's winter". And yes, summer is definitely the time to go back home because from what I've felt in August, I don't know if I could survive a summer here.
If anything, I think that Houston is a nice change from the PA/NJ/NY area, because people are so much nicer in general. I always forget when I go back home that if I smile at people I don't know when I pass them on the street that I am going to get some funny looks.
Finally, I so badly wanted to incorporate y'all into my everyday speech but it just didn't happen even after 4 years here. It's just so convenient and better than the Philly yous guys
No problem! Of course there are, but they are pretty minor. I don't really like how the school admin sometimes spends money on things the students feel we really don't need to have money spent on - like a new football stadium extension.
I would like to clarify that the football stadium expansion/construction will be done using 100% donor raised funds. The school is not using any money from tuition etc. to fund this operation. There is a misconception that this is an either/or proposition and the football thing will take money from something else.
I personally don't think it is a good idea, but if someone else does and chooses to donate, that is their prerogative.
As for culture shock, Rice is very diverse. Houston is an extremely cosmopolitan city as well, so even though many people are "in-state" they could be originally from other parts of the US or all over the world.
My D is a freshman there from New England. She spent many days in Boston and NYC for her music studies, and she simply LOVES Rice. She has 2 roommates from Houston, but has never felt out of place or left out. She has also made some amazing friends from all over the county. In general, she has found all the students to be incredibly warm and welcoming, and she is really happy there. Good Luck!
If you have specific questions, feel free to pm me.