Hi, commanderkeen! I won't actually matriculate until the fall, but I've spent a decent amount of time on campus, so I'll give you one aspect of Rice that's really stuck out to me. Every time I've been there, I've always felt so welcomed by the students and have been constantly surprised just by how unbelievably nice so many people are over there. In my experience, I've never once sensed any sort of snobbish intellectual atmosphere that often gets associated with schools of Rice's quality. Even my interview was extremely relaxed: at one point, we ended up talking about how excited we both were to go see the Lion King 3D that evening. And my overnight stay even further confirmed how I'd felt about Rice. When it was 1 or 2 in the morning, I pulled out my sleeping bag to, well, go to sleep, and my host told me how he didn't want his prospies sleeping on the floor. So, he took me one floor down, introduced me to some of his other friends, got me set up on their couch, and all of us just hung out there for another hour after that until we all went to bed. In addition to having the #1 Happiest Students, I'd argue that we've got some of the nicest ones as well.
Now, of course, that's just my own personal experience. But for me, that's definitely one of the most impressive aspects about Rice that you can't really gather from a brochure or something along those lines. I hope that helps!