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Rice or Northwestern for my son

jayrechjayrech 1 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5 New Member
Guess this is a pleasant dilemma. We reside in Chicago area and my son got accepted to both Rice and NU. Visited Rice a couple months ago and my son, my wife and I all were so impressed with the campus and the overall vibe of that school. Of course NU is equally impressive in every way plus it's pretty close to our home.

Here are some factors, Rice has given him a very generous scholarship while NU's offer isn't too bad from what people say but the difference of the cost of attendance would be about $20K less for Rice per yr. What my son wants to study, both schools have a very strong program so we're not concerned too much. Rice felt more relaxed,friendly and is known as the happy place. I heard about some horror stories about students being overly stressed out at NU from former students. Still NU has been a school he and many of his peer have been aiming for. We're are completely torn. Of course, we want him to get a great education but more importantly be happy.

Please share your thoughts. Thank you!
edited April 16
24 replies
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Replies to: Rice or Northwestern for my son

  • nugraddadnugraddad 1320 replies13 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,333 Senior Member
    Congratulations on your son's academic success - both schools are amazing!

    As a proud parent of 2 NU Engineer Alums, I might be a little bit slanted, but NU was the better choice for us. Like you, we are from the Chicago area, and since both kids played club sports at NU, we were able to go to games and watch them play. Advantage NU!

    Also got to see both kids' Engineering First Projects, along with their classmates, and that was very interesting and worthwhile. Neither was overly stressed, and both were big on how important their group study contacts were.

    One of our kids is now working in the Houston area, so we have been to the area, and unfortunately, Houston is in the middle of Texas, and so surrounded by Texans... :( So, advantage NU again! JK - Obviously there are some really nice people there :)

    Both our kids loved NU, but I am not sure how important that $20k a year is to you, but $20k x 4 = $80k, so that's a nice chunk of change to consider. Good luck with the decision, and you can PM me if you have followup questions.
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  • bopperbopper 13872 replies98 discussionsForum Champion CWRU Posts: 13,970 Forum Champion
    1) Can you afford the extra price without taking loans/affecting your retirement?

    2) What does your son want? If all else is equal, then let him pick. He won't go wrong at either.

    3) Would staying near home be a benefit to your son? Does he have any health/mental health issues?
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  • jym626jym626 54630 replies2835 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 57,465 Senior Member
    Rice was a fabulous experience for my DS. Congrats!! Go for it and save the $.
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  • Houston1021Houston1021 1030 replies11 discussionsForum Champion Rice Posts: 1,041 Forum Champion
    edited April 17
    That is a great dilemma to have. He can't go wrong with either choice. Both are great schools in great cities. The weather is vastly different. Rice is beastly hot until about October, but then is pretty nice for the rest of the school year. Rice has the residential college system versus the Greek system. Northwestern has great sports teams and is a solid contender in the Big 10. Rice is in Division 1, but its sports teams play in a small conference with limited success. Not many Rice students attend the sporting events. Rice gets high marks for happiest students and race/class interaction. Rice students put a lot of pressure on themselves to achieve high marks, but there is not cut throat competition among students. Rice students are sometimes describes as happy nerds while Northwestern students may be more preppy.

    If Rice is going to be $80,000 cheaper over four years, that is a sizable amount that could go towards grad school, downpayment on a home, etc. I live in Houston, and it has been nice having my Rice student close to home. She doesn't incur large plane fares to get back and forth to school as some of her friends do. As @nugraddad stated, you could attend sporting events etc. if your son attends Northwestern.

    Your son has visited Rice. I assume he has also visited Northwestern. In the end if finances are not a large concern, the one that feels right in his gut is probably the right decision. My daughter ended up deciding against attending another great school in a great city that was less expensive. Rice was the best fit for her, and she has been very happy there.
    edited April 17
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  • PublisherPublisher 7381 replies76 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,457 Senior Member
    edited April 17
    It would be helpful to know more about your son such as intended major, career plans, interests, desire to double major, interest in or aversion to Greek system.

    Based on the information shared by OP, Rice University may be the better option. Why ? Lower cost & much farther away from home.

    College is a time for one to grow. Experiencing a different area of the country contributes to one's growth.

    Northwestern University can be an intense academic experience depending upon one's major and career goals. Of course, Rice University also offers stellar academics, but maybe in a bit less stressful environment.

    Outstanding options !
    edited April 17
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  • ultimomultimom 118 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 119 Junior Member
    Houston is a big, diverse city with a lot to offer. Plus, Rice is in a cool part of town. Temperatures are quite warm although your son wouldn't necessarily be in Houston for the worst of it in July and August.

    And yeah, college is a good time to see what it is like in another part of the country. We're in Texas and my son will be going to college in Boston.
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  • happy1happy1 22408 replies2184 discussionsForum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 24,592 Forum Champion
    If the price differential is meaningful to your family then Rice seems to be the logical answer.

    If the $80k price differential is easily manageable (no loans/no hardship) then let your son choose.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26529 replies172 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 26,701 Senior Member
    Based on the information shared by OP, Rice University may be the better option. Why ? Lower cost & much farther away from home.

    College is a time for one to grow. Experiencing a different area of the country contributes to one's growth.

    That was my first reaction too. Academically, they are both outstanding for a liberal arts major.

    The only reason(s) to pick NU is: 1) he wants to experience big time D1 sports as a fan; 2) he wants to return to Chicagoland for a job. No doubt that there are lot more NU alums in ChiTown to help him with contacts.
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  • RiversiderRiversider 637 replies70 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 707 Member
    Rice is offering a small, happy, collaborative community with a better undergrad focus and a different experience for a lower cost.

    NU is offering a local dream near friends and family at a higher cost and potential for stress but better sports and theater events.

    Academics, prestige, ranking, majors are similar and both are top tier schools.

    It boils down to $80K. If he can get in Rice and NU then it’s a given that he can go to schools like UA, OU, UTD for free. As you are only comparing Rice & NU, it’s safe to say you money isn’t the only driving force behind your decisions but you are a smart buyer.

    Let us know when you come to a conclusion. Don’t keep dragging it for too long now.


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  • StanfordGSB00StanfordGSB00 72 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 77 Junior Member
    @jayrech - congrats on your acceptances. I would choose Northwestern over Rice U because its 1) brand is stronger around the country, 2) alumni network is wider / stronger, 3) stronger across disciplines, 4) job recruitment if you decide to do business is significantly stronger and 5) opportunities for internships is also a lot stronger given its proximity to Chicago. Also, Northwestern is just a much hotter school than Rice U now, as evidenced by its ranking (10 vs 16) and its much higher yield rate (55%+) compared to Rice U (at 30-40%). So, more accepted students are enrolling at Northwestern than Rice. Rice is a great school but Northwestern is a stronger option and has historically been. And if you care about prestige / name recognition, the Northwestern name is just a lot stronger on the coasts due to its great grad programs (top MBA, top Medical, top law, etc.). Pick the school that will open more doors and provide more opportunities. Lots of students go into college expecting to major in engineering or fill in the blank (which NU is overall stronger across disciplines) and then switch to something else. Northwestern is a more versatile option. That's my 2 cents -- I went to a T10 undergrad and Stanford for my MBA. I did investment banking a top Bulge Bracket in NYC and then worked at a mega Private Equity fund. I am more qualified to speak to these differences than the average high school student or parent posting on CC. Northwestern is highly represented at the top consulting companies (Bain, BCG, McKinsey, Oliver Wyman, etc) and at the top Bulge Bracket Investment Banks, both in Chicago and NY. Rice is not.

    Both are excellent options but I think the OP should know that Rice outside of Texas lacks name recognition and prestige. Sure, you will have a few USNews obsessed parents that know about it but A LOT of people are unfamiliar with Rice in the NE and West Coast, given the fact it is a small school located in Texas. It's just the harsh reality. If you are going to spend A LOT of $ either way, I think Northwestern is the better long-term investment, even if it is more money.
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  • PublisherPublisher 7381 replies76 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,457 Senior Member
    edited April 17
    @StanfordGSB00 : Interesting post. The difficulty in recommending one school over the other in this case is that we do not know the student's intended goal or career interests. For example, if interested in biology or biochem & medical careers, then Rice is fine as it is $20,000 per year cheaper.

    However, if the student wants a career in IB or management consulting, then Northwestern University is worth the extra cost & becomes the better option.
    edited April 17
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  • jayrechjayrech 1 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Thank you all so much! You guys are being very helpful.
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  • MrSamford2014MrSamford2014 398 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 402 Member
    Houston has a more robust banking presence than does Chicago (thanks to the global energy industry), and virtually all of the Houston banks--including the bulge brackets--recruit at Rice. If you want to do IB, Rice is a viable alternative . . . though if you specifically want to do IB in NYC, then Northwestern is the better option. As for consulting, Bain and BCG both recruit heavily at Rice, and McKinsey has been on campus for the last few years.

    The fact that Rice grads are less heavily represented in banking and consulting than Northwestern grads is due not only to the much smaller size of Rice, but also to what has historically been its less pre-professional focus; there are simply fewer students at Rice interested in pursuing these fields than there are at Northwestern.

    If you want to work in Chicago, then by all means opt for NU. If you want to work in NYC, then NU offers the more direct path (though one of my daughter's roommates at Rice--a history major, no less--just landed an analyst gig with a major Wall Street investment firm, which shows that the Houston-to-NYC move can be made directly out of undergrad). If you want to enjoy better name recognition among your prestige-hoarding friends from SF and the Northeast, then Northwestern is the ticket.

    However, unless your aims fall into such categories, the choice between NU and Rice is, from a strictly vocational perspective, not nearly so clear cut as one of the above posters would have you believe.
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  • monster123monster123 20 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
    What did he decide?
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 28057 replies56 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 28,113 Senior Member
    I’m rooting for Rice. Fantastic school , best quality of life and the award is sweet
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