Apply ED to Rice Y or N?

Hey everyone. I’m a rising senior highly considering applying to Rice ED. I’m from Connecticut and completely fell in love with the school when I visited and I think it definitely suits me.

However, here are some things that are making me doubt applying to Rice through the ED plan:

  1. I'm from the East Coast and I'm still unsure exactly what I want to major in or what I want to do career-wise. However, it's definitely in the humanities (English, Political Science, or Philosophy) with the intent of going to law school to become a lawyer or graduate school to pursue academia. Yet, I definitely don't want to work in Houston post-graduation. I want to stay in the East (NYC, DC, Boston) or West (San Fran, LA). Because of this, I feel like Rice is not as strong in the humanities as other T20 schools and going to Rice will make it harder for me to get jobs in these regions.
  2. I've constantly heard that Rice is a place full of "happy nerds" and I honestly don't know how to feel about this. I consider myself to be someone who cares a lot about academics, however, I also want to have fun and find people like me. Is Rice like Johns Hopkins or CMU? I heard these two schools target very specific students (Asian majority population, STEM heavy) and I'm not sure if I might feel left out.
  3. Given it location, how conservative is Rice?

Thanks for your advice.

The first two concerns are fair points to some degree, and I would certainly think twice before applying ED if I were a high school senior with either concern. However the third concern is not something to worry about. In the 2016 election, 93 percent of people in Rice’s voting precinct (mainly students) voted for Hillary Clinton. That compares to 54 percent of Harris County voters, 48 percent of Americans, and 43 percent of Texans. A lot of people say Rice welcomes all points of view and they’re mostly right about that, but the Rice student body is not even remotely similar to its county or state (and is even more liberal than San Francisco, which “only” gave 85 percent of its votes to Clinton).

I would think the location of where you attend law/grad school might have a bigger impact on your job search that the location of your undergrad school.

I personally think the “happy nerds” thing basically means it’s a school of smart kids who are generally happy. Unlikely some schools that are super intense, I think Rice kids do want to have fun. If you read up about the culture there are a lot of parties and such there if that is what you’re into, and also other social events for those who are less into that scene. Kids work REALLY hard at Rice, but they want to have fun and be happy while they do it. Rice promotes and encourages their “culture of care” and collaborative environment and because of that I think they tend to attract kids that are generally “nice”. People are very friendly and there is not much pressure to be anything other than what you are.

The vast majority of Rice students are liberal politically. Inner loop Houston, where Rice is located, is very blue despite being in a red state. Houston is in Harris County, Texas. Most of Harris County government and most of the county and state judges located in Houston are Democrats. The Mayor of Houston is a Democrat. The Houston suburbs far away from Rice have more conservatives.

There are a lot of STEM majors at Rice, but there is a sizable group of humanities and social science majors, many of whom are prelaw. Rice has about 30 percent undergrad Asian students, many of whom are in STEM majors. Rice has an active mock trial team that competes nationally. The English and Political Science departments are very strong. Rice places students into some of the best law schools in the country.

As a lawyer myself, I can say that big law employers will look at the national ranking of your law school and your class rank within that school when deciding which students to interview and hire. Big law firms also tend to hire the top students from local law schools. Very few law firms care about where you went undergrad. Your summer clerkships during law school are the primary way you connect with/receive offers from future employers.

You do not have to declare a major at Rice until the end of sophomore year. All this being said, unless Rice is absolutely your first choice, and you can afford to pay to attend, ED is risky. You can always apply RD to Rice to keep your options open.

Disclaimer: I’m an incoming First-Year at Brown who was rejected from Rice RD. That said, I know two students from my school last year who applied ED and both were admitted. For most selective schools, you should only apply ED if ALL of the following are true:

  1. You LOVE Rice and would 110% attend if admitted.
  2. You're confident that you can present a well thought out and crafted application by the ED Deadline of November 1st.
  3. You and your family can afford Rice if admitted (run the financial aid calculators if applicable, but I believe one of them, unless it's been updated, doesn't include the Rice Investment.)

Applying ED is beneficial because it shows the school that you LOVE them a lot, and in return, they’re going to be more likely to accept you because you’ve obviously done your research and could see yourself at the school (and you’ve probably been preparing your application for months vs. right before the deadline.) Rice has updated their admissions website since when I applied, but the FAQs used to have a question/answer I believe that said to apply ED if you’re 100% sure that Rice is your top choice. Don’t apply to Rice ED unless you’re confident that after test scores/grades/courses (which most similar colleges utilize to make sure you can handle the coursework,) your essays/interview/letters of recommendation can clearly show how you will take advantage of Rice’s resources by looking at how you’ve taken advantage of your high school’s resources, and how you’ll make Rice proud to call you its future alumni by going on to become a “Fill In The Blank with researcher, doctor, business, lawyer etc.”

Hope this helps! Good luck with admissions!