Social pressures/introverts at Rice?

We have a HS junior at a large public high school who is building his college list and so far Rice is a top choice for several reasons, including the residential college system. He considers himself an introvert and at first glance the residential colleges seem like a great fit for making close friends and succeeding away from home. Perusing their websites they each include a lot of detail about traditions and O-week, and I guess I’m wondering if there are any cons to all of this for quieter more reserved introverts? Does anyone have any experience with whether these traditions and activities such as Beer Bike become overwhelming? Several of the traditions seem to be revolving around drinking, so if your kid isn’t wanting to be a big partaker in the keg and raucous partying, is it not the right fit? FYI the kid has good social skills, but needs alone time more than most, and doesn’t want to be in a situation where he feels like he has to go to a lot of boisterous events or he’ll be missing out on the full residential college experience.

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My daughter is a Rice freshman with anxiety disorder incl. panic attacks, and this statement applies to her verbatim, so we have given a lot of thought to this exact issue. I will say that O-week is pretty overwhelming, but my daughter’s O-week student leaders were super-understanding and went above and beyond to accommodate her need for some quiet and downtime amidst the nonstop activities - they even went line-by-line through the schedule to identify potentially problematic activities (surprise fireworks?!?!?) and suggest break times and skippable events, which really helped. There are a lot of neuro-divergent students, so it definitely wasn’t the first time that such a request had been made. I’m told there’s a movement afoot to modify O-week by relaxing the schedule, but in the meantime accommodations are available if you ask.

As far as Beer Bike, it’s in the spring so no experience yet, but realize that the participants these days drink water, not beer. There are surely other parties that go on around the event and beer is undoubtedly consumed there, but in general, Rice has been very comfortable for my non-substance-using kid. She has been around kids who were drinking, smoking, etc. on a few occasions, but has never felt any pressure to partake and in fact has been told by the student leaders of her college that any kind of social pressure to do anything one isn’t comfortable with is unacceptable. She’s found that to be absolutely true. There are periodic campus-wide parties sponsored by each of the 11 colleges in turn, and my daughter says they vary in quality; some are basically just drinking and loud music, which she just skips, and some have quirky/artsy/low-key activities that she enjoys like face painting and temporary tattoos and cornhole etc.etc. On the whole, she’s a big fan of Rice, and I wouldn’t strike it from the list for an introverted kid just based on the social scene.

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My GD is a junior at Rice. Not an introvert, but she is a “geek” according to friends’ parents. Not a beer drinker. It’s hard to judge by her experience because her first 2 years were definitely impacted by Covid even though she was fully on campus both years. She is a big fan of Rice and has had wonderful opportunities there. She has been on the O-Week staff each of the past 2 years and she would fit the description by @txfriendly of the O-Week staffers with lots of empathy. She’s a girl with a big heart. She’s also been on her residential college board, bringing the same qualities to their planning. In general, the student body seems to be more laid back and not activist, so there seems to be space to find your own space and your own group. Overall she’s been delighted with her experience at Rice.

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My daughter is a senior at Rice and also an introvert. I would say she’s become WAY more social at Rice, but she needs to balance it with time to herself.

One of the things that struck her early on at Rice is how nice and accepting people were. She felt that there was no pressure to be someone other than who you were. No one cares if you drink or not and no one pressures you to do so. She’s been an O-Week advisor for 3 years and really tries to look out for each of her new students. O-Week itself is very busy, and while I’d recommend students participate in what they can, if a student needs down time, they just need to let their advisor know.

Events like Beer Bike have some aspect of drinking for those who drink. But there are lots of aspects of Beer Bike that do no involve drinking at all - the bike race itself, water balloon fights, color fights, parade, etc. My daughter has friends who don’t drink and they pick and choose their events and how they want to participate.

I think all colleges will have some degree of drinking. I appreciate Rice is an environment where there is plenty to do if that is not something that you want to participate in.

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This is great to hear. Thanks so much. I have heard Rice recommended for more introverted kids and couldn’t get my head around it when reading about the sheer volume of traditions and O-week, ha! But it sounds like it’s because of kids like yours, @PrdMomto1 and @Bill_Marsh .

@txfriendly , I’m so happy for your daughter. I actually read a thread of yours by coincidence, and she sounds like a wonderful person. I’m very encouraged to hear how she’s been able to successfully navigate her early college experience. We will definitely keep Rice on our list, probably at the top.

You should have your son go for an overnight visit and get the feel of campus. There are a lot of introverts at Rice and from what I gather it is a very welcoming environment for everyone.

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It’s worth remembering that not all colleges want or need loud, outgoing, extroverted kids. They don’t have a list of who they want to admit based on introversion and extroversion.

They do want kids who will be involved in campus life in some way. My eldest (didn’t attend Rice) fit the description of a quiet introvert. She learned to navigate the crazy activities and went to at least a couple of parties in her time at college, and she may have had a beer or two :wink:. Her college involvement centered primarily on being involved with the tutoring center, TA’ing and peer advising for FYS. Colleges need those kids too. There will be a place for your child at Rice.

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