WashU or Rice

Hi y’all, I am recently deciding my ED schools, but I am kind of stuck in between WashU and Rice…

I intended to major in sociology and probably double major plus a minor (business). I am a very interdisciplinary person. I have a passion for design and visual arts, so I hope colleges would have a lot of courses/ opportunities for me to do that. I love sports and I value school spirit a lot. I am not into Greek life. As I am an international student, I prefer living in the city with easy access to public transportation and the airport while hoping it is safe.

I have done a lot of researches on these schools and went to their info sessions. Here is my hard time deciding:

WashU have a lot of interdisciplinary opportunities and programs (especially BB). It has a great design and art school. WashU likes my high school a lot (more than 8 students got admitted last year). WashU is also strong in business and other liberal arts. But I don’t know a lot about the location and the weather in Missouri, since it is in the midwest, it is not as famous as the east or the west. Also, is Missouri politically conservative? WashU students are not that passion about sports, so I don’t really think they have strong school spirit…? Plus, I have watched a video from a current student complain about the health center in WashU, and the student body has an insta page just to put their bad experiences of the center in it… So it bothers me a lot.

For Rice, I like its location and size. The campus is not that big, and the residential hall system is awesome. There are public arts around the campus. Rice is ranked No.1 for diversity and quality of student life, and it excites me. I have a really strong feeling watching their video of the O-Week and I think I would be happy there. Rice is D1 sports, so there are sports happening all the time and people are in it. And it has no greek life. The tuition is cheaper than WashU. But Rice makes the undergrad majors into different colleges, which makes the interdisplinary programs hard to access and hard to switch majors. It only has a music school and architecture, no design or all that stuff. I don’t know if I have many artistic opportunities. Rice is very hard to get in in our school, maybe only one got accepted last year…

Honestly, I don’t know how I can pick between those two. Any advice? I would be very grateful!

It honestly doesn’t sound like either one checks enough boxes for you to be a perfect fit for ED. What exactly made you choose these 2?

Both are amazing places with happy students, though.

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Based on what you’ve given, I’d say Rice would make you happier. The weather, sports, marching band and the city of Houston would be big draws. If I were an international student, I’d rather be flying out of Bush Intercontinental than St. Louis. Even if you didn’t have tons of design opportunities as a student, Houston itself has tons of art and international festivals. There are at least two or three world recognized museums within a walk from Rice and I’m sure there are opportunities to get involved there or with the Houston Art Car Parade https://www.thehoustonartcarparade.com/.

In the end, you probably need to decide whether you prefer the academic opportunities of WashU or the vibe/ lifestyle of Rice.

Rice seems like it ticks more of your boxes. Note both are red and abortion ban states (because you asked about conservative nature of Missouri) and wouldn’t be on my kids’ list for that reason, but you seem like you know students from your school who have gone to those schools and if you can’t visit I would advise you try to talk to them about their experiences and the atmosphere.


My daughter is a Rice freshman, and we looked into WashU as another similar option (though she did not apply). It sounds like you have thought carefully about this already, so just a couple of thoughts to add:

  • Rice does have D1 sports, but in fairness, it doesn’t have the kind of sports enthusiasm that you would find at many larger state schools. There is definitely a ton of school spirit, but it seems to be based more on the residential college system than sporting events.

  • It’s not especially hard to change majors at Rice, with the exception of the music and architecture programs. My daughter is interested in both religious studies (Humanities) and sociology (Social Sciences), so she’s taking classes toward both for now and could still go either direction in the future.

  • You mentioned the tuition difference - if financial aid is a consideration, Rice will likely have more generous financial aid. The difference for us was shocking (WashU = 52k net cost, Rice = 18k net cost).

  • Honestly, neither one has great weather. Houston is hot and humid for most of the year, but IMHO St. Louis might be even worse - brutally cold winters and sweltering summers with little in between.


Yeah it is kind of hard because both of them have things that I like and things that I do not like…
I initially picked these two because of their rankings and academics. My counselor suggested that if I want to give it a shot, applying ED gives me a higher chance.
Really good schools, really hard to pick.

Thanks for all that information, it helps a lot! Yeah I believe the city where Rice is located in plays a huge factor, big cities have a lot of opportunities. It is really the point that whether I want academics or college life… Still thinking.

Right thanks for the reply! I do have a bit concern because of they are all red and abortion ban states, although the Niche rankings showed both schools are liberal.
Honestly I don’t know any people who went to Rice, maybe only one in two years. Rice is not as popular as WashU in my school. Yes it would be a great resource to reach out, and I will try!

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Thanks for all the considerate thoughts!

  • Oh yes I noticed that the D1 sports in Rice don’t really add to its school spirit. But I guess it is OK, as long as it has some. I just don’t know if WashU students are enthusiastic about the school spirit or events and stuff.
  • Got it so double major it is not that hard. But I was wondering doing interdisciplinary might not be as easy as in WashU as in Rice? Because I saw a post from a Rice parent whose daughter study interdisciplinary major in Rice (Cognitive science) and she feels like it is an “orphan” major… I am afraid if I will get stuck between different colleges and can’t get involved in research opportunities or other things that individual department have. Also, I heard many people come to Rice as a STEM major, like over 50%, is Rice more like a STEM school?
  • I won’t take financial aid as a consideration though. Indeed Rice has cheaper full tuition than WashU.
  • The weather is disturbing. But I guess I will just get used to it. I have too many considerations already haha.

You need to separate out the relative weight of the factors- and add some context!

You found a place where WUSTL students complain about the health center. Some context: I have yet to hear of a university where the students don’t complain about the health center! And, (look away WUSTL devotees), the % of the WUSTL student community from wealthy backgrounds is particularly high- so it is not implausible that they are used to higher service standards than a university health service is likely to be able to provide. Moreover: unless you have a chronic health issue, that is probably not a very important decision metric.

Weather is weather. Again, unless you have a particular issue, it’s a second tier metric.

“Interdisciplinary” is a top-tier metric, but you need to know what you mean by it, and what the university means by it. That includes thinking about what major(s) you want and why. Nobody in the world cares more about majors than secondary school students. The great thing about the US “liberal arts” approach is that you can major in X, and take many, many classes in lots of different fields- you don’t have to have another major. The value of a ‘double major’ is minor and the value of a ‘minor’ is tiny. Note that at Rice, to complete a Sociology major requires ~34 credit hours of work- out of the 120 credit hours you need to graduate (the visual arts major requires 40 credit hours). As for me, I am still back at the idea of sociology + business (why?!).


I know several kids who have gone to Rice. Most of the football games are mostly empty in the student section. Rice is very diverse/international, and quite honestly, most students are not very interested in the sport scene.


common theme with many of the smaller D1 schools. It’s prob a mistake to go to those places hoping that just because they are D1 that will mean big sports scene and school spirit. Some of these school might have a local rivalry game that draws a crowd (like Lehigh-Lafayette), but otherwise the games might not be any more attended than your typical D3 school.


Right. I guess what I mean is that I hope the school provide some sports events to compete between other schools, doesn’t have to be so big and crazy like the state universities. A little bit of that is enough.

Thanks for the evaluation! I t really helped. Yes the health center issue and weather might not be such a big deal. By interdisciplinary, I mean that I would be able to take different classes in different majors (or different schools), having research projects rather than focusing on only 1 major, might be doing double major or minor, and also EASY to switch majors in or out of the school. I guess I am just not sure if the last one is applicable to Rice. Since their website doesn’t really have a lot of information about special interdisciplinary programs as WaShU does, and they separate their undergrad majors into many different schools.

Glad to be helpful!

Given how many disparate interests you have, the US system of not having to choose one narrow subject right out of the gate should suit you! I think that you are still over-focused on the whole major/minor thing. Unless you are applying for a few specific programs (at Rice, those are Music, Design, Architecture and the Medical Scholars program). At both Rice and WUSTL (& many, many other unis) you don’t have to declare your major (and can take classes in any of the schools) until the spring of your second year. For the first 3 terms you can try courses across the university as you figure out what you want to really focus on, to specialize in.

Because at some point, you will have to focus. You want to do research? those positions are typically at least somewhat competitive- you don’t just rock up out of the blue! and the research group wants people who are genuinely interested in the field, which means that you have to know what you are really interested in yourself :slight_smile:

Also be aware that many, many students discover that there is a difference between a general interest in a subject and working through the theoretical constructs of a subject! You will find your path at either Rice or WUSTL- or many other schools.


My daughter was accepted at both and ended up at Rice. Both are great schools and you can’t go wrong with either. But there were a couple things about what you said about Rice that I wanted to clarify:

Yes, as others have pointed out the students at Rice don’t fill the football stadium. Honestly, it’s HOT during the season, the football games are long and their team has been pretty awful the last few years. So if large sporting events are something that are important to you, that is not a big part of the Rice experience. (I don’t think it is really part of the Wash U experience either though.) They do get more students at basketball games and I have seen some big crowds at volleyball and soccer. In my opinion, some of the reasons for that are those teams are better AND because those athletes tend to be more present in their residential colleges so the kids go to watch their friends play. Funny enough though a friend at our large state flagship said that after freshmen year her kids rarely went to football games even though that experience was a big factor in why they choose the school. Rice students have school spirit, they just don’t show it by sitting in the stands at football games. BUT, even more than school spirit, they have spirit for their residential colleges, which is at the center of the Rice experience.

It’s EXTREMELY easy to switch majors at Rice and MANY kids have multiple major across colleges. I am not sure where you got the impression that wasn’t the case. You don’t have to declare a major until end of sophomore year, but even then you can change easily. It’s as simple as filling out a form. My daughter has friends that have that switched majors multiple times. Though the majors are split into different college you are not really admitted by college. Like if you are admitted to the engineering college but decide to switch to Natural Sciences before you arrive on campus, no one cares. My daughter has a friend who switched from a Liberal Arts major to Engineering after freshmen year…again, you just fill out a form. In fact, if you haven’t declared a major I don’t even know if you have to fill out a form. The only exception to this is music and architecture. If you are interested in more artistic stuff, check out their Visual and Dramatic Arts department.

Politics…yep, that you can’t escape. Texas as a whole is a red state. Houston though is very blue. Houston is quite liberal as is the Rice campus and surrounding area.

So, I don’t have any advice for you. They are both great schools. Will you have a chance to visit either?

I just wanted to clarify that “Colleges” at Rice means the residential dorms, such as Wiess College, Brown College, etc. They are not academic. The academic communities are known as “Schools”, such as School of Natural Sciences, School of Music, etc.

I think Rice is small enough that there will be a lot of research opportunities.

There are art classes available to non-majors; I’m sure you could find them online, or ask Admissions.


Hi! Thank you so much for the clarification! I don’t have the opportunities to visit both because of the pandemic, but I visited both virtually on websites. Both are beautiful. I also attended info sessions but I missed the student panels…

I mean as long as the school have strong school spirit, whether it comes from the residential colleges or the sport events doesn’t really matter. I watched the O-Week videos at Rice and they seems very enthusiastic. I didn’t find similar videos at WashU, so I am not sure people there have strong school spirit.

WashU has this program called Beyond Boundaries that I really like, and the curriculum are so interesting that combines great subjects across different fields. WashU has a really good reputation in our high school, probably because students in our school value academics A LOT, and it takes a lot of students in our school each year. But Rice doesn’t take too many students, only one went to Rice for the past two years I think! Rice is so hard to get in!

Living in a big city such as Houston is convenient for international students like me who needs public transportation. And I bet there are a lot of big companies there. But for Missouri, I don’t know much about the state and the city. Do WashU students only get opportunities from MidWest companies? Does location matter considering internships and all other opportunities?

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Throughout your posts on this thread, it seems clear Rice is the better fit for you.

WashU does not have much school spirit, in any way (IMO of course). WashU students do great in career and grad school outcomes, they are not limited to the midwest, but as an international student your ability to work in the US will be limited, and after graduation you will be expected to return to your home country. International students may work/stay under OPT rules, but they need a company willing to sponsor them.

Does Wash U take more students from your school because more people apply there or because there is a good relationship with your school and WashU? Wash U is also bigger and admits more students so that might account for it (not that it’s a big school) and if it’s closer to where you are that might account for it too.

I would think both schools would provide similar opportunities in terms of internships and other opportunities. I am sure Wash U kids get opportunities from all over, as do Rice kids. We are from the midwest but my daughter’s internship this summer was in California. Companies will recruit and/be interested in students from good schools, regardless of the location.

Both are great schools so you can’t go wrong. Sounds like Wash U might be a slightly safer choice based on the number of kids from your school that go there.

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