Which of Rice colleges to apply to? Brown or Wiess?

Son is planning to apply to Rice and we are reading that when applying, one needs to choose one of Rice’s 6 schools.
He’s undecided, but very interested in physics and computer science so far. I also learned that it’s easy to double major across colleges.

My question: is there benefit to applying to one school vs another? In his case Wiess natural sciences vs Brown engineering? Thanks!

Wiess seems like a good choice for exploring across the physical and natural sciences. As you stated, Brown’s curriculum would remain available to your son for computer science.

There is no benefit to which college you choose. Rice does not admit by major. When admitted to Rice you are just admitted to Rice, not a particular school or major. You can change your major as much as you want and don’t have to declare a major until spring semester of sophomore year. And after that, you can still change majors easily by filling out a form. And students can take any classes they want in addition to the ones required by major. The only exceptions to this is architecture and music (Shepard). For those you do have to apply to and be admitted by the particular college.


Just to clarify, this is what Rice says about what you put on your application: " Students will be assessed on their preparedness and alignment to the majors they selected." So, while your not admitted by major/college (my daughter’s acceptance letter said nothing at all about either), an applicant would want to show they are prepared/capable for whatever major they put down on their application. So in your son’s case is there one that makes the most sense based on his courses and activities in high school? I guess what I’m trying to say is I would choose whichever makes his application and story make sense. Once admitted he can choose to take whatever course in whatever colleges (except architecture and music) he wants. It is easy to double major or major/minor across colleges. CS has less CS specific credit hours than many other majors so CS majors in particular often have second majors or at least a minor.


This information from Rice appears to comport with the OP’s understanding that Rice asks all applicants to identify an academic school of primary interest:


I agree. The major matters in the sense that Rice wants to see that you are qualified for whatever specific major you choose. So as I said in my second post above, if the student does not have a clear favorite, I’d choose whichever makes the the strongest application for the student. Which aligns best with the classes they have taken, their activities, their test scores, etc. Which can they build the strongest application around in terms of their interests? So in that sense, there is a benefit to applying to one major or another. However, there is no benefit in the sense that it somehow limits or directs your courses or majors once admitted. My daughters roommate said on her application she was majoring in Bioengineering. Before she stepped foot on campus she changed her mind and was planning to major in something else…and then changed her mind again after taking a few classes.

This won’t be helpful but I can’t believe 2 of Rice’s schools are called Brown and White.

It’s not White, it’s Weiss. And no, it’s not helpful.

Weiss means white. But ok- he should apply to the school that he thinks is most aligned with his interests. Don’t overthink it in terms of maximizing his chances. I don’t think Rice as an institution really admits that way- if you are qualified for Rice and they want you, they will take you. But if your body of work as a whole in terms of classes and EC’s etc seems to present a package that fits one school better, that’s the one I would apply to. It won’t box you in if your interests later go in a different direction. Not at Rice.

At least that’s what I think.

Well, Wiess, actually.

Actually, true, which means it doesn’t even translate to “white.”

The schools and residential colleges are named after major benefactors of the University. As others have said, a student is not bound by what he/she states on the application. Unlike some schools Rice does not admit by major (except in architecture and music). My daughter and most of her friends either double majored and/or changed their majors as they went along. Many start out in one area and discover a passion in another area. Rice is looking for fit to Rice on the application. The application as a whole should reflect who the student is and why Rice is for them. Rice seeks some balance in student interests. While the majority of Rice students are STEM oriented, there is a large component that majors in the social sciences and humanities.

Hi there,

I’m a current student at Rice. Don’t think of the application as selecting one of these schools. You’re really just indicating your potential majors. This is not binding in any way. All students can take classes across all of the schools throughout their time at Rice.

You should choose potential majors that make sense with the background of the application you submit. In other words, your major choices should makes sense to the admissions committee based on what you’ve done. That said, you could benefit from choosing a fitting, albeit less popular major. Remember that the admission are seeking a well-rounded class.

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