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Rice College Application Essay

The goal here is to strike a balance between discussing the academic advantages of Rice, and the sociocultural elements of Rice’s campus that dovetail with your personality and goals. You will especially want to avoid the pitfall of common sentiments here — instead of citing the low student-to-faculty ratio and small class sizes that the university’s website advertises (which is also found at other schools), dig deeper beyond the first sub-page on Rice’s website to find information that most candidates do not have.


Also refrain from repeating the benefits of the particular school and major you wrote about in the previous essays; although they may well be unique characteristics of Rice, this question asks for you to expound on how you embody the spirit of Rice as a cultural community rather than the academic benefits you may reap at the school.


While the social climate of any school is largely intangible and difficult to determine from the outside, you can discuss student organizations that particularly interest you, as well as aspects of the Rice community that are implied by their admissions materials. For example, if promoting interdisciplinary studies is a priority for you, referencing groups like the Houston Institute Club, whose mission is to “explore the intersection of the humanities with the sciences and technology,” could demonstrate how the culture of Rice satisfies that personal principle.


It is particularly helpful to reach out to current Rice students to get an idea of what their typical day and college culture are like. Questions to consider include: What is the extent of intellectual debate on Rice’s campus? What kinds of conversations do students have outside of the classroom?


To lend some cohesiveness to the essay, tie your answer to the first question (how did you learn about Rice?) with that of the second (what motivated you to apply?). What was it about your first impression of Rice that made you want to attend the school?


The extra 100 words available in comparison to the previous 150-word limits lend the illusion of “sufficient space” to write about many disparate elements of Rice. However, 250 words, on an absolute scale, are very little. Allocate a modest 50 words to the introduction and conclusion each, and you are left with a mere 150 words for the content. Hence, it is vital that you focus on two critical factors that inspired your application. This strategy also avoids giving your essay the appearance of a list of praise for Rice.

Rice University 2017-18 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Rice supplement is as basic as vanilla ice cream until the final prompt, so prepare to think outside the box on this one.

The Requirements: 2 essays of 150 words; 1 essay of 250 words; 1 image

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Activity,Why

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 word limit)   

There’s basically no way for us to make this classic Activity essay prompt any clearer. This is your shot to take a deep dive into your resume, so make it count! A few *hair flip* expert tips for selecting the perfect activity: First and foremost, make sure your selection will help you tell admissions something they don’t already know. Make sure you have a story to tell. Secondly – and this is basically implied in our first tip – pick something you haven’t already written about! If you devoted your Common App personal statement to your journey as a member of the debate team, you might want to highlight your summer job or your experience running cross country in this essay. Aim for balance: if your other essays have focused on leadership, use this as a chance to to tell a story about teamwork. And of course, if you’ve earned any notable honors or awards in any of your activities, this is the perfect time to shine them up and show them off.

With the understanding that the choice of academic school you indicated is not binding, explain why you are applying to that particular school of study. (150 word limit)

Consider this the prologue to your Why essay (coming up next). To nail both of these questions, set aside an hour or so to get cozy with the Rice website and read up on your academic school and other aspects of student life. Doing all of your research at once will allow you to tell a cohesive story about yourself, while also ensuring that your essays aren’t redundant. Pour all of your academic focus into your answer to this question. What do you love about your chosen major? If you’re interested in the Visual and Dramatic Arts program, can you describe the unique opportunities you’ll find at Rice University? What resources are available to undergrads and how will they guide your craft? If you’re undecided, think about what makes Rice the ideal environment for academic exploration. How do you plan to hone in on the perfect major? The more detail you include, the more admissions will learn about you.

How did you first learn about Rice University, and what motivated you to apply? (250 word limit)

Keep the rich details flowing in this classic Why essay. Demonstrating a deep level of knowledge will show admissions that you’re a serious applicant. Even if you hadn’t heard of Rice before your guidance counselor suggested it, take the time to reflect on what makes you excited about the prospect of being a student there. The question itself hints at the structure you should follow: narrating your journey from first inkling to application. Without lingering too long on your decision-making process, highlight the aspects of a Rice education that speak to you; no detail is too small. Think about your ideal day from what you’d grab at the dining hall, to your ideal study space, to the clubs you’d join in you spare time. The more clearly you can imagine yourself on campus, the more evident your fit will be to admissions.

In keeping with Rice’s long-standing tradition (known as “The Box”), please share an image of something that appeals to you. See the Help Section for more information.

The final piece to Rice’s supplement isn’t an essay at all. Rice understands that a picture is worth a thousand words (or so we’ve been told). So instead of having you write a thousand words (which sounds exhausting), Rice University is asking you to upload a picture of something that appeals to you. When brainstorming which image to choose, think about your goals and passions. If you’re hoping to declare an English major, maybe your photo of choice is the Pulitzer Prize. If you are hoping to develop your business management skills at Rice, maybe you want to share the photo your mom took of you devouring pizza at student-run The Hoot this spring. Regardless of which direction you choose to take, what matters most is that your image communicates something hyper-personal, and/or reveals new information about you, your interests or your goals that is not covered anywhere else on your application.


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