First Year Domestic Applicants
Let’s get started.
We value a diverse community of scholars, and our processes and policies are carefully designed to evaluate each applicant based on individual merits and potential to succeed at Rice.
* Dates are for 2020-2021 application cycle
- December Last applicable SAT (optional)
- December Last applicable ACT (optional)
- Dec. 2 Complete a Rice Senior Interview (optional)
- Apply Coalition with Scoir or the Common Application and Rice writing supplement
- $75 nonrefundable application fee (must be paid online)
- Official high school transcript
- School Counselor
- Architecture portfolio (Architecture applicants only)
- Jan. 6 Request an Alumni Interview (optional)
- September Last applicable ACT (optional)
- October Last applicable SAT (optional)
- Early decision agreement
- Nov. 3 Request an Alumni Interview (optional)
- Nov. 22 Complete a Rice Senior Interview (optional)
- Dec. 3 Complete a Rice Senior Interview (optional)
Application Policies & Procedures
First-year domestic applicants are those who will complete high school by the end of the current academic year and hold one of the following citizenship or residency statuses:
- U.S. citizenship
- Permanent Residency
- Undocumented who do not hold DACA status but have resided in the U.S. for an extended period of time
Students enrolled in concurrent high school and college courses are considered first-year candidates.
Students who have elected to take time off from schooling between graduating from high school and enrolling in college are considered first-year candidates.
Completion of a high school diploma (or an equivalent) prior to enrollment is required for all new incoming students.
Rice requires a $75 nonrefundable application fee. Students requesting an application fee waiver from Rice should respond to the fee waiver prompts provided in the Common Application or Apply Coalition with Scoir. Those students participating in the QuestBridge program automatically qualify for application fee waivers from Rice.
The Rice supplement offers you the opportunity to share more about yourself. This is your chance to tell us why you are interested in Rice and what you would like to pursue as a student here. We also want you to elaborate on your experiences and achievements to share what you would bring to our community.
Essay Prompts (2023-2024)
1. Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected. 150 word limit.
2. Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? 150 word limit.
3. Please respond to one of the following prompts to explore how you will contribute to the Rice community:
- The Residential College System is at the heart of Rice student life and is heavily influenced by the particular cultural traditions and unique life experiences each student brings. What life experiences and/or unique perspectives are you looking forward to sharing with fellow Owls in the residential college system? 500 word limit.
- Rice is strengthened by its diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders and change agents across the spectrum of human endeavor. What perspectives shaped by your background, experiences, upbringing, and/or racial identity inspire you to join our community of change agents at Rice? 500 word limit.
One of Rice's long-standing traditions is “The Box,” a question on our application where we ask all of our applicants to share an image of something that appeals to them. The Box gives you the opportunity to present us with an image that shares something about yourself, your interests or what is meaningful to you. This image is not used for evaluative purposes in the application, but allows you to put your stamp on the application about who you are aside from what you have achieved. Be sure to choose an image that speaks for itself and does not need an explanation. The Box must be a two-dimensional image that is uploaded in the Common Application or Apply Coalition with Scoir, or uploaded in the Rice Admission Student Portal.
Applicants interested in Shepherd School of Music must submit additional materials depending on their area of study. All application materials must be completed by December 1. Music applicants are not eligible to apply through QuestBridge or Early Decision. Admitted students must pursue the music program for at least one year before changing schools. For more information, please visit the Shepherd School of Music Admission page.
Applicants interested in the School of Architecture must submit a portfolio of creative work. Portfolios should be uploaded via your Rice Admission Student Portal. Note: Submissions exceeding the specifications listed below will not be accepted.
The portfolio should demonstrate creative potential and is not expected to be architectural in focus nor professional in quality. It may include examples of sketches, paintings, photography, models, etc. Examples of mechanical or computer drafting are strongly discouraged. The School of Architecture does not accept CDs or DVDs.
- PDF file labeled with applicant name (example: JaneDoe.pdf)
- 15 MB maximum file size
- Page size should be horizontally oriented A4 or Letter (8.5” x 11”); images should be between 150dpi and 300 dpi
- The first page should be a cover/title page with the applicant’s name
- Content can be up to 10 pages (not including the title page); more than one image or work can be included per page
- Captions of images with title, year of execution, media, and size are encouraged. A one to two sentence description is also acceptable.
For more information about the program, please visit their website.
Architecture Essay Prompts
1. Why are you determined to study architecture? Could you please elaborate on your past experiences and how they have motivated you to apply to Rice University and the School of Architecture in particular? 250 words.
2. Please expand on relevant experiences and motivations outside of your academic trajectory that have inspired you to study architecture, focusing on aspects that are not accommodated by other prompts in the application. 250 words.
Applicants interested in Visual and Dramatic Arts under the School of Humanities may submit a portfolio of creative work. If you would like to submit a portfolio, it should be uploaded via your Rice Admission Student Portal. Note: Submissions exceeding the specifications listed below will not be accepted.
The portfolio should demonstrate creative potential and is not expected to be professional in quality. It may include examples of sketches, paintings, photography, models, etc. VADA does not accept CDs or DVDs, but VADA can access URLs to Vimeo or social media pages provided within the portfolio.
- The first page/file should be a cover/title page document with the applicant’s name
- 1 GB maximum file size
- Images should be between 150 dpi and 300 dpi
- Content can be up to 10 files (not including the title page); more than one image or work can be included per file
To upload your portfolio, access your Rice Admission Student Portal, scroll down to the Visual and Dramatic Arts Portfolio section and click “Edit Portfolio”.
Early Decision Plan
Early Decision is a binding decision plan designed for students who have selected Rice as their first choice. Students may initiate applications to other colleges under nonbinding plans but must withdraw those applications if admitted to Rice. Students who apply Early Decision must submit their materials by November 1. Admission decisions will be released by mid-December.
All admission decisions are final. There are three admission outcomes from Early Decision; the admission committee will:
- Defer - Deferred applicants are considered with the Regular Decision pool.
- Deny - Denied applicants will not be considered with Regular Decision pool, but are welcome to re-apply in the following application cycle.
It is important to note that, if admitted under Early Decision, a candidate must withdraw all other college applications, may not submit any additional applications after accepting the offer, and must accept Rice’s offer of admission by submitting an enrollment deposit by January 1.
Those accepted under Early Decision who demonstrate financial aid eligibility and submit all required materials by the deadline will receive a financial aid package at the time of admission.
Regular Decision Plan
Regular Decision is a non-binding decision plan. Students who apply Regular Decision must submit their materials by January 4. Admission decisions will be released by April 1.
All admission decisions are final. There are three admission outcomes from Regular Decision; the admission committee will:
- Waitlist – Applicants who are offered a place on the waitlist may elect to be considered for admission if space in the class becomes available.
- Deny – Denied applicants are welcome to re-apply in the following application cycle.
Regular Decision applicants who are offered admission must submit an enrollment deposit by May 1.
Those accepted under Regular Decision who demonstrate financial aid eligibility and submit all required materials by the deadline will receive a financial aid package at the time of admission.
Rice is one of the original QuestBridge university and college partners (starting in 2004), and we are now one of only 45 university and college partners with a proven commitment to providing access to low-income students. Programs Rice supports include the College Prep Conferences (typically held in May and June) and the National College Match program which runs October through December. The National College Match is open to all U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents OR students, regardless of citizenship, currently attending high school in the United States. Music applicants are not eligible to apply through QuestBridge.
Essay Prompts for students using the QuestBridge application (2023-2024)
3. Please respond to one of the following prompts to explore how you will contribute to the Rice community (optional):
One of Rice's long-standing traditions is “The Box,” a question on our application where we ask all of our applicants, including students using the QuestBridge application, to share an image of something that appeals to them. Read more about The Box under the Rice supplement tab.
For more information about applying to Rice through QuestBridge, please visit QuestBridge’s Rice University page or contact us directly at [email protected].
Official high school/secondary school transcripts must include grades from 9th through 11th grade as well as courses being taken in the 12th grade. Early Decision applicants are encouraged to submit first marking period grades, when they become available. Regular Decision applicants will be required to submit mid-year grades from 12th grade, when they become available.
Applicants studying in an international exam-based curriculum, must submit:
- All official high school transcripts
- Final exam results (for example IGCE/GCSE, CBSE X/AISSCE X)
- Predicted exam results, if available
Official high school transcripts must be submitted by your high school via the application platform (Common App or Apply Coalition with Scoir), through an online ordering system or eTranscript service , or sent via postal mail directly to the Office of Admission. Transcripts will not be accepted by fax or email.
National Student Clearinghouse (SPEEDE Server or ETX)
Cambridge Assessment International Education (CIE Direct)
For USPS Courier: Rice University Office of Admission-MS 17 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892
For DHL/Fedex EXPRESS Couriers (common for international): Rice University Office of Admission-MS 555 6100 Main St. Houston, TX 77005
Rice seeks students who demonstrate intellectual vitality through their course selection and their grade performance. Most applicants will challenge themselves by taking advantage of the rigorous coursework available to them. At a minimum, students must complete the following.
- At a minimum, the natural science and engineering divisions require trigonometry or precalculus and both chemistry and physics. Students may substitute a second year of chemistry or biology for physics.
- Students admitted with curriculum deficiencies will be asked to complete the required work by taking high school or college-level courses during the summer before enrollment at Rice.
Rice will allow first-year and transfer student applicants to undergraduate degree-seeking programs to submit SAT or ACT test scores, if they choose. Students who are unable to submit test scores or prefer not to submit test scores will be given full consideration in the admission selection process.
While standardized tests have long served to provide an external benchmark of college-readiness that provides meaningful information about a student’s preparedness for the rigors of a Rice education, they are merely one factor of many that are considered in the admission process. As is consistent with our holistic review, students will be given full consideration with the information they have provided regardless of their decision to submit their test scores.
Students wishing to provide additional exams for admission consideration are welcome to submit these to our office. These exams are purely optional and at the discretion of the students to submit. We want students to have every opportunity to showcase their strengths and academic achievements where possible.
- AP Exams, IB Exams, or AICE Exams: Students may opt to self-report AP, IB or AICE exam scores in the testing section of the Common Application, Apply Coalition with Scoir, or QuestBridge National College Match Application. These scores show mastery of content knowledge in specific subjects and may be eligible for undergraduate course credit once a student enrolls.
- Predicted IB Diploma and A-Levels: Students enrolled in IB and A-Level curricula whose schools submit predicted scores for admission consideration are expected to complete their exams and submit final results prior to enrolling. Should conditions related to the pandemic not allow for students to sit for their IB or A-Level examinations, Rice will accept the scores provided by the examination boards.
General Testing Policy
Students applying to Rice University will not be required to submit SAT or ACT for admission consideration. Students wanting to show their college readiness and academic strengths may choose to submit SAT, ACT, AP, or IB test scores.
- ACT or SAT: Rice does not have a preference for students to submit one test over the other. If an applicant submits both an SAT and an ACT score, the committee will consider the test that best enhances their application.
- Superscore: When reviewing SAT and ACT scores, we use the highest score from each section across all administrations. We encourage students to report all scores knowing that we will recombine the sections to get the best possible set of scores for each candidate.
- Writing and essay sections: The ACT Essay and SAT Writing section are not required and not considered for admission. Writing or essay section scores are not visible as part of the admission evaluation process. This policy will not be affected in light of the cancellation of the SAT Writing section instituted by the College Board.
- Self-reported Scores: Students have the option to submit self-reported scores if they are graduating from a high school within the U.S. or submit official scores. Admitted students who choose to enroll at Rice will be required to submit official test scores prior to matriculation.
- Official Test Scores: To be considered official, scores must be sent directly from the testing organization. Rice’s College Board code, including TOEFL, is 6609 and our ACT code is 4152.
Please refer to our Class Profile for more information on the academic profile of admitted students.
Candidates must submit letters of recommendation from their counselor and two teachers.
Counselor Letter of Recommendation
The counselor letter of recommendation serves to highlight the accomplishments of a student within the context of their high school. The letter must come from an applicant’s assigned school counselor, college counselor, principal, or headmaster. Applicants will not be disadvantaged if their high school structure and counselor’s caseload does not allow students the opportunity to build a personal relationship with their counselor.
Teacher Letters of Recommendation
The two teacher recommendations serve to highlight the applicant’s academic strengths and contributions in the classroom. Both of these recommendations should be from teachers of core academic subjects, and ideally one recommendation would relate to the applicant's intended area of study. Though not a requirement, we would prefer letters come from teachers who have taught the student for a full course.
Supplemental Letters of Recommendation
The required counselor recommendation and two teacher recommendations provide the Admission Committee with all the information we need to make an informed admission decision. However, if someone has unique and personal knowledge about an applicant's accomplishments or talents, the applicant may have that individual submit a supplemental recommendation. For example, this could include an employer, supervisor, coach, mentor, or another teacher. Supplemental recommendations must include the applicant’s full name, date of birth, or applicant ID and should be submitted through the application platform or to [email protected].
We recommend an interview for first-year applicants, though they are optional and not guaranteed. Interviews are a great way to communicate your knowledge about Rice and an excellent opportunity to showcase academic and personal successes while learning more about the campus experience. An inability to schedule an interview will not negatively impact your application.
All interviews for the 2023 - 2024 application cycle will be conducted virtually. A trained alumnus or current Rice University senior will virtually meet with you to learn more about your accomplishments and academic interests and to answer your questions about studying at Rice.
A limited number of interviews with current Rice University seniors will be available beginning in late August through our campus visit website . You do not need to have submitted your admission application to schedule an interview with a current senior, but interview slots are on a first-come, first-served basis. Please follow the deadlines below when scheduling an interview with a current senior.
If you are unable to schedule an interview with a Rice senior, you will still have the opportunity to request an interview with a member of the Rice Alumni Volunteers for Admission (RAVA). Due to limited availability, you will need to submit your application for admission before requesting an interview with RAVA. Then access your online applicant portal and request your virtual interview by the deadlines below.
*Please note that you may only complete one interview. We have no preference between completing an interview with a Rice senior or a RAVA. In years of exceptionally high demand for interviews, all requests may not be fulfilled. We will try to match students who request an interview by the priority deadline first.
Rice University has concluded our participation in the Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars program.
We remain committed to supporting our current cohorts as they finish their studies at Rice and matriculate into Baylor College of Medicine. However, we will no longer accept new applications to the Rice/Baylor Program.
With Rice’s location situated next to the world-renowned Texas Medical Center, our students benefit from opportunities to work with leading researchers and medical professionals and are exceedingly successful pursuing their aspirations in medicine and healthcare. We will continue to advise students on the many avenues and pathways to becoming healthcare professionals, including the traditional medical school application process.
You will be notified via email how to access your Rice Admission Student Portal which is designed to assist you in tracking our receipt of your application materials and to communicate your final admission decision. The only valid notification of an admission decision is a formal communication from the Rice University Office for Enrollment. We reserve the right to close your application if you are admitted under a binding Early Decision plan at another institution.
Need-Based Financial Aid
We know that one of the biggest factors in determining the right school is affordability. Because we believe talent deserves opportunity, Rice offers need-blind admission to domestic students. This means we do not consider finances when we review the application. Additionally, Rice meets 100 percent of demonstrated need – without loans – through the Rice Investment, one of the most notable financial aid programs in the country. For more information about need-based financial aid and the Rice Investment, please visit our Office of Financial Aid website.
The Office of Admission offers merit-based scholarships to incoming first year students who distinguish themselves academically and personally within our highly competitive group of admitted students. These scholarships are based solely on merit and financial need is not taken into consideration. There is no separate application or interview required; the Admission Committee automatically considers all admitted students, both domestic and international, on the basis of the student’s application for admission. About 20% of admitted students are offered a merit scholarship each year. Students awarded a merit-based scholarship will be notified at the time of admission.
Advanced Placement (AP) Exams
Rice University awards transfer credit for the Advanced Placement (AP) Program, which enables high school students to earn transfer credit for college-level courses taken in high school upon completion of AP examinations with a score of 4 or 5. For more information about the AP transfer credit process, please visit the Advanced Placement (AP) Credit page.
International Baccalaureate (IB) Exams
Rice University awards transfer credit for International Baccalaureate (IB) examinations for students who hold the International Baccalaureate Diploma and have obtained a score of 6 or 7 on higher level exams. For more information about the IB transfer credit process, please visit the International Baccalaureate (IB) Credit page.
Students who complete various international exams with a grade of A or B may receive transfer credit. These exams include A-Levels, the Abitur, CAPE, CEGEP (Science Option), French Baccalauréat (Science Option), Italian Maturita, and Swiss Federal Maturity Certificate. For more information about the international exams transfer credit process, please visit the International Exam Credit page.
The Office of the Registrar evaluates courses taken at other regionally accredited colleges or universities (or their foreign equivalent) that are appropriate to the Rice curriculum for potential transfer credit.
Transfer credit will not be awarded for courses included on a student’s high school transcript and used to satisfy high school graduation requirements, i.e. dual credit courses. Only those students who have more than 20 college preparatory courses may have the Office of the Registrar consider for Rice credit their college courses taken in high school. For more information about the transfer credit process, please visit the Transfer Credit page.
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Choose Your Test
Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 5 tips for writing the perfect rice essay supplement.
Rice is one of the top 20 universities in the nation , and to get in, you need more than just awesome grades and test scores—you need a compelling Rice essay. The Rice application requires several essays depending on the school you're applying to at the university. So what should you write about for each Rice essay to make your application as strong as it can be?
We'll explain what the Rice supplement is and go over the Rice University essay prompts you'll see on your application. After, we'll give you expert tips on how to answer each essay prompt so you'll have an even better shot at getting accepted to this prestigious university!
Feature Image: faungg's photos /Flickr
What Is the Rice Supplement?
Like many colleges, Rice has a supplement that requires applicants to submit additional info to the school—that is, info not included in the Common Application or Coalition Application .
The Rice writing supplement consists of several essay and short answer prompts, which most undergraduate applicants (though not all—we'll explain this in more detail shortly) must answer for their applications. These supplementary questions ask about applicants' choice of academic field, reasons for applying to Rice, and so on.
In addition, as part of the Rice supplement, all applicants must upload an image that depicts something that appeals to them or is important to them. This requirement, called "The Box," isn't an essay, but it plays just as important a role in the application process. So choose a picture wisely!
Once you've answered all these questions and uploaded an image, you can submit your Rice supplement along with the rest of your application.
What exactly are the Rice University essay prompts you need to answer? Let's take a look.
What Are the Rice University Essay Prompts?
There are six Rice University essay prompts in total; however, feel free to relax a little since you won't need to respond to all these prompts on your application. This is because the Rice University essay prompts you must answer will vary depending on the school you're applying to at Rice.
Below are all the current Rice University essay prompts, organized by what types of applicants are required to answer which ones.
There are three essays that all applicants must submit to Rice.
The first of these is a personal essay that responds to one of the essay prompts provided by either the Common App or Coalition App (depending on which system you're using). This essay should be about 500-550 words long and must be no longer than 650 words.
Both the Common App and Coalition App offer several essay prompts from which you can choose. We won't be listing those prompts here, but you can find them in our guides to the Common App and Coalition App essay prompts .
In addition to the Common App/Coalition App personal essay, all applicants must submit two short answers as part of the Rice supplement. Your answers to these questions will be much shorter than your personal essay, at just 150 words max per response.
Here are the two short-answer prompts:
Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected above.
Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you?
School of Architecture Applicants ONLY
Applicants to the Rice School of Architecture must submit all of the above PLUS two more short answers (again, these are part of the Rice supplement). Your answer to each question must be no longer than 250 words, giving you a little more space to work with compared with the two short-answer questions above.
Here are the current Rice University essay prompts for School of Architecture applicants:
Applicants to All Other Schools (Besides Architecture)
Applicants to all other schools (besides the School of Architecture) must submit a personal essay instead of the two architecture short answers. Like all the prompts listed above, this prompt is part of the Rice supplement.
For this essay, you can write up to 500 words. Compared with the other Rice University essay prompts, this one clearly gives you way more space to write.
Here is the prompt for this longer Rice essay:
Rice is lauded for creating a collaborative atmosphere that enhances the quality of life for all members of our campus community. The Residential College System and undergraduate life are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural tradition each student brings. What life perspectives would you contribute to the Rice community?
All Rice University Essay Prompts, Analyzed
Now that we've seen all the Rice University essay prompts, let's analyze them one at a time to see how you can answer them effectively.
Rice Short Answer 1 (All Applicants)
This first short answer wants you to summarize your (main) intended field of study as well as any other fields you're interested in studying at Rice. It's a deceptively simple prompt that's about a lot more than just what you plan to study at Rice.
The crux of this essay isn't just summarizing your major—it's explaining why you've chosen this field and why Rice specifically will be a good fit for your goals and interests.
Here are the questions this prompt is really asking you to answer:
- Why do you want to study this particular field?
- Why do you think Rice is a good fit for you and your academic interests?
As you write your response, try to focus on specifics. Don't just say you've always had an interest in writing stories. What specifically drove you to declare a major in English? For instance, you could discuss your deep fascination with Shakespeare, specifically with Macbeth , and how you're excited about Rice's array of Shakespeare-centered classes .
If you have enough space (remember that your answer can only be 150 words max), you could also (or instead) elaborate on what you plan to do with your intended major after college and how Rice will help you achieve this goal. If you're hoping to study music, for example, you could write about how you believe Rice's Navigating Music Careers portal and accomplished music faculty will help prepare you for establishing a successful career in music.
If you're still undecided about what you want to major in, this is a great time to explain what kinds of fields you're considering studying and why they intrigue you. Maybe you recently developed an interest in architecture after seeing the famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and are now thinking of taking some architecture classes at Rice.
Whatever the case, be clear about what you (might) want to study and why.
Rice Short Answer 2 (All Applicants)
Unlike the prompt above, this prompt is not limited to academics (though you are welcome to talk about those here as well, as long as you don't repeat anything you wrote for your other short answer). Basically, Rice just wants to know this: why Rice?
This prompt is actually a variation of the "why this college" essay , which many colleges ask for in their applications. Specifically, this prompt is asking you to focus on why Rice is an ideal fit for you .
Here are some examples of topics you could write about:
- A particular academic program or major you're interested in doing, possibly one that's not offered elsewhere or is somewhat rare
- The small community atmosphere at Rice and the fun activities and traditions it offers students , such as O-Week and Beer Bike
- The diversity of the Rice student body and why this positive, blended environment would be ideal for you as a student
- Its urban location in Houston and how you intend to use the resources of the big city to further your academic and/or professional interests
- A certain professor or faculty member whom you wish to work with
Remember to be specific —don't just say you're interested in Rice because it's known for quality research or because it's ranked highly on many "best colleges" lists. What specific features does Rice have that made you apply?
If you're not sure what to write about for this Rice essay, I recommend doing some research on Rice. Start by visiting the official Rice website to see what the school offers in terms of academics, extracurricular activities, professional opportunities, internships, study abroad programs, etc. You can read more about anything that sticks out to you or resonates with your interests.
You can also refer to community-based websites, such as College Confidential and Reddit , to see what current students have to say about life at Rice.
Rice Short Answer 3 (Architecture Applicants ONLY)
Why are you determined to study architecture? Could you please elaborate on your past experiences and how they have motivated you to apply to Rice University and the School of Architecture in particular?
This prompt is similar to Short Answer 1 in that it's asking you to elaborate on your chosen major (in this case, architecture) and why you're interested in it. For this essay, however, you don't need to focus on architecture as a major as much as you do on architecture as a passion.
In other words, this is your chance to tell the story of how you developed a deep interest in architecture and what architecture means to you.
For this Rice essay, and as the prompt says, you can focus on aspirations (what goals do you have and how does architecture fulfill these?), experiences (did a particular incident make you develop an interest in architecture?), and relationships (who, if anyone, inspired you to study the field?).
Here are some potential topics you could write about:
- A particular person, such as a parent or teacher, who introduced you to architecture, and how this person influences you today (if applicable)
- A design or architecture class you took, either at school or as an extracurricular, and how this class made you become interested in architecture
- A research project you did, whether specifically about architecture or not, and how it drew you into wanting to learn more about architecture and its various applications
- A certain piece of architecture, such as the Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building, you either saw in person or learned about and that made you want to study the field further
- Your love of design, and how toys you used to play with as a child, such as LEGO bricks, led to your gradually developing a desire to learn more about architecture as a field
- Any personal experience that relates to how you became interested in architecture —maybe you grew up in a shoddy apartment complex, an experience which showed you how better and safer architecture could improve people's day-to-day lives
In your essay, use specific details and avoid clichéd openings, such as "I knew I wanted to study architecture when …" The admissions committee at Rice has more than likely heard these types of overly broad statements hundreds, if not thousands, of times, so avoid them!
Rice Short Answer 4 (Architecture Applicants ONLY)
Please expand on relevant experiences and motivations outside of your academic trajectory that have inspired you to study architecture, focusing on aspects that are not accommodated by other prompts in the application.
This is an interesting essay prompt since it's so much broader than the other one you have to do as an architecture applicant to Rice. The purpose of this prompt is to reveal to Rice what types of activities you're interested or engaged in (outside of architecture), and what role they play in your life.
Think about what you do in your spare time, what you're passionate about, and possibly what you are obligated to do (such as chores or duties at work). Are there any activities you do that you find fun but also intellectually or physically challenging? Are you particularly invested in an activity?
Don't be afraid to get really creative and honest here —you're allowed to write about an activity that's unconventional, eccentric, "boring," or even plain goofy. Just make sure you're also giving the admissions committee deeper insight into something about you, such as how you flourish when competing against your own times in cross country races or how you calm yourself down with a big bowl of Froot Loops every evening. Ultimately, you want to highlight a personal strength.
- An instrument you play every day or nearly every day, why this activity is so significant to you, and how it has helped shape your personality or goals
- A sport you play, why it's important to you, and how it's contributed to a certain personality trait you have, such as determination or optimism
- A video game or other game you love to play, such as Dungeons and Dragons or Mario Kart, and what this game means to you on a personal, intellectual, or emotional level
- Any other hobby you have and why it's important to you, as well as how it has helped you cultivate or reach a goal you had
- A task, chore, or duty you have to do often, either at home or at a part-time job, and what this activity has revealed to you, such as the necessity of doing something you're not a fan of in order to be able to do or get something you really want
- Volunteering with an organization or at a specific place, and what this activity means to you ( NOTE: I recommend only picking this topic if you're continually involved with a specific volunteer effort and if it's something you're very invested in—if you helped out at an animal shelter just once, for instance, don't write about that here!)
- A food, TV show, movie, guilty pleasure, etc., that you love and indulge in on a regular basis, and why you believe this routine is helpful or even necessary for you
As a final tip for this Rice essay, don't feel obligated to choose an "impressive" topic. Instead, use this fun and open-ended essay prompt as a chance to demonstrate your personal strengths and passions in a highly personal, creative way.
Rice Essay (All Applicants EXCEPT Architecture)
Aside from the Common App/Coalition App personal essay, this is the longest Rice essay you'll write for your application (unless you're an architecture applicant—in that case, you don't have to write this essay!).
Once again, you have a limit of 500 words, which should give you plenty of space to delve into the details of yourself and what you'll contribute to the community at Rice.
So what is this prompt asking you to do exactly? This prompt is essentially a diversity essay prompt in that it's asking what makes you different from other applicants and what qualities you can bring to Rice.
Note the significance of the word "unique" in the prompt here—this is the crux of what you should write about in your essay. What specific, unique qualities do you have that you think will make a positive contribution to the Rice community?
Here are some sample topics you could write about for this Rice essay:
- A particular skill you have —for example, maybe you often play classical guitar music to calm down your younger sibling at home, and you think this skill could help students (and yourself) feel better during finals week at Rice
- A positive personality trait you have, such as optimism or dedication, and how this trait has helped you in life and could help you and others at Rice as well
- A cultural, religious, or ethnic background you have that is important to you in your daily life and that you feel will help increase the diversity at Rice
- Any unique experiences that are significant to you or have had a major impact on how you define yourself —perhaps you've lived in many countries and believe these experiences of constantly having to adapt to new cultures and lifestyles might help you (and others!) with transitioning to life at Rice
Make sure to show, not tell. You've got plenty of room to be able to tell a compelling story, so try not to rely on dull descriptions, clichés, and general, all-encompassing statements. Rather, fill your story with personality, voice, images, and realism. Using a variety of literary devices can add lots of color to your writing and will help your essay stand out.
In addition, don't repeat anything you've already written in your Common App/Coalition App essay. The essays required for both application systems are similar to the Rice essay above in that they're all longer and more personal. Write about something different for each so you don't sound as though there's just one single thing that defines you.
Real Rice Essay Example + Analysis
Though knowing what kinds of topics you can write about for each Rice essay is definitely helpful, it's even better to be able to see what an actual successful Rice essay looks like. Below, we show you a real Rice essay example that was written by an admitted student.
The following essay was written in response to a prompt similar to the current Rice essay prompt for Short Answer 2 above. (In other words, it's essentially a "Why Rice?" prompt.)
Note: Since this essay is a little older and the Rice essay topics change every few years, the prompt and word length for this essay differ slightly from the current guidelines. For this essay, the word limit was 250 words, whereas the current limit is 150 words.
Here is the essay:
"We are going to visit Rice today," my mom leaned back in her front row seat and said to me.
Wait, is that a restaurant specializing in all kinds of rice dishes? Like fried rice, rice soup, and rice balls? My brain went into a frenzy.
All other questions flooding my thoughts dissipated, however, when my eyes lay on Rice's beautiful Byzantine-style buildings with its magnificent archways and its soft sand-pink brick walls. While just outside its surroundings the thriving city life of Houston continues, Rice kept its sacred ground intimate with its relatively small campus and peaceful with its large spreads of greenery and shades. It's perfect! said my right brain, falling in love at first sight with the campus. My left brain, however, chastised the emotional side of me with Don't judge a book by its cover. You can't just choose your true love like that!
Exasperated by my left brain, I attended an information seminar. Phrases like "Passport to Houston," "Best Quality of Student Life," "Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen," and "more than 40 interdisciplinary centers" flashed by my eyes. Almost unlimited access to Houston's transportation and hangout spots? A research facility where I can group with students of all fields and work on solving real-world problems? Friendly research faculty who might allow me to continue my interdisciplinary research in psychology and computer science? My left brain finally gave in. Alright, alright. Let's go make Rice into not just a staple for food, but also education, then.
What Makes This Rice Essay Work?
It's got a lot of personality. The italicized parts, which symbolize the applicant's thoughts, give us a highly personal and intriguing look into their reactions to their first visit to Rice. In addition, the humorous bits (such as when the university's name is compared to the actual rice food) add a fun and creative touch.
It oozes passion. While this applicant might occasionally go a little overboard in how they describe how amazing Rice is, one thing is clear: they're extremely interested in attending Rice and making the most of their interdisciplinary interests here.
How Could This Rice Essay Be Even Better?
It could cut out the clichés. The saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" has been done to death and doesn't add any memorable insight into the applicant. This essay would be better if the applicant had changed this phrase or simply cut it out completely. Moreover, although the concept of Rice as a food is funny, this applicant likely isn't the first person to have made a joke about this.
It could be more specific. Although there's clearly a lot of passion in this Rice essay, it lacks detail in areas where we could've learned a lot more about the applicant. For example, what kinds of research does this person want to conduct at Rice? And what "real-world problems" do they want to solve?
How to Write a Great Rice Essay: 5 Key Tips
Before you go off writing your Rice essay, here are some final tips to keep in mind.
#1: Use Specific Details
I've said this before and I'll say it again: be specific in your essays. Rice doesn't just want to know that you're good at softball—it wants to know why this sport is important to you, what kind of role it plays in your life, and how it makes you feel.
If you're describing a specific person in one of your essays, use concrete details to show the admissions committee who this person really is. Does she have an endearing gap in her teeth when she smiles? What does his voice sound like?
Details like these will allow your readers to more readily feel the personality and passion in your writing, making it easier to relate to you on a deeper level. They'll also help you and your essays stand out from the sea of applicants, which is always a plus!
#2: Channel Your Inner Voice
Personal essays are all about showcasing your personality and a side of yourself that's not made clear in the more quantitative (i.e., grades and test scores) parts of your application.
Therefore, with each Rice essay, make sure you're channeling your inner voice. Does the essay sound as though you wrote it and not someone else did? Are you writing about what you really want to and not what you think the Rice admissions committee wants to read?
For example, if you're naturally a humorous person, feel free to throw in a joke or two. If you're the poetic type, you could add in some lines of poetry you've written (if relevant to your essay topic) or sprinkle in some flowery metaphors.
The basic tip here is to write in whatever way comes most natural to you.
That being said, there are a few things you should always avoid in your college essays:
- Typos, poor grammar, incorrect spelling, and other technical errors (the only exception to this would be if you're quoting someone who used incorrect grammar or colloquial words such as "ain't" or "gonna")
- Inappropriate stories —don't write about the time you got arrested or made an obviously wrong or immoral choice, for example
- Rude or impolite words and phrases
#3: Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Even though most of the essays on the Rice supplement aren't that long, you still have a lot to write for just one school, so these essays will likely take up a lot of your free time. Be sure to start your essays (for all the colleges you're applying to—not just Rice) ahead of time, ideally at least a few months before your college application deadlines .
#4: Avoid Repeating Yourself
Many of the Rice University essay prompts touch on similar topics, such as why you want to attend Rice, why you want to study a certain field, and what makes you unique.
As you answer the prompts, try to ensure there isn't too much overlap between the content of your essays.
It's OK if there's a little bit of repetition. For example, it'd be hard not to talk about your interest in architecture as you answer Short Answer 1 (What do you want to major in?) and Short Answer 3 (Why architecture?).
That said, your primary goal should be to try to focus on different main points for each of your essays. This way, Rice will get a more well-rounded (versus one-sided) picture of who you are.
#5: Don't Forget to Proofread!
For each Rice essay, take a lot of time to edit and proofread it.
After you write a rough draft, put the essay away for a few days. Once some time has passed, take your essay out again and reread it. Fix any obvious errors, such as typos and misspellings, and mark any areas that are awkward, unclear, or irrelevant.
Do this process a few times until you have a fairly clean draft. Then, give your essay to someone else to read; this could be a parent, teacher, older sibling, tutor, etc. Ask this person for feedback and use their advice to further tweak your essay until you eventually have a quality final draft.
As with any essay, be sure to do one final proofread (and get someone else to look it over, too!) right before you submit it to a college.
Interested in applying to other highly prestigious schools besides Rice? Then take a look at our guides to how to write essays for Northwestern , Harvard , and Stanford .
Writing college admissions essays can be tricky. Check out our expert guides to learn how you can write a great Common Application essay and Coalition Application essay .
For more tips on how to get into Rice, including what SAT/ACT score you'll need, check out our Rice University admissions page .
Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar.
Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges.
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Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.
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Rice University 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide
Rice University 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanations
The Requirements: 2 essays of 150 words; 1 essay of 500 words; 1 image
Supplemental Essay Type(s): Community , Why, Diversity
The Admission Committee is interested in getting to know each student as well as possible through the application process. Please respond to each of the following prompts.
Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected. (150 word limit).
Consider this the prologue to your Why essay (coming up next). To nail this question, 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.
Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? (150 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. Since you just wrote about why Rice’s majors and/or academics appeal to you for the first prompt, don’t hesitate to address residence life or campus activities in your response to this question. Admissions wants to know that you will not only thrive as a student, but also as a transplant living in their city. Does Rice have a club or volunteer organization that you really want to join? Did you fall in love with Houston when you came to visit last spring and now feel like a Texan at heart? What excites you about the prospect of sporting blue and grey next year?
Please respond to one of the following prompts to explore how you will contribute to the Rice community (in 500 words or fewer):
1. the residential college system is at the heart of rice student life and is heavily influenced by the particular cultural traditions and unique life experiences each student brings. what life experiences and/or unique perspectives are you looking forward to sharing with fellow owls in the residential college system.
This prompt is a spin on the classic Community Essay : what do you bring with you to contribute within the residential college system, specifically? Consider your hobbies, culture, and any other extracurricular activities you do just because you love them. One great way to choose a topic is to ask yourself: if I had a podcast, what would it be about? More than likely, you’ll come up with a topic that not only interests you, but you also want to share with the world. Along with pinpointing what you’re passionate about, try to think of how you can enrich the lives of your peers. Do you teach a craft? Do you strongly believe in paying it forward? What would your friends say is your “superpower”? These are all ways to break into a discussion of what you bring to the table and what you would do to enrich your new community.
2. Rice is strengthened by its diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders and change agents across the spectrum of human endeavor. What perspectives shaped by your background, experiences, upbringing, and/or racial identity inspire you to join our community of change agents at Rice?
Odds are that this isn’t the first Diversity Essay prompt you’ve come across this year. If it is, however, please read on. Rice wants to accept students from a range of backgrounds who will contribute to their community, so tell admissions about what makes you you and how you will strive for positive change within the student body. Think about times when people have been intrigued by or curious about your identity, skillset, or background. Maybe you began practicing meditation and Buddhism during your sophomore year and you hope to spread some wisdom and mindfulness on campus next fall. Perhaps your parents emigrated from Ukraine, and you intend to raise awareness or funds for refugees. What do you hope to share with others about your lived experience? How will you incorporate this element of your identity to enrich the world around you? Show admissions that you’re eager to make your mark in their community. Bonus points if you can reference a specific component of the Rice experience (think clubs, classes, residential colleges, volunteer opportunities, etc.) as a natural stepping stone on your personal journey of leadership and progress.
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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2022-23 Rice University Supplemental Essays – Prompts and Tips
August 3, 2022
Rice University, the STEM powerhouse in Houston, Texas, accepted just 9% of applicants into both their Class of 2025 and Class of 2026. Given that the applicant pool—including the 91% who are ultimately rejected—are all immensely talented and qualified, any aspiring Rice student needs to find ways to stand out on their application. One such way is through the Rice supplemental essays.
(Want to learn more about How to Get Into Rice? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get into Rice University: Admissions Data and Strategies for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)
When evaluating applicants, Rice University places a strong emphasis on the quality of one’s essays. Below are Rice’s four supplemental prompts for the 2021-22 admissions cycle along with our advice for creating a committee-swaying admissions essay.
Rice University Essay Prompt #1
1) please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected above. (150 word limit)..
Share an authentic story here of why you are interested in your selected discipline (or disciplines). What books have you read on the subject? Which documentaries have you watched? What podcasts have you listened to? What subtopics most intrigue you? Did a teacher excite you about a topic or was it a parent or outside mentor? Do you know where you want to take this knowledge post-bachelor’s degree? Do you aim to one day go on to pursue a graduate/professional degree or is there an occupation you are shooting for right out of undergrad? Which classes are you excited to take? What do you hope to research as an undergrad? Include as much detail as possible in this very limited 150-word space.
You can structure the narrative of this essay as a succinct but comprehensive soup to nuts chronicling of your entire journey toward your discipline of interest (even in limited space) or you could share one or two vignettes that illustrate your burgeoning passion for engineering, history, French, computer science, business, psychology, etc.
Rice University Essay Prompt #2
2) based upon your exploration of rice university, what elements of the rice experience appeal to you (150 word limit.).
The admissions committee wants to know why you desire to pursue your studies at Rice. However, with only 150 words to play with, you’ll have to make every sentence count.
In general, make sure to:
- Cite specific academic programs , professors , research opportunities , internship/externship programs , study abroad program s, student-run organizations , etc.
- Explain how you will take advantage of the university’s endless resources both inside and outside of the classroom.
Examples of items that quality “Why Rice?” essays touch upon include:
- Rice’s high marks for both race/class interaction and overall quality of life.
- Additionally, the small class size—69% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
- Ample opportunities for mentored research with faculty as an undergraduate.
- A 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
- Desire to participate in some of the 300 student-led organizations on campus.
- Lastly, one of Rice’s study abroad opportunities that appeals to you.
Rice University Essay Prompt #3
3) rice is lauded for creating a collaborative atmosphere that enhances the quality of life for all members of our campus community. the residential college system and undergraduate life are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural tradition each student brings. what life perspectives would you contribute to the rice community (500 word limit.).
Your answer here could be about an ethnic, religious, or neighborhood community/identity or a group of individuals who gather for a club, sport, or service project. Perhaps you are the captain of a team, the editor-in-chief of your school paper, or the president of a club—on the other hand, you may simply be a valuable contributing member. Regardless of whether you are a leading man/woman or a still-essential bit player, make sure that you use your writing ability to show the admissions officer what type of community member you are rather than merely telling them. Of course, they are also interested in your “life perspectives” which are also typically more engaging when shown through examples versus delivered through “I” statements.
You can also discuss how you have engaged with your high school local/community and what you have learned from interacting with people of a different ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual identity, etc. Draw on past evidence of your commitment to being a positive force in your community and speculate how that is likely to manifest on Rice’s campus. Research and cite Rice student-run organizations, local nonprofit groups, or anything else you are drawn to. The admissions committee wants to understand precisely how you will contribute to their campus community of 8,000+ undergrads. In summary, drawing the link between your past efforts and future aims is critical here.
For example, if you’ve done work with Meals on Wheels throughout your teens, it will be most impactful if you express your commitment to joining the local Meals on Wheels chapter which is located at a Jewish Community Center in Houston.
Rice University Supplement – “The Box”
The rice box: in keeping with rice’s long-standing tradition, please share an image of something that appeals to you..
Take them at their word here that “The Box” “not used for evaluative purposes”. As such, you shouldn’t spend hours assembling the perfect collage or designing your own symbol from scratch. Think of this as your signature on your Rice application. You can be straightforward, silly, serious, or sincere. Also heed their advice that the image can be something “aside from what you have achieved”. Therefore, you shouldn’t feel pressure to insert a picture of a robot you built or a trophy you won.
How important are the Rice supplemental essays?
The essays are “very important” to the Rice admissions committee. The following factors are equally important: the rigor of one’s secondary school record. GPA, class rank, recommendations, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, talent/ability, and character/personal qualities. Clearly, Rice University weighs your essays heavily in their evaluation of your candidacy.
Want Personalized Essay Assistance?
Lastly, if you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your Rice supplemental essays, we encourage you to get a quote today.
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