Rice University 2022-23 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide
Rice university 2022-23 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 500 words; 1 image
Supplemental Essay Type(s): Community , Why
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?
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)
This prompt is a spin on the classic Community essay: what do you bring with you to contribute? Consider your hobbies, culture, and any other extracurricular activities you do just because you love them. 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.
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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How to Write the Rice University Essays 2022-2023
Get your essay reviewed by an expert.
Early decision and early action deadlines are about a week away. You can still get a professional review of your college essays in time for early deadlines on CollegeVine.
Rice University is a highly-ranked private research institution composed of eight undergraduate schools, including a renowned engineering program. Rice’s residential college system coupled with its location in Houston provides students with the opportunity to experience a close-knit collegiate community within a broad urban setting.
Students who are interested in attending Rice will need more than a solid academic performance and good test scores to stand out to the admissions committee. This is where writing engaging essays can really give you a leg up!
Rice requires applicants to submit three short responses and an extended essay in addition to their Common App materials. Students applying to the School of Architecture will respond to two additional prompts in place of the extended essay.
Read these Rice University essay examples to inspire your own writing.
Prompt 1: Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected. (150 words)
Prompt 2: Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? (150 words)
Prompt 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 traditions each student brings. What life perspectives would you contribute to the Rice community? (500 words).
School of Architecture:
Architecture applicants will not be required to answer Prompt 3 (above). Instead, they will answer Prompts 1 and 2 above, along with the following:
Prompt 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)
Prompt 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)
Rice University Application Essay Prompts
All applicants – prompt 1, please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected. (150 words).
For this prompt, you want to discuss the reason behind your intended major and why you want to study that subject at Rice. It is particularly important to avoid giving the reader the impression that your chosen major attracts you because of the associated monetary reward or prestige—this will come across as shallow, and your passion for it will be deemed unsustainable. Instead, consider what excites you about your intended field of study, as well as the specific dimensions of this subject that fit your strengths and ambitions.
Instead of mentioning the general advantages of a Rice education, such as the high standard of academic performance and the accomplished faculty, you should discuss explicit offerings such as the Century Scholars Program , which assigns participants a faculty mentor for guidance in undergraduate research.
If you’ve visited the campus, writing about the content of a lecture that you sat in on, or the reflections of current students in the same program can demonstrate your interest in the school. It would also provide a strong basis for your belief that you and Rice’s environment are a match. If you haven’t had such opportunities, do extensive online research to show that you’ve carefully reflected on your compatibility with Rice.
- The School of Social Sciences emphasizes the professional development of students through the Gateway Program. If you’re interested in research, there are several social science institutes at Rice, such as the Shell Center for Sustainability and the Houston Education Research Consortium, that focus on understanding and solving specific social issues.
- In the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, academic programs (such as the Department of Kinesiology) and research organizations (such as the Smalley-Curl Institute, specializing in nanoscience) offer opportunities in unique niches of science that lend themselves to important applications. Here, you will find out that those unique niches include everything from heterogeneous cell systems to plasmids in E.coli. This is the level of specificity that you should strive for.
All Applicants – Prompt 2
Based upon your exploration of rice university, what elements of the rice experience appeal to you (150 words).
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. If activism is important to you, you might mention wanting to join Rice for Black Life, a newly-formed racial justice group that raised almost $100k in a day for organizations fighting anti-Black violence.
It can be 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? Ask your counselor if there are any alumni who went to Rice that you can reach out to. If not, you might consider looking for blogs and videos made by current students.
Here are some other ways to research a college for this type of essay, so you can write the strongest response possible.
All Applicants – Prompt 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 is heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. what personal perspectives would you contribute to life at rice (500 words).
Rice’s Residential College System randomly places students in one of eleven colleges and the majority of students live in their college for all four years. Rice considers diversity of perspective and experience fundamental to the Residential College System, so your response should demonstrate how you would contribute to this system and the broader Rice community.
This is a classic example of the Diversity Essay . Your response should focus on your personal background and how your life experiences or cultural traditions provide you with a unique perspective. Your response should directly answer the question at hand, however; remember to “show, not tell.” A personal narrative is one way to successfully highlight your potential individual contributions to Rice’s community.
For example, instead of simply saying that you have an ability to view situations from multiple perspectives, describe a time where you displayed this skill. Did you mediate a dispute in a group project by explaining the other side’s point of view to both parties? If you want to discuss your deep connection and commitment to your culture, describe a particular event or custom that has meaning to you. Or maybe you have a strong commitment to sustainability — you could discuss a time you created an initiative to reduce food and plastic waste in your school cafeteria.
This question is similar to some Common Application prompts. However, you should use this supplement as a means to communicate something new about yourself to the admissions committee, so avoid discussing topics that you’ve already covered.
For example, if you wrote your Common Application essay about your love of theater, consider writing about your volunteer work for the Rice supplement. If your Common Application focused on your analytical mind, consider using this prompt to discuss your compassion for others.
School of Architecture – Prompt 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).
This prompt is the traditional “ Why This Major ” essay that will become familiar as you apply to college. Rice wants to know why you want to study architecture, and why Rice is a good fit for you to pursue your goals. Since you’ve already answered a prompt about your academic interests, be sure that this essay presents new information and isn’t repetitive.
This essay asks you to reflect on your motivation for studying architecture and your past experiences. The strongest responses to this prompt will involve personal narratives rather than abstract theories or musings. Using unconventional and highly-personal examples — such as the architecture of your local bus station — can help your essay stand out.
You can also take a longitudinal approach by explaining how your passion for architecture unfolded over time.
For example, you could begin your essay by describing your sense of wonder the first time you saw The Vessel in the Hudson Yards. You could then transition into how this experience inspired your personal research into architecture, and how you learned about the controversial tax breaks the Hudson Yards received. This led you to seek more information on the political nature of architecture—how it can impact accessibility, promote or discourage economic equality, and more. You even spent time interning with the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) to explore the intersections of architecture and accessibility. Your essay could conclude by sharing that you’re looking forward to learning more about this intersectional relationship at Rice through courses like ARCH 350 (2): HOUSE: Historical, Representational, Political , which “ considers the house typology as a connective thread through history with embedded representational imagery and political implications.”
School of Architecture – Prompt 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).
This prompt gives you space to elaborate upon any other experiences that are related to your interest in architecture. Up until this point, you’ll only have had 400 words to discuss your academic interests and how Rice can support them. This essay gives you the chance to focus only on your “architecture story.”
This essay is an ideal place to mention any informal experiences you may have had, or any self-motivated educational endeavors. Some examples include: building an eco-friendly cabin on your family’s property, watching a documentary on environmental architecture, remodeling your room, or working a construction job.
You could also discuss relevant values you hold, such as the idea that art should be functional, and structures like buildings are like functional art.
Whatever you decide, make sure your response is highly-personal and shares more of your experiences, rather than being a general essay about why you love architecture.
Where to Get Your Rice Essays Edited
Do you want feedback on your Rice essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.
If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!
Related CollegeVine Blog Posts
2022-23 Rice University Supplemental Essays – Prompts and Tips
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.
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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.
Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).
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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)
- Coalition Powered by 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)
- Rice QuestBridge Decision Verification Form
- Rice QuestBridge Application Supplement (available in your Rice Admission Student Portal)
- Official transcripts
- Standardized Testing (optional)
- QuestBridge Midyear Report Form
- 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 Coalition Powered by Scoir. Those students participating in the QuestBridge program automatically qualify for application fee waivers from Rice. Please note: fee waivers are only available for domestic applicants.
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 (2022-2023)
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. 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 is 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.
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 Coalition through 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 (2022-2023)
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 Coalition Powered by 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, Coalition Powered by 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 2022 - 2023 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.
M-F 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT
Rice University Supplemental Essays 2022-2023
Rice Supplemental Essays 2022-2023
Rice essay: quick facts.
- Rice acceptance rate: 10.9%— U.S. News ranks Rice as a most selective school.
- 2 (150 word) essays
- 1 full-page (500 word) essay
- Rice application: Students must submit their Rice application through the Common App, Coalition App, or QuestBridge application systems.
- Rice essay #1 tip: We recommend using the short and long Rice University essay prompts to highlight different aspects of your experiences that you haven’t highlighted elsewhere—Rice Box image included—to help your application stand out.
Does Rice University have supplemental essays?
Yes. In addition to the personal statement that you’ll write in the Common App or Coalition App , you’ll also have to answer both short and extended Rice supplemental essays. Instead of any single Rice University essay prompt, you will have multiple chances to shine.
The Rice supplemental essays are available on the Common App site . However, you can also visit the main Rice University site for a full list of application requirements. This will include in-depth explanations about the Rice essay. You might also complete an optional alumni interview to supplement your Rice supplemental essays and application.
What are the Rice University supplemental essays?
There are three school-specific Rice supplemental essays and an image contribution in the Rice application.
The first two Rice supplemental essays each have a 150 word limit. One Rice essay is essentially a why major essay and the other Rice essay is a why school essay.
The third Rice essay asks students to explore how they would contribute to the Rice University campus based on their unique life experiences. This Rice essay has a 500 word limit.
You should use every opportunity in your Rice University supplemental essays to express yourself in a personal, engaging manner. And because each of the Rice University supplemental essays covers a different topic with a different word limit, you’ll use different strategies for each one.
Before starting your Rice University supplemental essays, do your research on Rice University. Check out our how to get into Rice guide in order to write your best Rice University supplemental essays. You may also want to read some successful college essay examples. Check out these Barnard essay examples for inspiration.
Now, keep reading to learn how to tackle each of the Rice University essay prompts!
Rice University Supplemental Essay #1: Why Major Essay
The first Rice University essay prompt asks applicants to explore their academic study interests with a why major essay. If you still haven’t chosen a major , don’t worry. You are not bound to the academic area that you reference in this Rice essay. However, successful Rice University supplemental essays will need to specifically address a given field. When considering how to get into Rice, remember that you will need to select an academic area of interest in the application. So, start thinking about intellectual interests and browsing majors to see what matches up.
Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected. (150 words)
This Rice essay is short but sweet. At this point, your reader may have already glanced at your previous coursework and activities, as well as your personal statement . So, to add to that, what stories do you have about what you hope to study in college? The strongest Rice University supplemental essays will give readers an authentic window into an applicant’s intellectual life.
Specifically, this Rice University essay prompt lets you offer some background on an activity or experience that showcases your intellectual interests. You may choose to start your first Rice essay with an anecdote that illustrates these interests in action.
Highlight your passions
For this Rice essay, don’t be afraid to geek out about a topic and share how you have explored it in the classroom and beyond. This could be in a school club, a summer program , or a personal passion project . In fact, your description of your interests and origins should take up most of the word count for this Rice essay—perhaps 90-120 words.
Additionally, if you don’t quite know what you’d like to study, that’s okay! Remember, the potential field or major discussed in applicants’ Rice University supplemental essays is not binding. So, use your Rice essay to talk about the thing that interests you most.
Connect your interests to Rice
Most importantly, to wrap up your first Rice essay, connect your interests to something that Rice can do to help you excel. For example, if you have a penchant for the sciences , you might use this Rice University essay prompt to note unique research projects that previous Rice students have done with faculty. Or, if you’re interested in the humanities , you might emphasize Rice’s various unique minors like Museums and Cultural Heritage when responding to this Rice University essay prompt. This part of your Rice essay can just be a few sentences—perhaps 30-60 words. Remember to be specific about why Rice is the school for you.
Rice Essay Reflection Questions:
- Does your draft share a narrative rather than just restating your activities list?
- Do you limit your focus to a single field when responding to the Rice University essay prompt?
- Does your Rice essay connect your interest to opportunities available at Rice?
- Do you use clear and evocative language in the first of the Rice University supplemental essays?
Rice University Supplemental Essay #2: Why School Essay
While the first Rice University essay prompt asked students to write a why major essay, the second asks students “why Rice?”
The Rice University acceptance rate is competitive at just 10.9% . Successful applicants will write Rice University supplemental essays that show just why they have to study at Rice. Rice University supplemental essays are your chance to show admissions that you’ve done your research and are set on Rice.
Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? (150 words)
This Rice University essay prompt is the classic “why school” essay . You may have encountered similar prompts on other applications. While it might be tempting to adapt a “why school” essay from another application, students will want to start from scratch to make sure their Rice University supplemental essays are as specific as possible.
No shortcuts on this Rice University essay prompt; you’ll have to do your homework. Begin by asking, “What about Rice suits you?” If you haven’t already, this Rice essay is a great chance to share if you have reached out to a current student, watched an official YouTube video , or attended an information session. And if you have not yet, it’s not too late! It all starts with a virtual tour . Do the Rice research before writing your Rice University supplemental essays so that you can speak about Rice like a pro.
Consider what is missing
However, remember that this Rice essay is still a chance for the reader to get to know you. Are there other interests that you have not been able to discuss in other parts of your application? As you approach this Rice essay prompt, as well as the other Rice supplemental essays, think about what might be missing from your application. For instance, maybe you already have written some responses to a few of your activities in the other Rice University supplemental essays. Perhaps there is another that you could highlight in this Rice essay.
Share something new
Take this Rice University essay prompt as a way to share something new about yourself. When all is said and done, the admissions office at any school hopes to admit a class full of talented people with various pursuits and interests. The best Rice supplemental essays will reveal what a given student will bring to their class and community.
Before answering this Rice essay prompt, read some successful why school essays. Here are some examples of well-written essays from applicants to Northwestern and Yale .
- Does your Rice essay draft include specific references to the academic community at Rice University?
- Do you share how Rice’s resources connect to your personal education goals?
- Does your Rice essay focus on just one or two aspects of Rice as they relate to your interests?
Rice Supplemental Essays- Long Answer
The final Rice supplemental essay prompt is much longer than the other Rice University essay prompts, with a 500 word limit. It may feel overwhelming, but there are many ways to meaningfully answer this Rice essay. Successful Rice University supplemental essays will use the word count wisely in order to impress admissions and overcome the low Rice University acceptance rate.
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 is heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural tradition each student brings. What life perspectives would you contribute to the Rice community? (500 words)
The previous Rice University essay prompts require applicants to answer succinctly. However, the last of the Rice University supplemental essays gives you more words with which to paint a picture of you and your experiences.
The challenge of a longer essay
Many students struggle with the sheer volume of words that this Rice University essay prompt gives applicants. You might feel that you don’t have any traditions or experiences that you can discuss with the depth that this Rice essay demands. However, the best Rice University supplemental essays will thoughtfully use the word count to show unique experiences and their impact on applicants’ lives. The room this Rice essay allows you is by design. This is your time to shine.
“Life experiences” and “cultural traditions” are central to this Rice essay. For some, Rice University supplemental essays may reference meaningful touchstones like holidays, food, music, and dance. When responding to the last of the Rice University essay prompts, try to engage your reader’s senses. What do the surroundings look, sound, smell, and feel like? Just as you might envision an opening scene of a movie, you should use this Rice essay to make the reader feel like they are right there with you. Successful Rice supplemental essays will use vivid and evocative language to tell an engaging story.
Define “community” and “culture”
That being said, you don’t need to fixate on a single anecdote to make your Rice essay shine. Successful Rice University supplemental essays may also refer to cultural traditions more broadly than any key moment. In considering your cultural background, you might initially think about your family or the fact that you will be a first-generation college student . However, you can also use the last of the Rice University essay prompts as an opportunity to draw connections to a wider set of themes. Community and culture manifest in a variety of forms. From school clubs to youth groups, or even online Discord channels, we all engage in communities that inform our identities. All of these communities can give you useful material for your Rice supplemental essays.
If you’re still struggling for how to respond to the last of the Rice University essay prompts, don’t be discouraged. Everyone has a story to share, and the Rice supplemental essays are designed to help you do so. You could start by imagining how your friends would describe you. Or, it could be helpful to think of a simple timeline of your life so far. From birth to now, consider some milestones that have contributed to who you are today. You might also describe a hero or mentor who has changed your direction. There are a myriad of experiences that successful Rice University supplemental essays could touch on when responding to this Rice University essay prompt.
Identify your milestones
This Rice essay gives you up to 500 words, which lets you discuss a lot. However, successful Rice University supplemental essays will not lose sight of the fact that this essay is about applicants as individuals . If you choose to describe how other people have made an impact on your life, remember to bring it back to yourself and your experiences. Above all, your Rice essay should center on how your experiences and traditions have made you the person you are.
As with the other Rice supplemental essays, make sure you remain centered on your own story and clearly communicate this story to your readers. Though it may be tempting to wax philosophical when writing your Rice University supplemental essays, you should focus on writing explicitly about yourself and your experiences. When in doubt, be more direct while trying to engage the reader in your Rice supplemental essays. Metaphors and quotes can help ground your Rice University supplemental essays at times, but be careful not to overuse them.
How do you wrap up the conclusion of such an open, personal essay ? While there is no one “correct” way to end the Rice supplemental essays, take a moment to reflect on how these experiences have made an impact on you. How would you be different without them? Where have these milestones taken you to where you have been, where you are now, and perhaps where you hope to be in the future? Successful Rice University supplemental essays will answer these questions and more.
- Do you write between 400 and 500 words in this Rice essay?
- Does your Rice essay center on yourself and your development?
- Is your response to the third of the Rice University essay prompts concrete and specific?
- If applicable, do you use specific examples of how you have shared your perspectives or learned from those of other people?
How to write Rice Supplemental Essays
Writing impactful Rice University supplemental essays that catch the attention of Rice University admissions officers may seem like a daunting task. However, the Rice supplemental essays are extremely important, especially given the low Rice University acceptance rate.
Luckily, there are certain tips you can follow to ease the writing process when approaching the Rice University supplemental essays.
5 Tips for Writing Rice Supplemental Essays:
#1- be specific.
When responding to both the why school essay and the why major essay, you should be specific. One of the worst mistakes students can make in their Rice supplemental essays is being generic in their responses. When writing the Rice supplemental essays, reference specific programs and offerings only available at Rice. Also, when talking about your life experiences, describe why they are meaningful to you. It may be helpful to make a college resume in order to organize all of your important activities and draw on the most important ones when writing your Rice supplemental essays.
#2- Provide context to the reader
Above all, your reader wants to know what makes you the person you are. The Rice supplemental essays are your chance to show the admissions team that you’re more than a statistic. Tell them who you are, what you value, and why you belong at their school. Strong Rice supplemental essays will leave the admissions committee with a clear, authentic understanding of an applicant’s background and aspirations.
#3- Choose your topics carefully
You want to be authentic and unique in your responses to the Rice University essay prompts. The topic you choose to focus on makes a huge difference as your passion will be evident in the writing. Write on themes that are genuinely exciting and impactful to you.
#4- Start early
Give yourself plenty of time to thoughtfully and carefully respond to the Rice University essay prompts. Remember that you will be writing essays for the majority of the schools you apply to. Factor that into your college application timeline. You’ll need time to brainstorm, draft, and revise each Rice essay.
#5- Be creative and grammatically correct
Don’t shy away from getting creative with your writing style and responses to these Rice supplemental essays. That doesn’t mean you should write a poem, but, feel free to use vivid imagery and descriptive language in order to fully immerse your reader in your subject matter. However, your writing also needs to be grammatically impeccable. Have another set of eyes look over your final Rice University supplemental essays to make sure you’ve expressed your point and have no mechanical errors.
Additionally, if any special circumstances have influenced your academic or personal development, you may want to discuss them in your Rice University supplemental essays. This can help the admissions team gain insight into your perspective.
Additional Rice Requirements- An Image for “The Box”
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 the Coalition Application, or uploaded in the Rice Admission Student Portal.
This Rice university essay prompt is not an essay at all. However, the Rice Box does a lot of the things your Rice essays do—namely, it gives the admissions team a window into who you are and what you care about.
Understandably, this unique prompt throws many students off. Remember that while the Rice Box might let you stand out, it should not detract from the effort you put into the required Rice University supplemental essays.
Don’t sweat your image choice
Notice the part of the prompt that reads, “This image is not used for evaluative purposes…and does not need an explanation.” In short, this image will not make or break your application—instead, it should be a fun addition to your overall profile.
Your submission should be able to speak for itself without a supplemental description. Some ideas for your Rice Box image might include a section of your bookshelf, a place you enjoy, an important memento, a project you enjoyed, or a hobby you mention elsewhere.
Don’t get hung up on the Rice Box! Find an image that speaks to you, and leave it at that. Then, spend the bulk of your time crafting your Rice University supplemental essays.
Rice Box Reflection Questions:
- Is your image clear enough, while staying within the file size limit?
- Is your image tasteful and appropriate for an academic context?
- Does your image reveal something interesting about you?
Does Rice care about essays?
Forbes ranks Rice University as #12 on 2022 Top Colleges list and the U.S. News Best Colleges list ranks it #15. When considering how to get into Rice University, one of the best colleges in Texas , applicants will want to focus on making their application as competitive as possible. The Rice University supplemental essays play a vital role in the admissions process.
Rice’s application philosophy is holistic and committee-based. That means that your Rice University supplemental essays are extremely important within the context of your Rice application narrative. Rice University admissions will evaluate applicants on more than just hitting certain academic marks. However, given the low Rice University acceptance rate, it’s important to have a good SAT score and above averag e GPA .
Share more detail about yourself
The Rice University supplemental essays are applicants’ opportunities to share new information that they weren’t able to display in other parts of their application. In evaluating Rice essays, the admissions team also looks to see whether you’ve done your research on why Rice University is the right school for you. So, the why school essay and why major essay are extremely important in showing off the specifics of what you’ve learned about Rice. The longer Rice essay is also an excellent opportunity to point out parts of campus life and community in which you would thrive thanks to your unique background.
Rice University admissions needs to see your understanding and enthusiasm for the university within your Rice supplemental essays. The entire Rice application is important in the admissions evaluation process, however, the Rice supplemental essays will allow Rice University admissions to get a truer picture of who you are and why you’d fit in at Rice.
More admissions requirements for Rice University
Applicants working on their Rice supplemental essays will need to make sure that they meet the Rice requirements and deadlines. In addition to well-written and unique Rice University supplemental essays, applicants should aim to take rigorous academic courses throughout secondary school. GPA is an important factor as a part of the admissions process.
Rice University is test-optional so students aren’t required to submit their standardized test scores. However, half of admitted students had scores within the range of 1490-1570. If you fall within that range, or above, submitting your scores will likely bolster your Rice application.
Letters and interviews
Rice requires applicants to submit three letters of recommendation . These letters are extremely important within the Rice admissions evaluation process. You’ll want to ask your counselor and two teachers for their recommendations well in advance so that they have sufficient time to submit them.
Students are able to complete optional interviews which are either with an alumnus or current Rice University senior. This is a great opportunity for applicants to learn more about the Rice experience. It also lets them share more of who they are both academically and personally.
Addition materials for special programs
Students applying to the Shepherd School of Music , School of Architecture , or Visual and Dramatic Arts department will be required to submit additional Rice University supplemental materials. You can look at all the Rice requirements here .
Remember that Rice partners with the QuestBridge application process. So, in addition to the Rice University supplemental essays, students should check out the match requirements when completing the application.
Applicants should also consider the cost of college and financial aid packages when starting their college search . This should be an integral part of building a college list . So, check out Rice’s financial aid options in order to compare with other colleges as you go through the college application and eventually enrollment process.
Rice University Supplemental Essays — Final Thoughts
As you craft your Rice essays, remember to be intentional and specific. Also, these tips are just a starting point. Every Rice University essay prompt is different, and you’ll want to examine each of them on their own terms. There are multiple ways to approach your Rice essays; as you draft, you’ll learn what works best for you.
Your Rice supplemental essays give you the creative latitude to make them your own, so use this to your advantage. There are many student success stories that come from writing strong essays that bolster a competitive application. Check out one student’s journey below and remember that you could be one too. Good luck!
Student Spotlight: Line T.
This Rice supplemental essays guide was written by Sarah Kaminski. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.
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How to Write the Rice University Supplemental Essays: Examples + Guide 2022/2023
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What are the rice supplemental essay prompts.
- Prompt #1: "Why major" essay
If you’ve already written supplemental essays for your college applications, chances are you’ve written some version of most of Rice’s prompts below. And there’s a reason these essays—specifically the “Why us?,” “Why Major,” and “How You’ll Contribute” prompts—are so common: They do a great job of getting to the heart of who you are, what you value, and what you’re looking for in a college experience. But just to show it’s different, Rice throws a curveball for the last one (in addition to a couple extras for architecture majors). We break them all down below, complete with examples, tips, and analyses.
Before you begin writing, you may want to get deeper insights into the kind of student Rice is looking for, and how it views itself. You’ll find an extensive, by-the-numbers look at its offerings, from enrollment and tuition statistics to student life and financial aid information, on its Common Data Set . For a better sense of how Rice envisions its role in academia and how it wants to grow and evolve, read its strategic plan, Vision for a Second Century, Second Decade (V2C2) .
Rice University Supplemental Essay Prompt #1
Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected above. (150 word limit)
Rice University Supplemental Essay Prompt #2
Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? (150 word limit)
Rice University Supplemental Essay Prompt #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)
Rice University Supplemental Essay Prompt #4
Architecture Essay Prompt: 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 max)
Rice University Supplemental Essay Prompt #5
Architecture Essay Prompt: 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 max)
Rice University's "The Box"
The Rice Box: In keeping with Rice's long-standing tradition, please share an image of something that appeals to you.
How to Write Each Supplemental Essay Prompt for Rice University
How to write rice supplemental essay prompt #1.
This essay is what we call a “Why Major” essay, and at 150 words, it’s relatively short.
You’ll find a step-by-step guide to writing this essay at this link . We recommend reading the whole guide, but here’s the SparkNotes version:
Step #1: Imagine a mini-movie of the moments that led you to your interest and create a simple, bullet-point outline.
Step #2: Put your moments (aka the “scenes” of your mini-movie) in chronological order, as it’ll help you see how your interests developed. It also makes it easier to write transitions.
Step #3: Decide if you want to include a specific thesis that explicitly states your central argument—in this case, what you want to study and why. This thesis can be at the beginning, middle, or end of your essay.
Step #4: Write a draft!
Here’s a good example of a strong Why Major essay. It was written for Yale but offers a solid framework to emulate (note, though, that you’ll get a whole 50 more words for your Rice Why Major).
Rice University Essay Example 1:
Storytelling has shaped me. At four, I read The Lion King until I’d memorized it. I’d snuggle in bed as my dad read Wilderness Champion or Tom Sawyer. Later, I found audio and visual storytelling, mesmerized by This American Life and Whiplash. Now, I create my own stories through newspaper satire, podcasting, and locally-broadcasted radio. My major at Yale would be the next chapter in my life of storytelling. I’d explore past narratives and how they can be digitally innovated. Whether exploring media’s disfiguration of truth, developing screenplays, or analyzing mise-en-scene, I hope to pioneer new networks of connection. (99 words) — — —
Tips + Analysis
(Quickly) hook the reader. The first line performs a few functions here. First, it pulls us in and makes us curious about what exactly she means by claiming that storytelling has shaped her. Second, it gives us a sense of a core aspect of her identity and values.
Show the development of your interest through moments that connect to core values. She packs a nice amount of detail into 99 words. The details she includes point toward her values and identity, as do her interests in newspaper satire, podcasting, and local radio. The details in the second paragraph show some nice depth and development.
Describe how Rice can help with the next steps. She links her brief origin story to how college might help her on her path, and how it will help her develop both her understanding and her values.
Architecture students, write about your other areas of academic interest. Technically speaking, you essentially have three academic-focused prompts for Rice, for a total of 650 words (lucky you!), so it’s important not to repeat yourself too much and to share multiple aspects of your academic interests. When filling out your Common App for Rice, you’ll be asked to note your “second and third areas of interest, including non-majors and areas outside the school to which you are applying.” So, since you’ll be thoroughly covering your interest in architecture from a couple of different angles in Prompts 4 and 5, consider using this essay to speak to your interest in those other subjects, maybe touching on architecture only briefly but not in a way that will feel redundant to the information you’ll share in the architecture-specific prompts. That will help to communicate to Rice the wide breadth of your academic curiosity.
Here’s another example from a Rice applicant with some pretty impressive extracurriculars:
Rice University Essay Example 2:
Over the past summer, I conducted research as a full-time intern at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The primary purpose of my research was to engineer a more efficient halogenase enzyme. This enzyme was designed to decrease costs and increase the yield of halogenated products used to create a novel biomaterial for F-35 aircraft. Applying all the knowledge I’d gained throughout high school to figure out this problem was an incredible introduction to the world of multidisciplinary science. I built on my years spent studying organic chemistry, biochemistry, and microbiology, both in school and Science Olympiad, with a focus on utilizing engineering principles in order to create a product. Throughout the summer, I enjoyed being able to apply my knowledge collaboratively, pulling from a vast range of scientific fields. It’s this experience that has greatly influenced my decision to continue applying myself interdisciplinarily and continue my undergraduate studies in biomedical engineering. — — —
how to write Rice Supplemental Essay Prompt #2
At 150 words, this is a shorter version of the typical “Why us?” essay.
Because this essay is so short, the key will be finding 2-3 reasons that set Rice apart from all the other schools you’re applying to.
Here’s the “Why us?” essay guide —in this case, the Cornell example is probably the best one to check out, since it focuses on reasons that set Cornell apart. In that guide we talk a bit about how to tackle the shorter version of this essay, and the Tufts example is a great one.
As you write, try to avoid these common mistakes:
Six Common Mistakes Students Make on “Why Us?” Essays
Mistake #1 : Writing about the school's size, location, reputation, weather, or ranking
Mistake #2 : Simply using emotional language to demonstrate fit
Mistake #3 : Screwing up the mascot, stadium, team colors or names of any important people or places on campus
Mistake #4 : Parroting the brochures or website language
Mistake #5 : Describing traditions the school is well-known for
Mistake #6 : Thinking of this as only a "Why them" essay
Here’s a great sample essay for this prompt:
Rice University Essay Example 3:
Last year I attended California Girls State. Like myself, many delegates were pursuing careers in STEM, and we helped each other understand the importance of having a supportive community of intelligent, empowered young women. So when I found Women LEAD at Rice, I was excited to apply. Women LEAD will further expose me to views on leadership from a woman’s perspective while networking with other bright, talented women so I too can become a leader and inspire others. I love that Rice is one of the only schools I’m applying to that directly focuses on student well-being and community through things like President and Dean’s Study Breaks, helping students find balance before finals. Additionally, I want to work with the Rice Student Volunteer Program, helping build community in Houston, and with Baylor College of Medicine Patient Discharge Initiative to help underserved patient populations, as I’ve loved volunteering at Saddleback Memorial. — — —
Tips + Analysis
The “us” in “Why us” means you + Rice. In other words, connect your “why me” to your “why Rice.” This student does that right from the start, sharing a leadership experience that inspired her (STEM-focused delegates at California Girls State) and connecting it to a relevant opportunity that’s attracted her to Rice (Women LEAD). Try to do that as often as you can throughout the essay, as doing so shows, in dating parlance, why you and Rice are perfect for each other.
Be specific. We’re talking about courses, professors, programs, opportunities, clubs, etc., that are unique to Rice—like this student’s mention of Women LEAD, President and Dean’s Study Breaks, and the Student Volunteer Program. And make sure to spell them correctly!
Make it clear that Rice is unique, and say how. Admission officials don’t just want to know how you’d take advantage of their school’s offerings; they also want to know “why Rice” over other schools you may have applied to. So in addition to academic and extracurricular specifics, try to find one or two examples of an opportunity that you can’t find anywhere else, or in this student’s case (in the school’s support for student well-being), at only a few other schools.
Show a range of interests. The broad scope of this prompt (“what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you”) is intentional. It’s not just asking about your chosen major or your academic interests; it’s probing for details about the breadth of your interests. Of course, with just 150 words, you don’t have a ton of space for the whole laundry list, so you’ll need to be judicious in choosing your range of reasons “why.” This student does a nice job of that in the short space allotted, pivoting from leadership opportunities (Women LEAD) to campus community (study breaks) to volunteer programs (Rice Student Volunteer Program and Saddleback Memorial) to an academic example (Baylor Patient Discharge Initiative).
Here are two more strong examples for Rice’s “Why us?” prompt:
Rice University Essay Example 4:
At heart, I am a collaborator. From working with my Science Olympiad team for hundreds of hours each year to playing in numerous extracurricular orchestral ensembles, I’ve learned that the best work I do is with and for those around me. I want to study in the Rice Department of Bioengineering because of the large emphasis placed on collaboration. With its focus on multidisciplinary work and experiential learning, I know that I will be able to excel in Rice’s team-based environment, taking advantage of its small classes in order to forge tight bonds with my peers around me. Rice has more than 250 student organizations, and with access to the Texas Medical Center, a facility abounding with opportunities, and cutting edge research and technology on campus I know that at Rice, I will be able to fully pursue my interests both academically and collaboratively. — — —
Rice University Essay Example 5:
Just like the Owl camouflages to integrate into its environment, I’ll strive to become one with the Rice community by taking advantage of its numerous opportunities. While Basmati Beats will give me the platform to indulge my Indian roots in a collaborative form of dancing, I can continue imparting knowledge to others with Nano Owls. The opportunity to teach nanoscience to students in Houston will empower the vision I had with the D-STEM Society in my Dehli community. I’m looking forward to 3 days of absolute entertainment at OwlCon. With its 750 annual participants, I hope to share my passion for gaming with like-minded individuals. While The Rice Memorial Center will be my temporary home for 36 hours as I work on complex algorithms at the annual HackRice, The Hoot will always keep me company during exhausting all-nighters. I hope to spread my wings and explore the night at Rice University. — — —
how to write Rice Supplemental Essay Prompt #3
It’s worth noting right out of the gate that Rice’s decision to give you a full 500 words for this essay, much more than the “Why us?” and “Why Major” prompts, is pretty telling. The school is proud of and committed to its culture of inclusion and collaboration, and this prompt offers you an opportunity to show how your own background would help you contribute in a meaningful and unique way.
Check out this strong sample essay for this prompt, and we’ll analyze why it works on the other side.
Rice University Essay Example 6:
What are you? Mixed-race people and people of color get this question all the time. While a part of me wants to respond with “a bit tired, thanks for asking”, I usually just end up telling them I am half Indian, half European. I know that my ambiguous features, darker skin, and unusual name makes people uncertain about what my background is, and that in turn makes people uncomfortable -- they don't know what box to put me in. I am both Jewish and half-Indian, an unusual blend of cultures. Although I’m not particularly religious, I often see things from a Jewish point of view: Tikkun Olam and Tzedakah, peace and neighborly love, community and solidarity. I always strive to make my community a better place than it was initially, and to make sure that I stand with those that may be facing economic or social issues. My time as a counselor-in-training for a Jewish summer camp also helped me learn about other people’s interpretations of Jewish values from a wide range of ages, including from my fellow counselors. In addition, the Indian side of my family exposes me to a wide range of Indian culture, from the artwork in my grandparents house, to the stories from when my grandfather moved to America for school. Through this half of me, I have been able to experience, to a small extent, what it’s like to be seen as “different”. Even though I’ve never even been outside the United States, I’m still considered at least slightly foreign to most people. This helps me better empathize with people of color who may be facing much tougher questions than I ever was. The junction between these two identities gives me a unique intersectional identity that I can use to better empathize, communicate, and interact with other people. Intersectional identity is something that everyone has at some level, even if it isn’t apparent in their appearance. As someone who has a diverse set of experiences, I have a genuine curiosity for what intersectional identities other people have hidden away, and appreciate cultural exchanges with those around me. Even just sharing latkes or gulab jamun would allow me to share my side of the story, and can help open them up to new cultures. With the Residential College system, this not just becomes easier, but almost inevitable. Each residential college has its own traditions and culture (such as McMurtry’s association with bananas or Duncan’s Monday Night Lights), which add a unique aspect to their respective residents’ identities, creating an intersectional identity that enriches everyone’s experience. I can use my own background and understanding of identities to help broaden the perspectives of the others in my residential college, on top of letting other people teach me their traditions and perspectives. Everyone benefits from exposure to new ideas and perspectives, and I think that not only can I provide some of these ideas and perspectives, but I can also benefit from others. — — —
Communicate what matters to you. How do you do that? Consider connecting each contribution to a particular value (e.g., creativity, collaboration, social justice). Here’s a list of values you can use to generate some ideas or to connect with your 7-10 contributions. Reading back over this essay. Which values can you spot? We see a ton—family, community, love, empathy, curiosity, communication, and meaningful relationships, just to name a few.
Cover experiences or topics you haven’t shared yet. Think of your college application as a buffet table or sorts—from the carved roast beef (your obsession with computer coding, say) to the potato soufflé (that internship with Bloomberg or the LEED architectural firm) to the caramelized Brussel sprouts (your role as captain of the soccer team or second-chair violin) and assorted cheese (your finesse at chess or all the mountains you’ve hiked) and the chocolate mousse (that quirky knife-throwing hobby, maybe)—each dish/essay showing a different side (or multiple sides) of you and what makes you family-recipe unique. Think of what dish this essay contributes to the smorgasbord. Even though this prompt seems fairly specific in focusing on your cultural influences and experiences, use it as an opportunity to try to include parts of yourself that you haven’t yet talked about elsewhere in your Rice application. Maybe you haven’t written about your volunteering experience with your temple, or your love of knitting, handed down from your great-grandmother’s Nordic ancestors. Here’s a chance.
Use color and detail to “show” not just “tell.” This is good advice for other pieces you may be writing, since details can help breathe life into a piece of writing. For example, notice how this student didn’t just talk about sharing “my side of the story” over meals, but over “latkes or gulab jamun.” This is another good example of using color to tell the story: “In addition, the Indian side of my family exposes me to a wide range of Indian culture, from the artwork in my grandparents house, to the stories from when my grandfather moved to America for school.”
Make sure to bring it back to Rice and how you’ll contribute to the campus community. This is a key part of the prompt, the part that allows the Rice admission team to envision you on campus in a meaningful way. For this student, that means sharing how connecting with others over a shared “intersectional identity” becomes easier, thanks to signature traditions like the McMurtry hall’s obsession with bananas or Duncan’s Monday Night Lights.
Here’s another example for this prompt:
Rice University Essay Example 7:
“I'd like a veggie bowl please. And would you mind changing your gloves?” That got me several weird looks. Some from customers around me, others from Chipotle employees across the counter. But I was used to it. Over the years of asking for a change of gloves or to cut with a clean knife, the weird looks have become normal. My strict vegetarian diet follows the principles of Jainism that run in my family, a direct result of my Indian-American identity. From a young age, I’ve been questioned for wearing a sacred rakhi thread on my wrist, or bringing in homemade Indian vegetarian food for lunch. The Indian side of me is omnipresent. In explaining these differences, I’ve sometimes felt as though being different has made me less than those who were “normal.” This obviously isn’t true, but it’s taken me a while to realize that. Meeting friends who embrace and value my ethnicity has helped me understand that what makes me different actually makes me a more complete person. Like in language classes, where I’ve been able to use my struggles to communicate effectively in a second language while visiting family in India to bolster my ability to communicate in Spanish during class. As a result of my experiences as an Indian-American, I’ve been committed to advancing inclusion in society. In addition to taking small, personal actions, I’ve participated in numerous activities that seek to understand and help alleviate social injustices, like Junior Leadership Dayton (JLD). Through JLD, I witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic in a city with one of the highest rates of overdoses in the nation, and the struggles associated with rehabilitation. Talking to people in homeless shelters whose daily struggles exceeded what I had experienced in a lifetime, and helping underprivileged kids who grew up deprived of access to an education in the arts, I began to understand the magnitude of the issues that plague our society. I seek to include those around me regardless of their background, welcoming new freshmen in Science Olympiad, for example, or talking to the violist who might have otherwise sat by himself during rehearsal breaks. My experiences with those who have accepted me for who I am have led to my desire to promote an acceptance of others, something I’ll bring to Rice’s campus. — — —
how to write Rice Supplemental Essay Prompts #4 & #5: Rice Architecture
It’s fair to say that Rice is super interested in your reasons for applying to its architecture program, and why you think you’re the right fit — and it’s giving you ample space to explain. The key is to share a diverse set of reasons and experiences, while avoiding too much repetition.
“Yeah, right,” you say? “How do I write about different things, when both prompts seem to be asking me about the same thing—my interest in studying architecture?”
We get it. It does seem a little redundant, but it doesn’t have to be. It may help to approach each prompt this way:
#4 Architecture Essay Prompt: 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 max)
Think of this as your classic “Why Major” prompt, in the way that Prompt 1 wasn’t for you. In that prompt, you got to focus on those other academic areas that appeal to you at Rice. This time, it’s all about the architectural program. See Prompt 1 tips for more guidance.
A key part of this prompt is to “elaborate on your past experiences” and connect them to why you chose to apply to Rice in general and the architecture program specifically. How do you do that? Consider using a montage structure, which means making a list of 3-5 architecture-related experiences you’ve had and the influence each had in motivating you to pick Rice. For example—just spitballing here—maybe that community college course, The Politics of Architecture and How They Shaped Europe, made you see the friezes of the Parthenon and the Fachwerkhäusers of Germany in a whole new light, and now you’re eager to take Rice’s The Metropolis course to learn how the architect of today influences urban design as a public figure. Find a handful of examples like that, weaving your experiences and Rice’s offerings together, and you’ve got yourself an essay.
If you have multiple academic reasons for “why architecture,” from classes to teachers who inspired you to school-based projects, use them in this essay, since the next one asks about non-academic influences. If you don’t have those examples, no sweat. We have some recommendations for other outside-the-classroom examples that may prompt some ideas—read those in the tips for Prompt 5 below.
#5 Architecture Essay Prompt: 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 max)
Think of this one as your “Okay, what else you got?” essay—a Rice School of Architecture additional information section, if you will. Anything else that comes to mind that inspired you to want to be an architect that you haven’t already covered? This is the place to talk about it.
In this one, though, you don’t have to connect your experiences back to Rice. You’ve got that covered in Prompt 4.
Note that this one specifically asks about details and examples “outside of your academic trajectory.” So leave the classroom, coursework and school-related projects to Prompt 4. So what goes here in response to Prompt 5? Maybe those visits to Monticello in Virginia or The Getty in LA made a mark, or your favorite part of a trip is to explore area churches, just to admire the spires and domes and intricate detail of the icons and columns. Anything to show why architecture is your thing.
Still stumped? Feel like you’ve covered all the architecture you can think of? Pull back the lens a bit and think about what architecture means to you in the larger sense—not just buildings and urban landscapes, but collaborative spaces or the chance to build a sense of community you’ve long enjoyed in your own town. Or maybe one of your parents is handy around the house, and the extra room you helped them carpet or the fence you helped them build inspired in you an appreciation for the creativity and precision that go into even the small details of a structure.
Now comes the fun part of the Rice application. No more essays to outline. No more words to fuss over. No more grammar checks. Just one two-dimensional, uploadable image that, in Rice’s words, “shares something about yourself, your interests or what is meaningful to you.”
Don’t have any idea what to do here? Here’s what not to do: Don’t fret over it. Rice’s admission page points out that this image is not used in the evaluation process. It’s just another chance to get to know what matters to you, a chance to “put your stamp on the application about who you are aside from what you have achieved.” The only real advice Rice offers is to make sure the image can stand alone without explanation.
The possibilities really could run the gamut: a photo of you and your pet, your childhood home, a scene from a favorite trip, a creation you built or drew, your bookcase—even a photo from your phone that speaks to you, and about you. Or it could be something totally different. Realize that this doesn’t have to be an image you took yourself. It could be a Monet, the Rover’s view of Mars—even a meme.
A few last tips:
Don’t overthink it.
Do have fun with it.
Keep it clean.
Want advice on dozens of other supplemental essays? Click here
Special thanks to Nicole for contributing to this post.
Nicole learned how to tell other people’s stories after a 30+-year career as a newspaper reporter, covering both the mundane and the unforgettable, from serial killer Duane Owen’s retrial, to the Bush/Gore nail-biter, to the homeless family of four who found refuge in a storage unit. Her ideal day is spent playing Cribbage with her dad, beating her husband at RummiKub and planning the next girls trip with her teenage daughters.
Top values: Creativity | Growth | Meaningful Work
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How to Respond to the 2022-2023 Rice Supplemental Essay Prompts
If you are applying to Rice University, do not underestimate the importance of its supplemental essays. This portion of the application gives you a chance to make a more personal impression. The three required prompts touch on how your interests and identity can be explored at Rice. Given that these are rather common questions, it is especially important to have stand-out answers.
We will walk you through how to craft compelling, differentiated responses for each prompt. Our “questions to consider” help you identify the best stories from your own experiences to share. Let’s dive in!
Don’t miss: How to write an essay about yourself
“ Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected. (150 words ) ”
The first thing to notice with this prompt is the 150 word limit. This signals you must be concise; however, it does not mean there is no room to express your personality! The key to succeeding with a tight word count is picking one thing and carrying it throughout your response. This question gets to the core of why you chose your particular school or major. Really consider what excites you intellectually! Once you’ve identified an academic passion, think back. What first inspired this curiosity? Do you have family members in a certain field you look up to? Did you discover a knack for a subject at an early age?
You could elevate your answer by then tracing the ways you’ve channeled that interest. Perhaps you participated in a club during high school that allowed you to explore the topic in a new way. Finally, tie things up with how you can further your studies at Rice. Maintaining a cohesive storyline shows that you are intentional and sincere. Also keep in mind that the admissions team is likely not expecting a deep dive on specific programs and course offerings. With this short of a response, your biggest aim is conveying enthusiasm for your academic plans.
Questions to consider:
- Have you ever received recognition for your excellence in a particular subject?
- What need in the world do you want to fulfill, or what is your dream profession? How can your chosen route of study equip you with those skills?
- How did you discover you were either a more creative or more analytical thinker?
Also see: How to write a 250 word essay
“ Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? (150 words) ”
Opening with “based upon your exploration of Rice University” should serve as an alarm bell to do your homework. Admissions assumes that you have researched Rice and all it brings to the table. Do an in-depth browse of Rice’s website, social media, and reports like its strategic plan. Make notes on everything that intrigues you or seems unique. With another short word limit, do not try to address every reason you find Rise desirable. Instead, think about what makes Rice truly distinct. “The Rice experience” can encompass any aspect of campus life, so don’t feel like there is only one right answer. Narrow down to a few specific university offerings that align with a personal goal of yours. Like the first prompt, examples that center around a key interest make your response seem thoughtful and genuine.
Questions to consider:
- Is your life currently devoted to any hobbies you can find at Rice?
- What volunteer opportunities might you be interested in?
- Is there something about Rice’s traditions like its unique housing system that make it unlike any other school?
Also see: How to write a 500 word essay
“In keeping with Rice’s long-standing tradition (known as “The Box”), please share an image of something that appeals to you .”
This prompt throws you a curveball because it is so unconventional. Instead of using words to showcase you who are, the photo you select gets to do the talking. We understand that this question can cause many students stress. However, unless you submit something inappropriate, the admissions team says it should not harm anyone’s overall evaluation; rather, it should add more color to the stories you have shared throughout your application.
Choose an image that supports your other responses about who you are and what you stand for. For example, you may have written about studying art history and discussed experiences while traveling. Submitting a painting from a museum in Spain that inspired you would be a great response!
Don’t miss: What looks good on college applications?
The Rice supplemental essays will vary if you are applying to Rice’s School of Architecture or the Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars Program. The two tracks’ prompts vary, but they mostly touch on why that specific field inspires you. One of the medical questions asks about obstacles you’ve faced.
You might notice these share some overlap with topics you could discuss in the three general written prompts. It is always important to map out your answers to each question before working on any one. Although you should keep your key themes of interests consistent, you should not be repeating anecdotes.
The Rice supplemental essays share similarities with many college’s prompts. Why you selected a certain major, what perspectives you offer, and why this is your ideal school should not be too scary! Because two of the prompts are so short, it is essential to find strong examples to send your message. You may find it helpful to get all your thoughts down, then cut out the fluff later. With our tips, you should be well on your way to acing these responses. Best of luck!
Also see: How to respond to the Common App essay prompts
Once you’ve sent off your application, take advantage of the time before you hear back. Our free scholarship search tool can help you fund your education by matching you with vetted and personalized opportunities. Additionally, make sure that you’re applying to a diverse coalition of colleges – check out our guides for how many schools to apply to , and how to find a financial safety school .
Once you hear back from your schools, you’ll have some big choices to make. Check out our guides to interpreting your financial aid award letter , and appealing it if it does not provide enough money. If you’ll be taking out loans, we can also help you choose the best loans for your situation . Good luck on your Rice supplemental essays and beyond!
Additional supplemental essay guides
- Duke University (Durham, NC)
- Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)
- University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
- Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)
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The Admissions Strategist
“ the box ” and writing the supplemental essays for rice: a superb guide.
Rice University, located in Houston, Texas has an acceptance rate of 14% and is a private research university that regularly contributes to advancements in technology and science.
These contributions include work with artificial hearts and nanotechnology.
Rice faculty and alumni have been awarded Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes, Academy Awards, National Medals of Science, and more.
The university’s website describes itself as “a community of curious thinkers, passionate dreamers and energetic doers who believe that improving the world demands more than bold thought and brave action. It takes unconventional wisdom.” Oh, and it’s also ranked number one for the happiest students!
It might sound like the odds aren’t in your favor, but there’s plenty you can do to increase your chances of acceptance, including writing some standout essays.
Not sure how to write essays that can set you apart from the crowd ?
We’re here to help! In this article, we’ll provide information and tips to help you write your way to an acceptance letter from Rice University.
What Are the Rice University Essays?
Rice accepts both the Common Application and the Coalition Application, with no preference between the two. No matter which application you choose, you’ll also need to complete the Rice Writing Supplement.
The supplement consists of two short responses and one longer essay (or two shorter essays for applicants to the School of Architecture).
The short response questions are:
Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected above. (150 word limit) Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? (150 word limit)
The longer essay question asks:
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 is heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What personal perspectives would you contribute to life at Rice? (500 word limit)
If you’re applying to the School of Architecture, you won’t answer the question above. Instead, you’ll answer the following two short answer questions, along with the first two short-answer questions:
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 word limit) 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 word limit)
Rice also asks you to “submit an image of something that appeals to you,” a long-standing tradition known as “the Box.”
General Tips for the Rice Supplemental Essays
Rice University website explains, “We want a diverse, exciting student body, consisting of the best and brightest from across the country and around the globe. If you are excited by the opportunities and experiences we offer, we encourage you to apply to Rice.”
In reviewing applications, the university considers “the entirety of an applicant’s academic prowess , creativity, motivation, artistic talent, leadership potential and life experiences.”
Your GPA, SAT scores, and extracurricular experiences won’t necessarily convey the qualities mentioned here.
Your essays are your opportunity to demonstrate that you’re the type of student Rice is looking for: someone bright, curious, eager, creative, and motivated. Someone who has leadership qualities and wants to take advantage of the many opportunities available at Rice.
In order to effectively captivate your audience (Rice admissions officers), we recommend that each essay is:
- Specific – One way to set yourself apart from other students is to avoid generic, clichéd responses. Give specific details and examples to illustrate your points. This approach will bring your personality and views to life.
- Enthusiastic – Use an enthusiastic tone to show that you’re excited about the possibility of becoming a Rice student. Whether you’re discussing your choice of major or your interest in Rice, admissions officers should almost “hear” your enthusiasm.
- Polished – Although this isn’t exactly a writing test, your essays should still be polished. Essays that are free of grammar and spelling errors will make a better impression and indicate that you’re serious about the admission process. Have trusted friends, family members, or teachers review your essays, and spend time revising and editing .
- “ You ” – Perhaps most importantly, your essays should be “you.” The point of the essays is to help admissions officers get to know who you are. Write in your own unique voice, and reveal information and experiences that you find meaningful and important.
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of the questions in the Rice Writing Supplement.
Brainstorming Activity for the Rice Essays
To write a strong response to this fairly standard question, try to focus on the extracurricular activity or work experience that you find most significant and meaningful.
Don’t select an experience solely because you think it sounds most impressive. Instead, try to come up with one particular anecdote that explains how and why this activity or experience has impacted your life or personal growth.
Use specific details to engage admissions officers in your experience, and reflect on how the experience changed you or influenced your life.
- Perhaps you were a volunteer for a local campaign and now want to volunteer for similar campaigns at Rice.
- Did you raise money for students in need overseas? If you learned something about their experiences and struggles, how has that influenced you?
- When you took on a leadership position for an activity or club, how did your personality change thereafter? How has this personality change manifested itself in your interactions with the outside world?
Think about how you’ll continue exploring this interest at Rice University, or how you’ll implement the lessons learned through this experience as a student at Rice.
Always focus on action. What did you do during this activity?
The point of this exercise is to exercise your brainstorming muscles and get you thinking about specific stories from your life. You need clarity of thought for the Rice essays because you don’t have much of a word count to work with.
Clarity equals better writing. This exercise should help you write the essays below.
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“why this major” at rice.
Short Answer Question #1: Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected above. (150 word limit)
In your application to Rice, you’re required to indicate an interest in one of the university’s six academic schools: architecture, engineering, humanities, music, natural sciences, or social sciences.
Although this decision isn’t binding—you can change schools after being accepted to Rice—the university does specify that they’re expecting a thoughtful answer to this question.
Each academic school is looking for different “strengths and qualities” in applicants, so Rice recommends choosing the school “in which you feel the most confident of your abilities and interests.”
- Keeping this in mind, focus on how your abilities and interests make you a good fit for the school you’ve selected.
- You may wish to describe a brief anecdote that illustrates your passion or talent for the area of study you’ve chosen.
- The anecdote should comprise action items that address how you took the initiative to explore this intended major.
You should also do some research on your school of choice.
- Find classes, research opportunities, or even professors that spark your interest.
- How will an education from this particular school help you reach your future goals?
- Mention these details in your application, being as specific as possible .
- If you’ve visited the campus before, did you sit in on a lecture that excited you?
- Did you hear intriguing information from students enrolled in your school of interest?
Including details like these in your essay can show that you’re genuinely interested in Rice and would be a good fit for the school.
Just remember, you don’t have much room to work with, so if you’re going to discuss another interest alongside your intended major, keep it short and related to the rest of the essay.
Don’t swerve into something random because you think it’ll catch the attention of the admissions officer – not only will it fail to do that, but you’ll ruin the narrative of this essay.
- Last, if you don’t know what you want to do after college, pick a major that relates closely to your passions and initiatives.
Pick something that can be buttressed with supporting details from your life – projects, volunteer opportunities, research assignments.
“Why Rice University” Essay
Short Answer Question #2: Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? (150 word limit)
This is the classic “ Why This College ” essay, only much shorter. This college application essay question aims to determine whether you truly have a profound interest in attending Rice University.
Again, research is key.
- Try to strike a balance between discussing academic opportunities and more “sociocultural” elements of the university.
- Mention clubs or student organizations that you’d like to participate in, or something that captivated you on a campus visit.
Additional helpful tips for this essay include:
- If you can, reach out to current Rice students and ask them about the atmosphere and culture of the university.
- Avoid generic answers about the “student-faculty ratio,” the “renowned faculty,” or the school’s “prestige,” along with information you’ve clearly lifted from the front page of the university’s website. Dig deeper.
- Never mention: Campus location, sports, and social life
You’ll also want to avoid repeating the information mentioned in your response to Short Answer Question #1.
To help you brainstorm, think about the following:
- How did your first impression of Rice motivate you to apply?
- And after this initial motivation, what more did you learn about Rice that helped your interest grow?
- Convey enthusiasm and a deeper knowledge of Rice than the average applicant might possess.
All in all, your essay should be structured something like this:
- Quickly mention or explain what you love about the Rice undergraduate experience.
- Demonstrate your connection to it.
Keep in mind that the more specific you are, the better. Mention proper nouns. Discuss items not found on other college campuses.
Here’s a good test to determine whether your essay is quality: Copy and paste this essay into another school’s “Why This College” essay. If the essay fits, then it’s too generic. You want an essay that is custom-tailored to Rice.
Contributing to Rice Essay
Unless you’re applying to the School of Architecture, you’ll have 500 words to answer the following question:
You may want to start by brainstorming a list of life experiences and/or cultural traditions that have shaped your personality and identity.
- This can be challenging, so feel free to ask friends and family members for their strongest memory of you .
- You can also ask how they would describe you, then try to come up with experiences you’ve had that demonstrate these key qualities.
Whatever experience you choose to discuss, follow two major guidelines:
- Don’t talk about something you’ve already described in your Common App essay. These essays should complement one another, each revealing a different piece of the puzzle that makes you “you.”
- Show, don’t tell. As we’ve recommended for other essay questions, choose an anecdote that “shows” your answer to the question instead of simply “telling” it. Use vivid details to make your experience memorable and engaging for the admissions team.
Overall, this is a broad question that can inspire many different approaches. Don’t panic because you think you aren’t “unique” enough.
No other student can offer the same combination of qualities that you have.
Here are some great questions you can ask yourself to find a powerful topic:
- What is the most significant contribution I’ve made to my high school community, extracurricular activity group, or community outside of school?
- Name an important lesson or two I’ve learned through my struggles both in and outside of school. How can I teach those lessons to others?
- What is my greatest talent, and how has it manifested in the real world?
- Have I collaborated to create something meaningful? What was it, and what can I do to further improve my efforts?
Here’s an example outline of this essay:
- I worked as a STEM tutor for underclassmen at my high school at ethnic community center.
- During my tenure as a tutor, I relived how challenging it is for younger students to ask the older ones for assistance. It can be intimidating and downright scary.
- I learned the values of mentorship and asking vulnerable people if they need help. On Rice’s campus, I’ll volunteer with underclassmen (and even upperclassmen) who are falling behind their class curriculum.
- After tutoring, I utilized my coding skills and developed my collaboration skills by creating an Andriod app that connects students to on-campus tutors.
- On Rice campus, I want to fully implement this app. I also want to take busines classes and learn how to transform this app into a commercial venture.
Try to come up with a meaningful experience that’s central to who you are as an individual, and you’ll write a powerful essay that stands out!
School of Architecture Essays
Instead of writing the longer essay mentioned above, School of Architecture students must respond to two 250-word essay questions.
Architecture Question #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 word limit)
This question is similar to Short Answer Question #1, so be careful not to repeat information you’ve already shared.
Note that while the short answer question asked why you chose architecture over the other schools, this essay is more about your direct relationship with the field of architecture.
- Do you have specific goals related to your pursuit of architecture?
- Is someone in your family an architect who has inspired you?
- Can you think of a building or landmark, other than extremely famous ones, that ignited your passion for architecture?
Another idea is to think of qualities that are important for architects, such as creativity or attention to detail, and writing about experiences that have helped you develop these characteristics.
- Did you build a treehouse for your younger siblings?
- Were you a baseball umpire who used right angles and tools to create foul lines and meticulously enforce the strike zone?
- Perhaps you built a collection of birdhouses for seasonal birds that frequented your backyard.
Whatever your choice, connect it directly to architecture.
Architecture Question #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 word limit)
As always, don’t strive simply to impress here. Be honest. This is a chance to reveal something unexpected and interesting about yourself.
- One rule of thumb, however, is to try to choose a topic about you actively doing something, instead of simply discussing your favorite TV show.
- If, however, you can take a unique approach, like relating a character’s journey to your own, then you may be able to write a great essay.
Brainstorm a list of activities and interests that challenge you or ignite your passion. It’s okay to choose an unconventional topic, but explain why you enjoy it so much and how it has shaped or influenced you.
Remember, for most students, what you enjoy or find challenging should be action-related. You should be perorming the action to practice this activity or pursue this interest. Examples include:
- Building lego spaceships
- Cleaning the litter at a local river every Sunday
- Teaching your little sister geograpy, which she seems to hate
- Taking apart and re-assembling computers
Don’t forget to explain why you love the activity or interest. Does it…
- …free your mind from daily stresses?
- …give you a sense of safety?
- …remind you of your parents?
Since this essay is all about what you enjoy in your free time, make sure your tone conveys real enthusiasm. Talk about something that genuinely excites you.
Then, connect it to architecture. Make a simple outline to visualize the link between the activity that you chose and architecture. It should look like this:
- Activity that you enjoy actively doing
- How it’s connected to architecture
- How it has encouraged you to pursue architecture
This structure will help you focus on your story.
“The Box” is a photoresponse with the following instructions:
In keeping with Rice’s long-standing tradition (known as “The Box”), please share an image of something that appeals to you.
You aren’t allowed to write an accompanying explanation, so try to choose an image that can speak for itself or in some way relates to the information in your application or essays.
Due to its unique nature, this prompt often baffles applicants.
- Keep in mind that there’s no “right” answer to this question, and the image you select is extremely unlikely to make or break your application.
- Places that have been important to you (even something as simple as a favorite park bench)
- A favored keepsake or meaningful object
- One of your role models in action
- Artistic portrayals of your values or important qualities
- Uncommon or hidden locations
- Portraits of a family member
- Old pictures you own
- Memories that inspire growth
The key to answering “The Box” is to steer clear of overused responses like a sunset or the Eiffel Tower.
Because there are so many options to choose from (after all, there are millions of interesting images out there), you want to choose something specifically appealing to you. To emphasize, don’t pick a cliche.
Here are some helpful tips:
- Once you choose your image, ask yourself how “unique” the image is. You don’t need something from a deep corner of the Internet, but is it a cliché?
- Can the image be easily explained and, thus, forgotten? You don’t want an image that a large plurality of students will use.
- What is the essence of the image? Don’t make it too complex or simple – you should be able to explain why you chose it.
- Use the Google test: If the image, or a similar one, can be found on the first page of Google Images, it might be a cliché.
Don’t overthink it—just be honest! Rice knows that this is an unconventional and challenging prompt.
Conclusion: How to Write the Rice University Essays
In order to apply to Rice, you’ll need to complete three short answer questions, a photo response, and either a 500-word essay or, if you’re applying to the School of Architecture, two 250-word essays.
As you answer these questions, remember to be authentic, enthusiastic, and specific. Do your research when needed, and connect your answers back to your identity, values, and/or interest in Rice.
Following these tips just might help you join the Rice Owls in the fall. Good luck!
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Rice Supplemental Essays 2022-2023
When it comes to applying to the top schools in the country, your application is vitally important. In order to give yourself the best chance of gaining admission, you need to make sure all aspects of your application are top-notch. In this post, we’re going to do a deep dive into how to write Rice supplemental essays and everything you need to keep in mind as you write.
Rice uses the common app, and this means that you will be asked to answer essay questions contained in the common app. But like many top schools, Rice also requires that you complete several short additional essays about your personal or intellectual growth. The Rice supplemental essays 2022-2023 allow applicants a certain amount of freedom when choosing their supplemental essay topics, but we’re going to look at each essay prompt and discuss the best way to respond to each topic.
So, let’s start by looking at each supplemental essay prompt, and then we will discuss how to approach each one individually.
When it comes to responding to the Rice supplemental essays 2022-2023, there are several important factors to keep in mind. The Rice supplemental essays 2022 contain two short essays and one longer essay. There is also a section called the Rice Box which allows you to use an image to better tell your story. The Rice supplemental essays 2022-2023 are as follows
- Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected. 150-word limit.
- Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? 150-word limit.
- 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 is 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.
Let’s now explore each essay prompt individually and looks at strategies for crafting your responses.
How to answer Rice supplemental essays?
While there is a Rice supplemental essay word limit, the longer essay affords you 500 words, which should give you enough space to thoroughly answer the prompt. Let’s start with the first short essay.
1. Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected. 150-word limit.
In the course of completing your application to Rice University, you will be asked to select a field of study. While this choice is not binding, it is required for application purposes. This first short essay is fairly straightforward and asks you to reflect on the field of study you have chosen.
Prior to responding to this prompt, it’s a good idea to research your chosen field of study on Rice’s website to learn as much as possible about it. This can comprise part of your answer. You want to be brief yet specific about why you want to study this subject at Rice, specifically.
The second part of your response should focus on what has led you to this field of study. Was it an experience in high school, or perhaps your interest originated from an activity or experience outside the classroom? Either way, make sure to be as specific as possible while still adhering to the Rice supplemental essay word limit.
2. Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? 150-word limit.
This prompt may sound similar to the first prompt, but it’s actually broader in scope. You are still bound by a 150-word limit, so make sure to be as concise as possible. When responding to this prompt, think about the research you have done regarding the Rice experience. Consider how attending Rice would be different from the other schools to which you are applying. Also, consider what drew you to Rice in the first place.
There’s a good chance that part of the reason you’ve chosen Rice is its reputation for academic excellence in a number of different fields. But there is so much more to the college experience than just classes. This prompt is asking you to think about the other aspects of Rice that you find appealing. Is it the campus itself? Is it the wide variety of activities offered by the school? The goal is to be specific about what excites you about attending Rice. How will attending Rice allow you to pursue your passions?
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.
This prompt asks you to reflect on yourself and what you have to offer. The prompt informs you that Rice’s excellence is partly dependent on the diverse perspectives of its student body. So, what are the experiences you have had that have shaped your perspective on life?
When you look at where you come from, what are the things that you would want to share with students who come from different backgrounds? Rice University tries to create a melting pot where students with diverse backgrounds and experiences can have the opportunity to share their world with others.
When you approach this prompt, it’s best to start brainstorming about the world you come from. Then start to narrow down that world to some specific elements that you can share. You have 500 words to respond to this prompt, so you have room to get into details. Once you’ve come up with a list of elements you would want to bring to the Rice community, write about what makes these things so important to you, and why you feel that sharing these things will be valuable.
What is the Rice Box?
From Rice: 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.
In this final section of the Rice supplemental essays 2022-2023, applicants are simply asked to share a two-dimensional image. You are not required or expected to write anything about the image itself, but the image should convey something significant without needing for any explanation.
This can be a difficult task because you are allowed to share basically any image, but make sure the image is one that has a special meaning for you. It might be a photograph that has a unique significance, or it could be a family photo that holds value for you.
At AdmissionSight, our goal is to help you with every step of the college admissions process. The Rice supplemental essays 2022 can seem daunting at first, but our experience and expertise will help you navigate the entire process with confidence. Hopefully, this guide to the Rice supplemental essays 2022-2023 has been helpful, but if you want more information about how AdmissionSight can help you realize your dreams, set up your free consultation today.
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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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How to Respond to Every Prompt in the Rice Supplement | 2022-2023
The Rice supplement includes a 500-word essay, two shorter Rice University essays, and one quirky prompt about an image that is meaningful to you. This guide will help you develop strong responses for every prompt in the Rice supplement.
First, let’s look at the essays.
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 is heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What personal perspectives would you contribute to life at Rice? (500 word limit)
(not required for Architecture majors. Separate supplement is given for that major)
In this essay, you’ll need to draw a connection between your past experiences and your future as a member of the Rice community.
What makes you unique, and how will you share it with other people at Rice?
Step One: Choose your perspective
- First, identify an important part of your life that you like sharing with other people. What part of your life do you love to talk about?
- For example:
- I’m a second-generation Chinese immigrant
- I’m a cancer survivor who loves computer programming
- I’m an environmental activist
Step Two: Connect Your Topic to Rice
- How will you be able to share your unique perspective with people at Rice? Try to identify about 2-3 opportunities at Rice where you will be able to do this, in or out of the classroom.
- Struggling to come up with ideas? Try exploring Rice’s website. Are there discussion-based classes, student groups, volunteer opportunities, or campus events that will help you share your perspective with others?
Step three: Your Core Message
- Finally, craft a 1-2 sentence Core Message that summarizes your response to the prompt. This will provide direction to the rest of your essay.
- Let’s revisit one of the example students from Step One. Here’s her Core Message:
- “I am a cancer survivor and I’m interested in computer science. At Rice, I will share my interest in the intersection of technology and chronic illness with my peers.”
- Why this works: It introduces the perspective she will be writing about, and introduces the idea that she will share this perspective with the Rice community.
- When you start writing your essay, you’ll want to include your Core Message somewhere in your first 3-4 sentences.
Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? (150 word limit)
Our “ Why This School ” essay guide will help you write a great 150-word response to this Rice supplement prompt.
Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected above. (150 word limit)
This guide will help you write a strong 150-word “Why Major” essay for your Rice University application.
You’ll also need to answer this unusual prompt about an image that is important to you.
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.
You won’t be able to include a written explanation of your image, so focus on choosing an image that will tell your admissions reader something important about you without any further context.
For example, you could upload:
- A photo of something memorable that you described in another essay
- An image that represents one of your interests, like a work of art that is meaningful to you
- An image that represents one of your values or goals, like a picture of one of your role models
Weak Rough Draft
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