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How to Respond to the 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!
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“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?
“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).”
This response length should also grab your attention. You are allotted over three times as many words as the first two, which underscores the question’s importance. Rice is proud of its celebration of students’ varying outlooks coming together. How would yours fit in? Mentioning life experiences, perspectives, and cultural traditions in the prompt allows for many avenues for interpretation. You could discuss anything from core pieces of your identity to adverse situations you’ve lived through. It will be hard to pick just one direction.
Try to identify something fundamental to who you are that is special. If cross country is your passion, what has it taught you about teamwork or perseverance? If you are religious, how does it guide your values? Start your response with a short anecdote to set the stage. In the first example, you could begin describing a race you ran until your muscles failed you. For the other, you could walk through your morning routine praying and dressing in traditional garb. “Show, don’t tell” as much as possible! Finish your response by discussing how this aspect of your identity will enrich your connections at Rice.
Questions to consider:
- Are you a champion of any causes due to injustice you’ve been exposed to?
- What experiences have shaped the leader or nurturer in you?
- Where have you witnessed the bringing together of divergent thinkers?
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!
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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!
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!