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How to Write the Rice University Essays

Updated for 2023-2024

For the 2023-2024 application cycle, Rice University requires all applicants to submit three supplementary essay, two of which are 150 words and the third is 500 words.

Prompt 1:

Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected. 150 word limit.



While it may not be clear at first, this is really a two part question. First, it’s asking “Why do you want to study what you’ve selected?” Second, “Why do you want to study those topics at Rice?” With just 150 words to work with, you should try to be as specific as you can be when answering these big questions. Focus on your core interests, and find concrete reasons why Rice is the best place for you to explore those topics. While you won’t have space to list every class you want to take or everything you love about Rice, try to write about a few specific opportunities to show the admissions committee that you’ve done your research and that Rice is a good fit for you.

Prompt 2:

Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? 150 word limit.



This short essay is a classic ‘Why this school?’ essay. It should highlight your knowledge of the unique opportunities at Rice and your own special interests and perspectives. This essay is intended to allow you to write about your other, nonacademic interests and how Rice will allow you to explore them. A great way to approach this essay is to do some intensive research on Rice’s website in order to find academic programs, research opportunities, extracurricular activities and student groups, and unique aspects of student life that interest you.

Just like in the first essay, you’ll want to provide some concrete examples. Focus on linking your past experiences and passions to your plans for making the most of your potential time at Rice. For example, you may want to have a diverse social circle with people of different perspectives and identities, and know that Rice ranks #1 for race and class interactions. Or, there may be an extracurricular or non-academic program that you want to explore. Allow the word “experience” to mean whatever you want it to mean!

Prompt 3:

Please respond to one of the following prompts to explore how you will contribute to the Rice community:

The Residential College System is at the heart of Rice student life and is heavily influenced by the particular cultural traditions and unique life experiences each student brings. What life experiences and/or unique perspectives are you looking forward to sharing with fellow Owls in the residential college system? 500 word limit.



At 500 words, this essay gives you plenty of room to describe your perspectives! However, you’ll want to avoid listing too many ideas at once. Instead, consider the communities you are a part of now and the experiences you’ve had that are the most meaningful to you. To help narrow it down, research the values that the Rice community espouses, and see where your values and interests intersect with theirs. The admissions officers want to get a sense of the kind of student you’ll be at Rice, and how you’ll fit into the campus culture.

Get specific! Instead of just answering “what” perspectives you’ll bring, include “where” you want to bring them. Consider how you might bring your different perspectives to your social and academic life as well as to the 350+ clubs and organizations Rice has to offer. How might your community background enhance the Residential College System? Will your teamwork experience from your time on a high school athletic team inspire you to lead a club sport? Whatever your life perspectives, make sure to demonstrate how you will use your unique background to become a valuable member of the Rice community!

Rice is strengthened by its diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders and change agents across the spectrum of human endeavor. What perspectives shaped by your background, experiences, upbringing, and/or racial identity inspire you to join our community of change agents at Rice? 500 word limit.



This prompt asks you to reflect on the world you come from and how your background has shaped your worldview. It is important to think about and clearly express what your particular frame of reference is, and what you can bring to campus that no one else can. This may be related to a geographic identity, a religious community, a unique intersection of identities that you occupy, a family background, a place of work, a school you attend or have attended, or any other environment that has been meaningful to you. What are the life lessons you’ve gleaned from growing up in your particular neighborhood, or in your particular family? What are the most important communities you are a part of, and how have they shaped your values?