Student Life at Rice

student life

Students at Rice University have been described as the happiest in the country, and there is plenty of evidence why on any given day around campus. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about life at Rice. If you have specific questions that are not covered here, please contact our office via email at so that we can assist you.

Questions About Life At Rice

What is the residential college system?

Rice has a unique system of student life on campus, largely structured by the residential college system. Rice’s residential colleges serve not only as residence halls but also as primary centers for intellectual life, dining, studying, playing, networking, and developing leadership skills. Entering students are randomly assigned to one of eleven colleges and remain a member of that college throughout their time at Rice, thus uniting diverse academic interests, extracurricular talents, and life experiences. In the Oxonian tradition, each college has a group of faculty, staff, and alumni "associates," who eat meals with students, provide academic advising, and become friends and mentors. The colleges are independent, egalitarian institutions, with their own government, traditions, rivalries, customs, and lifetime affiliation. About 80% of Rice undergraduates live on campus at their residential college.

I've got an issue with my living situation in my college. Can I change roommates or rooms?

At Rice, the individual colleges are responsible for matching roommates. Once students are assigned to a college, student staff at each college pair roommates that they feel are most compatible. Inevitably, problems may arise from time to time. Students having roommate issues should talk with their College Magisters.

What is the recommended course load for students?

The number of hours that each student should take will vary from student to student. Various factors such as intended major, Advanced Placement (AP) credit, job status, etc. may effect this decision. Generally speaking, most students will take between 14-18 hours of credit. This is not to say that students should not take more or less hours. Students will be able to better make this decision from the advice of their Divisional Advisors and Peer Academic Advisors, who they will meet with during O-Week. Please see the Academic Advising website for more general information and for course information for new students.

How many students are in a typical class?

At Rice, classes tend to be small. The median class size is about 15 students, but this is not to say that students will not encounter classes with significantly larger numbers. Even in larger than average classes, students are able to interact with classmates and instructors to ensure that they are able to maximize their education.

Do I need to bring a computer to Rice?

Students are not required to bring computers to Rice; there are numerous labs on campus, including one in each residential college. Many students do find that having a personal computer is helpful for note-taking, research, and assignments though it is really a matter of personal preference. If you are planning to buy a new computer, please visit Rice's Information Technology website for guidelines. If you already own a computer, check out our guidelines on how to prepare it for use on the Rice campus network, which includes security and virus protection.

Can I have a car on campus? Will I need one to get around off-campus>

While many of our new students do not initially bring cars to campus, and most students do not need a car, a number of upperclassmen have cars. Automobiles must be registered, and there is a parking fee. Ample parking space is available in our stadium parking lot for students who choose to bring their cars with them. Please see Parking & Transportation for more information. Rice is also located a short walk away from a stop for Houston's Metro transit system. Students often find that off-campus venues they need to visit from time to time are easily accessible from the Metro. There is also a condensed shopping area near campus called Rice Village that many students take advantage of throughout the year.

How can I get involved on campus?

With over 200 registered clubs and organizations, there is something for everyone at Rice. Beginning during O-Week, students will be exposed to various opportunities to get involved as they learn about a wide variety of campus resources. Whether it’s community service, student government, sports, or a personal interest, chances are there is an organization waiting for them to join. One great way for students to learn about opportunities to get involved is the Activities Fair, which takes place during the first week of school. But the best resource is other Rice students, who most likely are involved one way or another in the Rice community. For more information on getting involved, visit Student Activities.

Is it okay for me to have a job? Are there jobs available on campus?

Yes, many students hold jobs during their college careers at Rice. For some, this provides additional spending money, while teaching valuable time management skills. Students also find opportunities to develop experience in their potential careers. The Center for Career Development can help students find internships and research positions as well as provide them with a variety of job search related skills and support. There are numerous jobs available on-campus through various departments. The Office of Financial Aid may offer more information about on-campus jobs.

I'm not sure how to handle some of the stress of college life. Are there resources available at Rice?

Yes, there are a variety of outlets for students who need support during college or information about personal well-being. Rice’s Counseling Center offers individual and group therapy by full-time, licensed psychologists and counselors. In addition, the center offers consultation services for medication by a licensed psychiatrist. Appointments and limited walk-ins are available weekdays 8 am -12 pm and 1 pm-5 pm. The center can be reached 24 hours a day at (713) 348-4867. The Wellbeing Center

also provides students with resources on maintaining healthy lifestyles at Rice. They offer programming regularly across campus and have student representatives in each college to support their peers.

How can I learn more about succeeding at Rice and establishing a path for my future?

Since Fall 2012, First Year Programs has offered a course entitled Foundations for Self-Discovery and Learning which specifically designed to help students discover their place at the university, understand ways in which they could develop during college and beyond, and to create meaningful experiences to shape their future growth and careers. It is offered in both the fall and spring semesters.

Student Success Initiatives can also help students configure their success at Rice. Stop by their office or email them at for an appointmnet.

What is Rice's policy on alcohol and drinking on campus?

The Rice campus is considered to be a "wet" campus which means that students 21 years old or older (legal drinking age) are allowed to possess and consume alcohol on campus. We have a detailed policy on alcoholic beverages which governs what students of age may and may not do. The primary purpose of this policy is to protect the safety and security of our students and our community. Whether or not a student drinks is a personal decision that all students must make. Those who do so are personally responsible for their actions. Rice University offers no formal protection for students under 21 years old who choose to drink on campus or return to campus after drinking elsewhere. However, there are students in each residential college who are trained caregivers on hand to assist students or contact the appropriate resources if necessary. Additionally, there are plenty of activities and programs on campus that offer students a fulfilling college experience whether they choose to drink or not. More detailed information on the alcohol policy can be found in the Student Handbook.