Rice is known for its small, tree-filled campus, our baseball team, and its supposed "value" and generous financial aid program when compared to its Ivy League counterparts. In a side note, many students are upset at what they see as Rice's waning commitment to low tuition - something we were previously known for - and for the 2010-11 school year, it cost $48,000 to attend Rice. Administration is raising it (again) for 2011-2012. Before long, Rice is going to be the most expensive University in the US. The joke around campus is that Rice is the Harvard of the South (or Harvard is the Rice of the North), and to an extent that is true. Other than Vanderbilt University, Rice is the highest ranked school in the South, and students are very proud of that here. We're prestigious but not pretentious. We like it that way. And from a little more official standpoint, Princeton Review has ranked Rice as #1 in best quality of life and #10 in happiest students. I attribute a lot of this to our great weather - just last week (in February), our entire dorm went outside to tan or play frisbee because it was so nice out. One of the reviewers described Rice as a bubble. That is a great word to describe the University's students. Rice is a small piece of land right in the middle of Houston. Rice gives every student a free pass to everything around us (Houston's many Museums, Zoo, etc), but no one takes advantage of it. Not many people have automobiles here (parking costs are high) so true off-campus activity is rare, but Rice is surrounded by walkable (or Light Rail accessible) areas. Rice provides its students with a Metro-pass that allows us to use the Houston Metro and Houston Light Rail free (which conveniently has a stop at Rice) so we can explore the city of Houston. On Saturday night, the University closes its cafeterias to force kids to go out and try some off campus food. If you don't want to travel that far, Rice Village is a 5 minute bike ride away and has shops and tons of food options. Hermann Park which houses the Houston Zoo (free to Rice students!) is a small walk across the street. The Houston Galleria, a jumbo mall with stores ranging everywhere from Gucci and Neiman Marcus to Urban Outfitters and Abercrombie is a 15 minute bus ride (Rice has its own busing system too). If you need some snacks, Rice has a Target shuttle that runs daily. In Houston, everything is really at your fingertips. Houston is a really weird city. So many different sections make up Houston that it's kind of like a combination of 10 different cities. You've got the artsy Museum District (where Rice is at), hip Montrose area, high-end shopping in Highland Village, ritzy Bellaire, downtown, uptown, and everywhere in between. On the rare day you aren't swamped with homework, it's been really awesome to go explore the city even though I'm from here! I just wish more students would too. Facilities are top-notch but for dorms it really depends on what college you are in. All of the serveries are the same and food quality is better than you would expect (but certainly not great). Fresh fruit and tender meats can be difficult to get (I personally cannot eat the steak), but there desserts are always impressive (I had a tiramisu cake that was just as good as Houston's best Italian restaurant's). Once in awhile interesting options pop up to complement the Chicken Nuggets, french fries, and hot dogs. Just the other day, we we offered Octopus Soup and bacon-wrapped Rabbit. Rice landscapers are always working to clean up leaves/mow grass and our campus always looks great. We've also got wifi on 100% of the campus, and students take advantage of it when they want study outside. Rice also just opened up its new student center/rec which is the best gym I've seen on a college campus. All machines have a built in TV in them, there's a heated "relaxation" pool designed to make you feel like you're at a resort (complete with palm trees), and free equipment rentals for things like tennis, squash, or racquetball. We've also got a lot of "quads" for students just to lounge around and study. Just the other day, I witnessed a Yoga class by the student center. Students stop in the student center to buy a coffee or drink (we've got a Smoothie King and our Brochstein Pavilion restaurant on campus) and sit around Rice to study. Rice has thousands of trees all over campus (students say there is a tree for every student) including tons of old, massive live oaks. There are so many trees that you often forget you are in a city. Because Rice is so small and walkable, students are not allowed to drive to class (there's no parking spots anyway). We've also got some awesome buildings that personally remind me of old Europe.
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Types of Transportation Available to Campus
Houston's Hobby Airport is a 30-minute (non-rush hour) drive from campus. Houston's Intercontinental Airport is a 45-minute (non-rush hour) drive from campus. Taxis, shuttles, and rental cars are available at both airports. The shuttle services pick up passengers at the baggage claim areas and deliver to hotels and other locations near campus. From there, take a taxi to campus. Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses also serve Houston. The bus terminal on Main St. is a short distance from campus; taxis are available at the terminal for the ride to campus.
Driving Instructions to Campus
Take I-10, I-45, or I-610 to U.S. Rte. 59 (the Southwest Freeway). Take U.S. 59 into the city to the Shepherd-Greenbriar/Rice University exit. At Greenbriar, head south to Rice Blvd. Turn left on Rice and continue to Main St. Turn right on Main St. and make an immediate right turn into the main campus gate. Lovett Hall (location of the admissions office) is at the end of the entrance driveway; visitor parking is available in front of Lovett Hall.
Within 5 miles: Houston Marriott (at Medical Center, 6580 Fannin St. 713-796-0080); La Colombe d'Or (3410 Montrose Blvd. 713-524-7999 expensive); Crowne Plaza Medical Center (6701 S. Main St. 713-797-1110); Hotel Zaza (5701 S. Main St. 713.526.1991); Houston Plaza Hilton (6633 Travis Street, 713-313-4000); the Best Western Plaza Hotel and Suites - Medical Center (6700 Main Street, 713-522-2811); and the Holiday Inn-Medical Ctr (6800 Main Street, 713-528-7744).