Why Rice University Essay

We know you’re looking for insiders’ tips about the college admissions process. Tamara Siler, Senior Associate Director of Admission & Coordinator of Minority Recruitment at Rice University, shares her top five application tips to help you fill out the best possible National College Match application!

  1. Be sure to answer the question being asked, whether it is a short response or an essay. In addition to the QuestBridge College Match Application, the Common Application, or the Universal College Application, you may be also responding to a college specific supplement to these applications.  Some will give you a choice of question, but some are questions specific to the institution.  Read the question carefully and make sure your response specifically addresses the prompt.

2. You may get asked a similar application question in a number of places. Do not simply cut and paste a previous response to address the question, which basically means you are submitting the same writing sample twice.  Even if you are answering a similar question somewhere else in the application process, look for another angle or for other anecdotes you can use to answer the question.  This shows thoughtfulness and creativity.

3. Think of the response only you can write. For example, I was raised by my great-grandparents, and I drew from that for my college essay on how being raised by people much older than the traditional age of parents was sometimes a challenge, but I also talked about all of the invaluable lessons they taught me.  Think about those aspects of family, school, your interests, etc. which set you apart from your friends.

4. Write for authenticity, not to impress. The only person we want you to be in your application is you.  Also, make sure you are the focus at all times – it is great to talk about a person who has influenced you, but make sure you highlight what YOU learned, how YOU were shaped, and not just talk about the other person.

5. Ask someone you trust to read your application. Actually, ask a couple of people. Spell check may catch if a word is spelled correctly but it may not, in fact, be the word you want to use. Get feedback from them not only on the writing but to make sure your own voice is coming through. I would rather read an essay that feels genuine with a few imperfections than an essay which is extremely polished but really leaves me not feeling connected to the applicant in any way.

– Tamara Siler,Senior Associate Director of Admission & Coordinator of Minority Recruitment, Rice University

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Here is Synocate’s guidance on how to respond to Rice University’s four additional essay questions.

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 word limit)

Keep it simple. Choose a major activity - one that you did not focus on in the Common Application major essay and write about it. Keep it to 1-2 paragraphs and focus on what the extracurricular activity is, how long you have done it, why it is important to you, and what it means to you.

With the understanding that the choice of academic school you indicated is not binding, explain why you are applying to that particular school of study. (150 word limit)

Throughout this supplement you’ll need to convey your goals in the future and how the academic programs within the school will help you towards it. This prompt wants the backstory to integrated vision. The word limit roughly translates to 2 paragraphs so the focus on the particulars of the future: What do you hope to do with the degree? Why do you want to do that?

How did you first learn about Rice University and what motivated you to apply? (250 word limit)

Rice isn’t so much interested in how you heard about the university and more interested in the aspects that stand out to you. Regardless of the source, you’ll need to research things like social life, school traditions, clubs, professors, research labs, etc. This response is the other half of the previous question. With your vision conveyed there, you can focus on the journey.

If you have applied or expect to apply to other colleges or universities this year, please name them. (50 word limit)

List the universities here.


Good luck!


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