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Last updated March 22, 2024

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How to Write the Rice Supplemental Essays

Key Takeaway

Is a picture really worth 1,000 words? You have four supplementals for Rice: three essays and one "Rice Box" image submission. With varying lengths, your essays will require careful planning. And your image will have to say a lot with no words.

So you’ve decided to apply to Rice and now have to complete the Rice supplement? Never fear. In this post, I’ll break down all three essay prompts and go over how to pick an image for that pesky “Rice Box” question.

Let’s jump right in.

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

You’re starting with a simple, straightforward academic interest essay. Of course, you’ll want to choose academic interests that coincide with what Rice has to offer. In your essay, you’ve got a bunch of options. You can write about how you became interested in the areas you’ve selected or describe a pivotal moment in your educational path. You could highlight a particular problem you’re eager to solve or write about the work you’ve already done in the area. As you’re reflecting on multiple areas, you can also write about how you see the two subjects intersecting with each other.

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

Next on your supplemental list is this “why us” essay. As with any why us essay, you’ll want to start by researching specific details about Rice’s offerings that you find appealing. Feel free to look into academics, campus life, and institutional values and priorities.

The best place to start your research is Rice’s website. You can also use information you gather from speaking with an admissions representative or attending an information session or campus tour. Look for appealing majors or programs, courses, clubs, internships, research opportunities, faculty, student support services, educational approaches—anything that you think would enhance your time at Rice.

As you write your essay, consider why the factors you’ve listed are appealing to you. Do they relate to opportunities you’ve had in the past? Are they building on work you’ve already done? Would they make you feel at home? Would they help you achieve your goals?

By the time you’re done, your essay should make it clear to your Rice admissions officers that Rice is the perfect fit for you.

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 is heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural tradition each student brings. What life perspectives would you contribute to the Rice community? 500 word limit.

With a 500-word limit, this one’s pretty hefty. That’s almost as long as your personal statement!

There are a few values from the first couple of sentences that I want you to draw out before you begin writing: collaboration, enhancing quality of life, reaching all members of the campus community, the Residential College System, and interactions between different life experiences and cultural traditions.

With those values in mind, think about the central question of the prompt: What life perspectives would you contribute to the Rice community?

As you’re thinking through your life perspectives, reflect on which ones align with the values we drew out of the first two sentences. Are there any in particular that would show that you’re a good, collaborative community member? Someone who’s able to interact with people from all different perspectives?

Since you have a lot of words, you have the space to elaborate on whatever perspectives you choose. Here are a few guidelines you might find helpful:

  • You can focus on more than one life perspective that you’d bring to Rice, but be careful about writing an essay that tries to do too many things at once. Your essay should still have one main message.
  • The perspective(s) you write about should be significant. You can throw a playful one or two in there if that’s your style, but you’ll still want to be able to reflect meaningfully on them.
  • Consider what new information a Rice admissions officer will learn about you from this essay. It’s a long one, so don’t waste it. Which of your perspectives don’t appear elsewhere in your application? Which do you really want to drive home? Think about your overall application narrative.

Finally, you can also use this essay to show off some of your Rice knowledge. Since the prompt asks how you’ll contribute to the Rice community, you can sprinkle in a few specific details about the aspects of Rice’s community that draw you in the most.

The Rice Box: In keeping with Rice’s long-standing tradition, please share an image of something that appeals to you.

And with this final question, Rice gets a little creative. Instead of writing a fourth essay, you’ll be submitting an image. It’s a chance for you to share something meaningful visually rather than in writing. Rice’s website says, “This image is not used for evaluative purposes in the application, but allows you to put your stamp on the application about who you are aside from what you have achieved.”

Rice admissions officers also advise that you pick an image that doesn’t need explanation, since you won’t have any accompanying text. You’ll upload it directly to your Common App or Coalition account or through your Rice admissions portal.

Your image should find a balance between being intriguing, being able to stand on its own, and revealing something about who you are.

Let’s take a look at a few examples to get you brainstorming. You might submit an image of…

  • one of your activities.
  • something related to your essays.
  • you and your friends or loved ones.
  • your artwork.
  • your hobby or passion.
  • a place you love or were influenced by.

Once you have your image selected, upload it alongside your essays.

And with that, you’re ready to get going on your Rice supplement. If you want to know more about how to craft a successful application to Rice, check out our How to Get into Rice guide.

Want even more college essay support? We’ve got you covered. Sign up for the Essay Academy, our all-in-one digital college essay course, to learn how to write your best college essays.

Happy writing! ✏️



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