Rice is very geared for engineering students. Its other fields of studies are expanding greatly, which is really good, but there are still more opportunities available for engineers. When there are job fairs, most of the representatives that come are primarily from the engineering and science industry. A lot of times, humanities and social sciences students feel they don't have too many options besides business or law school, or going into consulting, because our career services program does not do too good of a job presenting these students will all their options.
The different academic departments seem to have authority over most practical matters, yet be run by staffs with little incentive to solve problems or offer advice. I've personally spent 2 weeks trying to declare my major for the 2nd time (the office lost the form and all record of its existence the first time), and the same office decided that it wouldn't offer transfer credit to a student after he transferred to Rice--at which time they said he would receive credit. Of course both of these problems were eventually resolved, but at a huge cost of time.
This isn't something that would apply to everyone, but I was a dancer in high school and the appallingly low level of students involved in this activity I love so much was really depressing. For a university with such an impressive music school, extracurriculars in the fine arts arena are sadly lacking. Still, it is relatively easy for a determined student to find or start various activities, and even if others are uninterested, our location in the heart of Houston means that (with the help of a car) one can easily find other options in the city.
The worst thing about my school is the lack of options for a meal plan. Currently, Rice offers one meal plan for all students: 19 meals per week - 3/day on weekdays and 2/day on Saturdays and Sundays. As a person who likes to explore a city and discover new restaurants, it would be nice to have an option for fewer meals per week because I would be able to go out to restaurants in the area and not feel guilty about spending money on a meal that I have previously paid for on campus.
The greatest problem I have encountered at Rice is stigma attached to a person's major. Students in the humanities and social sciences are often picked on and considered less intelligent than those who are studying hard sciences or engineering. Architecture students and music students are usually left out of this, but the pressure of being a reasonably intelligent humanities/social science major in a campus full of condescending scientists can be a bit of a downer.
It's a random complaint, but we don't really have any night life during the week. More annoyingly, you can't buy food after 11 unless you want to go to the pub. It's not a big deal, but considering that many students stay up late for social or academic reasons, not being able to get food late at night is a bit of a problem. Fortunately, the administration is looking into opening a late-night cafe.
I feel like a lot of kids at my school are very tightly wound and way too concerned about their GPA or grad school, and they don't give enough thought to pursue other intrests. As a music major, I am very artistic and open to new, creative ways to express myself and how to grow as an individual. People at Rice, are too set in a very narrow track without wanting to expand their horizons.
The only negatives at the school are the sporadic success of the football team and the current widespread construction. Fortunately, the construction runs quickly and will greatly benefit the Rice community when complete. There is really nothing else that can be said against Rice.
The workload is tremendous. It can be hard to balance sleep, grades, and a social life. But with a little time management skills, it can definitely be done. Fortunately, everyone around you is stuck in the same situation. There's a lot of support.
The building in which I live is the oldest dorm in Rice University, and you can really tell that time has taken a toll on the building. Other than that, there's nothing wrong with Rice at all. Seriously, Rice is perfect