The Ivy Coach Daily

August 25, 2023

2023-2024 Rice University Supplemental Essay Prompts

A red brick building sits beyond a walking pass at Rice University.
Rice has published its essays for applicants to the Class of 2028 (photo credit: AniRaptor2001).

Rice University has released its 2023-2024 supplemental essay prompts for applicants to the Class of 2028. In all, Rice asks applicants to respond to three supplemental essay prompts — two essays of 150 words and one essay of 500 words. For the 500-word essay, there are two options from applicants are asked to choose one. In addition, as is tradition, Rice applicants are asked to include an image that represents them with their Rice supplement. So, what exactly are this year’s essays for the Rice Class of 2028?

2023-2024 Rice Essay Topics & The Box

Essay Topics

Rice applicants are asked to answer the first two essay prompts in a maximum of 150 words. These two prompts are as follows:

1. Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected. 

This prompt is a straight-up-the-middle Why Major essay. As such, students should write an origin story of their interest in their chosen field. The origin story should take place in high school rather than in childhood. Applicants should make the story interesting rather than tout their strengths in the given area since bragging is an implausible way to inspire admissions officers to root for applicants. 

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

This prompt is a straight-up-the-middle Why College essay. It should thus be filled with specifics on why a student wishes to attend Rice — programs, institutes, the culture, traditions, activities, and more. Notice we didn’t mention classes or professors. Classes change. Professors leave. It’s about capturing the enduring specifics of Rice.

If an applicant writes a sentence that can apply to schools other than Rice, we recommend deleting it. Every sentence in this essay should be specifically tailored to Rice. That’s the game!

For the third Rice essay, applicants are asked to answer one of the following two essay prompts in up to 500 words:

3. Please respond to one of the following prompts to explore how you will contribute to the Rice community:

Rice’s admissions committee seeks to admit a diverse incoming class and while the United States Supreme Court outlawed the practice of Affirmative Action, Chief Justice John Roberts left an opening in college essays.

As he wrote in his majority opinion, “At the same time, as all parties agree, nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”

Herein lies that opening. But, of course, students do not need to be underrepresented minorities to answer this question powerfully. The question is purposely broad. As such, students can write about the communities in which they were raised, their cultural traditions, their faith, or any other such topic that ideally showcases how they think and what makes them tick.

This question is similar to the first option for the third Rice essay prompt, but it leans more heavily on being a change agent. Rice’s admissions committee wants to see how a student’s background or experiences shape who they are and how they hope to create the world they wish to see. Applicants should be specific instead of broad — think saving the bees rather than saving the world from climate change.

The Rice Box

One of Rice’s longstanding traditions is “The Box,“ a question on our application where we ask all of our applicants to share an image of something that appeals to them. The Box gives you the opportunity to present us with an image that shares something about yourself, your interests or what is meaningful to you. 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. Be sure to choose an image that speaks for itself and does not need an explanation. The Box must be a two-dimensional image that is uploaded in the Common Application or Apply Coalition with Scoir, or uploaded in the Rice Admission Student Portal.

The image that a student uploads should be consistent with their hook. If they’re astrophysicists, the image should ideally relate to the stars. If they’re Classists, it should relate to the Classics. Too many applicants merely upload a silly image, a wasted opportunity. Beyond the essays, The Box is another opportunity to showcase intellectual curiosity.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with Rice Essays

If you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission to Rice by submitting essays that inspire admissions officers to root for you, fill out Ivy Coach’s free consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to outline our college admissions counseling services for seniors.

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