O-Week begins August 12

Rice University will roll out the red carpet Sunday as its newest parliament of Owls moves to campus and participates in O-Week, the weeklong orientation program to familiarize incoming students with their new campus, residential colleges and classmates.

Though smaller than last year’s freshman class of 1,006 students, this year’s incoming class of 939 students, selected from a record pool of 15,133 applicants, exceeds this year’s enrollment goal, said Vice President for Enrollment Chris Muñoz.

“Compared with last year’s applicant pool of 13,814, it shows a marked increase in our number of applicants, which strongly indicates that more and more prospective students and families are interested in Rice,” Muñoz said. He also noted that the university’s exclusivity has increased, with the admit rate moving from 19 percent in 2011 to 17 percent this year.

According to Muñoz, the Class of 2016 is the most academically talented class in recent memory, with 90 percent of this year’s students ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class. In addition, test scores have improved, with the SAT 25th percentile for incoming students at 1390 (meaning that 75 percent of Rice students scored 1390 or higher on their combined SAT), and the 75 percentile for incoming students at 1510 (meaning that 25 percent of Rice students scored 1510 or higher). This is compared with 2011, when the 25th percentile stood at 1350 and the 75th percentile stood at 1500.

A larger number of students – 57 percent – hail from locations other than Texas (compared with last year’s 54 percent). In addition, the freshman class “continues to be very diverse — comparable to previous years,” Muñoz said.

Move-in day will kick off around 7 a.m. Sunday when upperclassmen and Rice Owl football players greet the new arrivals and help them move their belongings to their residential college rooms. Parents and family members are invited to participate in New Families Orientation, which will include presentations by Rice President David Leebron and other faculty, staff and student representatives and information sessions on subjects ranging from academic advising to financial aid to wellness.

After saying goodbye to their parents, new students will gather for matriculation at 7 p.m. at Tudor Fieldhouse, where Leebron, Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson and Student Association President Sanjula Jain will offer words of wisdom for the students’ next four years on campus. Later in the evening, the freshmen will make the ceremonial march through Rice’s Sallyport into the Academic Quad to mark the official beginning of their college career. Tradition holds that students will not pass through the Sallyport again until their graduation day.

Activities and presentations throughout the coming week will introduce new students to the ins and outs of life at Rice by providing academic advising, assistance with class registration, small-group discussions, faculty lectures, community outreach and opportunities to explore Houston. New students will enjoy traditional Texas cuisine and the company of their classmates during a barbecue dinner at the president’s home Aug. 13.

Other activities for the week include a pep rally at Rice stadium Aug. 14, the Rice Carnival, the annual Associates’ Dinner and the Passport to Houston’s trip to the House of Blues. Approximately half of the incoming class will give back to the Houston community Aug. 18 with volunteer service at various Outreach Day sites. O-Week will conclude later that day with the Welcome Back Concert at Tudor Fieldhouse.

The following Sunday will serve as a much-needed day of rest for Rice’s new students in preparation for the beginning of fall classes Aug. 20.

This year Public Affairs will again collect students’ photos, videos and tweets from O-Week to share the experience on rice.edu. Students have been asked to include the hashtag #oweek2012 on their posts and tweets; a compilation of their communications can be found by clicking on #oweek2012 at the top of rice.edu.

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.