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Saturday, June 15, 2024 — Houston, TX

Departing senior reflects on his four years at Rice University

By Christoph Meyer     5/22/12 7:00pm

Summarizing a Rice experience in one article can hardly do four years at our university justice. Where to begin? As a senior, it's a nostalgic and difficult exercise to capture just what this undergraduate experience has meant. Whether we are graduating, have already or will be in the near future, we share a common experience that most of us can undeniably agree has changed us and will mark our futures as we leave the hedges.

The past four years have led to significant change both on a personal and university level. As a member of the last matriculating class to witness Rice with only nine colleges (or eight!), it's clear there was a shift in the Rice experience. The addition of new colleges and a larger student body was definitely noticeable at first, but the university has adjusted well. While many feared the loss of a distinct Rice culture with a larger student body, the main result mostly feels like growing pains. More crowds in serveries and at parties, difficulties with registration and a feeling of larger classes have detracted from the student experience Rice frequently advertises. Yet the addition of these two new colleges, as well as numerous buildings such as Brockman Hall and the BioScience Research Collaborative, is continuing to improve our campus.

The Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center has perhaps been the most positive physical change during the past four years, as this building has turned into a new hub for learning, stress relief, competition and relaxation. The past four years have also seen Rice become more and more recognized in categories such as "student happiness" and "quality of life," which, as an undergraduate here, mean much more than rising a couple of spots in the rankings. While an ever-increasing size may threaten Rice's personal and close-knit feel, the university still seems to be achieving the same successes and still seems to have the unique culture and quality of life that make it such an incredible place.



While there are innumerable reasons why Rice is amazing, the university's resources and opportunities are truly impressive. From the flexibility to change majors to the bounty of summer opportunities, Rice truly caters to its students in wonderful ways - it is up to the students to take advantage of the opportunities. These resources extend into other aspects of student life with student access to faculty members as masters, RAs and associates. The residential college system enables an easy initial network for students to build upon during their time at Rice. The support system that Rice provides does not seem quite as strong at other universities and has played an invaluable role in my experience. The Baker Institute is also one of Rice's most vibrant components, attracting famous individuals to campus and helping students frame their educational experiences within politics and the "real world." Of course, an experience at Rice cannot go without mentioning the amazing moments of Orientation Week (as a freshman and an advisor), Beer Bike, intramural sports, unforgettable memories with friends and, for us seniors, a Bowl Game.

On a personal level, I believe Rice has helped me grow in many ways. On an academic level, Rice has obviously pushed me beyond my boundaries and to extend my comfort zone. The distribution requirements have also helped me gain a more general education, rather than a narrow and focused learning process. However, I can't help but feeling sometimes, as I'm sure others do as well, that I've also forgotten so much of what I've learned. Perhaps this is a personal flaw, but it sometimes seems like the pace of Rice is not always conducive to long-term retention of material. While I have had incredible classes at Rice, which I will never forget, I feel like there is a significant difference in quality in some courses. This is a result not only of professors, but also of students; it often feels like Rice students are passive, rarely engaging in dialogue and are sometimes too fearful to ask questions if they do not understand a topic. Rice students are talented individuals, and it often feels like we are selling ourselves short in certain classes (granted, some are really boring).

From a life-experience perspective, Rice hSummarizing a Rice experience in one article can hardly do four years at our university justice. Where to begin? As a senior, it's a nostalgic and difficult exercise to capture just what this undergraduate experience has meant. Whether we are graduating, have already or will be in the near future, we share a common experience that most of us can undeniably agree has changed us and will mark our futures as we leave the hedges.

The past four years have led to significant change both on a personal and university level. As a member of the last matriculating class to witness Rice with only nine colleges (or eight!), it's clear there was a shift in the Rice experience. The addition of new colleges and a larger student body was definitely noticeable at first, but the university has adjusted well. While many feared the loss of a distinct Rice culture with a larger student body, the main result mostly feels like growing pains. More crowds in serveries and at parties, difficulties with registration and a feeling of larger classes have detracted from the student experience Rice frequently advertises. Yet the addition of these two new colleges, as well as numerous buildings such as Brockman Hall and the BioScience Research Collaborative, is continuing to improve our campus.

The Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center has perhaps been the most positive physical change during the past four years, as this building has turned into a new hub for learning, stress relief, competition and relaxation. The past four years have also seen Rice become more and more recognized in categories such as "student happiness" and "quality of life," which, as an undergraduate here, mean much more than rising a couple of spots in the rankings. While an ever-increasing size may threaten Rice's personal and close-knit feel, the university still seems to be achieving the same successes and still seems to have the unique culture and quality of life that make it such an incredible place.

While there are innumerable reasons why Rice is amazing, the university's resources and opportunities are truly impressive. From the flexibility to change majors to the bounty of summer opportunities, Rice truly caters to its students in wonderful ways - it is up to the students to take advantage of the opportunities. These resources extend into other aspects of student life with student access to faculty members as masters, RAs and associates. The residential college system enables an easy initial network for students to build upon during their time at Rice. The support system that Rice provides does not seem quite as strong at other universities and has played an invaluable role in my experience. The Baker Institute is also one of Rice's most vibrant components, attracting famous individuals to campus and helping students frame their educational experiences within politics and the "real world." Of course, an experience at Rice cannot go without mentioning the amazing moments of Orientation Week (as a freshman and an advisor), Beer Bike, intramural sports, unforgettable memories with friends and, for us seniors, a Bowl Game.

On a personal level, I believe Rice has helped me grow in many ways. On an academic level, Rice has obviously pushed me beyond my boundaries and to extend my comfort zone. The distribution requirements have also helped me gain a more general education, rather than a narrow and focused learning process. However, I can't help but feeling sometimes, as I'm sure others do as well, that I've also forgotten so much of what I've learned. Perhaps this is a personal flaw, but it sometimes seems like the pace of Rice is not always conducive to long-term retention of material. While I have had incredible classes at Rice, which I will never forget, I feel like there is a significant difference in quality in some courses. This is a result not only of professors, but also of students; it often feels like Rice students are passive, rarely engaging in dialogue and are sometimes too fearful to ask questions if they do not understand a topic. Rice students are talented individuals, and it often feels like we are selling ourselves short in certain classes (granted, some are really boring).

From a life-experience perspective, Rice has also helped me grow tremendously. I feel like I have been able to shed my initial shyness and have developed confidence in life skills, from interacting with strangers to delivering public speeches. Pursuing an internship abroad through Rice also helped tremendously in terms of personal growth. A university experience should be conducive to significant personal growth, and I believe Rice can stimulate this development.

While I will forever be an Owl and love my university, there are changes I hope to see when I return in years to come. For one, I hope connections between current students and alumni can become tighter, as I feel like this is a powerful yet untapped resource for many of us, whether from a career standpoint or simply a connections perspective. I also hope students develop a new mentality in regard to student clubs and extracurricular activities. There seems to be a pervasive attitude that starting a new organization is somehow greater than carrying on a legacy. Of course, starting something can be valuable, but Rice students must realize that developing a long-lasting organization can lead to bigger and sometimes greater achievements.

This is also connected to residential college life; while the colleges are great, they are sometimes to the detriment of other extracurricular activities on campus, as people seek to remain involved among their college peers rather than achieve a greater impact on or beyond the campus-wide level. Finally, I hope to see certain lesser-known departments prosper and offer the same opportunities as those that are more recognized. The promise of undergraduate research is not available in all departments, and I hope that students in economics or English have similar opportunities to those in chemistry and bioengineering. Rice has succeeded, but there should be no upper limit in its future.

I hope to see Rice continue its exceptional path and build upon its successes. The people are truly what distinguish this university, and I hope we continue to attract stellar faculty and students. Four years at Rice is a gift - enjoy it and pay it forward. Christoph Meyer is a graduate of Hanszen College, class of 2012.as also helped me grow tremendously. I feel like I have been able to shed my initial shyness and have developed confidence in life skills, from interacting with strangers to delivering public speeches. Pursuing an internship abroad through Rice also helped tremendously in terms of personal growth. A university experience should be conducive to significant personal growth, and I believe Rice can stimulate this development.

While I will forever be an Owl and love my university, there are changes I hope to see when I return in years to come. For one, I hope connections between current students and alumni can become tighter, as I feel like this is a powerful yet untapped resource for many of us, whether from a career standpoint or simply a connections perspective. I also hope students develop a new mentality in regard to student clubs and extracurricular activities. There seems to be a pervasive attitude that starting a new organization is somehow greater than carrying on a legacy. Of course, starting something can be valuable, but Rice students must realize that developing a long-lasting organization can lead to bigger and sometimes greater achievements.

This is also connected to residential college life; while the colleges are great, they are sometimes to the detriment of other extracurricular activities on campus, as people seek to remain involved among their college peers rather than achieve a greater impact on or beyond the campus-wide level. Finally, I hope to see certain lesser-known departments prosper and offer the same opportunities as those that are more recognized. The promise of undergraduate research is not available in all departments, and I hope that students in economics or English have similar opportunities to those in chemistry and bioengineering. Rice has succeeded, but there should be no upper limit in its future.

I hope to see Rice continue its exceptional path and build upon its successes. The people are truly what distinguish this university, and I hope we continue to attract stellar faculty and students. Four years at Rice is a gift - enjoy it and pay it forward. Christoph Meyer is a graduate of Hanszen College, class of 2012.



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