Hello, Class of 2025!
Rice welcomes its biggest class ever with hope, care and optimism.
By Tracey Rhoades
They weren’t the first class to matriculate during a pandemic, but they are the largest. With over 1,200 students, the Class of 2025 is already breaking records.
Selected from nearly 30,000 applicants, this year’s freshmen, consisting of 250 more students than last year, are a diverse group. Thirty-seven percent of the incoming class are from Texas; 50% hail from other states; and 13% are international students, with a larger representation from countries in Latin America, Africa and Europe.
To accommodate COVID-19 restrictions, Rice had to come up with ways to communicate with interested students as well as give them some normalcy once they reached campus Aug. 15. Known for its personal, intimate and welcoming entrance to Rice, Orientation Week — more commonly known as O-Week — gave its newest Owls a glimpse of the Rice life.
Beginning at 6:30 a.m., move-in commenced, heralding O-Week’s kickoff. Students and parents were greeted with cheers, signs and helping hands, hands that unloaded vehicles and toted boxes to make the move as seamless as possible. Orchestrated by a cache of O-Week advisers — highly selected upperclassmen — university administrators, magisters, and President David Leebron and Y. Ping Sun, this year’s welcome was as magical as in years past.
In keeping with pandemic protocols, President Leebron addressed the new students via video in their college commons, a tradition usually held in Tudor Fieldhouse. Leebron, who gave his final greeting as president before stepping down in 2022, challenged Rice’s incoming class: “Will you be the best class ever?” Bridget Gorman, dean of undergraduates, and Kendall
Vining ’22, Student Association president, also addressed the class before students proceeded across campus by college to Lovett Hall and the rite of passage through the Sallyport, officially beginning their journey at Rice.
The week’s events weren’t all pomp and circumstance, however. Freshmen were able to experience more traditional elements of O-Week with inflatable bounce houses, water balloon fights, paint wars, dance-offs and shaving cream battles, bringing O-Week’s uniqueness to the forefront. “It’s an experience that’s much more intimate than you find at other universities,” said freshman Arielle Hayon, who knew Rice was where she wanted to be after her first visit. “And honestly, now that I’m here, it’s only been validated for all the reasons that I chose it. This is a home away from home for me already.”
A Big Welcome
Rice welcomed its largest class ever in August. The stats are impressive, and so are the freshmen and transfer students who now call Rice home.
applications (26% more than 2020)
countries represented and all 50 states
New York (50)