As a bona fide Rice student, you are now prepared to fully reap the benefits and opportunities that Rice offers. To begin your sophomore year, you are encouraged to re-evaluate your academic plan. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What were the courses that I enjoyed the most?
- What careers am I starting to really consider, and what areas of study would pave the way?
- What is a reasonable course load for me?
- What degree requirements do I have left to complete?
Knowing the answers to all these questions should not be immediate. Take time to talk to your professors, academic advisors, and your peers as well as the Major Advisors in the areas of study that you are considering.
All students are required to declare a major in the second semester of sophomore year. We encourage students to declare early, if you are confident in your intended major selection. Declaring early will enable you to begin building relationships with the faculty in your major department and learn about opportunities to explore the discipline outside of the classroom. For others that are unsure about their major, it is important to reflect, explore, get advice, and come to a thoughtful decision that best represents your academic interests and future goals. Below are some steps you can take to decide on a major:
- Familiarize yourself with the majors offered at Rice by reviewing the list of undergraduate majors as well as our major decision page. Almost every department and program has its own website. Visit these websites to learn more about the majors offered.
- Take introductory courses as they are a great way to experiment with areas of interest to you.
- Speak with Major Advisors, students, or instructors you currently are engaged with in classes that align with majors of interest. These individuals possess intimate knowledge of the course curriculum, co-curricular opportunities, and broader scope of the field. Your peers can also provide an insider view. Ask them what drew them to the major, what their future plans are, and what opportunities exist outside of the classroom.
- Visit the Center for Career Development and take the personality and career assessments offered (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Strong Interest Inventory). They will also help you explore what you can do with specific majors.
- Consider clubs, organizations, research, or internships that push you out of your comfort zone and help you develop your professional skills.
- Reviewing academic journals, attending an academic conference, or subscribing to department mailing lists or OWL-Space accounts can provide you with information on cutting edge research and the future directions of certain fields. You never know when something might spark your interest.
Your path up until this point has been about exploring the breadth of academic and co-curricular opportunities at Rice. As a junior, your focus changes. Breadth gives way to depth. Introductory courses cede to upper-level courses for your major. The beginning of your third year is a great time to sit down with your Major Advisor. Review your academic plan together. Discuss what you can do inside and outside of the classroom to take full advantage of the department’s opportunities and optimize your learning.
Junior year can also be sobering. You become more aware of the world beyond the hedges because in just two short years, you will be a part of it. You will be thinking more seriously about internships and employment, fellowships, or graduate and professional school. Just as there were advising resources available to you as a freshman to help you explore your academic options, there are resources at Rice to empower and prepare you for the journey ahead. Take advantage of the resume building and interview resources at the Center for Career Development, the fellowships and undergraduate research opportunities at the Center for Civic Leadership and Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry, and the specialized advising in the Office of Academic Advising (OAA).
Your last year at Rice can often times be the most memorable, but it can also be the most challenging in terms of juggling all of your academic and personal activities, including applications for graduate or professional schools, research, internships, or work. During this year, you are managing a lot of demands in your life as well as discovering the opportunities that exist after you transition to the next phase of your life. Senior year is a great time to reflect back on your academic career, think about the future, and prepare for your transition to the world of work. Here are a few graduation considerations:
- If you have not yet had an internship or research experience, make it happen now. Begin your search by visiting the Center for Career Development, Center for Civic Leadership, and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry.
- Be sure that all of your intended majors and minors have been properly declared. If they are not appearing on your unofficial transcript, they are not declared. Be sure to submit all declaration forms to the Office of the Registrar in a timely manner.
- Ensure the completion of all major, minor, and degree requirements. Be sure to consult your DegreeWorks electronic degree audit, meet with any major/minor faculty advisors, and check over your degree requirements for things like distribution, upper-level hours, and total credits. Use our degree requirements checklist to help.
- Thinking about going to part-time status your senior year? Be sure to seek approval from the Dean of Undergraduates before the drop deadline by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In the fall term, be sure to complete and submit the online Application for Degree. The Application for Degree will be made available online in ESTHER under Student Services and Account Information. Carefully review your degree information and confirm that everything is correct.
- In the spring term, be sure to visit the Rice Bookstore to obtain your regalia, cap, and gown and consult the Commencement website for the schedule of events and general information.
- After final exams, you will be requested to complete the Senior Exit Survey. An e-mail invitation will be sent to you with further details. You will not be able to access transcripts until this mandatory survey is completed.
- After commencement, remember to collect your diploma (available in mid-to-late July) and update any contact information on ESTHER.
- For those students who will complete degree requirements one summer or fall semester after your original matriculation class, you may request to participate in the commencement ceremony the May preceding your degree conferral date. You must fill out the Undergraduate Request to Participate in Commencement and seek approval from the Office of the Registrar, Office of Academic Advising, and your Major Advisor(s).
Remember that you have built a large network of resources, friends, and mentors here at Rice. Stay in touch with your network and be sure to maintain these personal relationships.