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Rice University's Pre-College Program - Is It Worth It?

Pre-college programs have become an increasingly popular way for high school students to enhance their college applications and prepare for the rigors of higher education. These programs offer a unique opportunity for you to experience college life, take college-level courses, and gain a competitive edge in the college admissions process. 

In this article, we will explore Rice University's Pre-College Program, examining its structure, costs, curriculum, daily schedule, eligibility, and application process. We'll also weigh the pros and cons to help you determine if this program is worth your time and effort.

What is Rice University's Pre-College Program?

Rice University's Pre-College Program is designed to give high school students such as yourself a taste of college life while helping you develop academically and personally. The program is held online, exploring a variety of subjects such as genome engineering, entrepreneurship, law, business, engineering, and so much more! 

Is Rice University’s Pre-College Program prestigious?

Rice University's Pre-College Program is highly regarded and attracts students from across the country and around the world. The program's association with Rice University, a top-ranked institution, adds to its prestige and can enhance a student's college application profile.

While there are no statistics available for this program’s acceptance rate, it’s reasonable to assume the application cycle will be competitive due to Rice’s reputation. Therefore, attending this program may help your application stand out, especially if you are applying to Rice University. However, the program is paid, so you can expect its prestige to be limited, as opposed to fully-funded pre-college programs. 

What is the program structure? 

The Rice University Pre-College Program is an online, flexible learning experience. Each course includes dynamic video lessons taught by Rice faculty and is supported by mentors. The program allows students to engage in a variety of subjects.

Students can study at their own pace, making the program accessible regardless of their location or schedule. Courses typically consist of 20 to 30 hours of instruction and activities, culminating in a capstone project that enables students to demonstrate their learning. You’ll also have received extensive feedback from your assigned mentor figure throughout the program, providing you with encouragement and direction.

Successful completion of the program awards students a Certificate of Completion from Rice University.

What are the costs of this program?

The costs of the program are solely for tuition, which totals to $1495. There are no additional fees.

For those who can require need-based aid, you can provide financial information in your application to qualify for potential scholarships.

What is the curriculum?

Rice University's Pre-College Program offers a diverse curriculum designed to cater to various academic interests. Students can explore courses in genome engineering, human physiology, and aerospace engineering, among others. Each course is crafted to provide a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter through a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical applications, ensuring students gain both depth and breadth in their chosen field.

The curriculum emphasizes interactive learning, with dynamic video lessons and engaging activities that facilitate hands-on experience. Students are encouraged to participate in discussions, complete assignments, and work on a capstone project. 

For those who aspire for an accelerated educational opportunity during the summer, especially one that reflects the rigor expected in college, this should be a great fit for you!

Who is eligible? How can I apply?

Eligibility for Rice University's Pre-College Program is primarily open to high school students (between ages of 13 and 19) who demonstrate strong academic potential and a keen interest in advanced learning. Students must submit a completed application form, including their academic transcripts and a personal statement explaining their interest in the program. Some courses may have additional prerequisites or require standardized test scores.

The application process involves several steps, starting with the submission of an online application, followed by the review of materials by the admissions committee. Applications are typically accepted on a rolling basis, but students are encouraged to apply early to secure their spot in the program. Detailed instructions and deadlines are available on the program's website – make sure to check it regularly so you have the most updated information available.


  1. You will engage in rigorous academics.  The courses offered in Rice University's Pre-College Program are designed to challenge students, providing a taste of college-level academics. This rigorous academic environment helps students develop critical thinking skills and prepares them for the demands of higher education. The curriculum covers advanced topics, ensuring that students are well-versed in their chosen fields. Additionally, being taught by experienced Rice faculty gives students access to high-quality instruction and mentorship.

  2. You’ll get a chance to network with high-achieving peers. The program attracts high-achieving students from various backgrounds, offering a unique opportunity to build a network of like-minded peers. These connections can be valuable for future academic and professional endeavors. Engaging with fellow participants allows for the exchange of ideas and collaboration on projects. Networking with students who share similar goals and aspirations can also provide motivation and support throughout their academic journey.

  3. You’ll receive mentorship from a professional.  Mentors are a fantastic resource for students with specific questions on their academic and career path. Rice’s Pre-College Programs offers mentorship as part of the experience, which helps students find inspiration, motivation and confidence to help them excel in their studies. In addition, they’ll assist in the formation of your capstone project.

  4. You’ll have a prestigious experience to write about. Completing a program at a prestigious institution like Rice University can significantly enhance a student's college application. The program's reputation can demonstrate a student's commitment to academic excellence. It also shows that the student has sought out advanced learning opportunities and succeeded in a competitive environment. This added prestige can make a college application stand out to admissions committees.


  1. The program is costly. The Rice Pre-College Program can be quite expensive, potentially putting a strain on a family's finances. While the program offers financial aid, not all students may qualify, which could limit accessibility. Families need to carefully consider whether the benefits of the program justify the financial investment.

  2. The program requires a high level of time commitment. The program requires a significant time commitment, which may conflict with other summer activities or responsibilities. Students need to be prepared to dedicate several weeks to the program, which may impact summer plans, jobs, or extracurricular activities. Balancing the program's demands with personal and family commitments can be challenging.

  3. The program is selective. The application process for the Rice Pre-College Program is competitive, and not all applicants will be accepted. This selectivity means that even well-qualified students may face rejection. The competitive nature of the program can add stress to the application process. Students need to have strong academic records and compelling personal statements to increase their chances of acceptance. However, it must be noted that acceptance into the pre-college program at Rice does not guarantee admission into its undergraduate program. 

Our Thoughts

Though the program is costly and requires a significant time commitment, its benefits, including enhanced college applications and valuable networking opportunities, make it a worthwhile investment for many students. Overall, this program is a valuable opportunity for those who can meet the eligibility requirements and manage the associated costs.

One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in doing university-level research in STEM or other subjects, which can become a topic to talk about in your college application, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Lydia is currently a junior at Harvard University, studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and Economics. In high school, she was the captain of her high school’s Academic Decathlon team and attended the Governor's School of Engineering and Technology. She aims to become a life sciences consultant after graduation. 


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