report card

This Houston school makes the grade as one of the nation’s best private colleges for the value

Rice University is a class act, according to the new ranking. Photo via Rice.edu

As bastion of higher learning and innovation, Rice University has racked up no shortage of accolades and appearances on "best-of" lists.

Now, a new report casts Houston's "Ivy League of the South" as a top academic institution for the dollar.

In a recent ranking, The Princeton Review declares Rice No. 10 on the list for the best value among the country's private colleges — the sole private school in the Lone Star State to make the list.

Rice University offers a top-notch "level of prestige," that, when combined with a similar "level of support provided by the university" and the "support of the residential college system," makes for "an ideal environment," the report notes. Called an "amazing place for students because of how much professors care about teaching undergraduates," Rice boasts "the happiest students in the United States," the report adds.

Another Houston school appears on the report: The University of Houston claims the No. 44 spot on the list for best value among public colleges. Not surprisingly, the University of Texas' flagship campus in Austin comes it an No. 9 for best public school value.

Elsewhere in the state, Texas A&M University in College Station appears at No. 14 on the list for best value among public colleges, while the University of Texas at Dallas lands at No. 40.

The University of California, Berkeley tops the list of the best public colleges for value, while Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, scores the same ranking among private colleges.

Princeton Review's ratings are based on analyses of more than 40 data points, including academic offerings, cost/financial aid, career placement services, graduation rates, and student debt, as well as alumni salary levels and job satisfaction.

Of more than 650 schools The Princeton Review surveyed this year, 209 made the overall Best Value Colleges list for 2021, they say.

A timely report, indeed, as the average student loan debt in Texas approaches $33,000.

"The colleges that we designate as our 'Best Values' this year are truly a select group. They comprise only about 1.2 percent of the four-year undergraduate institutions in the U.S.," Rob Franek, editor-in-chief of The Princeton Review, says in a news release. "These exceptional schools differ in many ways, yet they are alike in that all offer outstanding academics and excellent career services. As important to today's college applicants and their parents: These colleges have a comparatively low sticker price and/or generous financial aid offerings."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Houston innovators podcast episode 140

What Houston can expect from its rising innovation district

Sam Dike of Rice Management Company joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to discuss the past, present, and future of Houston's rising Ion Innovation District. Photo via rice.edu

Last month, the Ion Houston welcomed in the greater Houston community to showcase the programs and companies operating within the Ion Innovation District — and the week-long Ion Activation Festival spotlighted just the beginning.

The rising district — anchored by the Ion — is a 16-acre project in Midtown Houston owned and operated by Rice Management Company, an organization focused on managing Rice University's $8.1 billion endowment.

"We're chiefly responsible for stewarding the university's endowment and generating returns to support the academic mission of the university," says Samuel Dike, manager of strategic initiatives at RMC, on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "Part of those returns go to support student scholarships and student success — as well as many of the other academic programs."

"The university sees a dual purpose behind the investing," Dike continues, in addition to focusing on generating returns, RMC's mission is "also to be a valuable partner in Houston's ecosystem and pushing Houston as a global 21st century city."

RMC saw an opportunity a few years back to make an investment in Houston's nascent innovation and tech ecosystem, and announced the plans for the Ion, a 266,000-square-foot innovation hub in an renovated and rehabilitated Sears.

"In some ways innovation is not necessarily about creating something completely new — it's oftentimes building upon something that exists and making it better," Dike says. "I think that's what we've done with the building itself.

"We took something that had really strong bones and a strong identity here in Houston," he continues, "and we did something that's often atypical in Houston and preserved and repurposed it — not an easy logistical or financial decision to make, but we believed it was the best for Houston and for the project."

Now, the Ion District includes the Ion as the anchor, as well as Greentown Houston, which moved into a 40,000-square-foot space in the former Fiesta Mart building, just down the street. While RMC has announced a few other initiatives, the next construction project to be delivered is a 1,500-space parking garage that will serve the district.

"It is not your typical parking garage," Dike says. "The garage will feature a vegetated facade with ground-floor retail and gallery space, as well as EV charging spaces and spaces to feature display spaces for future tech. It's going to be a nice addition to the district."

The new garage will free up surface parking lots that then will be freed up for future construction projects, Dike explains.

He shares more about the past, present, and future of the Ion and the district as a whole on the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.



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