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

 
 

Vanessa Wyche, director of the Johnson Space Center, gave the keynote address at this year's State of Space event. Screenshot via houston.org

Is the Space City poised to continue its reign as an innovative hub for space exploration? All signs point to yes, according to a group of experts.

The Greater Houston Partnership hosted its annual State of Space this week. The virtual event featured a keynote address from Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA Johnson Space Center, and a panel moderated by David Alexander, chair of aerospace and aviation committee at the GHP and the director of the Rice Space Institute.

The conversations focused on the space innovation activity happening in Houston, as well as an update on the industry as a whole has space commercialization continues to develop. All the speakers addressed how Houston has what it takes to remain a hub for the sector.

"The future looks very bright for Houston that we will remain a leader in Houston spaceflight," Wyche says in her address.

Here are a few other memorable moments from the event.

"Houston, I feel, is poised to be a leader. We have led in human space flight, and we will a leader in commercialization."

— Wyche says in her keynote address, which gave a thorough overview of what all NASA is working on at JSC. She calls out specifically how startups are a driving force in commercialization. JSC is working with local accelerator programs at The Ion and MassChallenge.

"These startups help us to connect to tomorrow's space innovation leaders, and gives our team the opportunity to mentor these entrepreneurs as we work to advance both our scientific and technical knowledge," she says.

"The ability to have a place where government, academia, and industry can come together and share ideas and innovation is incredibly powerful."

​— Steve Altemus, president and CEO of Intuitive Machines LLC, specifically talking about the Houston Spaceport, where Intuitive Machines has signed on as a tenant. Altemus adds that a major key to leading space commercialization is a trained workforce, which the spaceport is focused on cultivating.

"We shouldn't discount the character that Houston has from the standpoint as a great place to build a business."

— Tim Kopra, vice president of robotics and space at MDA Ltd., says, adding that Houston is a big city that feels like a small town. "We need to incentivize companies to come and stay," he says.

"Great cities — like great companies — understand that if you're still, you're probably moving backwards. ... I think Houston gets it in that regard."

— Todd May, senior vice president of science and space at KBR, says, adding that Houston realizes it needs to be on the offensive side to bring innovation to the game, positioning the city very well for the future.

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