Rice leaped forward one spot from last year's Niche ranking. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Rice University is a star student among the top colleges in the U.S.

A new ranking from education information and review platform Niche ranks Rice as the sixth best college in the country and the best in Texas, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology holding the top spot nationally. Rice’s ranking is one notch above its seventh-place showing on the list Niche released in 2021.

“We’re proud that Niche once again rates Rice not only one of the nation’s top universities, but also one of the nation’s best college values,” says Reginald DesRoches, president of Rice. “This is especially gratifying because Niche reflects the opinions of students and parents who know firsthand what outstanding education opportunities Rice continues to offer.”

Rice also appears at No. 6 on Niche’s list of the best private schools in the U.S. and at No. 7 among colleges offering the best value. Both of those rankings are the highest in Texas.

Notably for locals, the University of Houston ranks No. 5 among the Top Public Universities in Texas.

Following Rice, here are the top colleges in Texas as determined by Niche:

  • University of Texas at Austin, No. 46 in the U.S. and No. 2 in Texas. UT also ranks eighth on the list of best public colleges in the U.S. and first in Texas.
  • Texas A&M University in College Station, No. 75 in the U.S. and No. 3 in Texas.
  • Southern Methodist University in Dallas, No. 82 in the U.S. and No. 4 in Texas.
  • Trinity University in San Antonio, No. 99 in the U.S. and No. 5 in Texas.
  • Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, No. 104 in the U.S. and No. 6 in Texas.
  • Texas Tech University in Lubbock, No. 148 in the U.S. and No. 7 in Texas.
  • Baylor University in Waco, No. 172 in the U.S. and No. 8 in Texas.
  • University of Texas at Dallas, No. 220 in the U.S. and No. 9 in Texas.
  • University of Houston, No. 232 in the U.S. and No. 10 in Texas.

To create the college rankings, Niche combines data from sources such as the U.S. Department of Education with user input — reviews and ratings from current students, alumni, and parents — in an analysis of factors such as academics, campus, and value for the financial investment. The rankings compare more than 1,000 colleges and universities across the country.

“We know that choosing where to go to college is a major life decision, and we’ve always been committed to helping students and their families make their choice with as much information as possible,” says Luke Skurman, founder and CEO of Niche. “With a mix of comprehensive data and millions of reviews, our 2023 best colleges rankings are a guide to the thousands of excellent institutions across the country.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

St. John's School is ranked the No. 2 private high school in Texas. St. John's School.org

7 prestigious Houston-area high schools rank among best in Texas for 2021

report card

Several Houston-area school are among the top of their class among public and private high schools in Texas.

New rankings from education website Niche put three local institutions among the top public high schools in the state and four among the top private high schools in the state.

Carnegie Vanguard High School (in Houston ISD) leads the area best public high schools, while our prestigious St. John's School leads the private academies.

Niche ranks public high schools based on factors such as state test scores, college readiness, graduation rates, SAT/ACT scores, teacher quality, and Niche user ratings.

Meanwhile, Niche ranks private high schools based on factors like SAT/ACT scores, quality of colleges that students consider, student-teacher ratio, and Niche user ratings.

"Our 2022 rankings come at a time when so many parents are curious about the different options for their children's education, including some they may never have considered before," Luke Skurman, founder and CEO of Niche, says in a news release.

Other local schools also ranked well:

  • Top-ranked School for the Talented and Gifted (Dallas ISD).
  • Second-ranked Liberal Arts & Science Academy (Austin ISD).
  • Third-ranked School of Science and Engineering (Dallas ISD).
  • Fourth-ranked Westlake High School (Eanes ISD).
  • Fifth-ranked Carnegie Vanguard High School (Houston ISD).
  • Sixth-ranked DeBakey High School for Health Professions (Houston ISD).
  • Seventh-ranked Carroll Senior High School (Carroll ISD).
  • Eighth-ranked Westwood High School (Round Rock ISD).
  • Ninth-ranked Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (Houston ISD).
  • 10th-ranked Vandegrift High School (Leander ISD).

The top private high schools in Texas are:

  • Top-ranked St. Mark's School of Texas in Dallas.
  • Second-ranked St. John's School in Houston.
  • Third-ranked Greenhill School in Addison.
  • Fourth-ranked The Hockaday School in Dallas.
  • Fifth-ranked St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Austin.
  • Sixth-ranked The John Cooper School in The Woodlands.
  • Seventh-ranked The Awty International School in Houston.
  • Eighth-ranked Keystone School in San Antonio.
  • Ninth-ranked Cistercian Preparatory School in Irving.
  • 10th-ranked The Kincaid School in Houston.

As for the best school districts in Texas, they are:

  • Top-ranked Eanes ISD in Austin.
  • Second-ranked South Texas ISD in Mercedes.
  • Third-ranked Highland Park ISD in Dallas.
  • Fourth-ranked Carroll ISD in Southlake.
  • Fifth-ranked Coppell ISD in Coppell.
  • Sixth-ranked Lovejoy ISD in Allen.
  • Seventh-ranked Frisco ISD in Frisco.
  • Eighth-ranked Argyle ISD in Argyle.
  • Ninth-ranked Grapevine-Colleyville ISD in Grapevine.
  • 10th-ranked Allen ISD in Allen.
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This article originally ran on CultureMap.
Rice University ranks in the top 10 universities in the country, per this new report. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Annual report ranks Houston university as the best in Texas

best in class

There's something to be said for consistency. In a new report card from Niche.com, Rice University retains its No. 7 ranking among the best colleges in the U.S. and its No. 1 ranking among the best colleges in Texas.

Niche.com, which helps students and parents pick schools, relies on data from sources such as the U.S. Department of Education to compile its annual rankings, as well as reviews and ratings from current students, alumni, and parents.

Here are the top 10 schools in Niche.com's ranking of the country's best colleges:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  2. Harvard University
  3. Stanford University
  4. Yale University
  5. Princeton University
  6. Duke University
  7. Rice University
  8. Brown University
  9. University of Pennsylvania
  10. Dartmouth College

Only two of the top 10 schools — Rice and Stanford — are west of the Mississippi River.

In this year's ranking, Niche.com de-emphasized the importance of SAT and ACT scores by 50 percent. In making that decision, Niche.com cited socioeconomic and racial disparities perpetuated by standardized tests, challenges making appointments for in-person tests due to COVID-19, and a rising number of institutions adopting test-optional policies.

"Our team recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as new variants such as the delta variant arise, will continue to have an outsize impact on the college admissions process this year," Luke Skurman, founder and CEO of Niche.com, says in an August 16 news release. "We wanted to make sure our 2022 rankings reflect the current reality."

Rice is no stranger to accolades like the Niche.com ranking. It appears at No. 16 on U.S. News & World Report's most recent list of the top national universities, and at No. 16 in the most recent The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education rankings of top U.S. colleges. In both cases, Rice is the top-rated school in Texas.

On Niche.com's national list, the highest-ranked Texas school behind Rice is the University of Texas at Austin (No. 52). Meanwhile, UT holds the No. 14 spot nationally among the best colleges for student life, making it the top Texas school in that category.

Among nationally ranked schools, UT Austin is followed in Texas' top 10 by:

  • Texas A&M University in College Station, No. 80
  • Southern Methodist University in Dallas, No. 88
  • Trinity University in San Antonio, No. 96
  • Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, No. 115
  • Baylor University in Waco, No. 145
  • LeTourneau University in Longview, No. 162
  • Texas Tech University in Lubbock, No. 168
  • University of Texas at Dallas, No. 209
Rice has risen to the top again. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Rice University rises to top of Texas schools in prestigious U.S. News & World Report ranking

Head of class

Rice University continues to rise in national surveys. The latest: U.S. News & World Report's 2021 Best Colleges, released September 14, anoints Rice as the best university in Texas. The prestigious Houston school — dubbed the "Ivy League of the South" — ranks No. 16 among national universities, up one spot from last year.

This is in step with last year's U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges list, which also named Rice the best university in Texas.

The trusted report compared more than 1,400 undergraduate institutions across 17 measures of "academic quality" this year. Acknowledging the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on students and schools, the publication made several updates to its methodology, notes a release.

For 2021, U.S. News added two new metrics to measure student debt. It also increased the weight of the outcome category, which measures graduation rates, retention rates, and social mobility, and reduced the weights for standardized test scores, high school class standing, and alumni giving. And, for the very first time, the report ranks test-blind schools (those that don't require an SAT or ACT score for admission).

"The pandemic has affected students across the country, canceling commencement ceremonies and switching classes from in person to remote," said Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer, in a release. "Whether students have slightly altered their college plans or changed them entirely, it remains our mission to continue providing students and their families with the tools they need to help find the right school for them."

Now, on to the rankings. Here's how Rice scores in the prestigious report:

  • No. 6 in Best Undergraduate Teaching
  • No. 8 in Best Value Schools
  • No. 18 in Most Innovative Schools (tie)
  • No. 224 in Top Performers on Social Mobility (tie)
  • No. 19 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (tie)

For 2021, the University of Texas at Austin ranks No. 42 nationally, up a significant six spots from 2020. It's also the school's highest ranking on the report since 1985, touts a news release from the university. Among the country's public universities, UT Austin climbed four spots from the previous year, landing at No. 13.

As for Texas' other top schools, Southern Methodist University and Texas A&M University are tied at No. 66 nationwide, while Baylor University and Texas Christian University rank No. 76 and No. 80, respectively.

The lofty U.S. News & World Report ranking is just the latest in accolades for the Owls. Rice was recently named the seventh best college in the U.S. and the best college in Texas by Niche.com.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Rice University joins prestigious schools such as MIT and Harvard. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Houston university declared No. 7 in the nation and best in Texas by new study

POMP AND PRESTIGE

The Owls of Rice University have a lot to hoot about. The Houston school has been ranked as the seventh best college in the U.S. and the best college in Texas.

Niche.com's latest college rankings, released August 21, rely on U.S. Department of Education data coupled with reviews from current students, alumni, and parents to judge American colleges on 12 factors, including academics, campus, dorm life, and professors. Niche.com helps parents and students choose colleges and K-12 schools.

Last year's Niche.com list of the best colleges put Rice at No. 10, so it jumped up three spots this year.

On the new list, Rice ranks fourth among the colleges with the best professors, 10th among the colleges with the best value, and 16th among the hardest colleges to get into.

Here's Niche.com's new report card for the country's 10 best colleges:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston
  2. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  3. Stanford University, Palo Alto, California
  4. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  5. Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
  6. Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
  7. Rice University
  8. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
  9. Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
  10. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Known as the "Harvard of the South," Rice "is a premier research institution with a 300-acre campus that serves as a green oasis in the heart of Houston," Forbes noted in 2019.

In Niche.com's ranking this year, Rice earns bragging rights as the best college in Texas. Here are the state's top 10, according to Niche.com:

  1. Rice University
  2. University of Texas at Austin
  3. Texas A&M University, College Station
  4. Southern Methodist University, Dallas
  5. Trinity University, San Antonio
  6. Texas Christian University, Fort Worth
  7. Baylor University, Waco
  8. LeTourneau University, Longview
  9. Texas Tech University, Lubbock
  10. University of Texas at Dallas

Shortly after the Niche.com rankings came out, Rice appeared at the top of The Princeton Review's list of American colleges and universities with the overall best quality of life. Every year, The Princeton Review rates colleges and universities based on critiques submitted by students at 386 schools.

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This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston startups raise funding, secure partnerships across space, health, and sports tech

short stories

It's been a new month and a few Houston startup wrapped up November with news you may have missed.

In this roundup of short stories within Houston startups and tech, three Houston startups across health care, space, and sports tech have some news they announced recently.

Houston digital health company launches new collaboration

Koda Health has a new partner. Image via kodahealthcare.com

Houston-based Koda Health announced a new partnership with data analytics company, CareJourney.

"This collaboration will aim to develop benchmarking data for advance care planning and end-of-life metrics," the company wrote on LinkedIn. "Koda will provide clinical and practice-based expertise to guide the construction of toolkits, dashboards, and benchmarks that improve ACP programs and end-of-life outcomes."

Koda Health announced the partnership in November..

“Beyond the checkbox of a billing code or completed advance directive, it’s important to build and measure a process that promotes thoughtful planning among patients, their care team, and their loved ones,” says Desh Mohan, MD, Koda's chief medical officer, in the post.

CareJourney was founded in 2014 in Arlington, Virginia.

"I'm hopeful next-generation quality measures will honor the patient’s voice in defining what it means to deliver high quality care, and our commitment is to measure progress on that important endeavor," noted Aneesh Chopra, CareJourney's co-founder and president.

Sports tech startup raises $500,000 pre-seed investment

BeONE Sports has created a technology to enhance athletic training. Photo via beonesports.com

Houston-founded BeONE Sports, an athlete training technology company, announced last month that it closed an oversubscribed round of pre-seed funding. The company announced the raise on its social media pages that the round included $500,000 invested.

Earlier in November, BeONE Sports completed its participation in CodeLaunch DFW 2022. The company was one of six finalists in the program, which concluded with a pitch event on November 16.

Space tech company snags government contracts

Graphic via cognitive space.com

The U.S. Air Force has extended Houston-based Cognitive Space’s contract under a new TACFI, Tactical Funding Increase, award. According to the release, the contract "builds on Cognitive Space’s work to develop a tailored version of CNTIENT for AFRL to achieve ultimate responsiveness and optimized dynamic satellite scheduling via a cloud-based API.

The $1.2 million award follows a $1.5 million U.S. Air Force Small Business Innovation Research award that the company won in 2020 to integrate CNTIENT with commercial ground station providers in support of AFRL’s Hybrid Architecture Demonstration program.

“The TACFI award allows Cognitive Space to continue supporting AFRL’s vitally important HAD program to help deliver commercial space data to the warfighter,” says Guy de Carufel, the company’s founder and CEO, in the releasee. “CNTIENT’s tailored analytics platform will enable HAD and the GLUE platform to integrate modern statistical approaches to optimize mission planning, data collection, and latency estimation.”

Houston airport powers up new gaming lounge for bored and weary travelers

game on and wheels down

Local gamers now have a new option to while away those flight delays and passenger pickup waits at Hobby Airport.

Houston's William P. Hobby Airport is now one the first airports in the country to offer what's dubbed as the "ultimate gaming experience for travelers." The airport has launched a premium video game lounge inside the international terminal called Gameway.

That means weary, bored, or early travelers can chill in the lounge and plug into15 top-of-the-line, luxury gaming stations: six Xbox stations, five Playstation stations, four PC stations, all with the newest games on each platform. Aficionados will surely appreciate the Razer's Iskur Gaming Chairs and Kraken Headsets, along with dedicated high speed internet at each PC station.

The Gameway lounge pays homage to gaming characters, with wall accents that hark to motherboard circuits Crucial for any real gamer: plenty of sweet and savory snacks are available for purchase to fuel up on those fantasy, battle, or sporting endeavors. As for the gaming console stations, players can expect high definition screens, comfortable seating, and plenty of space for belongings.

Make video games a part of your pre-flight ritual. Photo courtesy of Gameway

This gaming addition comes just in time for the holiday rush, when travelers can expect long lines, delays, and are already planning for extended time for trips. As CultureMap previously reported, Hobby will see a big boost in travelers this season — the largest since 2019. Now, those on a long journey can plug in, decompress, and venture on virtual journeys of their own.

Texan travelers may be familiar with Gameway; the company opened its first two locations at Dallas Fort-Worth Airport. The buzzy lounge an industry wave of acclaim: Gameway was awarded Best Traveler Amenity in 2019 at the ACI-NA Awards and in 2020, voted “Most Innovative Customer Experience” at the Airport Experience Traveler Awards, per press materials.

Two new locations followed in 2021: LAX Terminal 6 and Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The first of Gameway's Ultra lounge brand opened in September at Delta's Terminal 3 in LAX.

Gaming culture is a way of life in the Bayou City , which hosts Comicpalooza, the largest pop culture festival in Texas, and is home to several e-sports teams, including the pro esports squad, the Houston Outlaws.

A delayed flight never seemed so ideal for gamers flying out of Hobby. Photo courtesy of Gameway

“Gameway is the real reason to get to the airport early,” said Co-Founder Jordan Walbridge in a statement. “Our mission is to upgrade the typical wait-at-the-gate experience with a new stimulating, entertaining option for travelers of all ages.”

Here's guessing Hobby might just see an increase in missed or late flight arrivals — as travelers simply must beat those big bosses, solve puzzles, or win sports matches in the lounge.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.