Help! I'm a New or Returning Student

Dear New Undergraduates and Graduate Students,

Welcome to Rice! Your computer is going to be an important tool in your college experience used for everything from completing homework assignments to taking notes in class to keeping in touch with friends from home. Rice’s Office of Information Technology provides computing services such as printers, computer labs, technical troubleshooting, and offering advice.

Note to graduate students: Most of the following advice and listed resources applies to you as well. However, be sure to check with your advisor and department about other resources and recommendations.

Tech Prep Graphic

Tech Prep for Rice

What type of computer do I need?

Rice doesn’t require you to bring a specific type of computer, so base your decision on how comfortable you are working with a computer and its operating system. Be sure your computer’s operating system is current with the latest updates and patches plus anti-virus software installed.

Laptops vs. Desktops?

Your decision, but a laptop might be more convenient for a student’s lifestyle of taking notes in class, working with a study group in the library, or binge watching shows in bed on the weekends. Sometimes students have both and prefer the larger desktop monitor when studying in their room.

Purchasing Advice and Discounts

If you are buying a new computer or software, these resources might be helpful:

Should I bring a printer?

You don’t have to bring a printer. A past survey showed that about half of Rice undergraduates brought their own printer for convenience. Often roommates share the expense of a printer, just like a minifridge. If you bring a printer, be aware that the Rice network does not support wireless printers so you will need a cable to connect your printer to your computer.

If you don’t bring a printer, you can print in your college computer lab, other campus labs, and Fondren library for a small fee. Printing costs 7 cents per page for black and white and 35 cents per page for color. Posters and architecture/engineering plots can be printed for about $3 per linear foot. Printing charges are included in your monthly bill from the Cashier’s Office.

Campus Resources

Computer Labs

Each college has a small computer lab with a printer, but larger labs are scattered across campus; in fact, some of your classes may be taught in computer classrooms.  Computers in labs have standard programs (word processor, spreadsheet, and web browsers) installed. If a course requires a special software program, you can find it installed on lab computers or might be able to purchase it at a discount.

Rice Email

Undergraduate student email is managed externally through Rice Google mail. Once you receive your Rice student ID number, you can set up your Rice email account. Official communication from the university will be sent only to this account so be sure to monitor it (or forward to another email account). Learn more at

Graduate student email is managed through Ricemail, an internal campus mail system (, due to the sensitive university data graduate students might handle. The university will use your email address for official communications. Your NetID and Rice Google password provide access to your Rice Google Apps for Education (GAE), including university calendars and Google Drive. Google Mail is not part of the GAE for Rice faculty, staff, and graduate students because Google stores messages on external servers, not deemed secure for research and other confidential Rice data. If your role as a graduate student does not require handling sensitive university data and you decide to forward your Ricemail to a non-secure external account, instructions can be found in

Email alert: No one at Rice will ever ask you to verify your NetID account or ask for your password, student number, credit card information or other personal details by email. These emails are scams, known as phishing. Hackers can make messages really look like they are from Rice so be careful. If you are unsure about a message, contact the Help Desk. If you replied to a phishing message, contact the Help Desk immediately to reset your password.  

OIT Help Desk

The Help Desk is a free service available to assist with lost data, crashed computers, network problems, and virus infections. Contact the Help Desk if you need computer assistance or advice. 

  • 713-348-HELP (4357)
  • 9 am - 5 pm, Monday - Friday (except holidays)
  • Mudd Lab 103 (Summer walk-in hours: 10 am - 4 pm)

College OIT Ambassadors

Undergraduates, when you arrive in the fall, you’ll meet your college’s OIT Ambassador, a resident student who can answer basic questions and refer you to OIT’s offered services. 

Tech Tips and News

Be sure to like the OIT FaceBook page to view helpful hints and event news.

Online Help

Check out our web site for more information about OIT services at

Detailed "how to" instructions can be found at

Connecting to Campus Network

You can find more instructions about connecting to the campus network online ( and can complete these steps before you arrive at Rice. Undergraduates: Each college room has a wired ethernet connection port to connect to the campus network, which is much faster and more reliable than wireless connections. Consider bringing a standard ethernet 568a cable (Cat6 with RJ-45 jack) so you can plug in. Be sure to buy a long, 25-foot cable so you have flexibility in arranging your room and note that laptops might require an ethernet adapter.

File Storage and Sharing

Each undergraduate at Rice has several options for storing files including 2 GB private storage space on the secure, internal Rice network and unlimited space on Rice Google Drive for email and files. You can share files via Rice Google Drive or Box. Also Microsoft’s OneDrive is Office 365’s cloud storage and file sharing application. For more details, see Storage Options for Undergraduates.