4.5 out of 5 Stars
Reed has a traditional liberal arts curriculum that is structured but not limiting. All students are required to take a freshman course, Humanities 110. Hum 110 is an overview course of ancient Rome, Greece, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. The purpose of the course is to introduce freshmen to academics at Reed while also building a common knowledge amongst all students. Students spend a large portion of their freshman and sophomore year completing distributional requirements (also known as group requirements). These requirements ensure that all students expose themselves to a variety of subjects.
Students declare their major at the end of their sophomore year. Junior year is dedicated to a more in-depth study of their discipline, whether through major requirements or divisional requirements. Many students elect to take a higher number of classes in their major during their junior year. By the end of their junior year, all students must take and pass a junior qualifying exam. The content of the exam is decided upon by the professors for that department. The purpose of the exam is to ensure that all students are in fact ready to begin their senior year. Each senior must write a senior thesis in order to graduate. The thesis is by no means a small endeavor. It counts as a year-long independent study. Most theses are around 80 pages in length. Students work with a thesis advisor to complete the project. Reed is one of only a handful of higher education institutions in the country that require a senior thesis for all students.Admissions
We have two Early Decision options, both of which are binding assuming an acceptable financial aid offer. Reed is on the Common Application, but asks that students fill out a supplement. The supplement requires the inclusion of a recent graded writing sample (research/analysis papers preferred) as well as a Why Reed essay that encourages students to engage with the reasons why Reed is a strong fit. Reed's financial aid is need-based only. We determine a family's EFC by using the FAFSA and the CSS Profile. Assuming a family has demonstrated need, Reed guarantees that their need will be met 100% with the financial aid award.Graduation Year
Reed asks its applicants to write an essay entitled "Why Reed?" as well as submit a graded writing sample. Applicants can interview with an alum, an admission counselor, or an admission intern. Reed offers only need-based financial aid and meets 100% of the demonstrated need of its students.Level
The distribution requirements are broad -- but that's the point of a liberal arts education, right? You have the opportunity as a Reed student to get very involved with a number of different departments, regardless of your major. All sorts of intellect are valued here, and if you're willing to put in the time and effort you can take really high-level classes in any department you want.
Classes are on average 15 students, and in any given semester my biggest class will have about 20 students, and my smallest about 8. Professors are incredibly accessible and personable, and students frequently find themselves in a position where they're sort of unofficially being mentored by a professor whose interests align with their own. It's a small campus, and the huge focus on intellectualism makes it such that there is always conversation among faculty and between faculty and students. The life of the mind is vibrant on campus, and it involves everyone. Professors respond incredibly positively to student interest, and are almost always willing to go far over and above the actual call of their profession in terms of spending time working with students, providing for and talking to students who aren't in their department or classes, and commenting on student papers (I've written a number of 15-page double-spaced papers on which I've received six or seven pages of single-spaced comments and notes).
The grading policy at Reed is unique. We do have real transcripts with real-life grades on them, but in general students don't see those transcripts unless they request to, and work in classes is handed back with copious comments, but no letter grade. It's pretty easy to tell roughly how you're doing in class, because professors give you an incredible amount of feedback, and de-emphasizing letter grades does amazing things for the learning environment here. Competitiveness between students is practically nonexistent; the greatest thing that can happen in class is to ask a question that gets the conference going, and not to say something "right". The focus is on learning, and not on outcomes or external opinions, and students get incredibly drawn up in the material they're learning, as opposed to getting a 4.0. For that reason, people work truly collaboratively, develop their own scholarship, and get deeply attached to their academics instead of trying to impress peers and professors, or "win" in an academic sense.
The workload is incredibly rigorous, but Reedies cope without loosing too much sleep or not having friends. Time management is essential here in order to get everything done that you have to do, but another key part of the Reed experience is figuring out exactly what it is that you need to do. By the time you hit junior year, it's pretty much impossible to complete all the work you're assigned, and there is an art to figuring out what needs to be done, and what it's okay to sacrifice. Learning how to make these decisions is a key part of the Reed education, as are learning how to prioritize and learning how to be efficient.
Study abroad opportunities are available in a number of countries. Not a ton of Reedies study abroad, largely because the reason many people come to Reed is for the unique intellectual and social environment, and leaving for part of it isn't something people always want to do. However, there are a number of very high-quality, great abroad opportunities that are utilized on a pretty regular basis, especially among language majors.Quality of Life
Living on-campus is more expensive than living off-campus, as is the case in most colleges. The food is great, there are tons of options, along with vegetarian, vegan, and allergen-free food.
The library is open from 8 a.m. - 2:30 a.m., and students are there from open to close. The facilities are great, and anything that isn't in the library can easily be delivered from surrounding schools at no cost to students.
Eastmoreland, the neighborhood Reed is in, is incredibly safe. We are an open campus, but are somewhat isolated from our community -- people regularly walk their dogs, and lots of students volunteer at local schools, but students usually spend most of their time on campus hanging out with other Reedies and studying. There are lots of fun dining and hang-out areas within 15 minutes' bike ride from Reed, which Reedies frequent as well.Admissions
Reed accepts the Common App and requires a supplement. One of the unique aspects of the supplement is the "Why Reed?" essay, which is a really important part of the application process. Because Reed is such a unique place, applications are read really holistically -- we're looking for "Reedies" -- and that essay really helps determine if the student would be a good fit for Reed.
Interviews aren't required, but they are encouraged. Often, they are done by current students working for the Admission Office. Again, they can be helpful in getting a read on a prospective student's personality, which helps determine if they're a good proto-Reedie.Level
Common Application along with a unique application that included an essay specific to the school.Level
Reed is one of the most academically rigorous schools in the country; they are not playing around. Every night you are going to have hours of homework, usually meaning hundreds of pages of reading. The professors are expecting the very best work out of you, but are also very approachable and supportive. There is a very intense core curriculum which is divided by group requirements, divisional requirements, and major requirements. By the end of your time here you will have taken classes in many disciplines all the while specializing in one major. Also, every student must create a year-long thesis as the culmination of their studies here. This thesis is considered is one of the hallmarks of the Reed program and are what make Reedies ready for the academic world. With all of these requirements, Reed prides itself on preparing students for academia, which is why Reed has one of the highest rates of student who go on to get their masters and PhDs.Quality of Life
The dorms at Reed are really nice. Many were built over 80 years ago and have a real charm to them. The Reed campus is small and safe because Reed is located in a residential neighborhood in Portland. Many students eat on campus, but there are many restaurants a walk or bus ride away. The cost of living off campus is generally cheaper than the dorms, however, students spend so much time on campus studying and socializing, that it's easier and healthier to live in a dorm sometimes.Admissions
Reed uses the common application, but also has a supplement with the simple question: 'why reed?' Based on these factors, a graded writing sample from your high school, and an interview Reed chooses who would be the best fit for our community. Reed is a very self-selective place because we try to get people from all different intellectual and cultural viewpoints. I believe I was accepted at Reed because of my interview and writing samples, since my test scores weren't the very best. However, even if we admit a higher percentage of applicants, its because people who are looking into Reed generally know what they are getting themselves into.Level
Reed academics are truly out of this world. Professors expect more than you can ever imagine out of their students, and bring as much as they can to each class. There is a general understanding and trust between professors and students that makes the classroom environment something amazing at Reed. It is true that the work load can get excessive (sometimes over 500 pages of reading a night), but this just shows how Reedies are going to Reed for the experience of learning and not necessarily to get the best grades or to make connections. Everyone here is attempting to understand as much as they possibly can from their studies here, and it is apparent in every class I've ever taken.Quality of Life
The cost of living on campus is a bit high, however, the dorms are very nice. Most freshmen get divided doubles, which I think are ideal for the first-year dorm experience. The food is fine - not great, not bad - and the community safety is always around looking out for us. Our library is probably our most utilized facility, and it is a great library indeed.Admissions
Reed uses the common application, but requires an additional "Why Reed?" essay and a graded writing sample. All of these are heavily taken into account along with the rigor and success of your high school career. Although Reed doesn't have any cut-offs for admission, it is a selective in the sense that it attracts people of a higher intellectual caliber than many other schools. At the same time, Reed doesn't want to be considered 'selective' in terms of admission percentage, but instead in that a certain type of student chooses to go to Reed and is successful. Reed admits both Regular and Early Decision - early decision being a binding decision.Level
The school requires each student take Humanities 110 (a class teaching primarily Greek and Roman history from original source documents), a year of science, and two classes in English/art/religion, social sciences, and math/language (the equivalent of one year).
Average class size is about sixteen students, with professors who are incredibly accessible. All professor's have at least two hours of office hours a week, and are also available by appointment. They know not only the names of their students, but remember details like hometown, major, and other interests. All the professors are experts in their field, and many are published in the primary journals of their discipline.
Research opportunities are good (especially in the sciences), and the career center is excellent at helping place students in research positions outside of the school if they are interested.
Reed has about 100 study abroad opportunities to places like Morocco, Germany, and China, and is often willing to work with students who are interested in studying abroad in programs that the school doesn't have immediately lined up.
Collaboration is highly encouraged among Reed students, and even classes required to be pre-med are not at all competitive. There is no grade inflation, which means that the average GPA is around a 3.0. We receive grades, but don't see them unless we request a transcript from the registrar's office.
The workload at Reed is very intense. Professors have high expectations for their students, and as a result we are given a huge amount of difficult work. That said, professors are always available to help with assignments, and the school has an excellent tutoring program to aid students who are struggling. We're worked hard here, but the school has compensated by giving us a huge number of opportunities to ask for help if we need it.Quality of Life
On campus housing at Reed is excellent. The facilities are all incredible- the library has over half a million books (a huge number for a college of this size), the dining hall is excellent, and the school has a very tight knit sense of community. We have a nuclear reactor that we use for research and a 400 MHz NMR, both of which are often used in the science departments. The neighborhood we live in is very beautiful and safe. I am very happy at Reed.Admissions
The school takes the Common Application and has two rounds of ED applications, as well as regular decision. The essay is heavily weighted, and visits to the college are encouraged. The school does not offer academic scholarships, but they have very good financial aid opportunities.Level
Common App, unique application questions, lots of financial aid, interviews highly recommendedLevel
Different departments have Divisional requirements (ie: the Natural Sciences division, or Social Sciences Division, Languages, Arts, etc), other majors have "Allied Field" requirements, meaning 6 units in another field. Within each major, there are a number of units within that department a student must complete. The total amount of units needed to graduate is 30 units, and most courses at Reed are worth one, some are worth 1.5 and others are worth 0.5. A regular full time schedule is 4 courses in a semester. More than 4.5 units is considered an overload. Less than 3 is considered an underload. Average student:faculty ratio in the classroom is 10:1, avg. class size is 15. Professors all have office hours and tend to be otherwise very accessible even outside of their office hours. Professors are committed to challenging, engaging, and educating Reed students. Noteable faculty: Mark Bedau, Crystal Williams, Peter Rock, Tim Hackenburg, Dan Reisberg, Diego Alonso, Allen Neuringer. Grading at Reed is on an A-F scale, but students are not given their grades unless they are earning below a C or they decide to ask a professor or an advisor. This way, learning isn't about grade grabbing, students improve based on sufficient detailed feedback from professors and are motivated more purely by a desire simply to learn. There are a number of study abroad programs approved by Reed from other schools, as well as Reed exchange programs with other colleges (ie: Sarah Lawrence). Current Reed students don't really deal with a competitive atmosphere because learning is a very personal and individual experience, everyone's educational program is their own.Quality of Life
It's a tough life at times, due to rigorous academics, but overall, Reed students thirst for it. They are challenged and stimulated by pulling all-nighters, or spending hours and hours pouring over books or term papers in the library. But students also have plenty of outlets such as dance parties, a pool hall, building creative projects, etc. Crime is probably lower than at other schools I would think because our school operates under and Honor Principle upon which students must make thorough decisions about whether their choices/actions are honorable. The neighborhood around campus is friendly and safe. There are plenty of housing options including women only, substance-free, and a variety of theme dorms (ie: Astro-Dorm, Japanese Culture Dorm, Mad Science!, etc.) The campus is beautiful, with over 100 species of trees, and a natural protected canyon dividing the campus in two.Admissions
In addition to the Common Application, applications also include a "Why Reed?" essay to get a feel for a student's fit at Reed. Reed offers Early Decision and Regular Decision, no Early Action. Financial aid is need based only, there are no merit-based scholarships. There are off-campus alumni or admission counselor interviews as well as on campus admission counselor interviews available, which provide the admission office with a better in-person idea of an applicant and how well they would fit at Reed. In a lot of the material that the Admission Office puts out the first thing students read is: "Reed is not for everyone". This, for some students, is daunting, for others it is intriguing, and that is why Reed's admission process is selective.Level
Reed is, I believe, one of the most intellectually intense colleges in the country. My classes have been consistently small (averaging about 12 students), with nobody coming to class unprepared, and professors expecting nothing less than the best from their students. Professors and students forge close relationships. In fact, all professors, including the president of the college, are addressed by their first names. I once emailed a professor my paper at midnight on a Sunday, and by 10 AM the next day he gave me my 10-page paper back with comments written all over it and had attached a page-and-a-half of typed comments addressing my paper point by point. As a current senior, I have spent countless hours with my thesis adviser (all seniors at Reed write theses, even in the arts and sciences), who once told me that she wished her dissertation adviser gave her as much time as Reed professors give their thesis students. There is a reason that Reed is the 3rd largest producer of PhDs overall (by percentage of students) in the country, and has produced the second largest number of Rhodes Scholars of all liberal arts colleges in the US.Quality of Life
Reed students have a tremendous amount of on-campus opportunities. As much as students complain about the food, the dining hall is run by a catering company, so it's far better than the food served at any other school I've eaten at. Many students live on campus for a few years, and on-campus living arrangement vary widely, but the dorms tend to be pretty awesome. Off-campus housing is also widely available. The library is great. Each senior gets a desk in the library to call his/her own. This helps students make themselves at home in the library while they're writing their theses. The neighborhood around Reed seems more or less unconcerned/detached from the school. I've never felt unsafe on campus, and for what Portland offers, it is a very affordable city.Admissions
Reed's application process is a very wholistic one. Reed uses the Common Application and asks for three pieces of writing: a personal statement, an essay that answers the question "Why Reed?", and a graded writing sample. Interviews are encouraged but not required. Early decision is available, and there are two rounds of ED. Reed is not need-blind, but all demonstrated financial need is met for admitted students. One of the most heavily waited elements of the Reed application process is the applicant's passion for learning for the sake of learning. As Reed does not show its students their grades, the Admission Office looks for students that are committed to the liberal arts as undergraduates and want to live the life of the mind. Because of this, Reed seeks out students that are the best fit for the college, not necessarily those with the highest GPAs and SAT scores.Level