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
Common Application along with a unique application that included an essay specific to the school.Level
Every student has to take the Humanities 110 course, which looks at ancient Mediterranean culture (Greece, Egypt, Rome, Persia) from several different angles - art, art history, religion, literature, history and so on. Then, each student has to fulfill two credits in the group requirements. Group A is literature, philosophy, religion and the arts, Group B is humanities and social science, Group C is physical science, Group D is math, logic, foreign language, or linguistics and Group X is two credits in a single department outside your major.
Academic advising is done by professors, usually in your major department, so they are really helpful in suggesting classes you might want to take. You do have to put in the time and effort of looking at the class schedule and figuring out what you want as well though, as with most of your Reed experience.
Classes are on the small side, which means you have more opportunities to talk in class, and allows for long and interesting discussions. While it depends on the professor's teaching style, usually discussion does not always go back to the professor. Instead, students will discuss with their peers, with occasional feedback from the professor if the students are on a tangential track.
Professors are extremely accessible - office hours, e-mail, drop-in, making appointments after class.
While Reed is competitive, it is not competitive due to grades. Instead of grades, we receive in-depth comments on the work we do for our professors, which is infinitely more helpful.Quality of Life
Housing is literally a lottery at Reed. Depending on your cohort number at the Residence Life lottery each year, you can end up in really nice new dorms, okay apartments, okay dorms, or old dorms with strange character.
Living on campus means that you build a great relationship with our Community Safety Officers, who let you into your dorm when you're locked out, come check on you if your fire alarm goes off, look into noise complaints, and generally take care of the student body. A lot of them were once part of the student body, and so they understand the general vibe of campus.
The cost of living in Portland is quite affordable. Eating out is not prohibitively expensive at most restauratns here.
The dining hall is catered by Bon Appetit, who has tried to do their best to cater to the student body. They are trying to use a lot of locally produced and bought foods, and they always have a vegetarian or vegan option. The small Bon Appetit cafe on campus purchases gelato from a store owned by a Reedie.
The library is the Reedie's second home. Hauser Fundome is where work always gets done. It is treated as a sanctuary. It is always quiet, and talking above a quiet whisper is frowned upon. It's a great resources, and is part of the SUMMIT consortium, which means you can borrow books from libraries of most Pacific Northwest colleges. You can also request books and articles through the InterLibrary Loan, which is a hugely useful resources.Admissions
The admission process is fairly simple. The student has to fill out the Common Application, FAFSA, CSS PROFILE, and the Reed supplement. The Reed supplement includes a "Why Reed?" essay, which can be anything you want describing why you want to come to Reed. Students have handed in regular essays, poetry, collages, etc. The Reed supplement also includes a writing sample, where you hand in a piece of work that has been marked by a teacher at your high school, to show an example of excellent work you've done. It's a quite straightfoward application process. You also have the choice of having an interview, which can be done by counselors and interns on campus, or in your area either by a travelling counselor, or alumni. I applied regular decision, but there are also two Early Decision deadlines.Level
Since this is a liberal arts college, there are requirements to be fulfilled in each of the broader divisions. There are also major requirements that differ from department to department. In my case, all linguistics majors have to take at least 7 linguistics courses and 4 courses in an allied field. Then as a junior, everyone must pass his/her qualifying exam to become a senior in a particular department. Lastly as a senior, one writes a thesis. This is a requirement for all Reedies in order to graduate. The average class size is 15 and professors are very accessible. Every professor holds office hours each week and professors here really encourage students to come visit them during their office hours. There are not very many research opportunities on campus outside of the natural sciences, but that's because professors at Reed are here because they want to teach. Teaching is their priority, and some professors are teaching 3 classes and thesis advising 5 seniors and also are academic advisors to more students, while being the head of the department and having to take care of logistical things. That leaves no time for research. Reedies are competitive but not regarding grades. We do not talk about grades here; that's not what is important. What is important is how much we learn from the classes. Since we don't compete with grades, we compete with silly things like how little sleep we got the night before and how many nights we've been kicked out of the library at the closing hour. We are graded on our work but we do not see our grades unless we request to see them. We receive lots of written feedback and that's how we know how we are doing in the class, not by a letter or a percentage. Studying abroad is encouraged but for certain majors it is more difficult to fit it in and graduate in 4 years. There are ~40 Reed-approved programs through which people can study off-campus and have their financial aid transfer to the program fees, and people are also allowed to find their own programs and petition to get credit for their work, but in the latter case financial aid does not transfer. We work pretty darn hard here. The workload is serious. However, just like at any other school, it is what you want it to be. If you don't want to do your readings and do the bare minimum, then the workload isn't huge. If you want to close-read every page that is assigned, the workload is beyond manageable. Each Reedie works toward his/her own academic goals and decides for him/herself how much work will be involved.Quality of Life
Housing is fantastic. Even the less popular dorms allow people to have plenty of space and storage, and normally a kitchen. Freshmen are normally placed in divided doubles, which means that there are really two rooms inside one and there is a door between the two. Cost of living in Portland is less than in places like Los Angeles and Seattle. We have no sales tax. :D The campus is gorgeous with lots of trees and lawn space. It's magical in the springtime with all the flowers blooming and the leaves coming back. We only have one library but it has a good supply of books we need, and when it does not have the books students are looking for, we have a inter-college borrowing system that allows students to order just about any book. Our cafeteria is run by Bon Appetit, which does a pretty good job trying to give us good, balance meals with fresh ingredients. And they compost too. We are in a very safe, wealthy neighborhood, and the people from the neighborhood walk their dogs on our campus. Crime is not a huge problem here.Admissions
Reed accepts the Common Application plus the Reed supplement which includes an analytical writing sample and the "Why Reed" essay. Interviews are optional. There are two rounds of early decision as well as regular decision. Financial aid is completely need-based. There are no merit scholarships.Level
Reed's academics are rigorous, but awesome. There are a lot of requirements---the curriculum is quite conservative, but professors encourage thinking outside of the box. If you come into Reed knowing what you want to study, you will have a lot of room to do other things. If you don't know what to study right away, it's okay... there is just less room for elective-type classes. Academic advising is usually helpful and the professors know what they are doing. Classes are small; usually 12-15 people and no more than 24. Research opportunities for Humanities, Social Science and Natural Science majors alike during the summer. Although Reed's student's are bright, they are not competitive. In fact, we are not shown our grades unless a special request is made. This is to dissuade students from feeling competitive with one another and also for professors to give qualitative responses to student's work. The workload is difficult, but manageable. An average night for me this past semester was about 150-200 pages of reading a night, but I still managed to have two jobs, write for the student newspaper and maintain a healthy personal life.Quality of Life
Living on campus is really nice. I live in a Language House, so we have a small community with a fairly big academic focus (the Russian language). Reedies, for the most part, are happy with on-campus housing. The school provides furniture, a board plan, a kitchen in most dorms. Students are not totally outgoing here, but there is a pretty vibrant social life on campus.Admissions
Reed's admissions process is not uncommon. Reed is on the Common App and its financial aid forms are similar to those of other small liberal arts colleges (FAFSA and the CSS profile). I think the most distinct part of Reed Admission is the interview. Reed's interviewers are interesting and most often warm. They try to have more of a conversation than a formal interview and the interviewers are very down to earth about the process.Level