Reed is not your typical college.
Fourteen hundred undergraduates share the Reed College experience each year. Located walking or biking distance from downtown Portland, Reed is home to students who are very serious about intellectual inquiry.
You may have heard some things about Reed: its students are quirky (yes); marijuana is rampant (among some students, not all), and it’s a place for students who want to go into academia (75% of students go on to earn a higher degree; 25% earn a Ph.D.).
Students considering Reed should visit before they make their decision to attend. The student culture is pervasive here in a different way than at most colleges.
Students live by an unwritten, organic, much-debated and amended Honor Code. Reedies have ongoing, deep and intellectual conversations via graffiti, often in bathroom stalls, but sometimes just on the walls. And the Scrounge Table offers students who can’t afford or don’t want to pay for a meal plan an opportunity to pick leftovers from other students’ plates once they are done. [While I completely support steps to curb wasted food, I read this article and wondered whether Reed was doing students a disservice by not teaching them that this practice may not be something that the outside world looks favorably upon.]
The students I met were smart and engaged in the Reed community. One talked about “full contact human chess,” an annual tradition during Renn Fayre. When I asked him how many people at Reed play chess, he looked at me as if it hadn’t occurred to him that everyone doesn’t know how to play chess.
There is very little grade inflation at Reed, and students receive detailed feedback from professors throughout the semester about their work. While they do receive grades, most students don’t check obsessively and many don’t know their GPA until they graduate. All students must complete a senior thesis, and those who double major must complete two (it’s rare).
The Mill is the second largest comic book reading room on west coast. There are no varsity sports at Reed and no merit aid. All financial aid – and about half the students receive some form of financial aid – is need-based.
This review may appear to have more opinion than I typically post when I visit colleges. Having been accepted to Reed when I was in high school [I did not attend], and having visited recently, I want to provide information in a non-judgmental way that is useful to you. Reed is definitely a different place where individualism is appreciated, encouraged and enhanced. About 90% of freshmen return each year; those who don’t return may not have felt it was a good personal fit for them.
Reed has a beautiful 26-acre nature preserve called The Canyon, which students use for research and recreation. You can see all of my pictures from my visit to Reed here.