Best Kept Secrets Page 8

Top 10 schools that fly under the academic radar - but shouldn't

By Explore Editor

What the students are saying about:

Reed College

Reed College

Reed College is one of the most unusual schools in the country, a fact that is reflected in the prevalent stereotypes about its student population. “Reed is a school full of hardworking hippies who do a lot of drugs, sleep very little, and are all bizarre individuals in some respect,” writes a freshman when reflecting on how the outside world views his college. While these tags don't accurately describe each individual student, most agree that pretty much everyone at Reed is interesting and unique - and most importantly, extraordinarily bright. “Once at a friend’s house I met a Reedie who grew up with his dad in a teepee," writes a recent alum. "This sort of experience isn’t that uncommon. In addition, there are all sorts of student groups building and fixing bikes, brewing beer, fire dancing, ‘buildering’ (aka climbing buildings as well as [taking] outdoor trips), planning a Cascadian revolution, you name it.” No matter how different or quirky, or how varied their interests, Reedies are united by their self-professed “weirdness,” curiosity, and intellectual fervor. Especially their intellectual fervor. There are no two ways about it: Reed is heaven for the academically obsessed. There are few other colleges in the country, Ivy League included, where the bar for academic excellence is set so high, and where students are as committed to meeting those standards. “Not studying is not an option," explains one student who claims to hit the books a minimum of five hours a day. "Not studying enough is also not an option. The workload and academic expectations are enormous - prepare for the onslaught or you WILL be crushed. No, really.” Students often cite reading assignments topping 300 pages a night, 20-page papers, and the “stress culture” that these rigorous demands breed. "Do not go to Reed if you do not want to push yourself to learn, and if you are not enthused by reading, by writing long papers, and by discussing things in class,” writes one junior. The workload may often seem overwhelming, and it probably is, but students are bolstered by their professors, who treat them as peers and insist that students refer to them on a first-name basis. “[My professors] know who I date, they know how I really feel about those people,” writes a junior majoring in religion. “They know my strengths and my weaknesses and whether I am, at any given moment, strong, weak, or falling apart.” Reed’s Honor Principle, which governs every aspect of Reed life and enables the administration to take more of a hands-off approach to governing the student body. A sociology major explains: “Instead of having a long series of penal codes and regulations, we have the Honor Principle. Basically, it asks that students be considerate. Reedies are to consider their actions and not do anything which may bother or harm another. The campus is pretty free of litter. People rarely cheat on tests, even when professors allow us to take them home and do them on our own. Reedies will follow the time limit, not use notes, etc.” Reed a welcome sanctuary from the outside world. But, as one student writes, “Reed will drive you crazy. If it doesn't, you didn't do it right. It's small, it's intense, and it's lovely. It's a haven for displaced and disenchanted intellectuals and we like it that way.”