Reed College Top Questions

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?


Stereotypes are always based on some nugget of truth, right? In Reed's case: 1. There are a billion hot men and women on campus. It's true, though, that a certain nerdy aesthetic predominates. I prefer a man in glasses and argyle, so that's fine by me! We don't have a huge number of surfer-type boys or cheerleader girls (though they exist, as well). 2. Reedies aren't stuck-up. Mostly. Well, some are, I suppose. But there are jerks everywhere. Instead, many Reedies are awkward. Many Reedies are ridiculously bright. Many Reedies are too busy to hang out with you all the time. We're sweet people, though. Just get to know us! 3. I think that, by some, Reed really would be considered a boring place. For example, it isn't uncommon to overhear conversations about Plato or cell theory or Meyerhold in Commons (the cafeteria) or at a party. Some people might call that boring, but I call it absolutely wonderful. On the other hand, one of the great marks of a Reedie is extreme interest diversification (I just pulled that term out of my ass, but it sounds good). I am as likely to participate in a conversation about Family Guy or sexual positions or Obama or The Lord of the Rings as anything else. We're coooool peooople! 4. The last is, in my opinion, the least true. You cannot. Cannot. Cannot be a burn-out and still be a Reedie. To be perfectly honest, this place is much too freaking difficult. As far as drug use itself, I'm not convinced that there are more drugs here than in any other school in the world. Reedies are curious, so perhaps that accounts for some of the use. Also, we're honest, so that accounts of the visibility. I've never done hard drugs, and I've been here for 2.5 years already. I've never even been offered anything scary. my experience, labeling Reedies as "druggie burn-out[s]" is just simply incorrect.


Pretty much, although I never had pink hair and I still don't have a tattoo, and I never did make it to a kegger in the library.


A Reedie discusses some of the stereotypes associated with Reed college and comments on their accuracy.


A student discusses some of the stereotypes associated with Reed college and comments on their accuracy.


A student discusses some of the stereotypes associated with Reed college and comments on their accuracy.


A student discusses some of the stereotypes associated with Reed College and comments on their accuracy.


-More or less true depending on your major -Not really true. The majority of Reedies do not use drugs (alcohol being a notable exception), but Reed gets a reputation for being a druggie school because Reedies are more open about drug use than students at other schools. Yes, drug use occurs, but no more than at any other college. It's just that the drug culture here is much less underground, and as a result, it's generally less seedy and dangerous. It's also more experimental. You have science majors taking acid not because they want to get "fucked up" but because they're interested in the neurochemistry that's taking place in their brains. In sum, most students don't do drugs, but the ones that do are pretty adventurous and open about it, and that's where the reputation comes from. Also Renn Fayre. -When I was a freshmen, I told a fifth-year senior I was having girl problems. He responded, "Reedies are the most awkward people you'll ever meet in your life." He was right. -Absolutely true. They're fucking brilliant to boot. -A little bit. It varies from person to person, but we do have a tendency to be snarky and sarcastic to people we consider to be ignorant. -Not really true, although I have met a couple of athiests who are assholes to Christians and other believers, but they're few and far-between. That said, Reedies are mostly non-religious, but the one's who are religious aren't evangelical about it. -Reed has a reputation for being a bastion of socialist thought, but the students today are far less politically radical than they used to be. That said, Reed is still a liberal school, so if you come here and you're open and out about being Republican, be prepared for some harassment.




Most are not completely accurate, but are based on some grain of truth. A majority of Reedies are in fact white and from middle to upper-middle class, Reed has a permissive drug culture so it is more visible than at other schools




Not in a bold-faced black and white kind of way. Reed has a strong personality. I do NOT advise anyone to go to Reed without visiting first. Intuition about Reed is like intuition about a person; you have to go with it, and you either click or you don't. Reedies are, overall, incredibly passionate, enthusiastic and intellectual. True, there are quite liberal attitudes towards things like drugs, clothing, showering etc. But it is not the case that in order to come to Reed and have a fruitfull experience, you need to be a stoner hippie. I would say, the stereotypes do come from truth, like most stereotypes. But it is important to see them as such, and recognize that hippie can mean 'happy, nature loving person' as easily as it can mean stoner, and (unfortunately) intellectual elite can also mean pretentious jerk.


The stereotypes are only somewhat accurate. Reedies are incredibly smart and the relaxed approach to discipline does lead to an availablity of drugs on campus. However, contrary to popular belief, the entire student body DOES NOT USE DRUGS. Some people do, some people don't. It is true that nudity is acceptable on campus, and it is also true that Reedies are often percieved as arrogant by the Portland community.


Some people are very social althrough we do probably have more introverts than normal. I think it’s true that everyone feels perpetually guilty for not doing more schoolwork. During finals week, a large group of kids never leave the library and yet seem really happy about it. It’s as if they finally feel like they’re doing enough studying.


There is a certain degree of truth to them.




These stereotypes do have a measure of truth to them. However, Reed is made up of all kinds of people. We don't all do drugs and we're not all intellectual masterbators, but we do all work hard.


no stereotype or other generalization can be 100% accurate. But the above at Reed come close to about 70% accurate, in 70% of the people. the other 30% and other 30% of people is pure genius, ethnically, spiritually, experientially, creatively, or otherwise.


Reed will drive you motherfucking insane A particular crowd within the student body at Reed use a whole helluva lot of drugs (mostly psychedelics and research chemicals, as well as good ol' herb, but there is also a seedy heroin and cocaine scene that you won't notice unless you look for/fall into it.) All reedies are brilliant in their own funny way, most are quite poetic, and Reed as a whole is one of the most creative places I've ever been Reed is, in fact, very, very small. If you don't like small places it can be too small. If you like them, it could be just right. Reed has a sublime little basement area with a fantastic jukebox and lots of murals that is known as the poolhall.


Well, in order to do well here, you will find yourself doing more work than you thought possible. By your junior or senior year, you will be in a serious state of panic on a regular basis. But you'll love it.


Why the fuck else would I write those as stereotypes. What kind of a question is this? Of course they aren't true, stereotypes are by nature not accurate. There are always exceptions. Who ever thought this would be a good question is fuckin stupid, how about ask "what are students at _____ college like?" Then the answer will entitle a more accurate interpretation and eclectic collection of people. You'll find friends at Reed. There are all sorts of people there, except Republicans, or african americans, because the rich white kids that go to Reed are scared to death of black people apparently, although they'll fight tooth and nail do defend everyones rights, they just won't be everyone's friends. But then again what do you expect from any college liberal. This is a dumb question.


It depends. Some people do fall under those categories, but most people are pretty laid-back about it. There is a lot of recreational drug use on campus, but not to the point where I'd consider most Reedies druggies. We are pretty liberal (as most college students are) but honestly we're pretty laid back about that too. We just believe what we believe and do what we think we ought to do. Doesn't everyone?


To a certain extent- Reedies are definitely smart and creative and Reed is quite liberal, but although there is a fair amount of drug use I don't think there is much more than you would find on any college campus. (And some people are completely sub-free.) Definitely if you are a hard core user you will not be able to keep up with the workload. And there is a lot of weird stuff that happens on campus, but it's fun and interesting!


To a minor degree... to the degree that any stereotypes accurately represent the group they over-generalize. People work hard and are passionate about what they do and Reed is a beautiful community which probably has something to do with who is part of the community, so I'm not complaining. Reed and the surrounding area is very caucasian. Not exclusively, but overwhelmingly.


not entirely (thank god!) . . . but not coming out of nowhere either. :-) even if a lot of students *do* fit this stereotype, thankfully we're not a homogeneous group. and once you look past the surface, there's more going on.


depends who your talking to, that is, no.


Yes, we can most likely go on to the grad schools of our choice. The academic demands at Reed, especially the thesis process, are excellent preparation for grad-level work. Pretension depends on the individual. Most of us are down to earth, but have excellent vocabularies, which may be confused as pretension. We are also reasonably proud of the hard work we spend days in the library at a time to accomplish. That being said: work hard, play hard. However, the people who play too hard don't last very long. Are there more hard drugs on this campus than you might expect to find at a college of this size? Probably. But the problem is far from rampant; most of the serious debauchery is reserved for Renn Fayre. Suicidal depression, minor strokes, and mental breaks have happened, yes. These are arguably pre-existing conditions.


To some degree - but you see these same stereotypes everywhere. The student body at Reed is pretty unusual, it's the perfect place for a lot of people who feel like they've never fit in. Granted Reed is perhaps one of the few places where you can be celebrated for your geekiness - which is awesome, I think.


Well, there are a lot of snotty, pretentious assholes, but I only quoted Derrida twice last week.


i don't think there is any more drug use at reed than at any other small liberal arts college, we're just more open about it. when i was a freshman i was amazed to see people do things like smoke pot out in the open instead of hidden away behind a locked door. also, people don't really get into trouble when they are caught with small quantities of drugs. they may get warned, or get a beer dumped out, but there aren't really punishments for small amounts of drug use, which i think is a good thing, even if it contributes to a our reputation as a druggie school. as for the hippie reputation, i think we have more hipsters than hippies. there isn't really a defining archetype that represents our student body.


Pretty much.


Most of us are indeed intelligent. There is a lot of weed but it is not a requirement. Some people are outspoken, but the ratio of quiet:loud is about the same as it is anywhere. There are fewer truly radical people here than the stereotype and the literature suggests; same goes for crazy (in fact I find the lack of all-out craziness a bit disappointing). Some people certainly are masochistic about their workloads ("You have a paper and a problem set due tomorrow? Well, I have two papers, the same problem set, a lab write-up, a scholarship renewal, an analysis of a Bach chorale and a French translation due. Plus I just broke up with my boyfriend. So shut up.") but this attitude is not all-prevailing, and sometimes simple commiseration does occur. There's a fair number of hippies but it's by no means the whole student body. And most of us would have been called nerds in high school, yes, but not everybody.


Our own self-imposed stereotypes are vaguely accurate but ultimately not useful. Lots of Reedies fit that description precisely, but the student body has more diversity of sub-culture than that. Most of the folks I hang out with don't prioritize drugs, are anarchists or marxists rather than 'liberals', smell funny sometimes (every now again, after a demonstration, it's the lingering pepper-spray smell...), and know how to balance being healthy and sane with good study habits. As for our oftentimes infamous reputation in Portland, it is vaguely true, as with any stereotype... coming from a lower-middle class background, I find the flaunting of wealth and privilege (especially through irresponsible drug use and are well-known 'Renn Fayre') oftentimes obnoxious, but it's the same with any similar school.


Not really. Reedies are just plain weird. And Reed isn't exactly an intellectual place either. It's a place for information cramming. If you want to learn a whole bunch of polysyllabic words and be describing absolutely nothing, then come to Reed. Better yet, take a course in semiotics. Reed will teach you how to sound smart, but not to be able to make a real contribution to the world. Ask Reedies to talk about dicent indexical sinsigns; you will get a dissertation. Ask Reedies what they've done to help the world; the room will fall speechless. Try getting a job after Reed: Look at where Reedies are employed. The Reed Department of Institutional Research even told me that companies don't like to hire Reed grads right out of college.


To varying degrees. There is a definite Reed stereotype, but very few people fit it exactly, and people that are the total opposite to it can be found somewhat frequently.


Some of these are accurate. I've met all of the above at Reed. There are probably fewer independently minded people than you would think, but the stereotypes about what it means to be independently minded are just that, so it might be hard to convince others of the truth. I've known a number drug addicts at this school, but I wouldn't say they're the norm. I'm probably just out of touch with the cream of the crop.




The vast majority of Reedies are fairly well-adjusted, academically motivated, eccentric, and friendly (if stressful) people. While there are a good number of people who fit the stereotypes, they are rarely two-dimensional caricatures.


Reed certainly is a relaxed place, with a very lax drug and alcohol policy and a very open-minded and progressive student body. (On most things, at least.) Drug use is very present on campus, although it certainly doesn't apply to everyone and there really isn't any peer pressure. Like any college campus, there is also alot of drinking, and at almost any party there will be almost definitely be alcohol, although there is no pressure to drink either.


Yes, however the student population is changing. Freshmen classes are looking more clean, are better looking, and are more "mainstream" than older Reedies.


True. We are supremely liberal in the sense that we do not have any patience for prejudice or intolerance. And we are quintessentially open-minded in that we understand that every single one of us entitled to our own point of view and that often our most strongly held convictions are fundamentally irrational. True. We are quite nerdy: you can't walk around campus without overhearing a learned conversation about some author you've never read (or that you've never even heard of), or an argument about how to carry out an organic synthesis. Indeed, most Reedies are not only clever, but devoted to their disciplines. Recreational drug use is popular, but what is understated is that heaviest users usually don't make it through, or that they tone down around the junior year. By the time you're writing your senior thesis, you're usually too busy to experiment with chemically-induced cerebral expansion, or you've had enough experience to know that there are better ways to make true intellectual progress. We do have full blown hippies. But we've got just as many future investment bankers and annoying pre-meds who live every moment in pursuit of the perfect medical school application (although this tendency, like drug use, tends to be tempered by the junior year). And if you spend any time around Reed you will eventually meet someone who works very hard simply for the love of learning, or the desire to push themselves to the limit. True. There is a great deal of social awkwardness, substantially more than elsewhere. People you've met will walk by and stare intently at an imaginary object just above your head, or right before your feet, and never say a word or squeak a smile. The person you built up the courage to shake hands with at a party is likely to remember your name for all the years you share the campus, but never speak a word to you again (indeed, they may even hide from you). But rest-assured, there are a few social prodigies who are so outgoing and good-natured that they set us straight: after four years even the quirkiest and most shy will see that it is possible to put away self-consciousness and the desire for approval, and will seem more normal. True. We are hedonistic. But who isn't out to have a good time? True. We are often irreverent. But then, how much reverence does the status quo really deserve? Finally, what is not praised enough is our sense of humor. Half of everyone you know here is ridiculously funny, if only you can wait long enough to see it come out.


1. No. Some Reedies do tons of drugs, but that holds of a subset of the students at most universities. Psychedelics are possibly more readily available than at other schools. The big difference from other schools is not the frequency of drug use, but the general attitude toward drug use. Drugs are out in the open here. A minority of my friends use drugs with any regularity. 2. This is closer to the truth, but still misses the mark. Most people have a lot of work, and so spend most of their time doing it. Most people don't get much sleep. However, the majority of students find ways to relax - student organizations, parties, etc. There is a lot to do on campus pretty much every weekend. Reedies probably work more and socialize less than students at most schools, but that comes with academic excellence.


for the most part, yes.


Though there are many "nerdy-loser" types, there are a lot of hipster kids around too, along with other less stigma-attached personality types. Everyone is addicted to cigarettes. There's a few hippies, but not very many dedicated ones. I spend all my time in the library, but a lot of people study in their rooms. People do get naked on nice days, but only four people showed up to the "no pants" dance party in the student union. There are less than 1.5 thousand kids, everyone does hook up with everyone, and then in less than three hours, everyone else knows about it. This is so true. The majority of students are quite intelligent, though a few... not so much. In terms of drugs, I live in very proximity of two floors of substance-free kids. I know a total of three of them. Not everyone does drugs, though many people do, but if you're totally may not have many friends.


Stereotypes accurate? Of course not! Regarding socioeconomic status, Reedies include a good percentage of students who do not come from rich families (myself among them), and in fact, Reed provides an astounding amount of financial support for a private school. I would say that about half receive Financial Aid of some sort. Nevertheless, there are Reedies from the upper crust, but most are well-behaved. Do Reedies respect the establishment? Well, they certainly have a strong tradition of critical thinking - no one just accepts things as they are! That is refreshing, and if you intend to be a student here, you will be challenged to tear the veneer off everything - and do so in essays and in class conferences. No wallflowers allowed! As far as geeks are concerned, that is true, more or less depending on your definition. We have Mac geeks and PC geeks! Lastly, some Reedies think they know everything. That usually lasts for one semester - then they are chastened! Seriously, Reedies study hard, and do incredible amounts of work, and after a while they do gain a degree of competence and a habit of questioning everything. It may seem blasphemy to some when a Reedie questions a well-considered author or highly-placed scientist, but this is the tradition here. By the time we graduate, we have the intellectual habits to be leaders in our fields. That's the goal here!


I would only argue against the quirky label. I think it is a terrible misnomer that trivializes the school. Yes, Reed gathers in misfits who push their boundaries, but we are pretty serious about how we do it.


Sure, there are a fair amount of dirty kids. But Reed has gotten more and more cleaned up and hipster-ed out these days. The Bug eating contest happens once a year, we don't stuff our faces with bugs all the time. There is a very relaxed policy and atmosphere concerning drugs at Reed. i think that it is best to explain this through Reed's honor principle. There aren't a whole lot of set rules at reed, but you need to be responsible for yourself and for the school. If you eat a lot of drugs, you won't be able to function successfully in the community at reed, and you especially won't be able to handle the workload. The kids that i've seen go overboard and abuse the drug policy are the kids I haven't seen around campus after Freshman year. At reed, you need to honor the honor principle and conduct yourself in a respectful and conscious manner.


There are people who do drugs, there are a good number of atheists/agnostics, and there are a few hippies. Really though, I would say the stereotypes are wrong. There are plenty of people who are totally sub free and most are not so into drugs that they can't function. I think the reason for the stereotype is that people here don't have disdain for those who do drugs, but this does not mean that we do more drugs than people at other schools. I've never even had alcohol here. As for atheists/agnostics, yeah, I think that there are a lot of those here, but I live in science themed housing and I have several dormies who actually go to church on Sundays. Our Christian groups are liberal and tolerant, but we do have them, and I think in general bigoted atheists are called out for it as often as bigoted Christians. As for hippies, personally I think there is a shortage. We have some people who like to be naked, but only a few. The college needs more hippies.


It's quite inaccurate to call Reed "Weed College." Drug use is present on campus, but it isn't at any unusual level, compared to my friends' colleges. A lot of Reed students are, truly, geniuses, but a lot of them are the more run of the mill type of genius that just genuinely works hard. In fact, it's hard to be a druggie at Reed - you'd fail out. While there are a lot of rich kids at Reed, not everyone is rich: there's a lot of financial aid available and it actually works out to be cheaper to go to Reed than to a UC for a lot of students from California. Finally, the stress thing is completely true, although you can avoid it if you're careful.


as for the hype surrounding drug use at reed, yes, much of it is justified. you can pretty much find anything here, including a few things i'd never even heard of before coming. and you can always find someone who's tried them. as damning as that may sound to some, the fact that reed's drug culture is so out in the open and upfront about itself tends to create an environment of concern and understanding, both among students and faculty, rather than one of fear. nobody's afraid to call campus security if a friend should pass out at a party because they're here to protect us, not punish us. i think many other schools could take a cue from this radical concept of taking care of your students rather than reprimanding them. as stupid as i know this will sound, if i were to drop acid for the first time, i'd rather do it here than anywhere else. i know there is no such guarantee of safety when taking drugs, but to do it in a place where people--and i mean even students and staff you've never met--will come to your aid if you should fall out of a tree and break your arm when tripping on a sunday afternoon. and for the most part, people won't look down on you for it. anything you see going on here--from weed to coke to all kinds of fun hallucinogens--is going on at every big ten school in the country, plenty of other liberal arts colleges, and of course art schools. the drug scene here is really no worse than anywhere else--it's just not underground.


In certain cases. I know many people who wouldn't call themselves intellectuals, non-believers, hippies, party animals, druggies, or anarchists. There are certainly more straight-laced workaholics here than most people would suppose. Maybe its because that although a bunch of people come expecting to party there are quite a few that come for the school's reputation for academic excellence. It's sadly kind of true that Reed's social environment is pretty awkward. Even the social butterflies among us can be dampened by the presence of so many kids that are socially inept. Most who come here become more awkward in their time at Reed, I think, although some are so shy to start with that Reed makes them more social. Reed is hard academically, although grade pressures are a bit more present that advertised. Reed's informal intellectual environment isn't as healthy or as diverse as I would like, but I am occasionally impressed and reminded of one of the reasons that I came to this school. I would love it if the students, myself included, would seek out and instigate intellectual conversations more often, but keep them polite. The proportion of non-white or male faculty is ridiculously low and the number of non-white students is equally laughable. Reed still resembles the all-white private school with a conservative curriculum that it used to be, but some of the traditional ways that have stuck around aren't necessarily bad. The lack of grade inflation and academic difficulty are a couple. I also feel that if the curriculum was expanded a little bit, it would be just about perfect. Anyway, although Reed is not without its issues, it is still extremely easy to fall in love with and can be an amazingly inspiring environment to live and work in.