Reed College Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?




Amazing, people are too smart here.


Academics are excellent, lots of personal attention from professors, superb student colleagues.


Demanding but rewarding


Favorite classes: Sculpture, Twentieth Century Experimental Theatre, Hum 220, Costume Design and Yoga. Least favorite classes: Biology and Latin...but only because I'm really not very good at them, which makes me sad. All the stuff you hear about insane amounts of work is true. Def.def.def. true. Of course, it all depends on the classes you're taking (type and number). I like to push myself, so I often take an overload. That means, of course, that I'm really not allowed to complain when I have to pull all-nighters (or consecutive all-nighters). I think that the easiest way to explain academics at Reed is to say that if you don't like studying, writing, researching, reading, you should not come to Reed. Really. Because if you don't enjoy it, you won't make it. For most Reedies, it isn't about academics itself. We're here because we're curious and we want to learn as much as we can about the world around us (hence the fact that we don't even see our grades unless we ask for them). In that way, Reed is more intellectual than any other college I know. Sweeeeeeeet.


If you would rather take a back seat in college, don't bother going to Reed, because there aren't any. The classes are small (read: tiny) and you will be called on. Participation is inevitable. Guaranteed. Students love to play a more intellectualized version of yo' mamma, trying to one up eachother with their insights into the assigned reading. Professors are all called by their first name. If you are a poli sci major expect to delve into everything from Marx to Samuel Huntington to (ugh) Al Gore. Contrary to popular belief, there ARE grades at Reed -- however, they are not given to you unless you ask. This is the danger. Many Reedies wait until applying to grad school before finding out their GPAs. Bad idea. (Instead of grades on individual assignments you get comments from the professor.)


General overview: Academics at Reed are stellar. Be prepared to work your ass off; it'll be worth it. Your professor will know your name (unless he's old and senile, like Joe Bob), and you will know his or her first name/nickname (e.g., Joe Bob). Class participation is mandatory. If you don't like talking about your schoolwork outside of class, don't come here. If reading isn't your thing, don't bother applying (unless you're a math or science major) because you will hate it here. My experience: I've struggled here, and I considered myself a smart guy in high school. I've been on academic probation once and official warning twice. I've failed a class, and I still consider myself a smart guy. If I weren't a Psych major, I would have flunked out by now. People give Psych majors a hard time because they have "less work" than other majors, which is somewhat true: Psychology journal articles generally have fewer pages of reading and some of the profs assign shorter papers, but there's just as much time and critical thinking involved. A lot of the shit Psych majors get from other students is a result of academic dick-measuring, which happens A LOT at Reed. "Oh, you have 200 pages of reading to do? Well I have 300 pages of reading AND a 17-page paper due on Friday!" I have it better off though, because the Psych department has the most helpful professors on campus. I highly recommend taking "Thinking" with Dan Reisberg before he retires. The math department is also rad. I was almost a math major, and my favorite class ever continues to be Intro to Number Theory with Jamie Pommersheim. If you're into math, take a class with Jamie before you leave here. He's awesome.


The academics at Reed are great. They will totally kick your ass. We have small classes, so the teachers learn the names of students in their departments. Most people, faculty and students alike, really care about academics. It's what we're here for, right?


If you receive joy from academics, Reed is about the most joyful place you can be. Students really push themselves and each other: not from some shallow, grade-grubbing, med-school directed hysteria, but rather because they get satisfaction from learning and understanding. Students put in the work not only because they know professors expect a high quality of work from them, but also because they demand a high quality of work from themselves. Learning is an important and serious matter, so learn all you can, but why not enjoy yourself and think creatively while you are at it. Conference style is the dominant class form, allowing students to put as much thought and energy into a lesson as they want: Luckily students do put in the energy and the flow of ideas is normally brilliant and stimulating


Academics are great!... i loved all the classes I took and the professors were amazing. Definitely the best thing of Reed.


Academics are intense. At the same time, they are what you make of them. 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. Class participation is important, plus more fun, and the professors really engage with their students. I was startled by the fact that all of the professors expect you to call them by their first names. But the thing is, you're not a baby, and you will never be babied. You are spending the money, so make the most of it, immerse yourself in your classes and relate to your professors with respect but humanity. they are not scary intellectual robots! I love it like this, at the end of the year we end up having dinner at professor's houses. I plan to email my advisor over my break, things like that make it worthwhile to me.


Academics are TOUGH. In high school I was a smart student; AP, IB, national honors, etc. However, there have been classes at Reed where I studied as much as I could (5-6 hours a day for one class, every day) and steal feared not passing. However, there are a lot of support networks to help you out. There are almost always student tutors in the DoJo building to help you through tough problem sets. Profs are incredibly helpful. Plus, the difficulty ends up building community where groups of students frequently work together on nightly homework. I think anyone ends up liking what they spend the most time on because it sort of becomes a part of them. At Reed, this is your major. People frequently have a lot of pride in their major and the amount of work students in their department accomplish.


Not only do all my professors know me by name (ha! that question surprised me initially until I remembered that some students go to big, impersonal universities where the profs are too busy to care about your learning), they know my personality, they know my quirks, they know when I've studied my ass off and put effort into a project. The students who do well in their classes study ALL the time. It is notable that the social scene at Reed revolves around the library. It is true, through and through. The students are not competitive with one another. We don't get report cards (though you can ask your advisor to see your grades) and the emphasis is not on the stamp-of-approval marking your learning but on the fact that there is always more to know.


There probably isn't another place in the world that puts so much care into their undergraduate program.


Reed is probably best known for its academics. We are treated as adults and not merely students. The work load can be rather intimidating and the level of inspection is quite high. If you're not ready to work hard, then you're not ready to be at Reed. Historically, Reed grades are not given to students. They can be acquired, but many students choose not to see them. The pursuit of knowledge is the end, not the grade. In anycase, if you're doing you're best what's the difference what your grades are?


Reedies start their college education with Reed's famous Humanities 110: Intro to Greece and Rome course. The course is based on the classical foundations of Western society and is lectured by many professors and absorbed through student-group discussion in Reed's hallmark conference-style class. My prof/conference leader, Dr. Pancho Savery, is one of very few (if any other) black American profs at Reed. His lecture for the course, "Does Your Blonde Hair Have Black Roots?" is a stirring and somewhat controversial look at Ancient Egypt and its contributions to Greek, Roman, and contemporary Western societies. His lecture, ignored by the administration and faculty but ovated by the student body for as long as he has been giving it, hits on the biggest beauty or flaw (depending on opinion) of Reed's academic philosophy. That is, Reed education is old-fashioned. By old-fashioned, I mean conservative, impractical, Ivory Tower programs that strive for the perfection of "learning for the sake of knowledge" in the pure, armchair, dead white guy use of the phrase. The college persists in turning every Reed student into a scholar of his or her archaic discipline (classics, Latin, Chinese, physics, religion...) and produces a singularly competent academician, but rarely ever (and even more rarely without graduate school) someone capable of having a lovable, practical career doing anything but sitting at a big desk and reading or writing essays. My archaic discipline, when I stumbled in to find no Education, no Child Development, no Environmental Studies, and no International Relations, was Chinese Language and Literature. This meant a 3-year career (after the freshie first year) of intense language, history, anthropology, religion, and literature studies which I loved with a fierce passion that can only come of doing something entirely selfish and short-sighted. My department was irresistibly small - 4 during my sophomore year - with 3 fantastically great professors (Hyong Rhew, Korean; Alexei Ditter, European-American; and Jing Jiang, Chinese) with a great love and fascination for the classes they taught. My favorite class at Reed was an independent study, with Prof. Rhew and one other fellow Chinese major, of Tang poetry, in which I read, studied, memorized and wrote classical Tang poetry in Chinese. The end of my Reed career came when I realized I could no more make a lucrative and satisfying career with a BA in Chinese literature in this increasingly unstable society than I could eating dirt and living rent-free. My solution was to do something I considered much more practical and rewarding and to transfer schools, change majors, and enter the much more affordable California state school system by being an Environmental Resources Engineer at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. This, I thought, would help me personally (even if I didn't make any money, I could learn to make food out of dirt) and help the communities I care about at the same time. (As a water engineering specialist, I would be able to help not only preserve the water at my California home of Harbin Hot Springs, but also potentially improve the water condition of one or several communities in China and other parts of Asia as well.) So go to Reed only once prepared for a classical, conservative, and expensive education with amazing professors, probably to fuel only your own interests and probably get you a lot of grant money to go to grad school and do something really practical.


Academics at Reed are hard to describe. I am a religion major. I study with some of the top intellectuals in my discipline. All of them know my name and know a lot about me. Almost more than you would want your professors to know. They know who I date, they know how I really feel about those people. They know my strengths and my weaknesses and whether I am, at any given moment, strong, weak, or falling apart. They are sensitive to these concerns. Competition is mostly personal. If you are a science major, of course you're competitive because maybe you want to be a doctor. If you're a religion major or hum or something like this, you mostly compete with yourself and your demons to try and beat your own status quo. You will be overloaded with work. You will have standards set for you which are completely impossible to meet. You will (hopefully) strive to meet them anyway. Sometimes you will fall apart because you just can't. This is good. It's part of the learning process. Reed will drive you crazy.


The level of deep intellectual thought required to do well here.


Hard. Period. Professors know your name, so when you don't do well, they know who you are and they try to help you. Class participation is a must, and in the non-sciences many of the classes are student run. Not TA run, run by you. You lead the class discussion and the professor will help guide the conversation. As a science major these are the most frustrating classes: I found it hard to trust someone my age or younger to enlighten me as to the true meaning of Marx. Biochemistry is hard. Very hard. Its amazingly interesting and allows you to do lots of cool things. You end your senior year with a senior thesis. Which follows the same design of a Ph.D. dissertation. You spend 1 year writing about your subject. As a scientist, you spend a year doing research of your own design. I attempted to isolate large dense-core vesicles from the abdominal ganglion whole cell homogenate of the sea hair Aplysia, I was hoping that I may be able to discover proteins that are responsible for tethering neurotransmitter releasing vesicles to the synapse in preparation for release. Which has not been shown before (basically I'm looking for a protein that we all know exists, but no one has found). My lab partner discovered that upon stimulation of the abdominal ganglion, mRNA is actively transported within neuritis, a finding that calls into question a research lab at Yale's false findings. Furthermore, her finding implies that there may be translational machinery present in neurites. Which has never been shown. In another lab, a student showed the effects of developmental growth factors on spider embryos, using microinjections and microscopy he made some very nifty videos. In the cellular biology lab, a student disproved a paper from the the Journal of Cellular Biology (a very big journal), in which he found an instance of downstream regulation of an estrogen activated gene vital to cancer research. In the plant labs, a student used fungus to remove the toxic effects of motor oil on the environment. Another student built her very own bioreactor. Unfortunately I'm a little out of touch with the populatio biology students, but I believe one found a very interesting distrobution of newts or some such within the Reed Canyon. The point is that your research experience at Reed cannot be rivaled. Even now, I'm writing this as a form of procrastination from finishing my 60 page Thesis on the large dense-core vesicles. Next week I will then defend my thesis in front of 4 of my professors. They will ask me any question they like, about any subject they feel I should have an understanding of. And you know what? Because of the rigorous teaching at Reed, I'm excited for this oral.


Academics at Reed is very rigorous. The classes are usually small and are held conference-style, so much of the debate and learning comes from fellow students. The faculty are also very supportive and are usually available for any student should they need help. Slackers however aren't going to have a good time here. You are expected to do your work and your reading if you want to pass. The structure of each individual class/conference depends on the professor teaching it, and there isn't some uniform syllabus for all professors to adhere to.




My favorite class is Hum220, a year-long survey course of modern Europe from the French Revolution to WWII. It introduces us to really important works of literature and events in history, and the quality of discussion is rigorous. At Reed it feels like they throw us into the deep end, and constantly raise the bar so we stay there, and that we learn a lot and fast. The Psychology department is wonderful. Almost every professor I've had or gone to a lecture of is someone who I end up having a lot of respect for, and someone who is very smart and very committed to their own subject or cause, but at the same time makes themselves personally available to students interpersonally. That is, most teachers don't make any hierarchical distinction between themselves and students. They are open to genuine interactions with us. I recently went with some kids from my Intro Psychology class to a cabin that our professor built himself with his wife and other Reedies in the 70's. We drove out there in the morning, hiked for a few hours, hung out and talked, and ate an early dinner. It was wonderful.


Academics were a big part of both why I went to Reed and why I dropped out. They are very good and very traditionally limited. There are none of the more recent interdisciplinary/identity politics/post-colonial theory inspired majors that other schools with similarly "left" leaning student bodies offer. Reed officially offers independent studies, but faculty are very reluctant to approve them. I wanted to work in urban studies and agroecology, and ultimately saw no other way to pursue my interests than to find another school. That said, within my field (at Reed) of anthropology and sociology, there is an abundance of resources available. Most faculty have enough energy, diversity of interests, and respect for their students to set up classes in such a way that we can explore our own interests through flexible semester projects. If I choose to go back, I can focus on urban sustainability studies simply by the research I do and papers I write. Reed's limited academic scope can feel very constraining, but there are definitely creative ways to work around it, and plenty of support, funding, and knowledge to draw on once you figure out what you want to do.


We have wonderful professors who expect a lot from us and get to know us really well. We refer to them by their first names. They know our names. They're the best thing about this school. Unfortunately, our small size means that there aren't always a lot of options as far as classes go--and even if we offer it, it'll probably be one section every-other-year, that may or may not conflict with a major requirement. But there are always interesting things to take! People work. Hard. You're expected to study a lot. Or at least pretend to. Students talk about academic stuff *a lot*. Even non-academic stuff gets talked about in an academic way. Students are stressed out. A lot. Since we don't get told our grades, except by asking our adviser, it's not really kosher to talk about them. But students will get competitive about how many hours they spend in the library, then laugh at themselves for doing it. I'm a biochemistry and molecular biology interdisciplinary major. I love the chemistry department!! Lots of requirements, but totally doable. Don't look down on non-science majors; they work just as hard, I promise. You can't just get by without doing work in ANY class here, and they're all really academically rigorous. This education prepares you to get a PhD. And does a damned good job at it.


My professors know my name. They talk to me. I know who they are and they know who I am. They WANT to get to know me. Class participation is not common it is constant, not an option but a requirement. I love chatting about my linear algebra homework. There are few things more enjoyable than showing a fellow student how to solve in a minute a problem they've been working on for a day.


Answering the questions: Call your professor by their first name because you are both worthy individuals. My favorite class was either the Hip Hop or the Tango PE classes. My favorite academic class was probably Contact Improvisation (the most unique class I've taken) or Art History. Or all the sweet Egyptology classes I took abroad in Egypt. Least favorite was Intro Sociology with William Tudor. Students don't "study" as in memorize facts, but spend an enormous amount of time in the library reading, researching, and writing papers. In a class 6 people large, participation is expected. All of us are intellectuals and tend to converse outside of class. The lack of grades helps ebb the competitive drive, but some people are *determined* pre-med. You wouldn't expect someone who is interested in Dance or Theater to go to Reed, because the departments are small, but, after nearly transferring to dance school, I've found several reasons that keep me here and believing that my time is being well spent. The environment here is unparalleled-- certainly not by a dance school. Reed takes a very intellectual approach to both the theater and dance, and I'm certainly a better artist for it.


You are being prepared for academia at Reed. When you're done you'll know how to right a 100 page thesis, you'll be able to read 300 pages daily for classes, and you'll know how to LEARN. Professors definitely know your name. I remember freshmen year when I was in intro chem and the prof knew my name by the second week - this is in a 100+ person class. Students rock the studying here. The library is a sacred place 24 hours a day - break the silence at your own danger. Honestly though, it's not a rare thing to work all through the weekend (10-8 PM), and all through the weekday (ex: in class 9-5, studying until 11). But that's me. You will have to work your ass off, but you can definitely be a slacker - you just have to be okay with that. There is no cut-throat competition at Reed. Everyone is just in the same boat - too much work, not enough time - and there is camaraderie in that.


Academics at Reed are brutally hard and will probably make you cry at least four times each semester. But then you get to write your thesis, so that's okay. Of course, the process of writing your thesis will probably make you cry at least four times every WEEK, but it's totally worth it. I'm an English major, and while Reed does not have a gender studies program, I've been writing gender studies papers in most of my classes for over two years, and my thesis is on gender dynamics in science fiction television. The professors have been incredibly encouraging and helpful, and I've learned more than I had ever imagined was possible. Reed is a small college, so we don't have the variety of classes that larger universities offer, but I've always been able to study what interests me -- even without a gender studies program, for example, it's possible to focus on gender studies in pretty much any literature class.


Academics are, of course, the highlight of Reed. The professors are for most part magnificent, and they always know you personally. Most professors will go out of their way to meet with and help students who ask for it (and maybe some who don't). They are, on the whole, academically encouraging. That said, the work load at Reed is really unfair. It's hard to have time for much else. Occasionally the discussion is intentionally arcane. And you'd better be really, really in love with the intellectual ideal.


I love humanities 110 because I love writing papers and thinking about literature. I'm taking music theory and I find it very interesting to look at music outside of playing it (all the theory I've had before has been in connection with playing or singing). A hard science (chemistry, physics or biology) is required of all Reed students for graduation. I'm taking chemistry, which was a bad choice because I never took it in high school. Though it's supposed to be an intro class, the pace is very fast and my mathematically-challenged brain has trouble keeping up. Still, of the sciences, from what I hear the intro chem class is the most cohesive and organized. Biology students get very little homework but have killer tests and labs; the physics class switches between professors a lot and gets a LOT of homework and boring labs. Classes are small, though (at least freshman year) not as small as advertised. My professors all seem to be intelligent and I respect all of them. Quantity of feedback varies but professors are always available to talk if you want to know more about a topic.


Too fuckin' conservative! But good, nonetheless. The anthro department seems to be the most ethical department, some others are just locked away in their ivory towers. We are severely lacking in curriculum that isn't euro-centric, white, male, etc...


Reed is so academically traditional that it's a joke. Reed is more white that white bread. And then every February they have Black History Month where they play lip service to diversity, while requiring the freshmen to take Humanities 110, which is solely about the Greeks and Romans. Reed is 20 years behind on everything.


They are really intense. Everything is stressful and a prof can tell when you're bullshitting a mile away, same with other students. The professors are normally pretty friendly and accessible. I really like my Hum conference, surprisingly, because my professor is really smart. I really don't like my Religion class because we are studying things that sound interesting but are actually really boring. Definitely academics extends beyond the classroom.


All my profs know my name. My favorite class is probably Law and Economics. It's practical, applicable, and we have interesting discussions about papers and current events. People generally do the reading and have good things to say in class. Reed students have intellectual conversations outside of class, but my experience has been that these are more rare than they were at, say, my high school, because I don't see the same group of people that much. There's an ongoing debate in my hum class about whether Reed is about learning for its own sake and whether that's a good thing. My sense is that it is, but the underlying idea is that anything you do, you should do it well. And they expect you should do many things well (as shown by all the requirements).


Rigorous, rigorous, rigorous. Most professors do a great job of facilitating discussion and directing classes; class participation is an essential part of the academic atmosphere. Competition is virtually non-existent; cooperation, particularly common. Reed's de facto goal is learning for learning's sake...ironically, many Reed students are accepted into top graduate programs and employed at great positions in places across the world.


Academics at Reed are completely unparalleled. This is one of the most academically rigorous and challenging academic institutions you can attend in the country. Students are passionate and excited about their studies, investing most of their time in their work. Spending hours upon hours in the library is pretty commonplace and no one is ever considered a 'nerd' or a 'workaholic' at Reed. Professors are generally pretty awesome and office hours are fantastic. It is a small institution and so the professors can usually find time to meet with you. As far as the requirements and the core curriculum, Reed is actually very narrow and demanding. That is not to say you can't study what you want within a given department, but the number of departments overall are pretty low compared to major, much larger universities. My major complaint concerning Reed's curriculum is the lack of diversity across cultural, gender and ethnic lines. There is no African-American studies department, no Women studies, or Hispanic studies and the curriculum within the only required course, Humanities 110, is particularly euro-centric. Even with my criticisms in mind, Reed is unparalleled in its academic rigor in the programs that it DOES have and I'm pretty pleased with my studies here thus far.


Academics at Reed are very demanding and challenging, but the payoff is so, so worth the work. The feeling of being educated in the best way possible is something I never get over. I love my classes.


Every student is on a first name basis with professors. They are approachable, always willing to sit down with you (even on their lunch breaks outside eliot), and are highly motivated by their students. Reed does not impose strict research/publication requirements so the professors that get jobs at reed are the ones who love to teach and interact with their students. They are all brilliant people making sure that they pass down the knowledge they've learned at school to the next generation.


Academics are top notch. Facilities are unparalleled for an institution of this size. Undergraduates operate a research nuclear reactor. I myself have utilized 400 MHz NMR multiple times without the supervision of a faculty member. My lab alone possesses seven microscopes and three 100W burners for fluorescence microscopy. There is a confocal microscope down the hall, thermocyclers on every bench, and a fancy quantitative real-time PCR rig. In chemistry we've got a GC-MS, two infrared spectroscopes, the NMR, melting point apparati, rotovaps out the wazoo, more UV-Vis spectroscopes than I care to count, and much more. There are plenty of summer research opportunities for upperclassmen and even some underclassmen. The senior thesis is mandatory for all: in the sciences they expect us to conduct real research, obtain real data, present it professionally in written form (the Big T) and in an 3-hour oral examination. By the time you graduate, you're expected to know enough to contribute to your field i.e. you are expected to BE a biochemist or a historian, etc. I respect my thesis is advisor more than anyone I've ever met. He's one of my best friends.


The math department at Reed is truly excellent. Come to Reed if you want to struggle with the most beautiful ideas in mathematics. The curriculum is very rigorous. Expect to prove every theorem. Don't expect to get much practice computing things, or learning applications. You won't be prepared for a career in accounting, but no one comes to Reed for a career in anything. You come to Reed because you want to learn. With the exception of the economics department, which is currently experiencing growing pains, the entire academic experience is phenomenal. Expect to work harder than you've ever worked before, but also expect to be inspired by one-on-one talks with brilliant professors, have lucid conversations with other students, and read works of genius. The senior thesis is a pretty huge deal. Some students do theses that would be admissible at some graduate schools. Classes are generally small, though bigger than I expected. Twenty students would make a large class at Reed. As a result, students have great interactions with their professors.


I was (and still am) on a first name basis with all my professors. It is my impression that Reed students study every minute of every day. I sure did. Class participation (and attendance) is virtually required. There is nowhere to hide in a Reed class, and students who don't do the reading or try to get by with bullshit are usually spotted very quickly. I took a class where we read the professor's forthcoming book. Our job was the become the professor and present each chapter to the class, while the professor attacked the structure of the argument. It was a fantastic course. Reed prepares students to be critical thinkers, some of us go on to grad school, others don't.


Professors know my name because I speak often in class. Students study very often... and procrastinate very often. Classes are conference based, and therefore cannot function without student participation. Students are generally not competitive because most professor, beside in math and chem etc, don't write grades on tests or essays. You have to specifically request your grades from the registrar to see them. Reed is geared toward learning for its own sake. All freshman have to take a humanities class in which we study ancient Greek and Roman cultures through literature, philosophy, art, and history. That stuff is so not useful in the "real world," but you become so cultured!!!


Academics are Reed's strength. Professors are so casual, they regularly spend time with students before and after class, helping with questions, projects, etc. I have always been able to get the time and attention I needed from my profs. They're great. Reed's education is geared for intellectuals. There's no other way to describe it. It prepares students for going on to grad school, and being leaders in their fields. The professors are world class. Reedies are expected to think big thoughts, to question accepted beliefs, and to prepare for further exploration into the major questions of the day. Graduates go on to become researchers and professors at the top of the field. My favorite classes have been "Social Psychology, Linguistics, and Cognitive Processes." The curriculum in these classes is unmatched, and Reed's conference style requires students to read and analyze the material thoroughly. As a result, the classes are intense intellectual activities, and engage you completely. Basically, if you don't participate, you're not there. So, people participate.


All my professors know my name My favorite classes have all been the very challenging ones that pertained to constructing theories, logic, and all linguistics classes but one have been geared to my interests. My least favorite class was a very elementary class that was poorly structured. My only complaint about it was that it claimed to be about linguistics and failed to be so. We study all the time. We furtively procrastinate on the internet because we are scared to not actually study. Reed students are vocal and do talk, but keep in mind, we are all undergrads and people, so our knowledge is limited and we are scared of embarrasing ourselves. Reedies avoid talking about their classes if they are not doing work for them, but all conversations take an intellectual bent. Of course we are competitive, its just that we are competing to build the best models, not to break each other.


Students spend a lot of time obsessing over work, and the most succesful students are the ones who stop complaining about hte work they have and sit down to do it. My biggest complaint about reed has to do with the grading system. I wanted to come to Reed because i was tired of the grade-grubbing competitive atmosphere of the college-prep high school I attended. I loved the idea that students are motivated at Reed by their academic curiosity and pride rather than the numerical grade they are given. Reed doesn't give you your grade report, a c or above is a satisfactory, and anything below is unsatisfactory or failing. That's what you find out from your midterm and semester reports. Professors also give you great comments. But, if you want to know your specific grades you have to ask your advisor. Now that I'm a senior, and applying to programs I need to know my grades. Looking back now, it seems odd to me that we don't receive our grades and don't quite know what the Reed gradings scale is like. I'm thankful that students are rarely competitive, and i think that a lot of that has to do with the grading system. But somehow i still wish we had better access to our grades. Reed is 100% geared towards education for its own sake rather than producing degrees to move into jobs. I love most of my classes. I know my professors really well due to the small size of conference classes. The Russian department is small, but held up by some of the most well-versed and talented professors I've had in my experience at Reed: Lena Lencek and Zhenya Bernstein. The Russian literature classes are incredibly in depth, I've learned to analyze texts at a level I couldn't imagine when I was in high school. I spend a lot of time discussing Russian lit. with other majors and non-majors outside of class. Other classes i've discussed the material outside of class, but usually it's filled with complaints about the class from other students as well. Being a Russian major has another great advantage- i was able to spend a (what turned out to be an incredibly intense but enriching) year in St. Petersburg, Russia experiencing an immersion in the Russian language and first-hand experience with the culture i've spent so much time studying. The thesis experience has been both exhilarating and crushing. It's a highly stressful project, because it is one I care so much about. Some days I have amazing breakthroughs in my research and i'm just PUMPED about what i'm writing. Other days i feel lost, or over my head in what i'm doing, but luckily my thesis advisor is able to provide me with direction and support at those times.


Academics will be most of your life at Reed. And you have to do it because you love learning and you love what you are studying because being career driven won't be enough to get you through. Love is really the only thing that will get you through it, it's a murderous amount of work. Students aren't very competitive, and everyone talks about class outside of class. Hum 110 is a great common knowledge area between students since everyone takes it... Professors are usually pretty good, though about half of the bio teachers don't do so well in larger lectures but are better one on one. Students study all the time. I might study more than sleep actually...


hell yes professors know your name. my favorite class: so far, my art history class that took us to Florence (on reed's dime!), and my freshman hum 110 conference for the great class dynamic and the best professor i have ever had (in spite of subject matter i dislike). least favorite class: spanish 212, first semester of hum 210 this year because of a bad class dynamic and one of the worst teachers i've ever had (in spite of subject matter i liked, that class was like banging my head against a wall for an hour and 20 minutes. instead of a conference, it was like playing 21 questions with the even less funny woody allen of early modern european history). how often students study: if you possess a strong work ethic, minimum 5 hours a day, often past 2 AM. if not, only slightly less or you're screwed. not studying is not an option. 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. class participation: in conference-style classes (the format of most courses at reed), class participation is very common. the idea is that everyone is there to learn from one another, and that's not possible without class participation. intellectual conversation outside of class: yes yes yes. and sometimes too much. i enjoy a good philosophical jaunt or discussion of 19th century russian lit as much as the next person. but there was a period of time last year when if i so much as heard the word "foucault" leave your mouth, you had to be thrown out of my room immediately. to this day, my room remains a "foucault-free zone." i need some humor with my serious academia. plus, i'm just really tired of foucault. competitiveness: kind of--no student actually sees their grades on anything unless they request to see them, an option the majority of students don't exercise until it's time to apply for grad school. my experience with competitiveness has more to do with my own intellectual standards for myself. the only real competitive streak regarding work is who has more of it and who is under the most pressure. my major/department: the art department. you probably should look elsewhere if you want to be a studio art major, but i really like most of the staff, the facilities are decent considering the size of the school, and projects are often more complex than basic technical training. i made a large scale installation entirely out of lollipops for my intro studio final. the art history department has some great teachers but can be a mixed bag. the emphasis is on the theoretical, which i like, but this often limits the areas of focus available to study. i would love to study near eastern art for my non-western credit, but the non-western professor specializes in china, china, and ore china. my intro art history class wasn't spectacular for the same reason: i couldn't care less about ancient greek vase painting. socializing with teachers: yes it is common here, depending on the teacher. i've had a dinners at professors' houses, and sometimes hang out with professors when i see them around. that kind of relationship of equals--as in, i am not having lunch with an authority figure so much as an interesting friend who doesn't talk down to me--is what makes the faculty great. in a way, picking a major is like joining a department. but i have encountered teachers intent on maintaining their personal distance as professionals--and i think that misses the point. academic requirements: intense. students generally only take 4 classes at a time because so much work is involved. kind of a bummer that you can't dabble in as many fields as at other schools. in order to take on a heavier course load, you have to go through a petition process. graduation requirements consist of distributional and departmental reqs, neither of which are actually all that outrageous, though i still fear taking a science course here (tough on science majors, tougher on non-science majors, and brutal on art majors). the standards of excellence, though, are incredibly high. academic rigor and serious scholarship are not taken lightly--do not come to reed if you do not want to or cannot handle intense intellectual discourse. educational emphasis: 110% on learning for the sake of learning. though reed sends out more grad students and phd-earners than almost any other liberal arts college in the nation, if that tells you anything.


The classes are traditionally very small, which means that conferences can be very intimate. The conference style classes work out so that a lot is required from each student. The quality of these classes is determined by the quality and effort of the students predominantly, as well as the way in which the conference leader (sometimes a professor, sometimes a student) directs the class. So they can be spectacular, but it doesn't always work out that way. The sciences at Reed operate differently and I don't really understand how, but everyone at Reed takes a conference at some point, even if it's only in Intro Humanities. As for the Math department, it's very traditional; proof-based and rigorous. I wanted to be a math major when I was choosing schools so that was a big part of the reason I decided to go here and I have yet to regret being a part of this department. Education at Reed is geared towards learning for its own sake; this is one stereotype that is very true. The students are a mixed bunch, however. There are plenty who ARE geared toward a specific career, but these people generally have some sort of belief that the theoretical liberal arts tradition will help more in their careers than just technical training.


The average class size at Reed is as small as it is because there are some classes with a handful of students. Though promotional materials rave about small classes and conference style learning, Reed has plenty of large lecture classes. Granted, these classes of 100-200 students might be considered small at other schools, but they are a far cry from the 13 students many of us expect to find.


Whether or not professors know your name depends entirely on the student and the professor, some do, some don't. It is frankly up to the student, though reed, yes, provides the opportunity for personal student-professor relationships. Education at reed is definitely just geared towards education for it's own sake and not towards getting a regular, non-academic job (at least in most major areas).