Reed College Top Questions

What is your overall opinion of this school?


The best thing about Reed is the sense of freedom and individuality that the student body are allowed to express on campus. It is such a special and unique environment. However to this end, it does seem very detached from the wider community. Students talk about the "bubble" effect at Reed with a lot of pride, which I think maybe a little misplaced. While I agree that is does make for a very intense and idiosyncratic experience it create a bit of tunnel vision. The campus is really homely, loads of places to hang out. There is a lot of pride amongst the Reed community. My Renn Fayre was possibly the most hectic, eventful, terrifying and wonderful three days of my life. I made out with way more people than I would care to mention. Danced till I was sick. Drank too much . It is impossible to put it into words. It completely warrants all those lame turns of phrase like "impossible to put into words" and "you have to experience it for yourself".


Certainly one of my favorite things about Reed is how much Reedies love it. I have not often had the privilege of being a part of a community that is so proud of what is it capable of, that so deeply wants to be a community, and that cares so much about what being a part of that community means. Reedies have by no means universally agreed upon what our community means, and that's part of what's so wonderful about it: we take the time and spend the energy to get together and talk about what being a community means to us, and about what our responsibility is to that community, to ourselves and each other.


In my first month at Reed, I lived the unofficial motto: "atheism, communism, and free love". I had my brush with polyamory, hallucinogens, and the posting of pornography in the social room of my dorm. Four weeks was about how long it took to get me to realize that these things don't work particularly well as a lifestyle. Sure, it was fun at the time, but I paid for it in mental well-being and embarrassment. These moments allow a sort of chronicle of what we are capable of, which is useful. They make me realize that I can be truly crazy, but that I can't be crazy all the time; I must balance my weirdness with my achievements, and my sketchy run-ins with stable friends that I can trust.


One of the best things about Reed is that it presents so many opportunities. It's very expensive, and if I could change it, I'd change the tuition. But if you take advantage of all the things Reed has to offer, it's worth it. Gray Fund sponsors trips around downtown Portland, outdoor camping/activities of all sorts, and cultural trips. There are sponsored talks and subsidized concert tickets available. There's always something going on around campus and usually, it's free or next to nothing to get in. In all, I think the size of Reed is just right. Before I found Reed, I though I wanted to go to a large school. Now, I'm exceptionally glad I didn't. Reed is big enough not to feel like you're trapped, but small enough to create a tight community. With everyone bound by the Honor Principle, there's a sense of trust and good vibes around campus. I've talked to friends who went to UC Berkeley and UCLA, and they've had trouble making new friends around campus because the place is just too big. That wouldn't happen at Reed. From the very beginning, it's easy to meet new people and Reed can feel very comfortable. Incidentally, don't go to Reed if you're bothered by people asking "Where is that?" whenever you tell them where you're attending college. Reed has an extremely good reputation for the quality of students it puts out, so even if the general public doesn't know, the academic world does. I'm sure more conventional college guide books could tell you all about Reed's distinctions. I spend a lot of time in my dorm, actually. Most freshmans have divided doubles, which are basically two rooms connected to each other. The outer room connects to the hallway, and the inner room connects to the outer room, but there's a full wall and door in between. The rooms are pretty spacious and rather comfortable. When I really need to work, I'm in the library which I fondly think of as a well-lit catacomb. It is extremely conducive to productivity. Portland isn't really what I'd think of as a college town, though there are a good number of colleges and universities in the area. Nonetheless, Portland is an awesome city. It has a great (and relatively easy to learn) public transit system , and there's a lot to do downtown. Also, many things are in walking distance of Reed (e.g., Safeway, Hollywood Video, restaurants, bars, cafes, etc.). Though, to be honest, my idea of 'walking distance' has changed somewhat since I moved from California to Portland. I don't know much about the administration, really. There are controversies happening now about the Drug and Alcohol policies, but I doubt there are many 'wars' between the students and administration. I think part of the problem now is that many long-time administrators left Reed and a lot of institutional memory disappeared with them. So it is a bit of a rough time, but I don't expect drastic changes. There are mixed feelings about Reed with Reedies. Some people love the place, some people feel miserable. Really, just like any other school. However, because we don't really have sports teams, I'd suppose we're not particularly prideful in the traditional way. Reed has required PEs of all different sorts meant to encourage life-long fitness, but we don't have a football team or anything like that. Our basketball, rugby, and ultimate frisbee teams do compete, though. Just not on such an organized level. A word about CSOs: Community Safety Officers are your friends. As far as I can tell, this is an anomaly among campuses. They're just what their name implies, safety officers. They care more about the health and security of the students than about busting them for policy violations. That said, it's very rare for students to die from drug or alcohol use because their friends were too afraid to get help. CSOs are extremely friendly and capable. Also, no discussion about Reed would be complete without talking about the Honor Principle. 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. Reedies will trust other Reedies to drive long distances with each other to get home for break, even if they don't really know each other. It's part of the community here. There's so much more to it. Things around campus are mostly in danger of getting stolen not by other Reedies, but by people who just walk on. Reedies often complain that Reed isn't quite what they thought it would be. They thought that Reedies would be happier and smile more. That they'd be more insightful and less petty and apathetic. I think this is a recent development, really. I've been feeling somewhat the same way. Really, I bet it's just like any other campus. We were just wishing that Reed would be different.


The best thing about Reed is the academics. I love my close and informal relationships with my professors. It really helps me learn in a relaxed manner. I also like how fortunate everybody feels in being here. It's really beautiful. My school is just the right size, but I like the small school environment and I was used to a small school in high school. Most people don't know what Reed is when I tell them I go there, but the ones that do know what it is are impressed. Portland is a great college town. It's easy to get around without a car. There are cheap concerts and lots of other colleges, which makes for a lot of young people in the town. I spend most of my time in my dorm or in the library, but I try to get off campus at least once a week. The school provides everything so people end up getting trapped here. There is a lot of school pride, but it's more nerd pride. We don't have active sports teams. We're just proud of how hard we work. EVERYTHING about Reed is unusual. It might not prepare me for the real world very well because it's so easy and relaxed here. The honor principle doesn't hold in the rest of the world, which is sad. I prefer it.


Sometimes I feel as though the school is too small. Because we spend so much time on campus, it can feel as though one is seeing the same people over and over again. Sometimes I wish that were different.


Reed is phenomenal because it's not afraid to be itself. It may be a little awkward, seem somewhat kooky, act overly intellectual, and need to shower a little more often, but it does it with pride. When I'm on campus I'm either in my dorm living room or dining room, in the Paradox coffee shop, or in the student union. The campus is small and easily accessible, but if you're feeling trapped downtown Portland is only a bus ride away. The biggest controversy is the Humanities program, and it's required freshman course featuring only dead, white men. While important, students are crying out for a little more of a cultural sweep of the time periods we study. I will always remember the naked streaking through the library, the afternoons spent on the lawn in the sun, and the arguments about Lucretius in my dorm's dining room.


The best thing about Reed are the classes without a doubt. My professors are ridiculously intelligent and funny and caring and strange. Reedies love to share anecdotes about our favorite professors. The conference style of classes (10-15 students discussing readings with a professor) is really helpful, because the format forces you to learn how to articulate your ideas. Plus it's a lot of fun. It's because of Reed's small size that the conference style of class is possible, but sometimes it does feel a little small. People I barely know know weird things about me. I spend most of my time on campus, but only because I am pretty familiar with the Portland area. It's one easy bus ride to get downtown, and Portland has a really great vibe. There are a lot of really good independent coffee shops, and the city is very bike friendly. I personally don't care too much for the Reed administration. I think, while well meaning, they end up disrupting the teaching and learning of professors and students. I don't think they take our self-governance as a student body seriously. I think they are quick to write off professors and students as out of touch with the real world. Given that we are in the business of education, they come off as a little silly to me. There isn't a lot of traditional school pride, but I think that people who go to Reed think of themselves as Reedies for the rest of their lives. My dad went to Reed, and I think he would still consider himself a Reedie. In that sense I think there is a lot of school pride. While we don't have days that we all wear Reed colors, we all appreciate the education and experience we are getting. We also have the Doyle Owl, a 300 pound cement owl that serves as our unofficial mascot. One of the highlights of my freshman year was being able to touch the Doyle Owl. Everyone covets it.


I love the small size of Reed, and the heavy focus on academics. I'd offer another place to eat besides Commons. Reed is the right size. People are impressed when I tell them I go to Reed (because of the academics), or they're never heard of it. I spend most of my time on campus in classes or in my dorm room. Portland is not a college town, though it does have a few colleges. It is just a medium sized city that happens to have colleges in it. A recent big controversy was whether or not to get rid of the soda machines around campus, but not many people participated in it. I think there is a lot of school pride. Reed is unusual in that we don't have frats/sororities, large professional sports teams. I'll always remember how excited and happy the first time I arrived here in O Week and just wandered around the campus with a huge smile on my face. Most students complain about the poor quality of food and too much work and not enough sleep.


Best thing about Reed? I would say the support and closeness you can obtain from friends, faculty, and alumni. Reedies really like to help other Reedies. One thing I'd change is having more options for science courses, some of us aren't science majors and its really really difficult! It would be great if there were a "dumbed down" intro science, or something like astronomy or geology. Rocks for Jocks! (I just like that saying). I think Reed is just the right size, one of the reasons I decided to come here was because of the size. It's great for class because everyone has a voice, and discussion is more interesting for everyone. You also have a better chance with getting to know your professors. When I tell people I go to Reed, if they know about Reed, they either say "oh that's a great school!" or they ask me if I've smoked pot in the thesis tower...or something along those lines. It's interesting. I spend most of my time in the library, in class, or in my room...but that's just me. A lot of people seem to live in the library, especially seniors. Oh goodness, the biggest recent controversy on campus was that someone hung up some fake people (stuffed clothes) from the trees in eliot circle for halloween. Everyone was very upset because it simulated lynching, and people thought it was racist. The person who made them explained he just meant it as a scary halloween thing, and meant no harm. I think people freaked out about it just a little too much. Not to say that racism isn't a serious subject, but when I saw them I didn't think "racism!" I thought, "oh, someone put up halloween decorations...spooky." Oh man is there school pride, Reedies love to be Reedies. Atheism, Communism, Free Love! Doyle Owl! Renn Fayre! Is there anything unusual about Reed? Yes, lots...especially the students in general. We are weakling nerds but we fight like rabid dogs over a piece of cement shaped like an owl, seriously, people get hurt. Renn Fayre, what an odd tradition...and also something I'll always remember, sort of.


reed is a very specific kind of school, and it has earned the respect of a lot of people. when i tell others that i attend reed, they are either unfamiliar with it (because of its size), or they are very impressed. it has high standards, and it's challenging but very supportive. i say that it is specific because not everybody can deal with the academic or social rigors of reed, so the school does a good job of only accepting students who can handle it, but that tends to lead to a very narrow demographic. the students tend to be very politically liberal with a generally open attitude towards drug use. reed isn't like it was in the old days, but the fact that drug use has declined doesn't mean that it isn't still an integral part of reed culture, and probably reed has a more prolific drug culture than most campuses in the nation. however, it is still easy to be completely removed from that scene and have a very clean experience at reed. also, although reed is in portland, which is a beautiful and stimulating city, most reedies who live on campus rarely leave it. this is probably because everything you might need can be found at reed or within a few blocks of it, but also there are always copious amounts of homework to be done, which sucks up the available time in a day.


Reed offers a fantastic education, possibly unparalleled by other undergrad colleges/universities. The student body feels a little too small, but this makes for small class sizes and intimate academic conversations. When I tell people I go to read they either raise their eyebrows and approvingly say, "Ohhh," or, "You have to be very smart to go to Reed," or they ask: "Is that a community college?" In other words, if they know the school they think highly of it; otherwise they haven't heard of Reed. Most Reedies spend most of their time at the library, or else say that they do. Students complain that they have too much work, that they haven't gotten enough sleep.


The classes are good, but could be a little smaller. I have only had one small class in my four years here.


The best thing about Reed is that you really get a sense that you're at COLLEGE. The buildings are old and made of brick (well, at least some of them), and a lot of the professors wear courderoy pants and almost never take their noses out of books. The other truly great thing about Reed is the conference. Although I've only had maybe 2-3 that really worked- when everyone participates and doesn't just watch shyly from a corner of the table- the discussion can be really fulfilling and exciting. The downside is that it's getting to be less and less like this as Reed allows in more students. The constant new construction over this year has been irritating, and is only going to make class sizes increase as we allow for class sizes to continue to grow. This also means larger conferences which often are harder to control and to participate in. Losing this would, in my mind, be losing the essence of Reed.


The best thing about Reed is that it is an entirely unique place. I often wonder what other schools must be like in comparison. At Reed, anything goes, and there will always be people to both support and challenge you. Reed is a passionate place. When I tell people from my hometown that I go there, no one has ever heard of it. In Portland, people may say, "Oh...that's a hard school to get into, right?" The funny thing is that I don't think anyone applied to Reed because they thought it would be difficult to get in, or because they wanted to impress people. People go to Reed because of the vision it presents to them, and they stay because what they actually experience there clicks with them. I spend most of my time on campus in the library, like most people. The library lobby is a great place to meet up with people and socialize. It often feels like the hub of campus. There is a lot of school pride at Reed because everyone is so dedicated to this school. Even if your relationship to Reed is love/hate, the love part is usually strong enough to make you want to preserve this quirky place. The most frequent student complaint is, "I have so much work to do." Followed by, "The drug and alcohol policy is actually getting enforced!" And then, "Reedies are so awkward." The first and last of these are said with a sort of resigned pride, however. It is a way to relate with people in a common environment. As for the drug and alcohol policy, I think people will always be debating that one. We have incredible freedom here to experience drugs and alcohol, but people want to make sure that freedom is not being restrained due to liability or concern over the college's public face. Related to that freedom, perhaps one of the most unique institutional aspects of Reed, is the Honor Principle. There is no strict definition of the Honor Principle. It is something that is continually being worked out within individuals and among groups. The Honor Principle does not tolerate stealing, plagiarizing, harming other people, being disrespectful, defacing the property of others, etc. Its exact nuances are always up for interpretation, but it is a principle and a sense that is woven throughout Reed. I think it is more about a sense of goodwill than a set of rules.


As a starry-eyed freshman, I came to Reed a semester ago with a pretty idealistic image of Reed. There are some things about Reed that I was completely wrong about, people that I wish weren't here. However, I remain in awe with Reed, and can't think of any other school that can even compare. I love the size of the school. I believe that a college should be small enough so that most faces are recognizable, which is why I applied to mostly small liberal arts schools (Grinnell, Bates, Carleton, Whitman, etc). Class sizes are small, which is great. The reactions I get when I tell them that I go to Reed are variable, but predictable. When I'm with more intellectual people, they tend to be impressed. When I'm outside intellectual spheres, most people haven't heard of Reed, or they comment on Reed's "weirdness," often in a negative way. The biggest controversy on campus seems to be acceptance. Reedies tend to be liberals that were brought up in very safe environments, so they believe that "we are post-everything." Many Reedies have a hard time believing that racism, sexism, and class issues still exist. There is a lot of school pride. Reedies know they are smart and aren't afraid to show it, especially off-campus.


I will always remember those romantic weekly bubble baths with my dormies. Then there was that time we abducted a prospie. Oh, Reed.


I love Reed because the college treats their students like adults. Reed gives us almost unchecked personal liberty - as regulated by the Honor Principle - and encourages us to solve community problems as a community, without jumping first to institutional intervention. As a high school senior, I was picking between military schools and civilian colleges, and surprisingly, the school with the most cultural overlap was Reed. No other school so rigorously embraced the responsibility demanded of the student body quite like Reed. Reed's small campus can be somewhat aggravating, if only because it gets tiring to see the same kids on campus every day of the week. This is a problem inherent in most small schools, and to be totally fair I could spend more time in Portland if I was really so bothered by it, but I suppose I can't mind it that much if I stay on campus most weekends. Speaking of which, Portland is amazing. I could not have asked for a better city to go to school in. It is inexpensive, absolutely loaded with great restaurants, and beautiful, to top it off. Plus, Portlanders are just about as quirky as Reed students, so it's a nice fit.


The best thing about Reed is the incredible people, including faculty. In my 7 months here, I have met a huge number of talented, motivated, and flat out interesting students, faculty, and professors. Everyone has some quirk that makes them interesting to talk to. The size of the school is perfect, in my opinion; it is easy to know a large number of people and still make close friends easily. When I tell people where I go to college, I get a huge spectrum of responses. From "Reed? Where's that?" to "Wow!" The school is definitely under appreciated (for now), but the people who know about Reed generally recognize it as the academically rigorous place it is. Essentially, I would say: Know that you will fit in; be prepared to work hard; be prepared to be accepting of other people; and get ready for a truly unique experience.