Dismiss notification

Interested in this school?

Please type at least the first 4 letters of the school name.

Reed College Reviews

Check out reviews left by other students or leave your own review. You could win a free scholarship.

  • 01/10/2010

    Reviewer is A current student here.

    24 out of 24 people found this review useful. 1 of 8

    Categories Comments
    Great for these types of students

    Reed is great for students who are motivated by a love of learning rather than by letter grades, since professors don’t give out grades; you have to go out of your way to find out your GPA. Typical Reed students are also quirky, not afraid to speak their minds, and can strike a good balance between work and play. It also helps if your political views lean towards the liberal side.

    Tips for prospective students

    > Maintain a strong work ethic. The heavy workload means that you’re going to be studying hard. > Learn to criticize others (constructively) and be criticized yourself. You will have to analyze a variety of arguments presented by readings, professors, and your peers, and along the way, you’ll learn how to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your own arguments. > Visit the campus. That is one of the best ways to find out whether or not you like the atmosphere of the school. Reed gives you opportunities to sit in on classes, stay overnight in a dorm, and eat lunch with other students.

    Bang for the buck

    As one of the pricier colleges in the nation, the financial aid Reed doles out may not be satisfactory for many students. Therefore, you should be on the lookout for outside scholarships. But does a Reed experience match up to its hefty tuition? The answer really depends on what you make of your time there. Hum 110, the Honor Principle, and the thesis parade are just some of the many things that make Reed distinct. Classes there will also likely make you grow as both a learner and a thinker. The neighborhood around the school isn’t exactly the best college town (although it does conduce studying), and some residence halls are shabbier than others. But overall if you prefer a quaint and offbeat school, then Reed is worth considering.

    Am enjoying being here

    What I enjoy most about Reed has to be the people. With less than 1500 students, Reed’s small size makes it easy to get to know people. Most of the people there are quirky in one way or another, which often makes for interesting interactions. Even the professors like to joke around with the students. I’ve heard philosophical discussions go into the middle of the night that quickly transition to a discussion on how to make the best popcorn or a debate over the best Beatles’ song. But Reed isn’t all about play. Jokes with your peers are offset by the heavy workload, but that naturally comes with being a Reedie. Classes can get monotonous and stressful, especially when a 1500-word paper is due on the same day as a lab report or when you have to read over a hundred pages of a text preaching values you don’t necessarily agree with.

    Am learning a lot

    Since most of the classes I’m taking are introductory classes—this is the case for most freshmen—I don’t get to delve as deep as I’d like to into certain subject matters until succeeding years. The other downside is that academics here focus more on theory than on practicality. For example, in math classes the professors emphasize proofs for why the equation is the way it is rather than applying that equation to real life situations. In spite of this, however, the courses cover enough topics that there’s bound to be something that catches my interest. The humanities class, for example, which all freshmen are required to take, covers everything from art to history to philosophy. My humanities professor really challenges us to think outside of the box by trying to get us to find evidence for both sides of an argument and not take a text at face-value. The lectures and conferences make me appreciate what I’m reading a lot more than if I had just buried my nose in the texts for a few hours. The small class sizes (about 15-20 students) also make it easier to participate in class, so you get to be more actively involved in what you are learning. What makes Reed unique is that it promotes learning for learning’s sake partly by deemphasizing the value of grades. Instead of a letter grade scrawled at the top of my papers I get extensive comments from my professors, which is really helpful because they tell me exactly what I did well on and what needs more work.

  • 01/07/2010

    Reviewer is Researching this school. Reviewer has been to campus.

    16 out of 16 people found this review useful. 2 of 8

    Categories Comments
    Great for these types of students

    Perfect for students who like to squish their toes around in the mud in order a) see what it feels like, and b) forget why you did it in the first place. Reedies study hard all week long- don't expect many parties on a Tuesday or Wednesday. But, come the weekend, are ready for a release.

    Tips for prospective students

    Visit! Reed has a great prospective student program that includes visiting multiple classes, staying the night in the dorms, eating lunch students, and opportunities to use the gym and other facilities. Find someone cool and tag along for a day or two beyond your visit- most staff don't mind and it will give you a chance to enjoy the weekend.

    Bang for the buck

    One of the more expensive schools out there- but for a good reason. Their need-based aid program, however, ensures that people who deserve to be there can make it happen.

    Will enjoy being here

    Tightly-knit student body with endless campus activities. The school is right in Portland, OR so off-campus events are easy to find as well.

    Will learn a lot

    This school will teach you how to think independently and seek out your weak points in order to improve them.

  • 06/14/2012

    Reviewer is A current student here.

    8 out of 8 people found this review useful. 3 of 8

    Categories Comments
    Campus Safety

    Reed operates differently from most schools. Rather than being super strict about drugs and alcohol, Reed Campus Safety recognizes that the stricter you are, the more you drive these activities underground. Instead, they work with safety in mind first. We have medical amnesty meaning you won't get in trouble if your health's in trouble and you contact the CSOs. They want to make sure no one gets hurt or does anything stupid, but they do this with respect. We have something called the Honor Principle, which means you act with integrity recognizing that your actions have consequences and that you should always act as responsibly as possible. The Honor Principle provides a great environment for safety if respected.

    Greek Life

    There is no Greek Life on campus.

    Great for these types of students

    Nerdy, introverted, social, intellectual, smart, hard-working.

    Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus

    Everything at Reed is unusual, and there are too many traditions to count. Some of the best: *The Doyle Owl: every year, dorms compete for ownership of the Doyle Owl (a giant, concrete owl stolen by Reedies many, many years ago). The fight gets pretty crazy, but everyone is so excited. The winner hides the owl, and it is constantly threatened to be stolen. Some day, they decide to bring it out, and the fight starts all over. *Renn Fayre: Originally a Renaissance festival, Renn Fayre is a three-day party on campus for exclusively Reedies. It involves naked blue people, champagne showers, and endless amounts of glitter. You will hear about Renn Fayre for the whole year until it happens. It's that amazing.

    Bang for the buck

    Reed is expensive. Personally too expensive for me. But I think it is worth every penny. I will gladly be paying off student loans in years to come knowing that I received such a great education and so many opportunities

    What to do for fun

    Go to: Noise Parade, Stop Making Sense, Fetish Ball, Drag Ball, and of course, RENN FAYRE. But take warning: these parties/dances can get a little rowdy.

    Food and Dining

    I have been told by many transfer students that Reed has some of the best college food. But like all dorm food, the meals get old and bland. One amazing thing about Bon Appétit, Reed's food service, is that they use all local, organic foods. The meals are always balanced and healthy and there are always options for vegetarians and vegans.

    Dorm Life

    There are a few dorms that are uglier and older than others (avoid Foster, Scholz, MacNaughton, if possible), but the dorms generally have a strong sense of community. Tir Na Nog, the sci-fi/fantasy dorm, has an amazing community of lower- and upper- classmen who thrive in a nerdy, social environment.

    Academic Rigor

    Reed is not easy. But it is completely manageable with the knowledge that all students are facing their own challenges and that your teachers are always there to help.

    Tips for prospective students

    Reed is a place to come if you love learning, if you want to be pushed out of your comfort zone, if you want teachers to be watching you and challenging you with every assignment, if you want to be around unique individuals who also love to learn, and if you are willing to work hard to have all this.

    In three sentences

    Reed is a wonderland for quirky and intellectual people who want to be learning and growing every day. The classes are small and individualized, providing an environment where you are encouraged to explore your own ideas and push others to do the same. With constant support from the faculty, you always know where you are and how you can be improving, and you are given constant kindness throughout the academic rigor.

  • 07/27/2012

    Reviewer is A current student here.

    6 out of 6 people found this review useful. 4 of 8

    Categories Comments
    Campus Safety

    The CSOs (Community Safety Officers) are comforting but never repressive. They're easily approachable and always friendly. I have always felt safe at Reed.

    Greek Life

    That doesn't exist at Reed.

    Clubs and Activities

    There's lots to get involved with; Reedies tend to be well-rounded, and you can find everything from Bridge Club to Ultimate Frisbee. My favorite is ARG: the Association of Reed Gamers. They have all imaginable board games, and get together to play them every other Friday or so. There's also a club that bought an Aerial Rig and sets it up twice a week for Reedies to practice climbing the silk; it's difficult and a lot of fun.

    Great for these types of students

    Student who love learning and are willing to work hard for little external reward. The reward of doing well in a class at Reed comes from knowing you did well and learned a lot, because unless you ask, you won't know your grade.

    Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus

    At the end of the year, the students celebrate with a tradition known as Renn Fayre which is difficult if not impossible to explain. It's quirky, wild, and unique to Reed. The Canyon (the lake and river in the middle of campus) is beautiful all year round, though it can get muddy in the winter. The trees all over campus are beautiful, and in the spring, the cherry blossoms in Eliot Circle are wonderful.

    Bang for the buck

    The education is great; you'll learn a lot, the classes are small, and the teachers are dedicated.

    What to do for fun

    Learning is fun! There will be weeks when that's all you'll do. Ok, but aside from that: going into Portland is awesome, it's a really cool city. The coast is about a 2-hr drive away. For fun I usually just hang out with friends; frequently there will be dances in the Student Union on Fridays or Saturdays. Reed isn't known to be a party school, but you can find them if you look for them. A form of partner dance called Blues Dancing is popular at Reed, and in the general Portland area, and many people do that once or twice a week. As in any college, if you're looking for something specific, you'll probably be able to find it.

    Food and Dining

    The on-campus food is pretty good, but not 5-star.

    Dorm Life

    Dorm life is great. I loved living in the dorms, and many people live on campus all four years. The community is wonderful and a lot of fun-- which can be distracting from work, so you have to be careful at times.

    Academic Rigor

    When they tell you Reed is hard, they mean it.

    Tips for prospective students

    Students who come to Reed work hard, but love it. They love learning for the sake of learning. Reed is wild and quirky at times, but in the middle of a semester, everyone is working, even on the weekends. We do it by choice, because we love it. Don't come to Reed if you're a grade chaser; come to Reed if you love to learn.

    In three sentences

    Reed is tough. The students are intelligent, intellectual, wild, liberal, and independent. The work is highly demanding, but very rewarding.

  • 03/13/2013

    Reviewer is A past student here.

    6 out of 7 people found this review useful. 1 person found it offensive. 5 of 8

    Categories Comments
    Greek Life

    Nonexistent

    Tips for prospective students

    I graduated from Reed in the mid-1990s. For some, the college is great. I found it strange, insular and depressing, although academically rigorous. My experience was mixed. Reed occupies a very particular niche -- one that, unfortunately, wasn't right for me. I've been reading the Reed College alumni magazine for years. The alumni notes are underwhelming (especially when compared with those of Oberlin, Swarthmore, Harvard.). Ask a Reedie to name a famous Reedie, I promise the person will be hard-pressed to come up with an answer other than Steve Jobs. But Mr. Jobs doesn't count -- he dropped out after 6 months. Quite a few Reed graduates pursue PhDs and become successful academics. Others go into alternative medicine, or computer programming, or library science, or beer-making. These are fine vocations but there is a lack of spectrum. It is is not a place known for graduates who also start businesses or invent things or go into politics or lead large organizations or stand out socially in other ways. Of course, there are many that do, but far fewer than one would expect given the quality of the education. In my opinion, this is problematic: if you have the privilege to obtain an elite education, do something that leaves a mark on the world, or at least try -- there's simply too much emphasis on how intellectual Reed is! Purely my bias. This situation owes itself as much to the pool of self-selected students as to the marketing and culture historically promulgated by the administration. That said, Reed does promote serious engagement in ideas and has a very demanding curriculum. Grades are de-emphasized, which outsiders sometimes confuse with the notion that there are no grades at all. While the school doesn't disseminate report cards, students DO receive grades which appear on official transcripts. With the exception of a single A-, I received a B in every class I took. And I worked my butt off. The prioritization of scholarship over grades is laudatory, but Reed is too self-congratulatory about this, and about how iconoclastic and liberal and free-thinking it believes itself to be. There's a pervasive, studied, non-ironic, self-indulgent, counter-culture miasma. Sometimes it's all a bit much. Reed prides itself on being different, but it's not a place where someone who's different from the Reed norm can easily feel comfortable. In this way, it's not very tolerant of diversity. There was no shortage of pot, alcohol, and hard drugs (especially during Renn Fayre). Reed provided a safe atmosphere for me to try some of this. There was also lots of admiring talk about drugs that few people ever experienced (in awed and mystical tones, some referred to Bromo -- strong and scary, mind-altering stuff that a Reed student had apparently invented in a chemistry lab). On campus, there wasn't much conversation about contemporary issues or much linkage with the wider Portland community -- the place is incredibly inward-looking. Fortunately, campus is pretty to look at - green, ivy-covered, even stately. Unfortunately, it's also a bit run down. I walked through the grounds a couple years ago and saw more broken basement windows, cobwebs, peeling paint, and litter than I would have expected. There have been spates of student suicides during Reed's history. I don't know whether this is a bigger problem than at other liberal-arts colleges, but it's hard not to wonder about the influence of perpetual cloudiness, near-constant drizzle, low skies, prolonged winter darkness, recreational drugs, interminable pressure to study, insularity, and the number of socially awkward kids who enroll. I got a great education at Reed. I suspect I would have been happier, however, and received an equally good education if I had attended a more conventional school where there was a bit more sunshine. There are many fine schools with better opportunities for a more balanced life (any of the Ivy Leagues; most of the highly-ranked US News and World Report liberal arts colleges; and even lots of big state schools, many of which have liberal arts programs that try to capture the feel of life in a small college -- if this is what one wants). Lots of alumni love Reed. Perhaps the place has changed. Many, though not all, of these observations reflect personal experience, opinion, values, predilections, and the nature of my adolescence. While I had happy times, adventures, and great friends at Reed, somehow these just don't figure as prominently in my memory as how forlorn and angst-ridden I felt. I have gone on to have a wonderful family, and a fulfilling and successful career. But most telling about my attitude is that I would not encourage any of my own children to attend Reed -- or even visit it.

    In three sentences

    Academically rigorous, very rainy.

  • 06/04/2012

    Reviewer is Accepted here and planning to attend soon. Reviewer has been to campus.

    4 out of 4 people found this review useful. 6 of 8

    Categories Comments
    Food and Dining

    The Caf is wonderful, offering about 5 options of cooked meals a day (always including a vegan option), and then multitudes of snacks, it is a rare occasion where school food is delicious.

    Dorm Life

    They have many options for dorms, from eclectic themed dorms (including Circus and MadSci this year), to the quiet all girls floor, there is an option for everyone.

    Academic Rigor

    From what I have heard from current students (for I haven't started yet) much of your free time will be spent studying.

    Tips for prospective students

    Put a lot of work into your Why Reed essay, for that will be a big factor. They want to know that you are genuinely interested in their school.

    In three sentences

    From the atmosphere, experience sitting in on classes, and overall feel of the school, I can tell that Reed is an exceptional place. While it may not be for everyone, I'd suggest visiting, for you will know for sure.

  • 12/29/2013

    Reviewer is A current student here.

    2 out of 2 people found this review useful. 7 of 8

    Categories Comments
    Greek Life

    We read a lot of Greek texts, if that's what you mean by this Greek Life thing.

    What to do for fun

    There are a lot of on-campus clubs, and there are always interesting people having interesting conversations. Expect to spend most of your time working, though.

    Food and Dining

    The commons food is, somewhat surprisingly, great quality food.

    Dorm Life

    I live off campus, so this rating is not from personal experience, but my friends tell me the dorms vary in quality. However, there are strong dorm communities.

    Academic Rigor

    Reed's academic rigor is legendary, and the problem sets make sure the legends continue. While intro-level classes do not have quite the same level of rigor, the workload is heavy. The introductory humanities course, for example, requires about a book a week of reading.

    Tips for prospective students

    Be willing to work a lot. Be willing to try new things. Almost everyone on campus is interesting, so talk to them. You'll learn something cool, which should be enough of a motivator for you. If it isn't, you probably won't fit in well - Reed is a school for people who love to learn.

    In three sentences

    Reed College has strong academics and an interesting student body. Its quirky dynamics are not for everyone, but sufficiently eccentric students will love it here. Reed is a small school with a strong sense of community.

  • 01/08/2013

    Reviewer is A current student here.

    1 out of 1 people found this review useful. 8 of 8

    Categories Comments
    Campus Safety

    Our Community Safety Officers have an excellent relationship with the students and are constantly in contact to keep everyone feeling safe. The only incidents have been dealt with quickly and safely and have been few and far between during my time here.

    Greek Life

    There are no Greek houses at Reed.

    Great for these types of students

    Reed is for those who don't mind seeing the whole spectrum of oddity, from people going to class dressed as wizards to a whole event called Drag Ball, which is fairly self-explanatory. Almost nothing is taboo, and people are allowed to be whatever they want, except easily shocked.

    What to do for fun

    Clubs, groups, dorm activities: something is happening every night here, it seems like. There's a pool hall for the billiards types, there are dances and concerts in the Student Union, board game nights, and occasionally parties.

    Food and Dining

    Commons can be repetitive sometimes, but compared to most college food it's practically gourmet!

    Dorm Life

    The dorms are generally extremely comfortable. Most of them have fireplaces at least in the common rooms, if not in the actual rooms. There are many very active and interesting theme dorms which hold many events yearly, and the divided double system means that even as a freshman you're likely to have your own space.

    Academic Rigor

    The professors are very helpful and friendly, but they ask a lot from their students. Slacking is not an options. I know math majors who are doing original proofs and religion majors studying never-before-seen Chinese scrolls as undergraduate. Work is a given.

    Tips for prospective students

    Visit. Interview. These face-to-face encounters are important not only because Reed considers genuine interest very important for admissions, but also because Reed is not for everyone. The environment is unsual. Make sure you know what you're getting yourself into.

    In three sentences

    Reed College offers a unique opportunity: an opportunity to make your own path. The academics ask a lot from you, the people are incredibly quirky, and you'll know your professors on a first name basis, and all of those things are wonderful. But most of all, Reed is about finding what you want to do and being given the opportunity to pursue it.