Reed College in Portland, Oregon is a small, liberal arts college known for its rigorous academics and quirky student culture. If you’re considering Reed and want to know if it’s a good fit, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Reed’s outstanding academics, close-knit community, and unique personality make it a great school for intellectually curious students looking for a non-traditional college experience.

Academics at Reed

Reed College is renowned for its rigorous academic programs, which challenge students to think critically and analytically. The college offers a wide range of majors and minors, allowing students to explore their interests and passions.

Rigorous curriculum

The curriculum at Reed is known for its rigor and depth. Students are expected to engage in intense intellectual inquiry and participate actively in class discussions. The coursework is designed to push students to their limits and help them develop a strong foundation in their chosen field of study.

Strong humanities and sciences

Reed College has a strong emphasis on both humanities and sciences. The college believes in the importance of a well-rounded education and offers a broad range of courses in various disciplines. Students have the opportunity to delve into subjects such as literature, history, philosophy, mathematics, and the natural sciences.

Low student-to-faculty ratio

One of the advantages of attending Reed College is the low student-to-faculty ratio. With an average class size of 10 to 15 students, students have the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions with their professors and receive personalized attention.

This close-knit learning environment fosters collaboration and allows students to develop strong relationships with their instructors.

Mandatory freshman seminar

Reed College believes in providing a strong foundation for its students right from the start. To ensure that students have a smooth transition to college life, Reed requires all freshmen to participate in a mandatory seminar.

This seminar helps students develop essential academic and critical thinking skills, as well as introduces them to the unique academic culture at Reed.

Senior thesis required

One of the distinguishing features of Reed College is the requirement for all students to complete a senior thesis. This in-depth research project allows students to delve deeply into a topic of their choice under the guidance of a faculty advisor.

The senior thesis is a culmination of the student’s academic journey at Reed and is a testament to their intellectual growth and accomplishments.

Student Life at Reed

Quirky, free-thinking culture

One of the defining features of student life at Reed College is its quirky and free-thinking culture. Reed is known for attracting independent-minded students who are not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom and think outside the box.

The campus is filled with vibrant discussions and debates, where students engage in intellectual exploration and push the boundaries of knowledge. This unique culture fosters an environment where creativity and unconventional ideas are valued and celebrated.

Collaborative over competitive

Unlike many other colleges and universities, Reed College promotes a collaborative, rather than a competitive, atmosphere among its students. Instead of pitting students against each other, Reed encourages collaboration and cooperation.

Students work together on group projects, study sessions, and extracurricular activities, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie. This collaborative spirit extends beyond the classroom, creating an inclusive and supportive environment for all students.

Politically progressive

Reed College has a long history of being politically progressive. The campus is known for its activism and social justice initiatives. Students at Reed are passionate about making a positive impact on the world and are actively involved in various causes and movements.

The college provides numerous opportunities for students to engage in political activism, whether through student organizations, protests, or community service. This politically progressive atmosphere creates a dynamic and vibrant campus environment.

Lots of extracurriculars

At Reed College, there is no shortage of extracurricular activities to get involved in. Whether you’re interested in sports, arts, community service, or academic clubs, Reed offers a wide range of extracurriculars to cater to diverse interests.

From joining a student-run theater production to participating in intramural sports leagues, students have ample opportunities to pursue their passions outside of the classroom. These extracurricular activities not only provide a chance for students to unwind and relax but also foster personal growth and development.

Campus Setting

When it comes to the campus setting, Reed College offers a truly remarkable experience for its students. Situated in the vibrant city of Portland, Oregon, the college boasts a beautiful campus that blends harmoniously with the surrounding natural beauty.

Beautiful campus in Portland

Reed College’s campus is known for its picturesque setting, with tree-lined paths, lush gardens, and stunning architecture. The campus offers a serene and peaceful environment that fosters a sense of tranquility and intellectual inspiration.

Historic buildings

The college is home to several historic buildings that have been meticulously preserved and offer a glimpse into the rich history of the institution. From the iconic Eliot Hall to the stunning Prexy Building, each building on campus adds to the unique charm and character of Reed College.

Lots of green space

One of the standout features of Reed College’s campus is its abundant green space. The college takes pride in maintaining its expansive lawns, gardens, and outdoor spaces, providing students with ample opportunities to relax, study, and engage in outdoor activities.

Easy access to Portland culture

Located just a few miles away from downtown Portland, Reed College offers students easy access to the city’s vibrant culture and thriving arts scene. With its numerous art galleries, theaters, music venues, and food carts, Portland has something to offer for everyone.

Students can explore the city’s eclectic neighborhoods, sample local cuisine, and immerse themselves in the diverse cultural experiences that Portland has to offer.

Admissions and Cost

Very selective admissions

One of the key factors that sets Reed College apart is its highly selective admissions process. The college has a reputation for admitting academically talented and intellectually curious students. With an acceptance rate of around 30%, gaining admission to Reed is no easy feat.

The college looks for students who have demonstrated a strong commitment to their studies, as well as a passion for intellectual exploration. This selectivity ensures that students at Reed are surrounded by peers who are equally dedicated to their education.

Test-optional policy

Reed College understands that standardized tests may not always be the best measure of a student’s abilities. With this in mind, the college has adopted a test-optional policy. This means that applicants can choose whether or not to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of their application.

Instead, Reed focuses on a holistic review process, considering factors such as academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, and personal qualities. This policy allows students to present a more comprehensive picture of their abilities and potential.

Generous need-based aid

Reed College is committed to ensuring that a high-quality education is accessible to all students, regardless of their financial circumstances. The college offers generous need-based financial aid packages, which can greatly offset the cost of attending.

Through a combination of grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities, and loans, Reed aims to make education affordable for all admitted students. The college’s commitment to providing need-based aid allows students to focus on their studies without the burden of overwhelming financial stress.

Moderate tuition for a private college

While private colleges are often associated with high tuition costs, Reed College offers a more moderate tuition compared to many of its peers. The college strives to keep its tuition reasonable, allowing students to access a top-notch education without excessive financial strain.

Additionally, Reed’s commitment to need-based financial aid ensures that students from diverse economic backgrounds have the opportunity to attend and thrive at the college.


In summary, Reed College offers a unique blend of rigorous academics, close-knit community, and quirky student culture. For intellectually curious students seeking a personalized, liberal arts education with strong sciences and humanities, Reed is an excellent choice.

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