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People here tend to be interesting whether I like them or not, which is awesome. You can have a conversation with almost anyone and learn something. Most everyone works very hard, much harder than they did in high school, though a fair number of students (mostly freshmen) *** around a lot and have academic trouble accordingly. The work load is not exaggerated--if you do all the work you are supposed to do AND try to have a social life, you won't get a lot of sleep. Quite a few people drop out. The honor principle governs most interactions at Reed. There's a lot of trust in students' ability to handle problems, and so there's a lot of responsibility. When I tell people I go to Reed, I get a lot of different responses. Mostly tonal variations of the word "OH." Everyone knows we work hard here, but there are a lot of other connections that people make--drugs, radical left-wingers, awesome open-minded people, and so on. Reed has a reputation. It's not entirely accurate. There is a lot of drug use, and as a rule people are pretty liberal, but I know plenty of straightedge people and several libertarians (though, granted, very few Republicans).
Reed is a tiny, liberal arts college. The campus is pretty, but small enough that once you've slept with someone, there's no way to avoid them. You'll keep running into them in commons, or the pool hall, or that class you thought they wouldn't take but they did and now you have to sit in the same room with them three times a week and pretend it isn't awkward. The population of Reed is big enough, however, that I'm still meeting new people in my year. The academics are phenomenal, and Portland's a fun city (although it helps to be 21). It's easy to get involved with student government, or just get some funding for a new extracurricular group. We don't have a football team, but the rugby players are all very dedicated to their sport. Ultimately, Reed is work hard, play hard -- we might stay in the library until 2 AM on a regular basis, but we also have more fun. There's nothing I would change about Reed, and having been here for four years, I can say with absolute certainty that I would make the same choice if I were picking a college now. That said, Reed is NOT for everybody.
Reed sits on 116 acres in SE Portland - a beautiful residential neighborhood with nearby boutiques, a Trader Joe's, coffee shops, movie and concert theaters, a rhododendron garden, bike trails, and waterfalls. The feeling is small-town, safe, friendly, and eco- and health-conscious. Downtown Portland is readily accessible in about 20 minutes by bus, or a little longer or a little shorter by bike. Within the Reed campus, 100s of species and ~1400 students coexist peacefully amongst the library ("Hauser Fun Dome"), Commons, the Chinese House, and Reed Canyon (which spans the campus from east to west and cradles woods and a small lake). For me, the Reed Canyon is Reed's most endearing trait. In the spring, yellow touch-me-nots flood the floor of the canyon, curbed by only the eddying streams of criss-crossing water. Alders, huge-leafed maples, and demure oak trees stand quiet witness in the golden afternoon light. The large green stilted theater perches over the stream as you walk in its shadow and feel the coolness flowing from the cavern it creates over the water. This was my trail home to the Chinese House every afternoon in my sophomore year. I took a leave of absence from Reed after my sophomore year so that I could teach English in China and learn more about the country I was making such a large part of my life. What I left just in time to miss was a massive, although important, construction plan to develop "my side" of the Reed campus. The plan involves adding 4 more much-needed dormitories (on top of what used to be Reed's age-old community garden, the communal patch of which is where I fed myself on many a late evening), a new coffee shop, relocating the quaint and verdant Chinese House to join the other language houses, and building a suspension bridge right above the trail I took through the Canyon. Alas for me, growth is an inherent and inevitable part of this type of society we call capitalist, and as with most human growth, little pieces of nature like "my" piece of the Reed Canyon tend to go by the wayside. In the Reed College administration's defense, however, the buildings are being built with "the environment" in mind. From the Reed magazine, "the projectÕs 'green' features included landscaping that filters storm water runoff into a natural spring, and ventilation stacks built to resemble chimneys that will cool the buildings naturally, in addition to an array of environmentally sensitive materials such as flooring, window glass, and roof tiles." And construction of the new foot-bridge "is being planned to minimize environmental impact on the canyon below: its piers will sit on opposite edges of the canyon, and its curves will skirt most mature trees in its path." The buildings will qualify for LEED (I think "silver") certification. Hopefully those Reedies of future generations will find the Reed Canyon as pristine and magical a place as I did.
Reed is an anachronism. Students know their professors first names, read Plato and Augustine, and write a senior thesis. A small liberal arts college it is. Sometimes it seems to small, but I can't imagine myself anywhere else. The people here are amazing, and I love them. Nowhere else will you see signs that say "SOON IT WILL BE RENN FAYRE AND I WILL KISS ALL OF YOU", and nowhere else will those signs fill your entire being with anticipation. However, if I were a different person, I would probably be miserable here. Reed is not an easy place to go to, and a lot of people drop out or transfer before their junior year. It's not for everybody. Some people leave because the academics are too hard for them, and some people leave because the students that I think are so amazing seem like condescending, intellectual ***s with no grasp on the real world. And still other people leave because they'd rather be climbing mountains in Alaska. So, beware before you apply. As for the world directly outside of Reed, that's pretty awesome too. Unlike most small liberal arts colleges, Reed is not in the middle of nowhere. Portland, Oregon, is the greatest city in the world and one of the weirdest too, but most students (especially the freshmen), don't take advantage of it. Reed tends to create a "bubble", out of which it is seemingly hard to escape but is actually quite easy if you try. I recommend going to the Hotcake House at least once before you leave.
Reviews provided by: Unigo
*the best thing about reed is its roster of unique events and traditions you won't find anywhere else, like noise parade (exactly what it sounds like); fetish ball (again, exactly what it sounds like); RKSK (Reed Kommunist *** Kollective, a group responsible for various forms of mischievous fun, included but not limited to: supplying library with stuffed animals for late-night cuddling; kommunal borscht; giant skrabble (winners often receive spliffs); kommunal umbrellas for use during rain season; random couch/hammock placement; the sunny day vodka lemonade kart; and most importantly, kommie bikes--cheap kid's bikes spray painted red and left around campus to use at your convenience.); couches on the lawn; and above all Ren Fayre, the end of the year celebration of out and out craziness and bacchanalia involving lots of insane projects, many of which are burned/destroyed ceremonially, Thesis Parade (burning of seniors' thesis drafts), champagne showers, music, nudity, drug piatas, fire, and sometimes a moon bounce! best time of the year. one thing i'd change: people's condescending, hipper-than-thou attitudes. size: a bit too small--i thought that's what i wanted, but a few hundred more people would be nice. reed reactions: a lot more people have actually heard of reed since it was dubiously dubbed one of the "new ivies" by newsweek. i get questions about the academic rigor, portland, and of course, the drugs. one kid i met at a party senior year asked me where i was going and when i told him i was headed to reed, he said, "awesome. i mean, they smoke a lot of weed there, people are crazy." then he paused and said, "but wait, don't you have to be, like, really smart?" i told him that on the rare occasions i am not partying, i actually read and stuff. place on campus i spend the most time: tie between the library and the student union, as grungy as the latter is (it's charming). town: yes a college town, but more accurately an urban lite city. the food here is great--more thai, vietnamese, and japanese than you can try--and there are some great quirky neighborhoods complete with vintage stores, record stores, bars, all sorts of cool crap. good music scene too--unless you're under 21. when your favorite band comes to town, you probably won't seem them until they come back after your 21st birthday.portland is not an all-ages friendly city, or even much of a 24-hour one even if you are. coming from a big city like chicago, portland sometimes doesn't feel like a real city at all--it's very new, unsettlingly clean in some parts, and doesn't have the same kind of diversity. reed administration: a mixed bag. there are some great folks intent on preserving reed's uniqueness and defending student interests...and some who aren't. but the administration does go out of its way to involve students in important decisions involving new policy, professor appointments, and more. school pride: yes and no. in many ways i am proud to call myself a reedie and share weird stores that my friends at university of illinois might not even believe. i am proud of the focus on learning rather than performing. but it's a love-hate relationship, and i think most students would say the same. somtimes you love reed, sometimes you ***ing hate it. everything is unusual about reed. but we do have in-door plumbing. experience i'll always remember: my first renn fayre. just not the actual order in which my experiences occurred and some other hazy details about that weekend like how i ended up asleep on a bean bag in the basement laundry room.