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Reed College


Students looking for a smaller college campus that offers as many programs and opportunities as larger campuses may like Reed College. Founded in 1908 as the Reed Institute, its name honors a prominent local entrepreneur and his wife. Its founders used the same system as Ivy League schools on the East Coast did, which included flexible liberal arts programs that allowed students to study almost anything they wanted to study. Though students must take some general education required courses, they then have the freedom to pick and choose from different courses and disciplines to customize a program based on their own unique interests and goals.

Reed College is unique because it puts more emphasis on learning than on grades. While students do receive grades in their courses, the college does not have a dean’s list or any other program that rewards students for doing well. At Reed, professors work on forming actual relationships with their students. This helped the college receive recognition from several leading publications. Both Washington Monthly and U.S. News & World Report call Reed one of the nation’s top 100 liberal arts colleges. Forbes recognized the college as being one of the top American colleges and listed it at number 52 out of all colleges in the country. Reed’s student body consists of around 1,400 students.

Reed College Accreditation Details

As Reed College emphasizes interactive learning, it did not seek accreditation from a number of organizations. It is one of just a few colleges that does not have specialty accreditation for the programs that it offers. Reed does have regional accreditation though from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The NCCU approved Reed and granted it regional accreditation the first time that the college applied and during each of its renewals, which occur every decade. With NCCU accreditation, students can apply for financial aid and use the FAFSA, but they will also find that they can transfer credits between two accredited campuses also.

Reed College Application Requirements

To keep its ratio of professors to students, which is around one teacher to every 10 students, Reed is highly selective when it comes to admitting students. It typically accepts around 30 to 35% of the students who apply. Students have the option of applying via the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success or via the Common Application. Both are websites that allow students to enter and save information that they use when applying to Reed and to other colleges.

Reed asks for a writing supplement, but students have the option of writing a new paper or uploading a paper they wrote in one of their classes. They will also need to submit a personal essay, which is a short essay that explains why they want to attend Reed and what they think they will get out of the program they want to study. Reed requires that a counselor fill out a school report, which is essentially a description of the student’s progress. Other requirements include an ACT or SAT score and an official transcript.

Students must also submit two letters of recommendation from their high school teachers. Those applying for early decision need to fill out an early decision agreement. This agreement states that the student did not apply early decision anywhere else and that if accepted, the student will attend Reed.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Reed College charges a tuition rate of just under $52,000 a year and another $300 in miscellaneous fees. Those who decide to live on its Portland, Oregon campus will spend another $13,000 a year for a meal plan and dorm room. Though this might seem high, the average financial aid package awarded to students is more than $41,000 a year. More than half of all students attending Reed receive financial aid. The college also agrees to meet 100% of the financial need that a student has minus the contribution the student’s parents make.

Students must apply before the deadline and complete the FAFSA. The deadline is November 15 for early decision students and January 1 for regular decision students. Students must complete and file the FAFSA by or around that same deadline. Financial aid packages include student loans like Perkins loans and direct loans, and many students work for the college or in the federal work study program. Reed also offers a number of institutional grants that cover any costs that loans and other programs do not cover.

Popular Majors and Programs

Though Reed College has 38 majors that students can choose from, 14 of those majors are interdisciplinary programs that let students study topics in other fields. Students must take three credits of humanities courses, two courses of literature, arts or philosophy and two courses in history or social sciences. They will also take two units of life or health science classes and two units of math or a foreign language. These courses make up the college’s general education requirements and can include courses in a student’s major.

One program it offers is a degree in American studies, which allows students to learn more about the culture and history of America. Students can take part in a colloquium that lets them interact with students in other majors and study subjects like popular media or film. This program culminates in a thesis that students submit in their senior years. Past students did work on topics like helping the homeless, urban design basics and the poetry created by American poets.

Another unique program offered by Reed is its literature and theater program. Designed for students with an interest in both fields, it can help students succeed in graduate school, become better actors and write plays of their own. It requires that students take classes in art, music and design. There is an exam that students take during their junior years to determine if they should continue with the program and if they are ready to work on their thesis papers and projects. The college offers more traditional majors in subjects like biology, chemistry, history and math too.

Reed College is part of a conglomerate of liberal arts schools that work together to offer more study abroad opportunities for students. Students can sign up for experiences at one of three colleges in the United States or at one of 52 campuses in more than 20 different countries. Reed College students can study in Australia, Egypt, Ireland, Israel or the UK.