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A Different Perspective on Education at Reed College

Reed College appears in our ranking of the 30 Best Colleges for Young Democrats.

At Reed College, the prevailing philosophy of education is a combination of active learning and collaborative research. The pairing between faculty and students is key to this educational development. The degrees at Reed College are diverse. Languages play a strong role in the pantheon of classes at Reed College. Students can study Chinese, German, French, and Russian. There is also a separate department for linguistics.

The “Three Rs” get equal representation, and physics, advanced mathematics, and literature are all available to each student. In all, there are 40 majors available at Reed College. The school is a liberal-arts college, so its selection of degrees is both thought-provoking and culturally relevant.

The comparative race and ethnic studies degree, for example, is for students who want to combine their primary degree focus with anthropological studies that focus on race and ethnicity. The degree encompasses a fairly normal 120 credit hours and gives students ample opportunities for research as well as classroom learning. There are 14 other interdisciplinary degree programs at the undergraduate level and these present students with fantastic choices regarding their educations.

There is only a single graduate degree at Reed College that is not a combined degree: The Master of Arts in Liberal Arts Studies. Almost all students who strive for this degree do so part-time. To be allowed to study graduate-level courses full-time, a student must obtain permission and must also study undergraduate courses at the same time, which makes this degree a combined degree for all intents and purposes. There is very little structure within the degree, and students can choose their areas of interest at will. There are no online programs at Reed College for students of any level.

About Reed College

Reed College was founded in 1908, and its principles haven’t changed since then. The school is designed to have a small student body so that the instructors can have much more individual time with each student. The school is unusual in a number of ways. There are no varsity sports. There are no Greek organizations. Teachers don’t even issue traditional grades throughout the semester. They provide voluminous comments on each assignment and only disclose grades when a student asks or when the grade is lower than a C.

The entire life experience at Reed College is informal. Students participate in the actual governing of the college, and there is as much chance of a game of ultimate frisbee breaking out at a committee meeting as there is of a group of students who all like Shakespeare putting on impromptu plays in the quadrangle. The school relies heavily on the honor system for all of its procedures, and dishonorable actions are dealt with swiftly.

Among National Liberal Arts Colleges, Reed College ranks No. 90. U.S. News and World Report also ranks the school No. 35 on its list of “Most Innovative Schools.” Despite its laid-back approach on campus, Reed College is quite selective and only chooses one student in three for admittance.

Reed College Accreditation Details

Reed College holds its regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Additionally, the school’s science department is accredited by the American Chemical Society.

Reed College Application Requirements

Reed College doesn’t require any specific set of high-school classes from its incoming freshmen, but the college does note that most Reed College students have taken the most challenging slate of courses at their high schools. Students must have their high schools submit their official transcripts. Interestingly, students must also choose one item from their lockers and submit it with an essay about why they chose that item to submit.

Students must also submit either the ACT, the SAT, or both, along with two letters of recommendation from teachers in two different subjects and a counselor’s recommendation. The median score on the ACT for all applicants in 2019 was 31, and the median score on all three sections of the SAT was 2,060.

The Master of Arts in Liberal Arts Studies degree has only one application requirement: a bachelor’s degree. Within that context, all who wants to pursue the degree may do so even if they have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Annual tuition at Reed College is $58,130. Room and board come to $14,620, and the various student fees total $310. Books are another $2,000, and travel and incidentals come to roughly $3,000. All told, that’s about $80,000. Reed College, however, meets all of its students’ demonstrated need for financial aid. The college does not provide any merit-based aid because it goes against the college’s egalitarian mindset.

Students begin the financial aid process by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The college takes the information included on this form and applies an algorithm to it to determine how much aid each student should receive.

Prior to admittance, however, students may apply for private, merit-based financial aid and simply present Reed College with a check. Students should remember, though, that merit-based aid awarded will be figured into the algorithm for need-based aid.

Need-based aid falls into three categories: grants, scholarships, and subsidized loans. These loans do not accrue interest while the student is enrolled. Grants include work-study programs, and Reed College offers its own work-study opportunities alongside the federal opportunities. Students who want to participate should contact the Office of Financial Aid to find out more.

International students must have all of their applicable visas and other immigration paperwork solidified prior to admittance or applying for financial aid. These students must have work visas in addition to student visas to work on campus, particularly if they intend to participate in work-study programs.

All students may even qualify for off-campus work-study jobs, but there is a separate application process for that. Students should check with the Office of Financial Aid for further details.

Reed College marches to the beat of its own drummer, but its success over the past 111 years mean that that drumbeat is successful.

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