School in Focus: Reed College

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Students walking in the school campus.

Reed College is a private liberal arts college located in Portland, Oregon, known for its rigorous academic program and unique campus culture. Founded in 1908, Reed College has earned a reputation as one of the most academically challenging and intellectually stimulating institutions in the United States. In this article, we will explore everything one needs to know about Reed College.

Where is Reed College located?

Where exactly is the campus of Reed College situated? Reed College is located in Portland, Oregon, a city known for its vibrant arts scene and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Portland is often ranked as one of the most livable cities in the United States and has a thriving food scene, with numerous coffee shops and restaurants.

Reed’s campus is located in the southeast corner of Portland, near the Eastmoreland Golf Course and the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.

The campus is easily accessible by public transportation, and the city’s light rail system, MAX, has a stop near the college.

What is the history of Reed College?

What was the impetus behind the founding of Reed College? Reed College was founded in 1908 by Simeon Reed, a successful businessman, and philanthropist from Portland, Oregon.

Simeon Reed was passionate about education and had a vision of creating a college that would provide a rigorous and challenging education in the liberal arts.

To realize this vision, Simeon Reed left a bequest of $1 million to create Reed College. The college opened its doors to its first class of students in September 1911, with a total enrollment of just 27 students.

Students leaning on a wall while looking at a laptop.

Financial challenges marked the early years of Reed College, and the college struggled to establish itself as a reputable institution of higher learning.

However, under the leadership of President William T. Foster, who served from 1919 to 1942, it began to gain a reputation for academic excellence.

During his tenure, President Foster oversaw the construction of several new buildings on campus, including the library, the gymnasium, and the performing arts center.

He also established a number of programs and initiatives that helped to establish the institution as a premier liberal arts institution, including the mandatory freshman humanities course, “Hum 110,” which remains a hallmark of the college’s academic program to this day.

After President Foster’s retirement, it continued to grow and expand. In the 1950s and 1960s, the college saw a surge in enrollment, and new buildings and facilities were constructed to accommodate the growing student body.

During this period, it also became a center of political and social activism. Students and faculty members were active in the civil rights and anti-war movements, and the college became known for its progressive politics and countercultural ethos.

In the 1970s and 1980s, it faced a number of challenges, including declining enrollment and financial difficulties.

However, under the leadership of President Steven Koblik, who served from 1988 to 1992, the college underwent a period of revitalization and recommitment to its core values.

During President Koblik’s tenure, it launched a major fundraising campaign to strengthen its financial position and ensure the long-term sustainability of the institution.

The college also expanded its academic program, adding new majors and interdisciplinary programs, and began to focus more on attracting and retaining a diverse student body.

Since the 1990s, it has continued to evolve and adapt to changing social, economic, and cultural trends.

Today, the college remains committed to its founding mission of providing a rigorous and challenging education in the liberal arts, while also fostering a culture of intellectual inquiry, social responsibility, and creative expression.

What is the academic situation at Reed College?

What is the current state of the academic community at Reed College? It is widely regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the United States, and its academic program is one of the college’s defining features. The college offers a rigorous and challenging curriculum that is designed to foster intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and creativity.

Academic Programs

The academic program at Reed College is organized around a core curriculum that emphasizes the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

In addition to the core curriculum, it offers a wide range of majors and interdisciplinary programs.

Three students using a laptop in a table.

Some of the most popular majors at Reed College include biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, English, history, and political science. It also offers a number of interdisciplinary programs, including biochemistry and molecular biology, environmental studies, neuroscience, and women’s and gender studies.

These programs allow students to explore topics and issues that span multiple disciplines and provide a broader and more holistic understanding of the world.

Teaching and Learning

Small class sizes, intense discussions, and close collaboration between students and faculty members characterize the academic program at Reed College.

The student-faculty ratio at Reed College is just 9:1, which means that students have ample opportunities to work closely with their professors and receive personalized attention and support.

Group of students signing up for internship.

Reed College has a strong commitment to experiential learning, and students are encouraged to engage in hands-on research and creative projects.

The college offers a number of opportunities for students to conduct independent research, work on collaborative projects with faculty members, and participate in internships and study abroad programs.


Reed College has a strong commitment to academic rigor and excellence, and the college has established a rigorous system of assessment to ensure that students meet the highest academic achievement standards.

This system includes regular evaluations of student performance, comprehensive exams, and senior theses.

College councillor talking to a student.

Reed College is also committed to providing students with meaningful feedback on their academic progress.

Faculty members provide regular feedback on assignments and papers, and students receive a written evaluation at the end of each semester that provides detailed assessments of their academic progress and areas for improvement.

Support Services

Reed College offers a wide range of support services to help students succeed academically. These services include academic advising, tutoring and writing support, and disability services.

The college also offers a number of resources to help students navigate the academic and personal challenges of college life, including counseling services, health services, and career services.

Reed College has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, and the college provides a number of resources and support services to help students from diverse backgrounds succeed academically.

These resources include academic and cultural support programs, affinity groups, and diversity and inclusion training for faculty and staff.

Student Achievement

Reed College has a strong reputation for academic excellence, and its students consistently achieve impressive outcomes.

According to data from the National Survey of Student Engagement, Reed College students spend more time studying and engaging in academic activities than students at almost any other college or university in the United States.

Reed College has also produced a number of notable alumni, including Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and MacArthur “Genius” grant recipients.

College student looking away from the camera.

Some of the most famous Reed College alumni include novelist Gary Snyder, linguist Noam Chomsky, novelist and essayist Ursula K. Le Guin, and journalist and activist Barbara Ehrenreich.

In addition to their academic achievements, Reed College students are also highly engaged in their communities and in the world around them.

Many students are involved in community service and social justice work, and the college has a strong tradition of activism and engagement with pressing social and political issues.

What are the reasons for attending Reed College?

What are the advantages of going to Reed College? With its rigorous academic program, engaged student body, and strong commitment to intellectual curiosity, Reed College is a popular choice for students seeking a challenging and rewarding college experience.

In the lines that follow, we will explore some of the key reasons why students might choose to attend Reed College.

Academic Excellence

One of the primary reasons that students choose to attend Reed College is the college’s academic program. Reed College has a long-standing reputation for academic excellence, and its rigorous curriculum is designed to challenge students and foster intellectual curiosity and critical thinking.

The college’s core curriculum emphasizes the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, and all students are required to take a series of courses in these areas.

Reed College also offers a wide range of majors and interdisciplinary programs, allowing students to explore a variety of subjects and pursue their intellectual interests.

This emphasis on academic rigor and experiential learning prepares Reed College graduates for success in a wide range of careers and graduate programs.

Small Class Sizes and Engaged Faculty

Another reason students attend Reed College is the college’s small class sizes and engaged faculty. With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 9:1, students have ample opportunities to work closely with their professors and receive personalized attention and support.

Reed College faculty members are highly engaged in their fields and their student’s academic and personal development, providing mentorship and guidance inside and outside the classroom.

In addition to their expertise and dedication, Reed College faculty members are also highly accessible and approachable, encouraging students to ask questions and engage in open and challenging discussions.

This emphasis on intellectual curiosity and engagement fosters a deep sense of community and camaraderie among Reed College students and faculty members.

Strong Sense of Community

Reed College has a strong sense of community that is grounded in its commitment to intellectual curiosity, academic rigor, and social justice.

The college attracts students from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, creating a diverse and inclusive community that values open and respectful dialogue.

Reed College students are highly engaged in campus life and in the broader community, participating in a wide range of extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations.

The college also offers a number of resources and support services to help students succeed academically and personally, including academic advising, tutoring and writing support, and counseling services.

Location and Resources

Finally, many students choose to attend Reed College because of its location in Portland, Oregon, a vibrant and dynamic city that is known for its progressive politics, arts and culture, and natural beauty.

Portland is home to a thriving arts and music scene, numerous parks and outdoor recreation areas, and a diverse and welcoming community.

In addition to its location, Reed College also offers a wide range of resources and support services to help students succeed academically and personally.

The college’s Career Services Center provides students with guidance and resources for exploring career paths and finding employment and internships, while the Center for Life Beyond Reed offers support for alumni as they navigate their post-college lives and careers.

How to apply for Reed College?

How can one submit an application to Reed College? With a reputation for academic excellence, engaged faculty, and a strong sense of community, Reed College is a popular choice for students who are looking for a challenging and rewarding college experience.

In this part of the article, we will explore the application process for Reed College, including required materials and tips for submitting a strong application.

Required Materials

The application for Reed College can be found on the Common Application website. In addition to the Common Application, applicants must submit the following materials:

  1. Official High School Transcript: Applicants must submit an official transcript of their high school grades. This transcript should be sent directly from the applicant’s high school to Reed College.
  2. Standardized Test Scores: Reed College accepts either the SAT or ACT and scores should be sent directly from the testing agency to Reed College. Note that Reed College is test-optional for the 2022-2023 application cycle, meaning that applicants are not required to submit test scores.
  3. Two Academic Evaluations: Applicants must submit two academic evaluations, one from a teacher in English, history, or social studies and one from a teacher in mathematics, science, or a foreign language.
  4. Personal Essay: Reed College requires that you include a writing supplement of up to 500 words as part of your application materials. You can submit the writing supplement through the Common Application, or you can email it to [email protected].

Optional Materials

In addition to the required materials, applicants may choose to submit the following optional materials:

  1. Supplemental Essay: Applicants may submit a supplemental essay that provides additional information about their academic interests, extracurricular activities, or personal experiences.
  2. Resume: Applicants may submit a resume that highlights their achievements, extracurricular activities, and work experience.
  3. Additional Evaluations: Applicants may choose to submit additional evaluations from teachers, coaches, or other mentors who know them well.
  4. Creative Writing Sample: Applicants who are interested in creative writing may submit a writing sample that showcases their skills and style.

Tips for Submitting a Strong Application

Submitting a strong application to Reed College requires careful preparation and attention to detail. Here are some tips to help you create a compelling application:

  1. Start Early: Begin the application process as early as possible to allow time for gathering materials, revising essays, and ensuring that all components are submitted by the deadline.
  2. Choose Recommenders Carefully: Choose teachers and mentors who know you well and can speak to your academic strengths, personal qualities, and potential for success at Reed College.
  3. Write a Compelling Personal Essay: The personal essay is an opportunity to showcase your writing skills and provide insight into your personality, values, and aspirations. Be authentic, reflective, and specific in your writing.
  4. Highlight Your Achievements: Use your resume and supplemental materials to highlight your achievements, extracurricular activities, and leadership experience.
  5. Visit Campus and Connect with Reed Community Members: Visiting campus and connecting with current students, faculty, and alumni can provide valuable insights into the academic and social culture of Reed College and help you articulate why you are a good fit for the community.

Segue to AdmissionSight

Reed College is a unique institution that offers a rigorous academic program, a vibrant campus culture, and a commitment to social justice and intellectual inquiry.

Located in one of the most livable cities in the United States, Reed College is a great choice for students who are looking for a challenging and rewarding educational experience.

With its strong focus on the liberal arts, its emphasis on critical thinking and writing skills, and its commitment to financial aid, Reed College is a great option for students who are interested in pursuing a career in a wide range of fields or who want to continue their education in graduate school.

We at AdmissionSight would be happy to assist you in realizing your goal. With over a decade of experience, AdmissionSight has helped countless students like you earn acceptance to their top-choice colleges and universities. Make sure to get in touch with us immediately away so we can set up your no-cost consultation.


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