On the Road to College with Betsy Woolf – Reed College

Reed is a distinctive place where the intellectual life thrives in a suburban Portland campus just 15 minutes from downtown. The campus school with a canyon in its midsection is intense academically but not competitive. Classes are capped at 24; all freshmen participate in a year-long Humanities 110 class; and only majors, not minors, are offered. This is a place where learning takes place for learning’s sake; students receive feedback from professors through extensive written evaluations. There is an honor principle, not a code, and exams are unproctored. In addition, each student must pass a junior qualifying examination before beginning to create a senior thesis based on original research or artistic expression. No wonder that a large number of Reedies go on to graduate school.

Although lots of students are outdoorsy, it’s not a requirement, although one student told me that “Portland makes you outdoorsy.” The college owns a ski cabin in Mt. Hood, about an hour and a half away, that is free to students to use.

Academics are important, but Reedies know how to have fun. Getting dressed in costumes is popular, and not just for Halloween. There is an annual rugby event in which the team dresses up in prom dresses; a bonfire on campus celebrates the submission of senior theses; Nitrogen Day celebrates the element; and a soccer game features participants wearing T-shirts with funky sayings that are printed in the school print shop. Professors are on a first name basis, and profs and students alike can bring their dogs to class. And finally, there is the tradition of scrounging, which actually is what the name implies, in which students leave their leftover food at a special table in the cafeteria for students who are not on the meal plan.

As my tour guide said, Reed is a funky place!

Copyright 2015. Betsy F. Woolf. All rights reserved.