And here I am, back in the good, solid midwest. It was a nice trip to Portland. I’m not totally convinced about Reed, though. While I like the city a lot, and in many ways the type of school that Reed is appeals to me (small and liberal-artsy), I just didn’t get a really good vibe.

For one thing, whenever we asked people about what they didn’t like about Reed it would often be the atmosphere of stress - everyone likes to feel like they’re working too hard; one person described it as an academic pissing contest. For a school that doesn’t give grades (in the traditional sense), I was hoping that the focus would be on the learning, rather than simply the workload. I simply worry about my ability to thrive at a place like this, because I’m so used to being on top of things. I guess it’s probably a good idea to put myself in a position to be challenged, but this has never been a good way to challenge myself. It just makes me angry and depressed. Of course, I’ll probably have to learn how to deal with it sooner or later, but I’d rather not have that be the main focus of my college years.

That said, Reed does offer some nice things - a beautiful campus, a good and liberal city, a downplay on the importance of grades, etc. But it’s also got a strict core curriculum, which doesn’t really bother me so much but isn’t ideal (one the one hand I’d like to be able to do what I want, on the other hand this will expose me to more disciplines that I might not have considered otherwise).

Socially, I would really just need to find a like-minded peer group. Some of the people I talked to seemed cool, others not so much. There’s a huge tendency towards drinking and smoking, but that neither surprises nor bothers me (it’s going to be like that everywhere). We were talking to a couple of other prospective students from Texas who had stayed at Louis and Clark on Thursday night. They mentioned that one of the people they stayed with had a boyfriend at Reed (or something like that), who said there’s a big hard drug movement at Reed, too. Not sure what to make of that.

Overall, it’s someplace I could definitely see myself, but it’ll come down to whether or not I want to repeat the stringent academics of high school in college. At the moment, I’m holding out for a place that more successfully balances academics and social life and still gives me the most in terms of actually learning things I want to know. And maybe a place that’s a bit bigger, 1300 is tiny.

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