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Graduation Rate Hits 70%

By Chris Lydgate '90 on December 15, 2011 10:13 AM

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Reed's four-year graduation rate has jumped to an all-time high of 70%.

Out of 337 freshlings who arrived on campus in the fall of 2007, fully 236 marched with the Class of '11, yielding the highest four-year rate in the college's history.

"This is wonderful news," says Dean of Students Mike Brody.

Reed has historically suffered from low graduation rates compared to other private colleges. Rigorous academic standards and a notoriously independent student body are two key factors. Combine those with a traditionally hands-off approach to student life, not to mention Portland's copious rainfall, and the result was massive attrition. Reed's four-year graduation rate stood well below 30% in the seventies and early eighties (see graph).

The improvement reflects several factors, according to Brody and other college administrators. First, Reed has become more selective. In 2000, the college accepted 68% of all applications; today the proportion is 40%.

In addition, the college has made a sustained effort to support students during their time on campus. "Sometimes it's a bumpy road to graduation," says Brody. "We've gotten better at helping students navigate the turbulence they encounter."

The college now offers robust tutoring through the DoJo to help students with the challenging academic program, as well as comprehensive support for students with documented disabilities. The DoJo offers workshops on preventing procrastination, time management, note-taking, and other essential skills. Reed also provides a network of support for students from under-represented backgrounds.

Reed has worked hard to encourage a culture of balance, rather than a culture of stress, with a stronger PE program, a brand new counseling center, and a sustained emphasis on wellness.

"Students who could have burned out in the past are now finding healthy ways to take better care of themselves," Brody says.

During finals, for example, the college offered special yoga sessions in the dance studio, held a tea party in the Capehart room, provided acupuncture in the library, and hosted a midnight breakfast in commons.

Last night--remember, this is finals week--I spotted a clutch of mud-spattered rugby players howling in triumph as they trooped back from the pitch through the freezing drizzle. What better way to prepare for a wrestling match with Thucydides?