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Adventure Begins for the Class of 2020

By Randall S. Barton on August 24, 2016 01:55 PM

HAIL, HAIL, THE GANG'S ALL HERE. Class of ’20 converges on the Great Lawn at Convocation. Photo by Leah Nash

The trumpeting fanfare of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks marked the beginning of convocation on Wednesday, as Reed welcomed the Class of 2020 to campus. In addition to the robes and the regalia, there was both wordplay and swordplay, courtesy of Prof. Darius Rejali [political science 1989–], who delivered the year’s inaugural Hum 110 lecture on the question of friends and enemies in the Iliad, punctuated by the cut and thrust of a saber (Prof. Rejali is a fencing enthusiast).

Some 357 strong, the Class of ’20 boasts some formidable statistics: 10% were valedictorians of their high school classes and another 2% were salutatorians. 32% ranked in the top 5% of their class. The median scores on their SAT tests were 680 math, 710 verbal, and 680 writing, which puts them at the 96th percentile.

The class was drawn from the largest pool ever—5,705 applicants—and is the most selective in Reed’s history, with an admittance rate of 31%. Another 42 students entered as transfers.

In terms of overall diversity, 34% come from multicultural families in the US, and another 10% hail from 16 other countries, making the class one of the most diverse in Reed’s history. More than half of the incoming students received financial aid, with an average total financial aid package of $42,289.

California leads the states, sending 104 students, followed by Washington (24), Oregon (23), and the Northeast (54). Women outnumber men, 190 to 167. Some 59% come from a public high school, 32% from a private school, 4% from a parochial school and another 4% from a charter or home school.

It is also a class of exceptional individuals. Growing up in a low-income family, Nina Flores ’20 worked more than 30 hours a week to help pay the bills. She learned to find solace in her studies, and to teach herself subjects she knew nothing about.

“I had to consistently stoke the fire of my love of learning, even when I thought I had no more firewood left within,” she says. “One of the things I love most about Reed is how it fosters an environment of discovery and independence, encouraging learning with a purpose to create and progress through difficulties. I thoroughly appreciate being in an environment that challenges every individual to make the most out of his or her circumstances.”

The class also includes a champion Rubik’s cube solver, a student who swam 21 miles across the Catalina Channel, two equestrian vaulters, a student who was raised with chimps, a student who invented his own language, a student who relearned how to talk after spending five days in a coma, and a semi-professional barber.

Welcome to Reed!