Outreach Programs


Young Scholars

Throughout its history, Reed College has been dedicated to providing a challenging education for academically gifted and motivated students. The Young Scholars program, developed in 1980, extends this opportunity to selected high-school students who are ready for part-time, rigorous college study. This highly selective scholarship program allows seniors to take one college class at Reed for the full academic year while concurrently enrolled in high school. It is open to students from the metropolitan area who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and a commitment to serious study in a particular field of interest.

Who Qualifies?

Students must be recommended to the college by their high schools and must successfully complete the admission process described below. The following qualifications are required:

  • An applicant must be a high-school senior. (If spaces are available after all qualified seniors have been accommodated, junior applicants occasionally may be accepted to the program.)
  • An applicant must have exhausted high-school curricula options in the subject he or she wishes to take at Reed, or have demonstrated a serious and sustained interest in a subject not offered at the high school.
  • An applicant should present excellent academic and personal records.
  • An applicant must be enrolled concurrently in high school.
  • If accepted, matriculants must commit to taking a class for the full academic year.

Course options

If accepted, the Young Scholar will meet with a faculty adviser or the director of special programs regarding course selection and placement. Most typically, students enroll in first- and second-year classes in mathematics, the sciences (biology, chemistry, and physics), foreign languages (Chinese, French, German, Russian, and Spanish, plus Latin and ancient Greek), the arts (theatre, music, dance, and art) and the social sciences (economics and psychology). If space is available, students also may be able to take classes in political science, philosophy, and religion. While applicants may apply to more than one qualifying subject (example: physics and mathematics), Young Scholars may take only one course per semester, for which Reed College credit will be granted. Continued participation in the program for the second semester, however, is contingent upon satisfactory completion of the first, and the recommendation of the professor.

The courses taken by Young Scholars are regular Reed College classes, taught by members of the Reed faculty for undergraduate degree students. Most Reed classes are offered as small seminars that involve a good deal of interaction, as well as extensive reading, writing, and preparation. Introductory science classes will involve large lectures, but small labs and conferences. The courses at Reed are significantly more challenging and time-consuming than high-school classes. As such, Young Scholars are advised to plan their senior year curriculum and extracurricular activities accordingly.

Please note: The Reed courses may not be used to meet high-school graduation requirements. We therefore recommend that they not be listed on the student's high-school transcript.

What does it cost?

The Young Scholars program was initially funded through the generous contributions of Jean and Howard Vollum and the Charles A. Frueauff Foundation; all current funding is through Reed. The individual student is expected to contribute $100 per semester. (Some school districts may cover part or all of the student contribution. Students should consult with their school counselors about their district's policy.) Students also are responsible for the purchase of books and class materials, and for arranging transportation to and from Reed.

For Further information:

Further information on the program is available from the director of special programs, 503/777-7259. We also encourage potential applicants to visit the campus and sit in on a class in their area of interest; weekday campus tours and class visits may be arranged through the admission office, 503/777-7511.


Office of Special Programs


Having got a 5 on the AP chemistry exam a couple years prior to the Reed course, I am ashamed to admit that I was a bit cocky at the beginning of the year. I had anticipated that the course would resemble a review of AP chem, but I was wrong. Although the topics we covered were similar in the two courses, the Reed course went much more into depth with any given subject matter at hand. Perhaps of most benefit to me in the program was being relatively independent in my own education and discovering how accessible the professors and facilities really are at Reed.
-Vivia Chi '13
YS in chemistry

My Reed classes were slightly more challenging than I expected them to be, and I expected them to be very challenging! They were very different from most of my high school classes because they depended almost entirely on the students, as opposed to the professor. They depended on the students not only having read and understood the material, but also on our ability to question and discuss the material in depth. I felt much more involved in my Reed courses because I felt it was truly necessary for me to participate and be engaged.
-Amelia Jensen '07
YS in religion

The material I learned in my Reed class benefited me the most because it gave me an idea about what I want to study in college. I found the course both more and less challenging than I expected. I knew that I would have to work harder at Reed than in high school but I did not really understand what that meant until I started the course. I did not have to work as many hours as I expected, but I had to be more engaged in my work than I was used to. I also found the faculty very friendly and helpful when I saw them outside of class. They were probably my favorite aspect of my Young Scholars experience.
-Antonia Drummond '13
YS in psychology