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We asked prospective students, as part of their application process, to write an essay about why they wanted to attend Reed. This is what some of them told us.
Because. . . .
I want an environment where a love of the arts, of the full breadth of human expression, and of diversity (especially in its less hackneyed dimensions) is taken for granted. A classmate visited the Reed campus this summer. He told me that it was extremely liberal, with an incredibly eccentric student body, and that it was definitely not the school for him. Well, I am nothing like him, and I need a school that can nurture a constantly changing and growing individuality.
Reed stuck out. Like a sore, blue-painted, and left-leaning thumb. I am drawn to the prospect that it is one of the only colleges where honesty and passion for learning is the norm, where the classes are small and the coffee strong enough to stick a fork into.
For me, it may be a saving grace—a place where I can use my head without fear of ridicule, without having to be the best (I never was anyway); a place where ideas are cherished, not ignored, and people are people, not groups.
I hope my ideas will be challenged, but never simply discarded for their differences. I can see myself later in life as a Reedie: successful, eccentrically charismatic, and well learned about religion, thought, and culture. I want to come to Reed because the admission lady had a nose ring. I first became interested in Reed College solely to upset my mother.
I am a devout libertarian, an aspiring Bodhisattva, a fusion jazz pianist, a progressive computer programmer, and a blunt, abstract poet. Sure, it’s fun to read Heart of Darkness now, but what if I read it in a small class where the students really like to read, and get into it: I wouldn’t be surprised if the room exploded.
“He was a poet,” Jack Kerouac says of Japhy Ryder. “A mountain man, a Buddhist dedicated to the principle of meditation on the essence of all things.” Japhy Ryder went to Reed.
It was Sunday afternoon, and a solid 80 percent of the people I saw were reading, writing, or clearly just thinking damn hard about something. And the people who weren’t studying were arguing. My boss—a Reed graduate—had been telling me that Reed might be a good place. He described all the extremes that Reed was: extremely hard to do well, extremely left wing, extremely small. All I could think was: “Finally!”
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