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Members of the incoming Class of 2010 have reason to feel special. Only 40 percent of the 3,054 high school seniors who applied to Reed this year were accepted, a record-high selectivity rate for the college.
What hasn’t changed in several decades is the importance Reed’s admission staff places on the personal essay. Students can answer one of several questions that are posed on the common collegiate application—for instance, “who has influenced you most in your life?”—or they can submit an essay of their own devising.
We sorted through the essays that incoming freshmen submitted and published a handful in Reed magazine, with permission from the authors. These aren’t necessarily the best-written essays that were submitted, nor should they be seen as models to guide the efforts of future applicants. They touch on a variety of subjects—from parental attachment, to poetry, to learning to fly, to gender identity. But they have this much in common: they are all intensely personal.