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Feature Story
reed magazine logoSpring 2008

Many Apply. Few are chosen. A plummeting admission rate may be good for Reed's reputation, but is it good for Reed? By Romel Hernandez. Photography by Orin Bassoff

Wednesday mornings throughout February and March, rain or shine but mostly rain, Reed’s admission deans gather in an empty classroom somewhere on campus for a great reckoning. They wander in one-by-one or in pairs, each carrying a stack of files crammed with the hopes and aspirations of would-be Reedies from high schools all over the country.

The deans quickly settle in around the table and set about deciding who does and doesn’t make the cut. Every week, as they repeat the winnowing process, a handful of files ends up in the “admit” pile, but most head to storage and, eventually, the shredder. And every year, the pile of rejected files gets bigger.

With a record-setting 3,485 applicants to appraise by the end of March, the committee is swamped, poring over files on nights and weekends. Wednesdays are when they come together to decide their toughest cases: not easy “A”s (admits) but not clear-cut “R”s (rejects) either. Paul Marthers, the tweedy dean of admission, starts a session with a pep talk for his stressed-out team: “I know this is a tough time of year,” he says. “We’ll get through.”

reed magazine logoSpring 2008