While Reed may lose some qualified applicants to competing institutions that are need-blind or offer merit aid, it does not seem to have diminished the quality of its student body. A decade ago, Reed accepted 76 percent of applicants; today the acceptance rate is under 40 percent. At the same time, the college has made gains in racial diversity, with 20 percent of students coming from minority groups.
As a result, more students like Angel Prado ’07 attend Reed, thanks not only to recruitment efforts, but also to generous aid packages.
Prado grew up in a single-parent household in East Los Angeles; he and his siblings are the first generation in the family to go to college. He was a top student at a large public high school and was actively wooed by several schools. He chose Reed and the college offered him a free ride (he also has a Gates Millennium scholarship).
Still, Prado says it took him a while to adjust to Reed. He recalls sitting in a Humanities 110 conference and listening in fascination as fellow students discussed their trips to Europe—before they got to college.
“I had never been outside the U.S. or Mexico,” he says. “It made me realize what opportunities other students had, and what ones I didn’t.”
Such distinctions are not always so stark. The clean-cut Prado probably has less money than many students who dress in shabby clothes. At Reed, the difference between haves and have-nots can be hard to detect.
Prado, who works part-time in the college admission office and serves as a peer mentor and a student senator, is keenly aware of the importance of financial aid for keeping Reed Reed. “If you want to attract the best students,” he says, “you need more resources.”