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). Occasionally students also may be able to take classes in political science, philosophy, history and religion. It is important to understand, however, that Reed gives priority in enrollment to the undergraduate degree students, and therefore space limitations may restrict Young Scholar access to certain classes. 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. The Reed catalog provides a description of all college courses. 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 by sending an email request to the admission office. Be sure to identify yourself as a Young Scholar prospect and note the class and date you would like to attend.

Notice of Nondiscrimination

Reed does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, veteran status, genetic information, physical or mental disability, family relationship, or on the basis of any other category protected by law. Reed does not consider any of the above attributes in administration of its employment policies, educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan program, and athletic and other school-administered programs. In its policies and actions, Reed will comply with its obligations under state and federal law including Title VI and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), Oregon Revised Statutes, and any other applicable law. Inquiries on the application of Title VI, Title IX, the ADA, and Section 504, may be made to Lorraine J. Arvin, Vice President and Treasurer, Reed College, or to the Office for Civil Rights.


Office of Special Programs


Taking a college course during my senior year was extremely freeing and exciting. I loved feeling responsible, autonomous, and challenged. What I will remember about my Reed class is the way in which it challenged me to think in new ways. All my life in school, I felt conditioned to find a clear answer. Reading was a process of finding relevant details to match the answers to a set of bulleted curriculum, and thinking was merely a deduction of options to fit a criteria. My Reed class challenged me to think, to question, and to connect ideas. It has completely changed how I think about what learning in school means.
—Adam Nayak '17
YS in political science

The Young Scholars Program has afforded me the opportunity to be intellectually challenged while immersing myself in a collegiate environment. I was also able to gain invaluable skills that will facilitate my scholarship at my future institution. The aspect that I'm most thankful for, however, is the opportunity to build close relationships with students who share similar interests. Some of the best friends I've made during my high school career were Reed College students.
—Derek Chen '17
YS in mathematics

I am grateful for my experience at Reed, because I met the most experienced and knowledgeable teacher in my life. In my Chinese course, we learned not only the language, but discussed contemporary Chinese history and even debated fundamental questions such as what democracy is, how we know human rights exist, and whether or not humans are more intelligent than birds. My teacher welcomed argument and dissension, as long as we provided evidence for our viewpoints. And arguments were civil, because my classmates were the most mature and respectful students I have ever met.
—Jim Yang '17
YS in Chinese

Participating in the Young Scholars program was the best decision and action of my high school career. My Reed courses were far more involved and engaging than I even hoped. I puzzled over problems and concepts in a completely new way. Knowledge acquisition and questioning were valued as more than a means to an end. Class projects fostered a sense of camaraderie between older students and me—they welcomed me, asked about my college plans, and offered to form study groups with me.
—Uma Ilavarasan '15
(Reed '19)
YS in economics