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What Is Bugging Me About Reed

intparentintparent Posts: 13,245Registered User Senior Member
edited March 2013 in Reed College
Okay... I am a parent of a high school senior who is considering Reed. My student is very bright, kinda "quirky", and loves ideas and academic discussions. Always wants to know why things are the way they are (does not memorize just for the sake of passing the test). Passionate about many things (poetry, mathematics, art, physics, opera, etc.). Really wants to go to college with other intellectual types. Headed for grad school in an area where Reed has excellent PhD "production". There are really only three colleges in the US that we have found that everyone talks about as truly "intellectual" -- U of Chicago, Swarthmore, and Reed. But here are a couple of things that are bugging me about Reed (besides no merit aid, reported drug use, and low graduation rates - but in all honesty, I think we can live with those):

I am not put off by the USNWR rankings (even with the steep drop this year). BUT, I am put off by the fact that the SAT ranges are just not that strong for Reed. If Reedies are so intellectual, where is the beef in this area? I do understand that there is a difference between intellectual and smart. BUT, my kid is both. Supurb SAT scores, and really a blazing intelligence to go with that intellectual bent. The average SAT math is under 700... my kid very much wants an intellectual environment, but really trying to get at the question of intelligence AND intellectualism. Can anyone comment on this?

Second item -- I hear that a lot of Reedies smoke. Again, what is up with THAT? Even teenagers know in this day and age that it causes cancer. My kid is WAY too smart to light up a cigarette. Are a lot of the Reed students not that smart? When I think of adults in my workplace, I know there is a bias that says only the ones who aren't that bright are still holding onto that habit. Should my kid go someplace where a lot of the students don't believe that message? Is it a sort of pseudo-intellectual activity?

I really don't mean to knock Reed with the questions above, but my kid is getting serious about trying to narrow down top few choices, and these questions are nagging at me. Any insight would be appreciated. Or any other "intellectual" school suggestions. :)
Post edited by intparent on
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Replies to: What Is Bugging Me About Reed

  • SombreSombre Posts: 273Registered User Junior Member
    Have you considered that not every person shares your views. People are free to smoke, so long as the smoke isn't getting in the way of another's well being. (last I checked)

    A smoker may or may not be "not smart."
    A person who is "not smart" may or may not be a smoker.

    One could have valid reasons to smoke. I'd find it completely reasonable if one were to tell me that one smokes because:
    a) one likes to
    b) enough that one is willing to keep on smoking, in spite of what it can (or "will", rather?) do one's health

    One could also have some existentialist tendencies. "I will die either way. Might as well do what I like in the meantime. Life of the mind. Fueled by caffeine and nicotine." That's fine by me.

    On the subject of SAT scores for the math section; well, MIT admits students with 650 on the math section too. Does it make those MIT students any less smart?

    Some people are good at math and some aren't as good. Some test well and some don't.

    Or some people just don't care about the SAT.
  • intparentintparent Posts: 13,245Registered User Senior Member
    People are entitled to their own views... but they are not entitled to their own facts. Smoking causes cancer, and second hand smoke causes it as well. Sorry, but I think most smart people do NOT smoke any more, particularly in first world countries where they have been educated on the dangers of tobacco. When a school has a higher than average percentage of smokers (this is a frequent comment about Reed, by the way), it really makes me wonder about the intelligence of the student population...

    You MIT comment really does not address the question... yes, I think it probably does make those specific students less smart, honestly. When the whole range seems quite low (as Reed's is), it makes me wonder.

    Really just trying to get at this "intellectual" vibe at Reed. Is it REALLY intellectual (which I think also includes intelligence as well as interest in ideas), or is it pseudo-intellectual?
  • ReedieparentReedieparent Posts: 1Registered User New Member
    I encourage you and your kid to go with your gut, and not over-analyze statistics which are often of dubious value. Does the school feel right? Does it feel like a fit? If you/your kid want to be with other high-achievers with top SATs, plenty of schools offer that. You are correct that the inquisitive, intellectual nature of Reed is rare. If you see and feel it, if you think it is real and if fits for your offspring, then trust what you see and feel. The rest is silly stuff that will distract you from the truth. Think long and hard about what the SATs measure, reveal and mean. Think even more about what your kid wants college to do for him/her and if Reed has a reasonable chance of providing it.
  • SombreSombre Posts: 273Registered User Junior Member
    intparent wrote:
    People are entitled to their own views... but they are not entitled to their own facts.

    "Smokers possessing lower intelligence" is your opinion. I don't agree with it.

    I'll rephrase: educated and/or intelligent people can take the conscious decision to be smokers in spite of its "dangers."
    yes, I think it probably does make those specific students less smart, honestly. When the whole range seems quite low (as Reed's is), it makes me wonder.

    I'm curious as to why you think that.

    Do you measure your son's intelligence by his grades and test scores? Maybe I'm wrong but you seemed to associate his smartness with his scores and grades in the initial post.
  • vonlostvonlost Posts: 13,741Super Moderator Senior Member
    Is it REALLY intellectual ..., or is it pseudo-intellectual?

    I think it's an attitude toward learning more than it is an SAT score. An overnight visit, attending classes, along with considering the post-grad accomplishments of Reedies, should help your son know if Reed is for him, if Reed is sufficiently intellectual (if that's what he's looking for).
  • GhosttGhostt Posts: 1,575Registered User Senior Member
    People smoke, get over it. It's a personal choice you can easily ignore. Yes, second-hand smoking can pose a potential risk to your health if you're sharing close quarters with someone who often smokes cigarettes in your presence; however, that is highly unlikely at Reed, where smoking indoors is firmly prohibited and roommates are matched up based on, among other things, substance use habits and tolerance.

    Beyond the subject of second-hand smoking, any derogatory comments you may make about the intelligence and personal worth of smokers will inevitably sound snooty and parochial. Nicotine is an addictive substance and all kinds of people get addicted to things. If that's "stupid," then many of the smartest people in history were too stupid to avoid it.

    By the way, here's an article about cigarette consumption in the US, where smart teenagers are apparently more likely to take up smoking:

    Why Intelligent People Smoke More Cigarettes | Psychology Today

    I am extremely suspicious of the claim there's any sort of correlation between smoking and intelligence*, and the legitimacy of these findings, but since we're on the subject, I thought I might mention it.

    As for Reed's SAT ranges, as someone who also had "supurb [sic] SAT scores" in high school, I can tell you I'm yet to take a class here in which I feel like the smartest, or second- or third-smartest student in the room. My classmates' erudition and wide-ranging interests often make me feel quite inadequate, in fact.

    *I can see how it might correlate with socioeconomic status based on cigarette prices and accessibility, which would also bring education and ethnicity into the equation, and explain the differences between the US, the UK and Israel, but intelligence? Not really, not in the sense in which I use the word.
  • GA2012MOMGA2012MOM Posts: 4,954Registered User Senior Member
    Although I have zero connection to Reed, I am troubled with the attitudes of the Reed students on this thread. "People smoke, get over it" or "I will die either way. Might as well do what I like in the meantime. Life of the mind."

    Not the kind of mindset I would want my child to be around. JMO
  • SombreSombre Posts: 273Registered User Junior Member
    I do not attend Reed, although I do intend on applying. GA2012MOM, I said that this *could* be a possibility, among many others.

    Yes, smoking comes with its risks. I'm not trying to refute that. I'd be willing to bet that lots of smokers share this view. That said, how they live their life is still their choice and theirs alone. I may not agree with a person's choice but if that person is aware of its implication(s) and takes responsibility for it, I don't see why I shouldn't at least respect that choice.
  • intparentintparent Posts: 13,245Registered User Senior Member
    Can anyone who is actually affliated with Reed make a guess on what percentage of students smoke at Reed? I will say that my kid commented this morning that she really hates the smell of cigarette smoke, even outside, and it really bothers her on people's clothes as well. By the way, interesting how posters here jumped to the conclusion that "she" is a "he".
  • vonlostvonlost Posts: 13,741Super Moderator Senior Member
    "By the way, interesting how posters here jumped to the conclusion that "she" is a "he"."

    Not really; it's the most common direction to make the gender mistake, fairly universal. One poster starts it, and the rest go along, thinking it's correct. It's quite insignificant, not a reflection on anything or anyone, just an ingrained cultural bias, the same one that makes us assume that generic descriptions of bad behavior are assumed to be of males. :eek:
  • GhosttGhostt Posts: 1,575Registered User Senior Member
    About one third of Reed's student body smokes.
  • siemomsiemom Posts: 440Registered User Member
    Reed parent here. The only way to "get" Reed is to visit, for you and your son to spend time there. Pay no attention to the rankings; Reed does not cooperate with USNWR in any way. My kid sounds a lot like yours; he entered with an 800 on math SAT and will be majoring in math or physics - and is finding deep and rich challenges in both areas. Loves the intellectual atmosphere and finds it to be real and rich. Has never commented about smoking (which he hates). Drugs available as at all schools but also completely avoidable - with total acceptance for those that do not indulge. PM if you want! He/we could not be happier with Reed.
  • almost therealmost there Posts: 1,417Registered User Senior Member
    According to the Quest, a little less than 25% of the students smoke while the nationwide average is about 20%. Apparently Senate is discussing the possibility of banning smoking on campus.

    Senate Beat: Blowin' Smoke | The Quest | The Free Press of Reed College
  • intparentintparent Posts: 13,245Registered User Senior Member
    Thank you, almost there! That is a very helpful article, and gives me a clearer picture on Reed's current status on this and possible future direction. I am going to guess that the LAC average is probably lower than 20% across the country (hence the large number of comments I hear about this related to Reed, that is why it stands out).

    Here is another question about Reed not related to this:

    My kid has a major in mind in the sciences, but also loves studio art. She was considering majoring in her science and minoring in art (or even double majoring), but those do not seem like possibilities at Reed. I assume very few people are able to double major (and finish in four years, which is a requirement for us given the cost and no merit aid) because of the senior thesis requirement for a major. She is very reluctant to give up her second passion, though... can anyone at Reed comment on this? Thanks!
  • Riverx1Riverx1 Posts: 135Registered User Junior Member
    About the smoking thing, it seems as if most of the discussion was being held with the assumption that Reedies are smoking cigarettes, I think it is important to note that that isn't the only and may not even be the primary thing they are smoking.

    About the SAT profile, I've done pretty extensive research into Reed and am pretty certain that upwards of 25% of the student body don't report their scores. Also it might be helpful to also look at the ACT range for the student as many might be coming from areas where that is the more popular exam.
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