@austonian I'm 99% sure vonlost is a Reed alumnus and a moderator for the Reed College forum so he probably knows a thing or two. So lay off a bit (and I mean this in the nicest way possible).
I, too, am a recent Reed alum and came out of it loving Reed and being grateful for the education I received. Since this post has mostly discussed its negatives, I want to offer a little balance. I should probably mention I was a transfer student, and at various points in my academic career I have attended a community college, a very large public university, a relatively unknown LAC, and Reed. So I have a little perspective on how Reed may compare to other colleges (though I don't have any firsthand knowledge of Hunter).
I think we can all agree that the workload is very difficult. For some, that is a huge drawback and impairs other things that they equally prioritize (social life, activities and internships, etc). For me, it was daunting but very exciting, and I was at a time in my life where I wanted to devote 23/7 to school (an hour for sleep
). The things Reed offered that the other schools didn't was challenging me to my limits (especially during my thesis), amazing personal relationships with my professors, interesting classes that really dug deep into the course content, and a campus culture eager to learn. I couldn't get away with ********ting my way through class, nor did I want to. I learned how to speak up and share my ideas, how to dissect arguments from various angles, how to wed idea and execution. I got a job directly related to my field within months of graduating (without any connections or wealthy parents, btw). The non-vocation/non-practicality of Reed can be tempered by outside jobs and internships, working for your profs, starting student groups for the things you are passionate about, etc. I have no idea what my GPA is and it doesn't really matter. Maybe it will if I will apply to grad school, but I am hopeful that Reed's "cache among grad programs" will win out.
I don't disagree that the student body is somewhat homogenous, that conference style classes aren't for everyone, that the first year is tough, that your GPA will suck compared to students at other schools, and especially that Reed isn't for everyone. It's not! Going into massive amounts of debt for a BA is rarely worth it from an investment standpoint. Only attending a school for some 'prestigious' name is silly, you should attend a college because it's a good fit for you. What people said about being an outstanding fish in a mediocre pond has merit... but desiring to be in a community passionate about learning also has merit. If the OP can achieve his short and long term goals by going to Hunter College and save thousands of dollars, more power to 'em. But it just depends on what your individual priorities are, what's worth it and what's not to you. Personally, I had to think long and hard about why I was going to college and what I wanted to get out of it, which is what spurred me to leave a school that was fine in many regards and attend Reed.
In the end, all four of us (OP, vonlost, austonian, & me) have attended Reed at some point, and all four of us have come away with very different experiences and therefore varying opinions of Reed. Obviously, what's right for me or what's right for someone else isn't necessarily what's right for you... and I think that is something the OP is going to have to decide largely on his/her own.