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The Battle the Out-There LACs: Reed Vs. Grinnell

ccoolleeggeessccoolleeggeess Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
Title says it all.

I was accepted into Reed EA and Grinnell RD via early write. Have already visited both and still cannot decide.

I really don't care about location which seems to be the main differentiator here, so any other points would be greatly appreciated.

Replies to: The Battle the Out-There LACs: Reed Vs. Grinnell

  • washugradwashugrad Registered User Posts: 789 Member
    Congratulations! What major are you thinking of?
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 35,998 Senior Member
    I’m surprised the visit didn’t reveal a preference. I’d say both schools tend to provoke a reaction. Reed is definitely more “out there” than Grinnell per your thread title, though. More unique in academics (grading, required thesis, some of the required courses). Portland, kind of hippie vibe to Reed. Grinnell is fairly Midwestern in feel to me. Nice LAC, less of a “march to your own drummer” vibe than Reed. Personally, I like the somewhat counterculture, strongly intellectual vibe to Reed a bit more.
  • prezbuckyprezbucky Registered User Posts: 4,313 Senior Member
    edited February 12
    - Well location might not be a big deal, but setting could be. Reed grants better access to a big city. Grinnell isn't far from Des Moines or The Corridor (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City), but it is farther from them than Reed is from Portland proper, and Portland is more of a city than its Iowa competitors.

    - Reed is said to require very hard work to get through. Grinnell may be hard too, but it doesn't have quite the "hard intellectual/work load" rep that Reed has garnered.

    - Grinnell is no bastion of conservatism, but Reed is thought to be among the most liberal LACs in the country. Perhaps more important for the average student, they are vocal. Grinnell may have socialists too, but the school is in Iowa, and Iowa is known for its gregarious cordiality.

    That said, I have read Reed students' testimonies on here saying that regardless of your political bent, there is enough respect for vigorous debate that opposing viewpoints will be heard. I don't think they want to be the vacuum chamber that Oberlin, one of their peers, has become.

    - Grinnell's overall culture is a bit more laid-back and polite. This is probably an offshoot of the "Iowa Nice" factor. There are probably some really judgmental/mean/aggressive students there, but they are surrounded by Iowa, and osmosis happens.

    I think their academic and overall reputations are about even (despite Reed's USNews ranking, which is laughable), so if cost difference is not a concern, choose based on fit: slightly harder and more cosmopolitan (from an opportunity standpoint) Reed, or slightly more laid-back, rural, and nice Grinnell.
  • aquaptaquapt Registered User Posts: 1,628 Senior Member
    Grinnell has higher freshman retention and graduation rates. Whether this means that Grinnell is more consistently meeting its students' needs, or that Reed simply attracts a more nonconformist student body that may find other pursuits more attractive than finishing college (<cough>SteveJobs<cough>) or whether the above-mentioned rigor of Reed drives some students away, is open to speculation. But for whatever reason, Reed has double the attrition rate, both among freshman and cumulatively thereafter. In most other statistical measures, they are very similar. If you've visited Reed and feel confident about fit, then I wouldn't hesitate to choose it.

    Cost is equivalent? What do you want to study? (For example, if premed, Grinnell might be the better choice; if an aspiring physics PhD, then Reed would have the edge.)
  • MintwoodMintwood Registered User Posts: 84 Junior Member
    Congrats! I think that the comments you have received to date are good ones. Obviously, there are no wrong answers here. The major difference between the two institutions is their proximity to an urban area, and you need to decide how important that is to you. Academically, they are very similar. Both will prepare you well for advanced studies in either a PhD programme or professional school.
  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia Registered User Posts: 3,149 Senior Member

    Practical considerations: Is there a cost differential? Grinnell offers merit and need-based aid; Reed only offers need-based. Are there major transportation differences with respect to distance, cost, and hassle factor? Ready access to city or small town preference? How do you feel about long cold winters?

    If cost is not a factor, I agree with @intparent and @prezbucky that Reed has a more distinct vibe. To me, Grinnell resembles many other excellent midwestern LACs. Reed is said to attract unorthodox free thinkers and is pretty intense intellectually.

    Either would position you well for graduate or professional school.

    Congrats, two great choices!
  • vonlostvonlost Super Moderator Posts: 30,770 Super Moderator
    Over time, Grinnell has been catching up to Reed in PhD productivity:

  • Mom24boysMom24boys Registered User Posts: 917 Member
    You can't go wrong, but my son choose Grinnell so I"ll put a plug in for Iowa. Grinnell will give you a school with a large percentage of international students, a mix of all socio economic groups all basted in Iowa nice. The school is liberal but not in your face liberal, again Iowa nice. You will be in a Grinnell bubble, but the school works hard to offer externships and Grinnell in London is fantastic. More than 40% of students do independent research and I think more than 50% have advanced degrees within 5 years. I would say 3 things set Grinnell apart from other SLAC, first only required course is freshman seminar which now often includes travel, second a very healthy endowment allowing for generous aid and lastly Iowa nice (and if your into politics participation in the Iowa caucus).
  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 2,323 Senior Member
    edited February 12
    I think you can tell a lot by the types of alumni a school has educated.

    Grinell seems a little more worldly and diverse than it might get credit for being in Iowa. And pretty wide ranging skills.

    Grinell has some interesting grads:

    Herbie Hancock the jazz musician extraordinaire
    John de Mabior, the former president of Sudan and leader of the Sudanese Liberation Movement,
    Bruce Freidlich, founder of the Good Food Inc and organic food activist,
    Harry Hopkins who was architect of FDR’s New Deal creating social security,
    Nordahl Brue of Brueggers Bagels fame

    Celebrities and writers include Mr Chekhov of Star Trek fame,also a grad is the author of “Mutiny on the Bounty” as well as more recently, the award winning filmmaker of the “Life of Harvey Milk,” lgbtq trailblazer.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 35,998 Senior Member
    Brueggers... now you are making me miss the Midwest. :)
  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 2,323 Senior Member
    edited February 12
    With Reed having the Steve Jobs card (although he was visionary, I bet he was a grouchy lab partner) thought it would be nice to give Grinell a fair shake.
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