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

ccoolleeggeessccoolleeggeess 2 replies5 threads 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.
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Replies to: The Battle the Out-There LACs: Reed Vs. Grinnell

  • washugradwashugrad 1153 replies13 threads Senior Member
    Congratulations! What major are you thinking of?
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads 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.
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  • prezbuckyprezbucky 4323 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    - 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.
    edited February 2019
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  • aquaptaquapt 2281 replies47 threads 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.)
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  • MintwoodMintwood 95 replies1 threads 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.
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  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia 3594 replies24 threads Senior Member
    @ccoolleeggeess

    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!
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  • vonlostvonlost 18981 replies15451 threads Super Moderator
    Over time, Grinnell has been catching up to Reed in PhD productivity:

    https://www.reed.edu/ir/phdrank.html
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  • Mom24boysMom24boys 914 replies47 threads 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).
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5844 replies86 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    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.
    edited February 2019
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    Brueggers... now you are making me miss the Midwest. :)
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5844 replies86 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    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.
    edited February 2019
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  • onthewestfenceonthewestfence 250 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @Midwestmomofboys ^^^transferred to where? Was it a better fit?
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  • momrathmomrath 5997 replies39 threads Senior Member
    Commitment to enrolling and funding international students (non-resident aliens) is also a point of differentiation.

    According to their 2016-2017 CDS Grinnell's non-resident alien enrollment was 304 out of a total enrollment of 1699, or 18%. For 2017-2018 Reed enrolled 146 NRAs out of a total enrollment of 1415 or 10%.
    Grinnell spent $8 Million on financial aid to internationals; 73% received aid. Reed spent $2.5 Million; 32% received aid.

    The disparity of these figures would imply that Grinnell places much greater emphasis on the importance of international voices in and out of the classroom than Reed does.

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  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys 4060 replies27 threads Senior Member
    The Reed student we know who transferred went to their midwest public flagship where they had all kinds of perks and access.
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  • vonlostvonlost 18981 replies15451 threads Super Moderator
    edited February 2019
    ^^ If we assume that the non-resident alien application rate was the same, and the available funding was the same. The value judgement of “importance” is speculative.
    edited February 2019
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  • JBSeattleJBSeattle 1057 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Portland is a really neat city and has loads of good restaurants. I don’t think it is even close as far as location is concerned. Albeit Portland is weird (sometimes in a fun way, sometimes not so fun).

    The other posters comments are certainly valid though!
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