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09 April 2016 @ 09:28 pm
College Stuff! (Not for Earthling, Thank God)  
The redoubtable Cousin Z, my oldest nephew, is -- oh god oh god -- going to college next fall. He applied to many schools and got into most of them, and now, through assiduous research, careful internal debate, and, very likely, a color-coded spreadsheet with many tabs, he's narrowed down his options to Reed and Whitman. And now he's trying to make that final choice.

Z had very good experiences visiting both schools, including talking with a Whitman admissions officer who described the school in Harry Potter house terms. He also went to an accepted-students reception for Reed where he went to hide in the kitchen because people, and then so many other guests (and also the host) had the same idea that it ended up being a reception-within-the-reception for people who hate receptions, all of them hiding in the kitchen and talking about how much they wished they weren't there.

Z is a very introverted person who is interested in applied math (his intended major), Doctor Who, social justice, Harry Potter, politics, Game of Thrones, and economics. His hobbies are reading fic, playing and writing music for his cello, and spending many hours at Starbucks with his study groups. (Also making color-coded spreadsheets.) He likes both Reed and Whitman because they're smaller schools where he felt comfortable on the campus, in large part because the students seemed like geeky introverts and giant weirdos, so pretty much his people.

It seems like either school could be a happy place for him. But this is Z, so he is in hardcore information-gathering mode. He could use more data. (Z could always use more data.) He needs to know the differences between the two! Find a way to make a choice! My question for you is: do you know anything about Reed or Whitman? Do you have any experiences to relate or any data Z can gather? It would help.

Thank you!

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
shake.: timecallmesandy on April 10th, 2016 02:50 pm (UTC)
Reed is in one of the great parts of Portland, walkable/bikable places, more coffeehouses than Starbucks, great food places.

The downside is Portland, particularly around Reed is a pretty darn homogenous space - lots of white people.
kate_fire: deathkate_fire on April 11th, 2016 07:22 am (UTC)
Lol. Of course, Whitman is in Walla Walla, which is the same, except much smaller. My parents went there. It's nice, but high desert and the city is pretty small.

I personally like Portland, but Reedies are so hoity toity about so much stuff. Picture the quintessential hipster (with a high iq) and that's a Reedie.
the pirate queen of norway: blodeuwedd ginnyashkitty on April 10th, 2016 09:06 pm (UTC)
Whitman is great, but its fatal flaw is that it is located in Walla Walla.
filkferengifilkferengi on April 12th, 2016 02:28 pm (UTC)
It sounds like, whichever school he winds up with, will be a win. He'll be within reach of Betsy Tinney, the best cellist I know. She has a patreon
[https://www.patreon.com/betsytinney?ty=c ] and an album out on bandcamp, where you can listen to the whole thing: http://music.betsytinney.com/album/release-the-cello

The PNW has a very exciting music scene. If he ever wants to share his musical compositions [or just enjoy a variety of wonderful music], I recommend Conflikt [ conflikt.org/ ], the filk con in January. Betsy's husband runs the consuite, and there are at least 2 other cellists to hang out with [or hide behind]. Then the fiddlers, and basses, and.. It's small, so he can hang out with a few folks, or hide in one of the practice rooms. It's fun and friendly, & folks will readily respond to either socializing or leaving one alone. The consuite is appallingly healthy.
Coooooookie!ldthomps on April 12th, 2016 02:52 pm (UTC)
My guy's son went through a similar search (with similar interests - he's a math major with a CS minor for "practicality") 3 years ago now, and Reed was high on the list (Pomona and Swarthmore were other favorites, he went with Swarthmore). The weather at Reed gave him pause, if nephew isn't used to a lot of rain.

But I also think that the kid was comforted in the end to be told often that all of his choices were great schools where he was likely to thrive. Too often kids these days feel like their college choice will make or break them (I get it, but it doesn't help), so if you can reassure him that they're both great schools and he'll likely do really well at either, that might also help him.
teogli: black and whiteafearfulthing on May 11th, 2016 07:10 am (UTC)
Reed dropout here! Like many schools, Reed has an abundance of fascinating shiny things to do and paths to follow. It also has fewer checks and balances and feedback venues than most. They don't tell you your overall letter grade unless it's under a C. You're not encouraged to calculate the value of various projects. Basically, people expect you to be more motivated and self-directed than the average freshman, to venture off into the wilderness of the mind! Returning with personal growth and discovery! It's all terribly romantic. If you want to design your own curriculum, and think you can follow through, Reed is perfect. Weirdos doing their own thing are encouraged to keep doing their own thing. Don't expect to be able to transfer all your credits if you switch schools. They have a lovely unique program full of people passionate about their very specific interests.
I was not that person. Reed had a higher than average dropout rate at that point (2004), and I haven't paid much attention to them since...