What I Know Now: Advice from a current sophomore (and Quest editor) on surviving your first year at Reed

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly implied that excess board points are automatically transferred to the Reed Community Pantry at the end of each year. This was inaccurate, as students must act to voluntarily donate their points. According to the Pantry, “At the end of each semester, the RCP works with Bon Appetite to set up a page on Reed’s website to receive board point donations, and there is a cap to the amount of board point donations the RCP can receive. Students who choose to donate can use this page to initiate donations of any amount of their excess board points. Bon Appetite then [uses] the donated board points to purchase bulk supplies for the RCP as needed. Other ways students can use their excess board points [are] to purchase directly from Bon Appetite and donate the items to the RCP.” The Quest apologizes for the error.

HUM 110

  • Papers are usually due Saturday afternoons, which is a trap that results in students writing their entire paper on Saturday morning. Don’t fall victim to the trap.
  • Do the reading. But if you don’t, 50% is better than nothing. Skim it, listen to an audiobook, watch a summary video on Youtube, or simply ask a friend what’s going on. Conference will go smoothly as long as you: know the significance of the text, come prepared with questions to prompt the class, and have an opinion on something.
  • Debating with each other in conference is good for your education. However, you must remain civil; do not start any fist fights over the meaning of a poem.
  • Watch the lectures on 2x speed. After you train your ears to understand professors talking at race car speeds, you will never go back. Time spent watching lectures at a normal speed is time you could have spent sleeping.
  • Speaking of lectures, watch them with your friends! If all of you have to sit through them regardless, you might as well bring some snacks and have some company. 


  • The two most important words that could come out of someone’s mouth in college are “free food.” Most dorms will abide by the Kommie food rule. If you don’t want a food item, mark it with a “K”, leave it in the common room, and don’t expect it to still be there when you come back.
  • Food plans are kinda a scam. Unless you are diligent about keeping track of your board plan, you will end up with either $600 or $0 by April and will not know what to do with yourself. Luckily, there is a process where students with excess board points can transfer them to students who run out. If you can’t get rid of the excess of points, they will not transfer over to the next school year. Your money is, instead, donated to the community pantry.
  • Tired of Commons food? It’s not bad but it can get old. Luckily, right across 28th Avenue on the West side of campus there are some really great food trucks that probably make most of their living off of Reedies. Woodstock also has good coffee shops, restaurants, and grocery stores that are a walkable distance from campus!
  • A lot of people don’t carry cash anymore, but as soon as Bill pulls up in his red pick-up truck you’ll be asking your friends to borrow a 20. Bill Nelson often sells old books and art prints on campus but he only takes cash. Hit the ATM in the GCC and be ready for his spontaneous pop-up shops.
  • Never ever leave your dorm without your emotional support water bottle. Reed does not sell bottled water anywhere on campus, but there are plenty of places to fill up your reusable bottle.
  • For the love of never splitting the check, download Venmo on your phone. Don’t waste the waiter’s time. 


  • Balls are our form of themed dances. They happen on weekends in the SU and you will be notified of them via posters taped around campus. Dressing for the theme is arguably the most rewarding part of attending a ball. Most people don’t dance because Reedies have too much of a main character complex to actually go into the venue, rather they find somewhere outside or in the pool hall to congregate. The balls are fairly hit or miss but as long as you’re with the right people you’ll have fun. 
  • Get to know the people in your dorm. Living with friends results in a lot more fun than living with strangers you nod at from time to time.
  • Reedies are absolute nerds (obviously) and many of them enjoy the art of tabletop gaming. By God, if you haven’t heard of Magic the Gathering yet – you will, and you will know more about silly pieces of cardboard than you ever thought possible. Tabletop gaming is fun though and it’s worth spending an afternoon with friends trying it out, just be patient when learning and DO NOT bend anyone’s cards.
  • There are designated places on campus where graffiti is okay, but please refrain from vandalizing or stealing anything in the residential buildings. It is unkind and uncool.
  • Have a hand in keeping up Reed’s traditions. Send in cryptic MCs, partake in the Owl Fight, sign up to help during Renn Fayre, and always uphold the honor code and help a fellow student out when they need it.


  • I commend you if you were able to keep track of your assignments in your head in highschool, but the switch to college provides a great opportunity to make new organization habits. I’d recommend some kind of weekly planner, whether it be online or pen and paper.
  • Academic advisors are meant to help you with your academic goals. If you feel as if you and your advisor don’t click, you are always allowed to apply to switch to a different professor.
  • To all my fellow STEM students, labs won’t kill you if you don’t let them. You can generally bet on Biology and Chemistry labs letting out early, but if you have the option to either leave early or stay and finish the report ALWAYS stay and finish the report. It is hellish to have to swap numbers with your lab mates and find a common time in your four busy schedules to meet up to finish the lab work. Get it done immediately since you are already there together.
  • The school provides you with tons of resources but they can be hard to find. The library has staff available that specialize in different departments to help you research paper topics, the MLab in the ETC can help you with any data related questions, and CLBR is prepared to help you figure out your future.
  • Creative resources are also abundant. In the library basement you can check out cameras and sound equipment, you can have art printed out in the print shop in Eliot, and there is a supposed makerlab with 3D printers in the Physics building sub-basement. 
  • Tutors are available in every subject either by appointment on IRIS or drop-in in various academic buildings. Ask your professors about the drop-in tutoring sessions for their classes specifically, usually they will take place on the weekdays in the afternoon. Tutoring by appointment is free up to one hour per week per enrolled class. As many professors will probably tell you, go to tutoring before you think you need to go tutoring.
  • Another great time to ask questions is during your professor’s office hours. I had many professors lament that they rarely get visitors during their office hours. Whether you have a specific question about an assignment or just want to pick their brain, your professor will be happy to talk to you.
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Stories


We would love your thoughts, please comment!x
%d bloggers like this: