Hello college confidentialers. I’m a second-year double major at CWRU’s business school and its college of arts & sciences, and I have a bone to pick. Now don’t get me wrong, I think CWRU is an awesome school, and I’ve really enjoyed my time here. However, I constantly hear inaccurate things get repeated about CWRU by friends, family, prospis, parents, alumni, and even other students, and they’ve begun to get on my nerves. So, I’m going to try to nip these things in the bud by inoculating people with some facts. I’ve listed what I think are the ten most common CWRU myths and provided solid, evidence-heavy arguments for why they are wrong.
Hope this is helpful to prospective students and changes some opinions.
1. CWRU is a stem school
In my opinion, the only thing keeping this myth alive is that (1) people keeping repeating it and (2) our history. If you objectively look at the school as it is today, CWRU is no longer a school for only future doctors and engineers. Consider the following:
Our Ranking: Excluding two of the undergraduate engineering majors (BME & Material Science), our undergraduate business majors pretty consistently rank higher than the engineering majors (Top 40 vs Top 40-100). Moreover, many of our undergraduate business & humanities majors have a very strong upward trajectory, while our engineering majors are more-or-less still ranked where they were 20 years ago.*
Our alumni: Many of our recent famous alumni are from the law & business schools. For example, both our most recent Nobel Laureates won the prize in economics. Other examples of recent famous non-stem grads include Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Dennis Kucinich, the CEO of Ernst & Young, the Russo brothers, the founder of Glassdoor, and the CEO of warner bros to name a few. Although my opinion admittedly may be skewed because I’m more exposed to our successes in business/politics due to my interests, I’m willing to bet that over the past few decades, the non-stem departments have produced more nationally-recognized leaders/innovators than the stem departments.
The administrators: Let’s briefly review the resumes of arguably the four most powerful people at the university: President Snyder is a former law professor; Provost Vinson is a former history professor; Dean of Undergrads Wolcowitz is a former Econ professor; and VP of Student Affairs Stark has several degrees, all in non-stem fields. You really think these people are going to neglect the quality of our non-stem programs?
The major breakdown: Although we undeniably have a strong tilt toward the hard sciences, I think most students overestimate the extent to which Stem majors outnumber non-stem majors. We have just as many accounting majors as we do ChemEs. We have just as many PoliSci majors as we do Aerospace engineers. We have just as many finance majors as we do EEs.
The faculty caliber: To quote the university, “CWRU’s reputation as a ‘science and engineering school’ is certainly a recognition of the strength of those programs, but there is a perception that our other disciplines are not equally strong. This perception is frustrating, especially in light of the accomplishments of so many of our faculty in these disciplines, including: 24 Fulbright Scholars, 9 Guggenheim Fellowship holders, 11 American Council of Learned Societies Fellows, a MacArthur Fellow, and a Pulitzer Prize winner.”
Finally, to the extent we are a stem school, the university is working hard to shed this reputation, and I expect the school to be even more balanced over the next decade. They’ve been offering arts/humanities prospis with strong stats larger scholarships than comparable Stem majors (per my adviser); the surplus of research opportunities is even larger for non-stem subjects (I’ve had three unsolicited offers for a research position so far); and lastly, they’ve made it super easy for non-stem majors to get funding for conferences, independent research, and other experiential learning opportunities (based on my experience trying to get these things).
2. There’s nothing to do/Cleveland is a dead city.
This is just lazy. Frankly, when someone says this, I begin to form some negative opinions about them. I understand Cleveland isn’t New York, but it sure as hell isn’t Ithaca either. Consider this:
- Cleveland is a major stop for any reputable band, comedian, circus, or politician.
- There are 3 major sports team that are highly talked about (for better or for worse…)
- The arts scene is top notch. There is the Cleveland Museum of Art, Severance Hall (home to arguably the best orchestra in the world), the Cleveland Institute of Art (who holds some pretty cool events), the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the house of blues, playhouse square, MOCA, and the Rock Hall of Fame.
- There are also alot of ‘brainy’ (for lack of a better word) things to do: the city club, the great lakes science center, the museum of natural history, the western reserve historical society, the Think Forum, The Siegel Lifelong Learning Institute, and the Moot Courtroom Lecture Series.
- Our party scene is pretty in-line with schools with comparable academics (John Hopkins, CMU, etc.). You can find parties any weekend except immediately before midterms/finals. We definitely don’t party like OSU or Vandy or Stanford, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Given the serious sexual assault problems and toxic culture at those schools with hyper-partying, I think we’re at a happy medium.
- The university puts on a lot of fun events for student. The spring comedians are my personal favorite; the past few years, CWRU has brought Trevor Noah (from the Daily Show), Hasan Minhaj (Daily Show & Netflix), and Michael Che (SNL). There are also 3-4 concerts per year, which have included BOB, Sean Kingston (yes, a lot of throwbacks), Blackbear, ASAP Ferg, Waka Flocka, and Amine.
An important thing to keep in mind is that Cleveland was one of the ten largest cities in the United States for the first half of the twentieth century. At least partially due to this, it has attractions, infrastructure, and opportunities comparable to a city about twice its current size. In my experience, this means that you get all the great things about a huge city without all the bad things (traffic, pollution, crowded buildings, etc.).
3. It isn’t safe.
Okay. Kids who come from sheltered wealthy communities like to come here and fear-monger about our proximity to East Cleveland. Given the way students talk, you’d think we border a piece of Afghanistan. In my opinion, if you exercise a minimal amount of common sense, you have nothing to worry about in terms of safety. Each time a crime occurs, CWRU police send us a warning along with details of the incident. Here are the paraphrased details from some of the notifications that I’ve read:
- Student fiddles with their wallet directly in front of strangers/the homeless and subsequently gets their wallet swiped.
- Student lets a random person on the street borrow their phone, and the person proceeds to run off with it.
- Student walks alone, off-campus at 3 AM and gets mugged.
Of course, there are some serious, unavoidable incidents. However, atleast two-thirds of the handful of incidents each year are like those described above. Assuming you want to live in an urban area, I’m skeptical that you will find anywhere safer.