Case Western Reserve University- Fit

While I have been reading College Confidential for over a year, this is my first post. So, after visiting many colleges this year, my HS senior daughter seems to have a top choice: Case Western Reserve University.

We visited Duke, Vanderbilt, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, William & Mary, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and several others.

My daughter was most impressed with the friendly, cooperative atmosphere at CWRU. Perhaps because of the D-III sports (?), the campus environment seemed to be much more focused on research/scholarship, community service and student activities, and career preparation than any of the other schools we visited. However, she has several HS friends that are surprised she is not considering Ivy league schools. She also gets a lot of mail from the Ivies, especially since receiving the National Hispanic Recognition Scholar award from The College Board.

I have told her that I think “fit”, a place she feels comfortable is what is most important. She wants to double major in a science or engineering and music. On our visit she spoke with a faculty member in the music department, and she liked that there are many music majors who also are double majoring in a science/engineering. She also wants to do study abroad and be involved in service, perhaps doing some Peace Corps work after graduation. She has read about the CWRU annual Antarctica trip and thinks that is extremely cool. She also loved the new “Thinkbox” innovation facility --engineering lab on steroids-- under construction. ( She also lights up with the thought of being involved in research with a faculty member, especially something related to NASA. She probably would join the Marching Band and participate in a other music groups. On our first visit, she really seemed at home at CWRU.

We have decided to attend an upcoming Open House next Monday, to give the school one more “fit” test. I must say we are already very impressed with the options for this upcoming event- including that she is sit in on any of 100+ classes, as well as many, many information sessions on the various programs and activities offered at CWRU. None of the other open house materials we have seen from other schools have been so comprehensive. In addition, the staff and faculty we have encountered at CWRU are wonderful.

Have any other parent’s encountered this same type of peer pressure to go to the “highest rated” or name recognition program? We are from the DC area, and live about 6 hours drive away from Cleveland, so perhaps CWRU is just more well known in its region? I am just amazed by the school, and I can clearly see why my daughter has it as her first choice. But, if they is any hesitation in my mind it comes when I talk to friends who seem to have always heard of Duke and Vanderbilt, but not always CWRU.

When we looked up the average cost of attendance and salary information on the government’s new college scorecard we were also very impressed with Case Western’s numbers ( The list of CWRU alumni is equally impressive.

My daughter’s basic stats:

GPA 4.0/4.0 (U) (4.4 W)
ACT Composite 33
AP’s - Has 7 completed already; and she is taking 5 senior year, including Calc BC. (This fall, she was awarded AP Scholar with distinction, with average score of 4+)
Many EC’s- Especially Music and Science (English, Math, Music honor societies, NHS, National Merit Commendation, National Hispanic Recognition Scholar, Habitat officer, many music awards)

My daughter has already applied EA (and we debated a little bit about applying ED). Anyway, as we prepare for our second trip to visit CWRU, any thoughts about judging fit would be greatly appreciated. Or if you can speak to the name recognition of the school, that would be helpful too.

Thank you!


@Wizard2, I’m happy to respond to some of your thoughts and concerns, as my DS with similar stats (valedictorian, AP scholar, etc.) went through a similar process last year and is now a happy freshman at Case.

After touring several Ivies, Duke, Hopkins, and our state flagship, he felt that Case was the best fit for his personality and interests. To our surprise (we are on the East Coast), three other extremely high-stats students from his high school felt the same way. He liked the academic seriousness combined with a friendly, cooperative atmosphere … everyone is smart, but they’re not trying to one-up each other … they appreciate and enjoy one another’s intelligence and quirkiness.

He did get razzed by some of his friends who had their hearts set on Ivies (yet not all who have their hearts set on Ivies end up there, in reality). The name is respected among grad schools and employers, though the lack of D1 sports keeps it out of national headlines. Case is a great fit for serious students who want to find like-minded multi-talented people to socialize with.

My DS plans to major in engineering and minor in a foreign language and intends to study abroad (I had not heard of that Antarctica trip, I’ll have to ask him about it!). Double majors may be do-able, but major + minor(s) seems more practical, given the requirements of engineering. One of his friends is majoring in physics and minoring in music (decided on Case over Oberlin to do this). Another friend turned down an Ivy and is majoring in biology and pursuing a D3 sport.

There will be a chance for admitted students to stay overnight in the dorms in the spring, and I strongly suggest your DD visit then. It was after the overnight that DS announced that he had found “his people” and decided to commit!

Your DD is doing the right thing to visit multiple times. Advise her to do an interview, too, if one is offered, and to sign up if campus reps come to her school. Case takes student interest into account in the admissions process. Many high-stats people got deferred or denied from EA in the past couple of years, presumably because Case doesn’t like to be seen as a “backup” for Ivy hopefuls. (Note about EA: Case is really well organized about putting the whole offer together, financial aid, merit, and all, by December for EA applicants. It was satisfying to have that option in the back pocket while considering other offers in the spring.)

Here are some links that you may find useful or thought-provoking.

I could say much more … pm me or ask more questions if you like!

Hi @Jollymama,

Thank you for your wonderful comments. The way you describe Case is exactly what my daughter is looking for in a college experience. It is also reassuring to know that there are other Ivy-league recruited students who felt the same way.

That is also really helpful advice for about the sleepover opportunities in the spring. That sounds like something she would love to do. I will definitely mention that to my daughter. Also, thank you for the link. It really did make the Case sound like a great place. It is great to know that the financial aid info comes along with the acceptances for successful EA students. Honestly, if my daughter has a good experience at this open house, is accepted EA, and the cost seems reasonable our college search might have ended.

I also liked the “School that flies under the academic radar but shouldn’t” description the article used for Case. From my experiences so far, these are exactly a way I would put it.

If my daughter gets any more clarity after our trip next week, I will add an update.

Thanks again!


I am NOT an AO, nor do I play one on TV… (Sorry, I’ve always liked that silly joke). But I feel strongly that she will be admitted.

Case offers a wonderful academic environment for both undergrads and graduates. I also think that “fit” is so important - too many people get caught up in the rankings of colleges/universities without putting enough thought into the right fit.

Our son has thrived at Case. He had the opportunity to attend one of the Ivies (Mom & Dad have 3 Ivy degrees between them but no pressure there!) but picked Case. Sure, Case doesn’t have the instant name recognition of the other school but Case really was/is the perfect fit for him. And, I think he is getting an excellent education in a great environment.

In Ohio and surrounding states, Case does have recognition as a top quality school that produces well-qualified graduates for grad school and the job market.

From what you said about your daughter, she would fit right in. If you go to the CWRU information sessions, they will often say a Casie is a blank, and a blank. An engineer, and a musician, for example.

CWRU was formed from the merger of Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve College…the merging of a STEM and Liberal Arts college gives you the best of both worlds.

Remember, gobs of kids have great grades/SATs, but only 10% or less will actually get into an Ivy. Case Western would be more of a high match for her. Also CWRU gives merit scholarships whereas an Ivy will not.

She could also do a coop at Nasa Glenn…in addition to research.

Do you think my DD will get in? 3.8 unweighted gpa, 2220 SAT ( 760M 710cr 750w). 6 APS the rest honors. Several ecs with leadership role in Model UN and Mock trial.

Thank you NEILRRM and Bopper. It is reassuring to know there are other families who reached the same conclusions about CWRU. We also really believe in the importance of a liberal arts education, but with my daughter’s strong interest in technology, we like how Case has merged the best of both worlds.

While she wants to start as a double major (Science/music), she says she may drop the music degree to a minor. In addition to her school music groups, she plays in a local garage rock band and just seems to love music for enjoyment. On our first trip to visit, we were also really impressed with the way CWRU allows students some time to figure out what they want to major in. Since she is considering engineering, but our family really does not know anything about that, we thought she would apply as an engineering major (maybe aerospace?) and music, figuring that if she changes her mind to something like Physics or Chemistry, that it would be easier to switch in that direction than from one of those to engineering. She would love to work at NASA, so knowing there is coop opportunity nearby is really great news. Seeing “The Martian” at the theatre this past weekend seems to have only increased that dream for her. :slight_smile:

Also thank you QuintoSol for the vote of confidence. After reading the links on college confidential about the importance of “showing interest,” I am glad that we made our first visit and will be doing our second visit. When I look at that list it does seem like a list of helpful things to do in finding the right college anyway. Smokinact, I think your daughter looks like a good fit for CWRU too. Have you visited the college yet? if you are able to, I highly recommend it.

The campus was beautiful when we visiting last June. There are a bunch of museums and a huge park nearby, literally right around the corner from the campus. There are several great shopping areas next to campus. The dorms and the academic buildings seemed nice, but as I said above what really sold my daughter (and me) was the friendliness of everyone we met- admission, faculty, staff…Even when we ate, the guy at the sandwich shop in the Student center, the waitress at the restaurant in little Italy, the ticket taker at the Natural History Museum raved about CWRU. Downtown Cleveland also seemed like a growing, cool place to be. Lots of construction going on. A very nice arts section. There seemed to be lots of things to do, and they all seemed very accessible. We really felt safe the whole time we were downtown too. Seems like just a great city.

Thank you again everyone for your help.


Stuff your daughter might be interested in knowing:

  1. Case offers a large music scholarship (you only have to minor in music when you attend)
  2. Even if she doesn’t do this, she will probably get ~25,000/year scholarship
  3. Cleveland Institute of music is right down the street. Case students are allowed to take 1 class there for no additional cost (this is also true of Cleveland Institute of Art).
  4. Case has several bands/orchestras that have mixed CIM and Case students
  5. Most aerospace students are also majoring in mechanical engineering (requirements are very similar).
  6. BS/MS program allows you to get a masters and undergrad degree at Case in 5 years (much easier than going through the application process again at other places). Also, I know a few people who have finished in 4 years.
  7. Students can take any class they are qualified to take as undergrads. I am currently taking several 400/500 level classes, but do not intend on getting a masters.
  8. Getting research jobs at Case is very easy.

Stuff to do when you visit:

  1. Tour our new thinkbox building
  2. Try the dining hall
  3. If you are going to sit in on a class, I would recommend a higher numbered class. The upper class classes are more representative of what classes are like at the school.
  4. If you really want to see something and it is not on the tour, you can ask around and someone will probably show it to you.

Also make sure to do the admitted student overnight in a few months.

How to show interest:


Thank you for your list. I had heard of a couple of these, but most are new to me. My daughter did meet a faculty member in the music department at Case when we were there in June, and she really enjoyed that conversation. He mentioned to her that relationship with CIM with classes. I believe he also said that students can attend performances of the Cleveland Symphony for free/or greatly reduced prices at their performance hall on campus. I did not know anything about the relationship between Aerospace engineering and Mechanical engineering. My daughter and I noticed several information sessions at the upcoming open house about different types of engineering. And while she definitely wants to explore it, she really is not sure which one might be right for her. She applied for aerospace after much debate and changing her mind several times between physics, astronomy, chemistry, math and various engineering majors. She loves all sciences and math and would like to have a career in something related to space exploration. I also did not know about that 5-year MS program, but that is really great news. We will definitely try and do your suggested activities while on our visit next week, and that is a wonderful tip about sitting in on a higher number class. Thanks again for your help/list!

$50 pass gives you unlimited shows at the Cleveland Symphony as a student, I think only special shows are excluded, Case also raffles off tickets.

The engineering department lectures and tours are great, materials and macromolecular engineering as well as a combined mechanical / aerospace tour that includes seeing lots of fun robots. The faculty is very engaged. The open houses at Case are perfectly organized and fun, the only difficulty is too many things to chose from.

Case is a one door school and certainly will not discriminate against a woman mechanical engineering prospect. Aero is basically combined with mechanical at Case, most people dual major which is great if aerospace hiring is slow when you graduate or sometime during your career. Still the lowest percentage of women of any engineering field, would be great if your daughter joins the field.

There are intro classes freshman year and also some kind of engineering major fair. All engineers basically take the same classes, only differences are timing of Physics and whether you take a Matlab or Java computer class.

As someone else mentioned, Case will give you the merit award amount with acceptance letter in December, which takes all the pressure off of regular decision. You can still apply elsewhere, but you have a place to go. Your daughters stats look terrific, should get $25-30K. The net price calculator includes merit awards and seems very accurate.

@Wizard2 I would like to jump on this CWRU bandwagon! My D is now a junior at Case and felt the “fit” almost immediately. The admitted students overnight only confirmed this further. Everything you state that your D felt about Case is true and more. She will also have the opportunity to do everything she listed and more. Yes, there are more prestigious schools but you are absolutely right that fit is so important.
Please PM me if you have any more questions

Thank you Pickone1 and Sdgal2 for the added help. Everyone on this board has just been so incredibly helpful.

I spoke with my daughter last night after her marching band practice about some the things I had learned. So many of them really helped re-enforce the fit she sees/felt at CWRU. She see it as a place that would give her the ability to pursue broad interests and explore lots of different pursuits, while also having the faculty and resources to support depth of study once she figures out what she really wants to focus on.

She and I knew some engineering programs were still majority male, but we did not know that mechanical/aerospace were especially that way. It is really nothing that bothers my daughter, since she has a lot of good male and female friends, she seemed to think it would be fine/fun. But, she was glad to know that piece of information. It definitely helps her visualize what the classes might be like. She is definitely looking forward to the engineering tours next week.

The $50 for a season pass is an incredible deal for students. We know that symphony is a world class operation, and saw it listed as #7 on the world on one list, ranked near places like Vienna, Berlin and London.

The merit aid info is also really helpful. The CWRU net price calculator was very helpful too. It is wonderful that they include the aid info with the acceptance letters. That might just lead to a really happy holiday season.

Thanks again to everyone.

Wow! As someone mentioned above, Case puts on an incredible open house, extremely organized and informational… My daughter is sold, Case is the Place…

We just returned to Virginia yesterday after attending the open house on Monday, October 12. A few of the key things we observed.

-We stayed at a nearby hotel (Tudor Arms) and arrived about 30 minutes early for open house registration. As we walked over to the campus we encountered a group of students on the main campus street who did a greet job of welcoming and orienting us.

  • Once we registered, my daughter and I divided up. I went to some information sessions and she went to sit in on two two different classes.

-Both the overview of the college session and the Introduction to Engineering sessions, were excellent. The speakers were both clear, interesting, and funny, and explained the college really well. The first one was by a member of the Admissions Staff and the second one was by the chair of the Macromolecular Science and Engineering department, which is ranked #1 in the country (world?).

  • The classes my daughter sat in on were Mathematics 122: Calculus for Science and Engineering II and Engineering 225: Thermodynamics, Fluid Dynamics, Heat and Mass Transfer. She said both instructors were easy to understand and had wonderful examples. She said she followed the Math 122 pretty well (She is in AP Calc BC now). Even though the Engineering 225 was pretty confusing to her, she liked what she saw and thought she would love to study the course with that instructor. They had a lot of classes (seemed like 100+) listed as options to attend, and in both of these she was one of only a handful of students sitting in She was really impressed by both of these classes,

-We also attended two department visits: Aero/Mechanical and Macromolecular Science and Engineering . The Aero/mechanical was well attended. The information session was very good, but the next part was seeing all the robotics labs and projects. Several graduate and undergraduate students explained the research they were involved with. Clearly, if you want to research- like my daughter does-- CWRU is a great pick for an education. My daughter stills feels good about Aero Engineering, but is also interested in polymer too. The polymer session only had a few students, but the professor who spoke was dynamic and interesting. He had been in industry for a lot of years before teaching at Case. He might have sold her on going a polymer route instead of Aero. But, as I said earlier, our family does not really know much about engineering. Both sessions mentioned that a lot of students change majors during freshman year.

-Along the way, we heard about things like the CO-OP program for engineering students where they take a year off, get paid, and then return to school for their last year. The companies they cooped with was impressive, and we met several students throughout the day who said getting co-ops is well supported (they have a dedicated staff ) and easy to do, if you have a good GPA/meet deadlines.

-My daughter is still planning a second major/minor in music. So, she emailed the instructor for her instrument, who was very willing to meet up with my daughter the day after open house for an hour sample lesson. Really going above and beyond. My daughter thinks he is wonderful. I think she was sold on Case already, but after that experience, she is completely sold.

-At the end of the day, we toured the Thinkbox. Wow! This new 7 story-building is incredible. It houses several 3-D printers of various sizes, laser cutters, a machine shop, wood shop, design studios, group meeting rooms, everything you need to develop an idea. They have already had several students launch companies for items created there. It was just incredible cool. The student guide we had was a freshman, who did an outstanding job showing us the equipment, and told us stories about the use it is already getting.

-We ate in the dining hall for a late lunch. My daughter liked it. I thought is was pretty much your typical dining hall food. There are a lot of meal transfer places too, which my daughter thought looked really cool. We also ate along uptown for dinner, which is a not little area of restaurants adjacent to campus. The first night we had dinner in little Italy, a short walk from the campus, and it was excellent Italian (Bella Mia), and some great gift/novelty shops and art galleries nearby.

I started this exchange by asking about “fit.” I am not worried at all anymore. We meet a lot of other fantastically gifted students on our journey to CWRU. Students who clearly excel in lots of different types of activities and interests. Case is clearly a place for students who can “get in anywhere” but seek a place that has priorities for student engagement, research, career preparation, academic rigor, liberal arts, and a very cooperative environment,

This culture of cooperation was clear all over the university. The last panel we attended was a group of current students talking about student activities. Throughout there answers to questions, and even the way they interacted with each other on the panel, told me this is a place where students get along with each other, take care of each other, learn and explore with each others, and succeed with each other. Exactly the type of place I want my daughter to attend.

We ended the trip by buying some CWRU gear in the bookstore. (We both noticed a lot of students wearing it on campus).

Now, it is time to sit back and wait for word from admissions and financial aid… about December 15, since she has applied EA.

Thanks again to everyone for your help.

Wow! Nice report. I really wish we had time for DD and I to visit Case. She is applying EA and it really sounds like a place for her.

@wizard2 that was a fantastic report. I hope that your D is accepted!

My HS BF graduated from Case, I meet my husband at a party she had when we were college seniors. My husband loved his time a Case. The only negative thing he has ever said about Case is there is a heavy bias toward the grad students and there was a MAJOR issue with one of his math profs teaching and grading that required getting the Dean involved,

My D’18 has applied to Case for Music Ed (Case is a serious reach for her). Just need to submit her Music Pre-Screen. We have visited campus several time and she really likes Case but we are not holding out much hope that she will be admitted.

@lebegg I was concerned about the undergrads getting short-shrift because it does seem like Case is a graduate student heavy institution.

Thank you for your note. I was worried about my daughter going somewhere where she would play second fiddle to go graduate students as well. As we narrowed the list down to schools we visited over the past year, we noticed that most of them have a similar high graduate enrollment:

Duke 6471 Undergrads; 8379 Grad students
Vanderbilt 6851 Undergrads ; 5874 Grad students
Princeton 5275 Undergrads; 2671 Grad students
W&M 6299 Undergrads; 2138 Grads students

While Princeton is lower, I do not believe it has a med school, law school or any professional school.

For Case, the breakdown is this: 5019 Undergrads; 5191 Grad students --however, 3196 of these grad students are in professional programs: law, med, dental, nursing), so only 2095 are in more academic programs. I would not think the professional grad students would interact with faculty resources in the same way as those in more academic oriented graduate programs.

During Monday’s open house, we definitely encountered several undergrads that spoke highly of their research opportunities and general access of the faculty. I do think access to the faculty is a important factor to consider. Faculty access at Case has seemed exceptional to us, but I am sure there is some “luck of the draw” on the faculty members one encounters at every college.

One observation, It does seem that a lot of the highly rated/elite schools tend to have lots of graduate students.

One other interesting fact we learned during our tour of the case engineering program was that many of their students stay one extra year and complete a Masters. (They apply for the 5th year Masters program in their junior year and take some classes that are cross-listed for seniors and grad students during their senior year.)

Thanks again,

I am about to go crazy with this college process! My son is a 3 star tennis player and an above average academic student. He is naturally smart but does not put time into academics like his older brother or like the kids probably at Case Western. The tennis coach wants him. He can succeed but I don’t know if what you all are saying he will fit. He is not quirky but a nice guy -athlete type personality. Not a rough athlete, just your typical macho nice tennis player. He is a singer and loves acting but has no time so he’s not just an athlete. Anyway he plans to study medicine which makes Case Western a good choice but personally I’m afraid he will find with tennis and pre med it will be too much. He is applying to Wash U, Sewanee, possibly Colgate, Furman, Elon and Samford. He should get in all but maybe Wash u. Its not admission we are worried about its fit. I guess my Q is: are most of the kids super academic and kind of quirky like Haveford e.g. or are there some kids that are smart but not crazy smart like my son? thanks