Case Western vs Purdue for CS?

(Prospective freshman here)
I liked the campus at Case Western, but I don’t know if I loved it. It was hard to tell what the experience would be like if I went there, since no one was on campus and the whole city of Cleveland was dead. I haven’t visited Purdue yet, but everyone who goes there seems to like it.

I’m very nerdy, I’m introverted, and I’m gay. I go to a small high school where almost everyone is the same (party animal, athletic, and preppy). I want to major in Computer Science to hopefully get some sort of creative job where it is needed (possibly game programming or computer animation). I am deeply interested in art and music as well, and I’d like to join a choir or theater group in college. My top choice was actually Carnegie Mellon in terms of what would be best for my interests, but looking at admissions requirements, I don’t think I stand a chance.

I have some concerns about both schools:

  • For Case, I have heard the CS department is subpar, and unnecessarily hard in terms of workload. I mainly want to have useful skills in CS to be a good programmer (specifically for game design or computer animation). I’m not sure how safe Cleveland is, which is a slight concern. In terms of social life, I think I’d fit in better there. I’ve heard Case students are for the most part less into partying and more serious about academics, which is a lot more like me. It also seems like Cleveland has a lot more culture than West Lafayette.
  • For Purdue, I'm a little concerned about the size. I like being under the radar. What I DO NOT want is to go to a school that is too small and everyone knows who I am. I'm afraid if I went there, I'd have a harder time making friends or doing well in my classes since there are so many people. I'm also not sure how much I'd like the culture at Purdue, and I don't like big crowds. Indiana doesn't seem like the best place to be gay either.

Although I did like Case Western, I can’t really tell how I’d feel there, since there was no one there. I’ll see what I think of Purdue if I ever get to visit it before sending my application. Something tells me I’d have more fun at Purdue because it has more to offer and it’d be easier to explore more interests, but I see myself more as a Case student. In college, I just want a good education for my interests and to be happy.

If anyone has something to say about either school relating to this, I’d really appreciate it.

Very different schools!

The CS majors we knew at Case did very well with job prospects and had a great education. D’s friends who attended seemed to be more quirky and artistic. Nice and safe area of Cleveland but like any campus, you need to be aware of your surroundings.

My D goes to Purdue (eng not CS) and loves it. There is a vibrant LGBTQ community, tons of musical groups and theater at all levels. My D is on the executive council for one of the theater groups for non majors. It’s a warm and welcoming community. D’s experience was that it was easy to find her tribe.

Neither is an easy admit for CS so apply and see what happens.

Here is some info about Cleveland:

What is it like to be LGBTQ at Case ?

Have you checked out the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center?

"Fierce Feature: In addition to having a gorgeous LGBT center, Case Western provides transgender-related health care to all of its students as part of their student health care plan. The center also offers an LGBT-related academic opportunity: a short-term, study-abroad course in Amsterdam this spring break called “Gender & Sexuality Justice: LGBT Life in the Netherlands,” which is being offered through the School of Social Work.

‘Freshman year I was kind of nervous when I first arrived on campus. I knew I wanted to be out, but that still didn’t make it any easier. I was even nervous to take some of the LGBT Center’s pamphlets during orientation, or to walk into the center, for fear of someone seeing me. The center had a men’s conversation group and a coming-out group that I began attending, and those helped me tremendously! I have never felt more comfortable being who I am anywhere else in my entire life.’ —Mike Siberski, Case Western Reserve University student

‘I’m a very out lesbian with short hair AND I’m an executive member of a large sorority. At other schools, this would just not be possible. I take for granted how limitless my opportunities are here at CWRU. We have an annual “LGBT? Fine by me” T-shirt giveaway. We always run out of 300-plus shirts within the first 20 minutes. Our allies are fantastic’. —Rya Lally, Case Western Reserve University student"

Case Western Reserve is among the Top 25 LGBT-Friendly Colleges and Universities, according to Campus Pride, a national organization that aims to make universities safer and more inclusive for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. The recognition follows Case Western Reserve’s first five-star ranking on the Campus Pride Index, a detailed survey of universities’ policies, services and institutional support for LGBT individuals.

From @Coloradomama: I observed my sons friends over four years. I believe gay students are well accepted at CWRU.
One student was gay, and he was right in there with his fellow majors, doing all the same things
and highly successful in getting into top grad schools. CWRU has a midwestern but liberal tradition
by way of Western Reserve College. The speaker at graduation in 2017, was a civil rights attorney,
who prosecuted a case against the US federal government for deliberately not treating black men for syphilis! Amazing man who graduated from CWRU Law. Good luck.
03-11-2019 at 1:56 pm

Many students like STEM but also some kind of performing b **at CWRU.

There are many ensembles open to the CWRU community, e.g., Case Concert Choir, Case Men’s Glee Club, University Chorale. Due to Covid these may be operating differently this year.

There are also Acapella clubs as well.

Other FAQs:

Both schools are quite different: Purdue’s a large public research university in a small college town while CWRU is a strong, but much smaller private research university in a big city. They also vary a ton cost-wise (not as much if OOS,) although CWRU is generous with partial-tuition merit scholarships.

If you’re truly unsure about which college, apply to both (EA is recommended b/c of demonstrated interest & the earlier admissions decision which can help with re-evaluating your RD college list.)

D went to Purdue and loved it. However, if you were looking for a school that had many of the same characteristics as CMU then I think CWRU would be it. Both were created in the 60’s by combining two other universities. They are similar in size and have strengths both academically and in the arts. I (the parent) actually liked the feel of Case better than CMU but that’s me. My D liked CMU better but we both liked University of Pittsburgh better than either (for feel). The only area Case won’t compare with CMU is in CS program reputation. I cannot answer how well the program would compare to Purdue’s. My D was accepted to both and chose Purdue but she just liked it better. She was comfortable there immediately. She had a few HS friends who chose Case and they loved their experience. All science majors, no CS majors though. I believe everyone of them is working on a Phd in their respective fields. They are spread out among California, Texas and Washington state. Good luck.

Purdue’s acceptance rate for CS is about 18-20%, which is notably less than that of the university as a whole. That’s a little better than CMU, but not quite enough to take it out of the “reach” category.

Any other schools on your radar?

One significant difference between CWRU and CMU is that CWRU does not appear to be facing the capacity constraints in CS (and some other majors) that CMU has.

Looks like at CWRU, everyone applies to the school as a whole and enters undeclared, and can declare any major they want if they are on track with the course work for it. At CMU, students wanting CS need to apply specifically to CS, and students who enter CMU outside the SCS division face a very difficult and competitive path to get into the CS major.

Hopefully you get a chance to visit Purdue, see the campus, and talk to admissions staff and students. Both were on my D’s list of 7 schools to which she applied. After multiple visits, discussion, etc., Purdue was at the top of the list (and where she’s now a Senior, in engineering) and Case was either 6th or 7th. But it’s certainly a personal thing. And hard to do virtually, unfortunately.

Cleveland may have a higher crime rate but West Lafayette has an advantage being a smaller city. I wouldn’t consider Cleveland “dangerous” and the the location and self-contained nature of the Case campus makes this fairly unimportant, IMO. Cleveland will certainly have more cultural opportunities than WL, but be realistic about students exploring the city. They are much more,likely to go to music, plays, art exhibits, etc., on campus, and I would think the larger Purdue campus would have at least as many, if not more opportunities (>1000 student organizations, iirc). I went to school in a city similar in size to Cleveland and never went to the symphony, ballet, museums (other then one adjacent to campus) while a student. Major sports teams was the one advantage I did enjoy.

My younger D, a Junior, is looking for CS schools. Without the ability to visit, we’ve done a fair bit of research. From a rankings standpoint (6 different sources), they’re roughly equivalent.

Too late to update my previous post, and I shouldn’t have gone from memory. Checking my data, Purdue is actually substantially higher ranked on my list (top 25) than Case (second 50). (And it’s from 8 sources, not 6.)

Don’t worry about CS rankings. They’re practically useless for undergrad and no employer is going to make a distinction between CS degrees from Purdue or Case.

Purdue has a great reputation for CS, but as others have said, relative “rankings” among reputable programs aren’t very important - what’s more important is that you go somewhere that will give you a strong core skill-set and allow you to gain experience in the kind of work you most want to do. Look into what kind of creative work is being blended with CS at Purdue, vs. Case and other options. Some schools are known for their cross-disciplinary work in the arts and CS - RIT for example. Northeastern has blended majors - CS+Design, for example - and the opportunity to do co-op placements that are aligned with your interests. URochester and Pitt are both worth a look as well.

Apply to both and go to where you feel the fit is better. Also if there is a large price difference go to the least expensive. Cleveland has a nice cultural feel. If the world ever comes back to normal look at what you might take advantage of. Two great schools and two different feels. You can find your peeps at both. That’s up to you.