Case Western Reserve University

Written by Stefanie Forman

In University Circle, a neighborhood that is only five minutes from downtown Cleveland and defined by parks, museums, performance halls, and top hospitals in the country, you will find Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). When touring the campus, I was struck by its beauty and mix of architecture–for example, a Frank Gehry building is home to the business school, which is a quick walk from picturesque gothic buildings built in the 1800s and everything in between. But ultimately, the students were most impressive. They are doers–driven, innovative, and constantly thinking outside of the box. Many are double majors and connecting disciplines, and their overall curiosity is contagious.


We started our tour at the Sears think [box]–as the school defines as a world-class innovation center (the largest of any university in the world), makerspace and entrepreneurship ecosystem that welcomes thousands of visitors each year—and is open to everyone (in and out of the Case Western community) at no cost. Sears has seven floors, each with a different focus, with the first floor just opening in August (2023). Although any student can use this space, you can mostly find engineering students there. You can also find many Cleveland non-profits such as the Cleveland Clinic. Specifically, the top floor is an incubator for small businesses in the local community. For example, it currently houses a company that prints 3D violins. 

CWRU offers almost 100 majors, minors, and concentrations and is comprised of four different schools for its 6,017 undergraduates: Case School of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, and Weatherhead School of Management. There is an open-door policy for admissions meaning CWRU admits students to the university as a whole—not to a certain major or school. Some majors require capstones. One can always switch into programs, but it’s difficult to do so for nursing since they start clinical hours in the first three weeks of starting college. There is a 9:1 student:faculty ratio, and 70% of classes have fewer than 30 students. Multiple students called their professors “life-changing” and highlighted that they always make themselves available for them.

Students declare their major by the end of March of their freshman year and will be assigned a four-year advisor, pre-major advisor, major advisor, and library advisor. There is ample opportunity for hands-on experience outside of Sears like Co-Ops, internships, and Case students are especially vocal about their love for research. Also notable is that nursing students gain 1,300 hours of clinical experience–twice as much as their peers in other nursing programs. 98% of CWRU students participate in hands-on learning, 83% do research in their first year, and 70% complete more than one internship. 99% of students will leave Case Western with high impact-experiential learning.

Case has pre-professional scholars programs such as an 8-year medical program and a 7-year dental program, and pre-professional tracks like pre-law, pre-architecture, pre-med, and teacher education.

Another new building we spent a lot of time in is the Maltz Performing Arts Center. This was a project created through a historic partnership between Case Western Reserve University and The Temple–Tifereth Israe–a gorgeous synagogue built in 1850 also referred to as Silver Hall. The temple (along with new construction) houses the theater department. Silver Hall also showcases students from Case Western Reserve’s music department through 19 ensembles along with concert series for the community.

On our visit, students spoke passionately about their work–especially their research. Students looked engaged everywhere we went–taking advantage of study spaces, excitedly speaking about their classes, and working together on projects across all disciples. Although it is clear that everyone at Case is incredibly intelligent, it is the students’ humility and desire to learn that shines brighter.

Social Life

Case students are very involved, and although some priortize their studies over play and many identify as “nerdy” and “cerebral,” most find a balance between fun and academics–especially with all that the campus and Cleveland offers. The city’s botanical gardens are in the college’s backyard, along with many museums, the symphony hall, and tons of bars and restaurants.

All freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus, and although upperclassmen move off campus, the majority of the student body remains on campus.

CWRU has a strong Greek presence with over 25% of its students participating in its 10 sororities and 16 fraternities. Many students said they never saw themselves being part of Greek life before coming to Case, but that these organizations don’t fit the stereotypes often associated with fraternities and sororities. Instead, they have been strong communities that have empowered them in all facets of their college experience.

Case Western Reserve University Spartans compete in Division III varsity athletics. More than 500 students participate in 17 varsity sports. Multiple athletic centers are available to students and offer free workout classes, a rock climbing wall, and multiple courts (squash, pickleball, basketball, etc.) just to name a few. There is a strong school spirit on campus, and students have much pride in CRWU.

Student Body

Our tour guide, a junior from Columbus, Ohio is an economics and history double major. She was serious about her studies and very involved in research and service around campus. She described her peers as passionate, invested, and collaborative and said that everyone she knows truly loves their experience at Case Western. She did say that her friends work very hard in and out the classroom, but that is more indicative of the type of students that the college attracts, opposed to students feeling overwhelmed by their studies. As mentioned before, Case students are innate doers.

The undergraduate population is almost an equal ration of female to male students. 85% of students come from outside of Ohio with the Mid-Atlatntic (27%) leading the way, followed by the West (14%), and the Midwest (11%). 14% of students are international.

Case students feel very safe in their enclosed campus. The school offers services such as Safe Ride, an after-hours shuttle service; walking escorts, who will escort you safely to your destination at any time of day; on-campus shuttles, which take you around campus and to nearby neighborhoods for free; and bike registration.

Surrounding Area

CWRU students take their academics seriously, but they also love to take advantage of what Cleveland, a thriving city, offers. Culturally, the list of opportunities of things to explore never ends. For example, outside of New York City, Cleveland houses the largest theather district in the US, and if sports are your thing, you can root for the Cleveland Browns (football), the Cavaliers (basketball), or the Guardians (baseball). And the city is also home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Additionally, as mentioned above, some of Cleveland’s most beautiful and popular museums are found right on campus.

Admissions and Financial Aid

Case offers four options for the application process: Early Action, Early Decision One, Early Decision Two, and Regular Decision–with only ED 1 and ED 2 being binding. The Director of Admissions shared that applications are growing tremendously, but they won’t fill up a class with early decision. Yet, with that being said, they have a spring cohort of 100 (students who are offered a delayed start during the spring semester) who most likely would have received a regular acceptance if they applied early decision. Test scores are at the bottom of the review, and 60% of accepted students submitted test scores.

The average unweighted GPA of incoming students ranges from 3.7-4.0. CWRU is test optional. The middle 50% ACT range is 32-35 composite (superscore), 33-35 (English), and 30-35 (math). The middle 50% SAT range is 1420-1520 composite (superscore) 680-750 (EBR), and 730-790 (Math). The overall acceptance rate is 27%. 

As of fall 2017, Case Western meets 100 percent of demonstrated need for all admitted undergraduate students. 77% of non-need undergraduates receive merit-aid, and the average award size is $11,750. All applicants to CWRU are considered, and awards are based upon the student’s application as a whole.


Case Western Reserve University sums it up perfectly on their website, the college is for a student who is down-to-earth, intelligent, collaborative academically and diverse socially. They take advantage of their opportunities and love research and hands-on learning. CRWU’s resources are unmatched in many ways all while offering a beautiful enclosed campus with access to a bustling major city that continues to thrive.

Case Western
Showing 2 comments
  • Judi

    Though my son did not go there, I will add that I was also impressed with it! I had to look past our disappointing tour guide, but I otherwise liked the feeling there. After our visit, it was by far the most organized and targeted marketing campaign of all the colleges on our list. They frequently sent information that was directly targeted toward my kids interests. It felt very personal. Their approach to recruiting students and that personal touch left me with a great feeling about them. Just adding my two cents!

  • Lisa Bleich

    Thanks Judi. Stefanie was really impressed by her visit and I’ve always felt the same whenever I speak with students or admissions folks for there.

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