CWRU spring admission: Not worth the wait

Rebecca Warber, Contributing Writer

In early April of my senior year of high school, I received what was, at the time, an exciting offer of belated spring admission to Case Western Reserve University. The acceptance letter saved me from having to attend a state school with the majority of my high school class, an alternative I’m now regretting after having spent half a semester here. My experiences thus far have been discouraging, not because of the school itself, but because the late start has defined virtually everything about my college experience. CWRU is one of a handful of schools known for offering students spring admission. Unfortunately, this process does not seem to be executed well—or as well as it could be. 

Enrolling for the spring semester instead of the fall means taking an involuntary gap semester that, for many, is not as enjoyable as it may sound. While peers were discussing dorm decor and potential roommates during the spring and summer months, some spring admits had yet to receive their acceptances. However, those who already knew their enrollment status were living vicariously through their future classmates and were more concerned about how they would spend their fall semester rather than planning for a long-off arrival to college. Many, myself included, took community college courses—though this process was made unnecessarily complicated. CWRU limits transfer credits to eight credit hours for students who take classes prior to matriculation, which is approximately equivalent to two courses. However, some students who spoke with staff members of Undergraduate Admission were told that CWRU accepts an unlimited number of credits, which has created much confusion. In addition to this limit on accepted credit hours, or lack thereof, it is not uncommon for CWRU to deny transfer credit requests. For students who are  already taking the courses, this means effort and money wasted. 

CWRU’s 150 spring admits arrived on campus on Jan. 11. Other students returned from winter break a few days later, just before classes started on Jan. 17. With many spring admits living in the same few buildings and being enrolled in similar courses, socializing was fairly limited to those who had also started in the spring, creating a sort of disconnect with other students. Difficulties branching out, however, took a backseat to budding concerns about course enrollment for future semesters. CWRU has prescribed lists of courses for students interested in a variety of majors and pre-professional tracks, though these outlines are designed for fall admits. Spring admits are faced with having to take courses in semesters when they are not offered, making it incredibly difficult to enroll in the necessary classes. 

Furthermore, there is the question of whether students want to graduate in three and a half years or four. For pre-professional students, graduating in the traditional four years means taking another gap semester before starting any additional schooling. If one hopes to finish their undergraduate in three and a half years, there is the added pressure of finishing all prerequisites for the given school. 

These problems are made worse by the general lack of support for spring admits. The program appears to lack structure and oversight, which not only creates a myriad of problems for students but also leaves them without tools to solve these problems.

For any first-year college student finding internships or research opportunities can be difficult. Being a spring admit, however, makes obtaining these opportunities increasingly difficult. Most positions are already full since it’s the middle of the academic year. The few positions still available are challenging to find without knowing enough students who are employed in similar positions. 

CWRU is a top university for many because of its highly ranked academic programs and proximity to various well-known institutions—such as Cleveland Clinic or University Hospitals. It is difficult for spring admits to experience the full extent of what CWRU has to offer, though. These problems can be rectified by implementing a clear-cut structure for the program and providing students with specific recommendations and resources to promote success. Specific changes may include adding rough course outlines for spring admits, especially regarding what courses are available to take during their first spring semester, and parameters for accepting transfer credits. As someone who struggled to decide which courses would be the most beneficial to take during the gap semester, CWRU could also provide students with more recommendations. While these may seem like small changes, they can make what is a somewhat unconventional transition to college exponentially easier and, ideally, worth the wait.