Last week, on March 19, Case Western Reserve University admitted its Class of 2026. Prospective students have yet to make a decision on whether or not they will accept their spot, and it is quite a decision to make. Since all of us on the Editorial Board are students at CWRU, let this editorial serve as an insight into what life is like at this university to the Class of 2026—the good and the bad.
First, because this is a STEM-focused university, it is likely that many of you will be STEM majors. This means that you will have access to an in-depth curriculum and expansive resources for those programs. Nursing students can actively practice their skills alongside nurses in their first year, while pre-health students can find opportunities for volunteering and research through the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals—both of which are within walking distance from most places on campus. Research and hands-on experience are easily accessible for all STEM majors—from computer science to astronomy. Additionally, engineering students may take advantage of equipment at the Sears think[box], a seven-story building that provides access to a wood shop, metal shop and 3D printers. On top of this, STEM classes have in-depth supplemental instruction programs and many options for tutoring. Such copious resources are, unfortunately, not as available for those not in STEM programs.
If you are a humanities or social science major, hearing this might dissuade you from choosing CWRU. However, there are some advantages to being a non-STEM major here, namely the classes and the professors. Class sizes are incredibly small, meaning that most professors will know your name and it’s easier to get to know and form relationships with professors. Most humanities and social science professors truly love what they teach, and they truly care about their students as well. Often, non-STEM majors have dedicated advisors that form relationships with all of their students. They make considerable efforts to reach out to students for events and opportunities throughout the semesters. On the other hand, these departments don’t receive enough support from CWRU and therefore don’t have the same amount of resources available to students in STEM. In general, the humanities are ignored by the university and not as well respected by many of the students who go here. Humanities and social science majors are often looked down upon by STEM majors at several institutions, and it’s no different at CWRU—there is no denying that we are a STEM-focused institution.
While there are definite advantages and disadvantages to different majors and departments at CWRU, the university’s administration makes being a student here difficult at times. The sheer number of editorials detailing the faults and shortcomings of our administration should be enough to demonstrate that CWRU seems not to care about its students as people, but rather as vehicles for innovation and publicity—especially with the recent change in leadership. Yes, we have several opportunities for research, projects and more, but CWRU doesn’t support these endeavors because they are passionate about it; they support them because it brings in more money and fame to the university.
Although a majority of students are STEM majors, they don’t all act or sound the same. We have a diverse student body with diverse backgrounds and interests, showcased by a variety of organizations on campus. It can be said with any university that you can find “your people” and that your mindset is what matters the most when it comes to making the most out of college. While that is true to some extent, it can be different for minorities, particularly people of color (POC) and LGBTQ+ students. For POC and LGBTQ+ students it may be harder to find your community and a safe space on campus. Encouragingly, however, the current administration seems dedicated to diversifying the student body and building more spaces for minorities to gather, thanks to the efforts of groups like the Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative (UDC) and the For a Better CWRU taskforce. While there are issues, our student body creates a generally accepting and supportive environment—even if it is slightly competitive, especially within academics. However, as cliché as it may sound, there really is a club or community for everyone. You will find your people here.
But while there are a variety of activities and organizations at CWRU, it is easy to be too caught up in your own bubble. There isn’t much collective community spirit or general pride for CWRU—as a whole, campus engagement is low. It is rare to be a “proud Spartan,” and there doesn’t seem to be a collective campus culture to be a part of. While there are organizations and groups that work to remedy this, such as Student Activities and Leadership, you won’t find typical college culture here—and the corporate, vocational vibe of the university doesn’t help. The fact that most places close at 9 p.m. makes for a lackluster nightlife. However, CWRU is in one of the nation’s best arts districts, with the world-class Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Orchestra all within a mile of each other. While the city of Cleveland gets a bad rap, there is plenty to fall in love with here if you give it a chance, with diverse neighborhoods and lively attractions. You just have to look for the hidden gems.
All universities, including CWRU, have their pros and cons, and we hope we’ve explained some of the merits and the drawbacks of being an undergraduate here for our future class. While this editorial isn’t necessarily to persuade or discourage you to enroll here, it should be noted that most of us have found our place and community here at CWRU, with none of us regretting the decision to come here. We criticize CWRU because we all care for it and are passionate about making this place the best it can be. So grab an issue of our paper if you visit our campus and maybe even consider joining us in the fall if you do decide to come here. The Observer is always here as your guide to the university and as a platform for student voices.