As someone from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, I often get asked why I chose to go to a school so close to home. Generally, it’s something along the lines of “that would be too close for me” or “why would you want to stay in Cleveland?”
When I was a senior in high school, I got into every school I applied to. When it came down to the decision, I was struggling to decide between Case Western Reserve University and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The two schools are extremely different and, at the time, I wanted to go into mechanical engineering.
So what swayed me toward CWRU? Above all else, the answer is absolutely the people.
At UIUC, I was able to take a tour as an admitted student, but there wasn’t an overnight option like we have here for prospective students. I only received the chance to tour the campus and get a feel for the school.
I didn’t like it. There were too many people.
But with CWRU, I got to stay overnight and hang out with actual students. I immediately felt like I fit in. Everyone was very smart and had many different interests and experiences. Additionally, it felt like I could both get to know a fair number of the students and still be able to meet new people throughout my four years.
The diversity and number of students are still one of my favorite things. I have learned so much about other people and cultures, despite staying in Cleveland. Getting to know so many people means that I’m constantly passing familiar faces on either quad.
Besides the people, I also really love the campus and the surrounding area. The Uptown district has grown immensely in the past 10 years and has become the epicenter of the place I call home.
Plus, many of Cleveland’s finest museums and cultural institutions are within walking distance of campus. Not to mention, these museums and cultural institutions are largely free or have student pricing.
Now, with these positives in mind, I don’t want to pretend that everything is perfect here. CWRU definitely has its problems.
The ones that bother me the most are probably housing and not having enough full-time lecturers. There is not enough housing on campus, especially with the number of attending students increasing every year. A lot of departments aren’t adequately staffed or they have professors that are clearly more focused on research rather than dedicated full-time lecturers. There are more problems, but nothing that bugs me as much as those.
As it turns out, I actually applied to transfer to another school when I was a first-year student, but that’s mainly because CWRU didn’t have the major I thought I was interested in pursuing. Ultimately, I chose to stay here and switch out of engineering.
For me, that was the right decision, and it’s a decision I may not have been able to make at a larger school. At CWRU, it’s incredibly easy to switch majors, whereas state schools often require students to apply to their desired major.
Why else did I decide to stay here? Again, the answer is the people.
CWRU may not be a perfect school, but what school is? Although I find myself annoyed with the problems I face that are caused by the university, I’m always reminded of why I love it here. CWRU students are the best around. Any prospective student should seriously take their time to establish connections with these amazing people as early as they can.
And if I’m being completely honest, it’s awesome to only have to haul my stuff down Mayfield Road every year rather than get a storage unit or truck it across the country.