Name a college with a cutting edge computer science department which was the first university with a fiber-optic network in 1989, has a 1GB network today, is home to 16 Nobel Prize laureates, has one of the top biomedical engineering programs in the country, and counts among its alumni Craig Newmark, the founder of Craig’s List, and former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich. Johns Hopkins? Carnegie Mellon? No, Case Western Reserve.
Case Western Reserve is the product of a merger between Case Institute of Technology with Western Reserve University in 1967, resulting in what is now the largest private college in Ohio—with 4228 undergraduates—and the highest nationally ranked university in Ohio, at #38 according to US News and World Report. Case is composed of four undergraduate schools: the College of Arts and Sciences, the Case School of Engineering, the Bolton School of Nursing, and the Weatherhead School of Management, which is contained a Frank Gehry designed Lewis Building featuring undulating walls
The 155-acre campus is located 5 miles east of downtown Cleveland, adjacent to the Wade Park historic district in a neighborhood appropriately named University Circle. The circle contains 550 acres of cultural institutions including Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra, Botanical Garden, Museum of Art, and an assortment of major hospitals. Most of these cultural landmarks have joint programs with Case. Moreover, if this isn’t enough to satisfy one’s cultural needs, Case is only 4 miles from the I.M. Pei designed Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (bring your ID and you get a free admissions ticket).
While Case is primarily known for its science and engineering majors, in particular the Biomedical engineering is stellar and the polymer science major is one of the few such programs in the country, its ‘western reserve’ portion fosters the arts and sciences. Indeed, there is excellent teaching and solid research in American Studies, Art History, and Psychology. Case also introduced SAGES (Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship), to replace the core curriculum with 5-6 small interdisciplinary seminars taken throughout the four years emphasizing reading, discussion, and intensive writing.
The atmosphere of the school is academically challenging, but extremely collaborative in spirit. Study groups are encouraged, and it’s relatively easy to find others working on problem sets to join in with.
Case also offers specialty majors and programs. In particular is its Pre-Professional Scholars Program (PPSP). Through PPSP freshmen are offered conditional places in Case’s highly regarded dental, law, social work, and, highly coveted, medicine schools.
Like Northwestern and Boston University, Case is a proponent of learning through experience (clinical, hands-on, or experiential learning). 75% of the undergraduates participate in research, numerous theatrical productions, clinical nursing, and coop programs with local engineering firms during their undergraduate career. Community service learning tie-ins also abound with tutoring services in Cleveland high schools through such programs as Project Step Up.
What most of the 4,300 undergraduates at Case value are the low 9:1 students to faculty ratio, that 95% of classes are taught by faculty, and that many of the professors are widely accessible. Some departments such as Political Science and Physics have small class sizes allowing for almost individual attention.
While the tuition ticket price is an eye-popping $41,800, over 80% of the students have some form of financial aid with an average financial aid package, according to College Navigator, of $30,700.
If you’re considering Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins, Washington University (St. Louis) or Northwestern, do not overlook the Tartans of Case Western Reserve, a demanding campus with all that Cleveland has to offer.