Case Western Reserve University Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?

Reinhardt

Case is very tough, however for all the effort placed into it, you will get a degree that confuses employers. "Huh? Where's that college? Weird. Never heard of it." Enjoy the mind numbing piles of work stacked atop you by TA's, having three tests on the same day during the middle of the semester, and classes that think an 8 hour homework assignment is appropriate.

Joe

The academics at Case Western are good. It is very rare that you find yourself stuck in a class that is super boring or that has a professor that you cannot stand.

Meredith

I feel like the classes here are very challenging, but it's still possible to do well. Office hours are always available, and professors are very open to students talking to them after class or emailing them. Also, tutoring is always available, as well as sessions by TAs about the course material. In many of my classes, class participation is required, which means the professors and students are very comfortable talking to each other. I feel like Case offers many of the benefits of large universities, all while keeping the general feel of classes as close and personal.

Alex

Academics are taken very seriously at Case. Students must stay on top of their work and class responsibilities. Professors and supplemental instructors are very helpful and provide an environment for students to succeed. Despite the high level of work, there is no cold and competitive competition among the students. Everyone is open to helping each other.

Yen-Chi

My major is structural engineering and mechanics; therefore, mechanics-related courses are my favorite. In my school all students seem to have their own interesting on choice of academic and they would like to spend much time to study on it.

Madison

Academics are pretty rigorous, but so far I've managed to handle them and I think most people do. I'm currently double majoring in Classics and History (as well as considering a third major in Women's Studies). One of the great things about being a humanities major at Case is that the classes are small. My professors know my name and some can even recall what my interests are and point me toward research in that direction. Plus my professors are all currently doing research on their own, which means that I have opportunities to talk to them about their research, which can spark my own interests.

Chris

School is tough, but definitely manageable. If you can manage time management you can win at college. There is nothing impossible, we have a lot of work but nothing unmanageable, and faculty are generally great and very helpful.

Joulia

Draining and tiresome, especially with those required to do labs and lab reports.

Laura

Overall, I would say that the academics at Case are rigorous. As far as professors go, there is no blanket statement that can be made. I've had professors that are great teachers, and really helpful to all of their students. And then I've had professors that are, well....not. Usually professors that teach smaller, more specific classes are really passionate about what they do, and are just eager for the students to learn about what they are teaching. The less-than-desirable professors tend to be the ones that teach large lecture classes. Sometimes it can feel like you're just a face in the crowd of 400 other students in your class. However, large classes like these often have SIs (supplemental instructors) who are older students who have already taken and excelled in the class. They hold extra, smaller sessions outside of class where students can go to get their questions answered and receive help on assignments for that class. Case also has an excellent tutoring program, and professors have office hours every week. Every student can also get 5 free hours of tutoring each week from a number of different qualified tutors for virtually every class, so getting help if you need it should never be an issue.. Some students tend to get a little competitive, but I've found that most times everyone just has a "we're in this together" mentality. There are so many different classes offered at Case, on such a wide array of topics, that when it comes time for enrollment, I always find it hard to choose between everything that interests me.

Christian

The academics are challenging. There are no "blow off" classes. Each professor takes his/her job very seriously and teaches classes to very high expectations. While stressful at times, you definitely learn your material and grow as a person. The University offers a wide range of offerings in terms of majors, but a lot of focus is put on the hard sciences and medicine, since we have such strong roots in research and innovation.

Howard

I can only speak from a science background. It is competitive here at CWRU, but only in the sense that most students are serious about their education. If you share the same seriousness as most of your classmates, you will find classes to be challenging, but not impossible. My favorite classes are biochemistry, cell biology, and histology. My professors genuinely care about the student's learning experience and the material they teach. While these classes are challenging, they can be very fun. If you love learning, you will love it here.

Ashlee

Professors at Case are extremely helpful when it comes to classes. If you are in a large class, with over 100 people, it is less likely that the professor will know everyone by name. However, many professors have an open-door policy, where a student can stop by the their offices whenever they want and can come on in. In addition, students at Case study quite a bit, and often form study groups to work on homework together. Class participation is very common, and many students on campus are fairly outgoing and easy to get to know.

Rafael

Socially, I really enjoyed my freshman year. Academically, I did not enjoy it much at all. I had to take a ton of classes that I just didn't care about at all. Two semesters of chemistry for a computer science major? So annoying! To make it worse, freshman classes are pretty big. Granted, I've heard that some state schools have lectures with 500+ students, so maybe it's not so bad. I think our biggest lecture hall holds around 300 people. You can expect to take chemistry and maybe physics there. I, and many of my smart friends, found the professors for the first year to be pretty terrible. We'd get little out of lecture and the homework would frequently be really, really long and annoying. But Case does offer the SI sessions that are led by students who did well the previous year. They can be pretty useful, so if you're struggling in one of the big classes, it's very likely that it'll have SI sessions where you can go and ask for help. It's more relaxed than a lecture but it can be very useful. The first two semesters of chem, physics, math and I believe biology have SIs. I've made it sound pretty bad. The good news is that sophomore year is so much better. One of my 300 level math classes has 10 kids in it. It's very relaxed and the professor is very approachable. My computer science class is relatively big (if you took CS in HS you can take this class freshman year...) and has about 50 kids in it. But realistically, only about 25 or 30 show up, so it's pretty good. The professor is also pretty approachable. I'm not liking my differential equations class very much (MATH224) but I guess it's alright. It's small, but the professor is just not very good. Oh well. Homework: it's long, but the key is to just get started early. Physics homework for freshman could sometimes take 5-8 hours to do. Yeah, if you leave that all for a day (like I would usually do...) it's pretty miserable. But if you do a bit every day, then it's not so bad at all. The key is simply doing a little bit of all your homework every day. But yeah, there's a rumor that has been going around campus for a while that claims we get the 2nd most homework in the country behind MIT. True or not, the homework is pretty annoying and sometimes ridiculous. But manageable.

Reese

I'll take this space to issue a warning about academics at Case. For many big name schools, one of the biggest hurdles is just getting in. Case is not this way. In fact, it's fairly easy to get in. However, do not let that dupe you into an unmerited sense of security. I've seen several friends get accepted, matriculate, and slam into that 30 ksi reinforced concrete wall that is Case academics.

May

Students at Case are very competitive. Most students coming from a background that has allowed them to attain high levels of education is the reason for this. Most of the majors are very high demanding, especially engineering, sciences, nursing, and mathematics. Something that I have done to relieve some pressure at times was taking a course that would be interesting and easy to pass (the social sciences). Something that Case has to offer is the job connections that can be made through career fairs and other great groups on campus that makes it easier for students.

Phil

Professors all get to know students by name and are always available by email or in person for extra help.

Kevin

Academics is impressive. The professors can be a little impersonal, but they're generally good. Math professors are incredibly smart, but can be difficult to learn from. Case's classes are generally difficult, but not impossible. Education, at least in engineering, prepares you excellently for the real thing.

Alex

It is tough...... No matter what major you are, Case is NO JOKE!!! But you'll appreciate all your hard work, GUARANTEED!!! Students are crazy competitive in the sciences and engineering.... its pretty annoying how competitive students are in those subjects. Some are willing to go out their way to make sure that you do worse than them.

Angela

The basic engineering classes are 200 plus so there is no hope for the professors to know your name unless you ask an ungodly amount of questions. And if you do that, a couple of students are bound to glare at you everytime you ask one. Case has a great job placement record. It also looks good on transcripts if you are trying to get into med school or grad school. Case has a reputation and that name brings in a lot of companies look for the best and brightest. Even a mediocre student at Case can trump students from other schools because the academics at Case are so rigorous. Not as bad as MIT and definitely doable.

Emily

Even though Case has a larger graduate population than undergraduate population, all the professors are definitely interested in their undergrads. Professors work really hard to learn students names, even in 300 student lectures. And that's the biggest they come: 300. You're way more likely to see yourself in a 30 person classroom having a debate about oil prices and the state of the U.S. economy (okay, maybe you're more likely to have a debate about one of the laws of physics or the dissection of a cat... the Case student body is still highly made up of science and engineering students). The work is hard and there's a lot of it, to be honest. Students spend a LOT of time studying, but we also know how to take breaks and have fun. There is one Gen Ed requirement that you'll either love or hate: SAGES. The Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship is a series of seminar-based classes of 17 students or less that all students must take. The upside: you can take classes from outside of your major to get a more well-rounded academic experience. The (potential) downside: you'll be asked to do a lot of writing, participation, and presentation. It sounds great, but many science and engineering students would rather swallow mercury than write a 10-page research paper. This fact is what gives SAGES its bad reputation.

Kathryn

Case is a hard school, there is no getting around that, but it is a school that challenges you and keeps you thinking. Because Case is so hard, we have less competition and more of a "lets all get out alive together" feeling with students, it is not cut throat, other students want to help, it really brings the students together. Some of the freshmen classes are very large, but as you go to more specialty classes for what your studying you get into much smaller classes, where you get to know professors extremely well.

Dan

This really depends on what area in which you choose to study. The academic experiences can be completely different depending on whether you choose Engineering for example, or Political Science. Case has been known as a science and engineering school (although the humanities are making a comeback!) so those areas are good, but tough. Professor quality varies (so I've heard) but overall you'll be taught by faculty well-accomplished and recognized in their field. One downside: big classes in lecture halls for much of your time at CWRU. If you choose the humanities you are more likely to have a more personalized feel to your classes (I did and still do) with faculty who know your name. Professors are generally excellent and with small classes, seminar style discussions are common. One downside: Case really isn't recognized for excelling in the humanities and liberal arts despite the fact that I find the program to be excellent so be wary of that fact, especially for after graduation.

Annie

Academics at Case are overall very difficult, and high standards must be met by all students. That said, you will sit in large auditoriums for introductory science and engineering classes and may find yourself floundering to keep up or be noticed during your first and second semesters. However, once you begin to hone your major and minor choices as you progress through the undergraduate years, most find themselves content in a department in which most professors know you by name and are willing to talk to you whenever, so long as you have an appointment. Maybe I'm just spoiled because the geology department is so exceedingly small, but I love all my professors.

Dan

Case is a great school for those who are driven and self-motivated, and a nightmare for the lazy. I am a student of Electrical Engineering which is extremely challenging, and at times can be very trying on one's patience and mental capacity. For some it can be difficult to transition from a high school experience where one can slide by near the top of their class with minimal work - that's simply not the case here. With very few exceptions, the students that excel are the ones that are not in it for the degree, but for the learning experience. I've been in the undergraduate design lab for electrical engineering on quite a few nights were students are working on assignments early or tinkering with their own projects. With that said, not every discipline is as grueling as the next. Many of my friends study Management and Psychology and can do rather well without an enormous amount of effort. However, very few students party on weekdays, and many work on either Friday or Saturday night as well.

Kendall

Case is known to be a difficult school, but it really depends on your professor and the teaching assistant who does all the grading. I've had classes that were a joke and I've had classes that were impossible, it really depends. Some of the professors are too smart for their own good and cannot simplify concepts for teaching. Some professors make their class impossible on purpose, so they can find the biggest nerd in the class. Most of the classes are only easy if you already know about the topic being taught. Teachers treat new concepts more as review, so it's hard to keep up if you're learning something totally knew. My hardest semester was first semester of freshman year, I got grades that I've never gotten before in my life and thought I was going to fail out of school, but I resolved to relax and just do my best and the next semester I got all A's, so don't freak if you don't do as well as you think you should.

Elizabeth

Most of your professors will know your name, even in a lecture class. They are invested in you as a person and student. We are ranked ( I believe) third in the amount of work expected in and out of class. Expect to do work, but it is not life consuming. If you manage your time, you can do it. Many of the best students are involved with sports or other activities.

Stephen

Since I study Economics and International Studies, with a minor in Spanish I often feel that I attend a small liberal arts school within a bigger university--I've never had any of the huge lecture classes that other students talk about, and I like that. Many professors know me by name because I've taken more than one of their classes, or because I work for them, or because my classes were just small enough that the professor knows all the students. I know that this isn't the reality for all students but I think it can be if you put a little effort into it--even people in big lecture classes can get to know their professors if they go to see them in their office hours enough. Many students are very competitive, although I can't say that I am.

Shawn

As with every college, you get smaller classes as the years go on. In the small classes you will definitley establish a pesonal relationship with the teachers

Alex

The academics at Case are top notch. While there are a lot of larger classes, they are usually taught by very amiable professors that are very willing to help students. Most students come to Case for the academics, and it does not disappoint. While there is a certain amount of competition amongst the students, everyone is always very willing to help each other. Also, 80% of Case students participate in research, so that is a good thing if you are interested in research.

Tate

Class participation for general education classes consists of going to class and staying awake, which becomes very difficult for most students due to the dry nature in which the classes are taught. Most of the classes claim to teach you how to learn but are just thinly veiled lessons in memorization and regurgitation. In Biomedical Engineering, Case prides itself on its Top-10 ranking; however, many of the faculty that was at Case that got them their high ranking have either left the institution or have become research-only professors that may teach one graduate level class. Almost all of the undergraduate level classes are taught by professors who have to teach in order to fulfill their teaching requirement in order to be faculty and be able to research at Case Western Reserve University. The main chance for learning at Case comes from the ability supplement lectures with research opportunities. The research opportunities are very helpful and indispensable when it comes to learning in this day and age, especially when one considers the competition in the job market for Biomedical Engineers (aka. If you haven’t done research you don’t get a job). The bottom line however is that while the research is amazing at Case, it does not make up for the dry, slipshod and uncaring attitude taken by the professors who teach the undergraduate classes nor does it make up for the philosophy that lectures are there for memorization.

Katelyn

All of my professors know my name. Many of the liberal arts professors reach out to try to get to know their students. They organize individual meetings and are eager for students to share their ideas and opinions. Students are always studying. Intellectual conversations outside of class are common. A lot of the people are interested in hearing and discussing subjects outside of their majors. Students work hard and focus on themselves - they don't seem overly competitive with each other. They tend to be very helpful and commonly collaborate on projects and homework. There are always really great visiting lecturers and other intellectual activities to get involved in. I have spent time with a lot of my professors outside of class. Many of the philosophy professors have stopped by at philosophy club meetings. Other professors will stop and talk with students when they see each other around campus. The Cognitive Science department is awesome! All of the professors are eager for students to get involved in the most current research and express ideas and research proposals of their own! There are always really great visiting lecturers and involvement in the Cognitive Science Student Organization. The Philosophy department is awesome! The professors are brilliant. They are very friendly, involved, and encouraging towards their students.

Marissa

Academics at Case are rigorous. I was an engineering student, and I made it through, but it was difficult. I didn't spend all my time in the library, but I have pulled my fair share of all-nighters. I've noticed that lots of students come into Case and are used to being the top students in their respective high schools. When they get here though and see that the other students at Case are just as smart, if not smarter than they are, it can be a difficult transition for them. I didn't like most of my classes. I didn't like my major. I chose my major because I didn't know what else to do and it seemed like a safe bet. It is easy to switch majors at Case, but I decided I wanted to stick it out since I new I would be going to law school and it didn't really matter what my undergrad degree was. The classes that I've liked the most, however, have been a result of the professors teaching them. I hated thermodynamics, but I loved the professor (Iwan Alexander) so the class was ok. I took a music class for fun (MUSC 230, Roots to Rock, like a history of rock-and-roll) and LOVED the course and LOVED the teacher (Mary Davis). I would definitely reccommend both that class and Professor Davis to anyone, no matter their major. To talk specifically about my department (Biomedical Engineering) I have seen a strong correlation between the students who work in a lab and how well they do in the classroom. I'm not sure if it's because they are able to apply what they learn, or they are just inherently smarter and are drawn to volunteering their time in a lab. I was involved in other activities and worked part time and was unable to find time to work in a lab (and I wouldn't have known who to ask), so that was kind of annoying to me. The department, overall, I would say is good though. The faculty and staff are friendly and helpful. I haven't had a chance to get to know that many professors very well, but the ones I've had I like, and they all make an effort to get to know their students and help however possible. One thing I feel that is strongly emphasized, both in this department and the school of engineering as a whole, is teaching classes that are structured around the points required for ABET accredidation. I understand why it's important to be accredited, but it seems to take away from the "learning for its own sake" aspect.

Scott

Most of my professors know my name. My best professor was Chris Butler (Calc 1,2). He knew many students names (in a class of ~250 students). He taught well and had a great sense of humor. Kids respected him even though the average grade was ~75 %. Overall, there is not much competition. People study together and freely give help. The chemical engineering department is fun. The professors are mostly friendly. A lot of undergrads do research, which helps students relate to professors better. I've been happy with the professors. The students are great. It feels like we're all going through the tough stuff together. The education at Case seems geared toward getting a job. I like that. The co-op program is encouraged. The work load is heavy. However, it's possible to do well.

Annie

Since I am in nursing, the professors know who we are because we are with the same people for 4 years. Case is a lot of work, but it doable and worth it. The key to success at Case is time management. You can't wait to do something until the night before. Instead you must plan ahead and not only look at the current week, but also the weeks to come. If you ever do need help, there is plenty of people who are willing to help you: other classmates, past students that have taken the class, the professors.

Jo

I have been able to approach and meet individually with most of my professors. They always make time for the students and are not afraid to approach you first if they see that you need help. The accounting department especially at Case is a tight knit community. I have worked with a professor in a financial literacy initiative, have attended regional conferences and invited out to lunch to catch up and discuss future plans. The education is definitely focused on getting a job but also having the right experiences to be more than ready for a job.

Lydia

All my professors know my name. Academically, Case is a great school. There are some really great Professors and the classes are very interesting.

Josh

Case professors are intimate and care about their students greatly. I've enjoyed most all of my History and Religious Studies classes (these are my majors). Students study ALL the time (often for tests which are weeks away), and class participation is common and EXPECTED. Regarding "intellectual conversations" outside of class, I'd have to say you need to find the right group of friends, and this is hard. Deep conversations don't often happen with the engineering students, which make up most of the student body - hang out with people more focused on learning for its own sake rather than students who are learning for a job. Students are MASSIVELY competitive, so expect almost everyone around you to strive for straight A's. Case's educational system, as stated above, is really focused on technical, mathematical, and scientific learning, so don't expect to find too many humanities majors.

Krista

My first semester here was dedicated to being pre-med, but Case changed my mind immediately. Speaking from one semester of experience, the science and math curriculums here are rigorous. I absolutely hated it because I had so much homework and studying to do. Since then, I've been taking more liberal arts courses, which carry a polar opposite work load.

Blake

They're pretty tough, but we learn a lot from some really smart professors, so it's OK

Christine

I love the academics at Case. That is what drew me here and what kept me here. The classes are the perfect size to get to know your fellow classmates and your professors. My two favorite classes over the past four years here were Physiology of Behavior and The Horror Film. Both of the professors were able to teach me with very little background in the two areas. The best part about Case is that almost every professor you have a class with will learn your name (whether you want them to or not). The other day I was walking to class and my film professor actually yelled out of his second floor window to stop me and say hello. Even when I don't have a question about a class I still go to my professors' offices to just talk. Students here also study all of the time. Oddly enough I really enjoy this. Often times I'll find myself in an intellectual conversation with my roommates, and this is actually a great way to study. While the classes may be demanding at time, the material is usually interesting enough that you won't mind studying in the evenings when you might normally be watching TV. The Case Career Center is also amazing at finding and helping people get jobs. When I found myself at a loss I went there and they helped me set up my resume and advise me on the best methods to find what I wanted.

Perry

There has never been a class in my past 6 semesters at Case where the professors did not know my name. Oftentimes, a student will not even need to make too much of an effort for professors to know their names. Some professors actually study the pictures of students and know their names the first day of classes. Students at Case are highly competitive, but this is primarily a result of where these students want to end up after graduating. If it is medical school, law school, or some graduate school, students are all striving to get A's and B's. However, competition between students is not very great, because the grading system supports a collaborative learning environment where there are no set numbers of A's, B's, or C's a student will be able to assign at the end of the semester. This is quite a relief and it makes Case an even more powerful institution because of it.

Julie

Professors are very personable. They are also some of the top researchers in the country. Classes are hard work. You should expect a lot of homework, but you will learn more than you could ever imagine. The materials engineering department is especially good. We not only have our own foundry but a state of the art imaging center. The student to faculty ratio is almost 1 to 1 in this department.

Casey

Classes at Case are hard. It's not too uncommon to go to the library on Friday night - if you have to do it, you do. There's no denying that we do our share of work at Case, but in the end it's worth it. We get a great education, amazing friends, and good jobs after college.

Annie

there are not many people in my nursing class, so most of my teachers know my name, but not all do students generally study every weeknight, but study more some nights compared to others i am excited about taking my photography class next semester i am not sure yet how i feel about sages, i think that i am more for them than against them, but i wish that there were more availble(they are all at the same time) i especially like how for nursing i am in the hospitals from week 1, instead of junior year like other schools

Julia

The best thing about Case Western Reserve University is the opportunity for students to get to know their professors. The student-professor ratio is often 8-1 in labs, seminar classes, clinical (nursing) or research. Professors at Case Western Reserve University have a genuine interest in the lives of their students. Students feel supported in not only their academics, but in their personal endeavors and extracurricular activities. Case Western Reserve University is a powerful learning environment that focuses on the whole educational experience of the student. Students at Case Western Reserve University are competive, but supportive. We work together because classes are challenging and students know that they must give each other support academically and emotionally. There is no sense of cut-throat competition, but students try their best to achieve their maximum potential. Students are serious about learning how to be a better student and how to make the world a better place through their education. Students take advantage of internships and co-op opportunities that are offered through the university and the greater Cleveland area. They know that if they work hard to intern now, they are one step closer to the door to the professional world. Case Westen Reserve students are almost always offered jobs upon graduation at their place of previous employment. Employers are continually impressed with the work ethic and passion Case Wester Reserve students possess.

Megan

Academics at Case is highly respected. The work load is rather heavy, but professors are more than willing to help you understand the material. It's important to build a relationship with your professor and go to their office hours. Most students study engineering or other science fields but there other avenues you can pursue as well.

Casey

We also have SAGES - Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship. Everyone has to take certain seminars (with some flexibility in choices of seminars) and pass a portfolio review. I find that this has been really helpful in improving the atrocious writing skills of some students, though it can be a pain to people who already know how to write.

Avanti

The science program here is strong. Many of my professors in smaller classes know my name. They are very open to talking and welcome students into their office, during office hours and otherwise. My program, the Bachelor of Science in Biology, has a rigorous curriculum and has required me to take mostly classes that I like, but also a few that I didn't like!

Alex

Case is known for its rigorous curriculum. Being smart isn't good enough here - you have to work really hard and have to be proactive and curious. Professors tend to know your name, even in the big lecture courses. Students study a great deal. It is very competitive at Case, but it isn't cutthroat and almost everybody I've met here has been kind and helpful. Case is very good at preparing you for the work-place...alumni tend to be very successful. So, most of the education at class is geared towards getting a job.

Winston

The academic environment of Case is something closely approximating hell. Everyone wants to leave their mark. Double majors are common. Triple majors are here and there. Single majors with multiple minors are the baseline. Students at Case work themselves to death, often voluntarily. The University Counseling staff handles, almost exclusively, short-term stress recovery. Midterms and finals are a form of trauma. If ever you wish to see a picture of human suffering, wander down to the Kelvin Smith Library at 3am on the Wednesday before spring break and see how many people will still be there hunched over a textbook or laptop. Thankfully, for all the nightmares that our homework load creates, nine times out of ten there's plenty of good information waiting to be found in the classrooms. Professors are usually friendly and open, excepting the occasional curmudgeon or fool, and the resources available to students through the library system or over the Case network are nothing less than extraordinary. You'd have to be brain dead to not learn something here. In the true spirit of liberal education, however, what you learn will be a mish-mash of practical skills and abstracted theory. I began at Case as an electrical engineer and left the department because I discovered that in my four years as an undergraduate, I would never get to engineer anything electrical. The TI-89 takes precedent at every turn over the soldering iron or the screwdriver, and I didn't like the idea, so I took up English and Theatre, hoping and praying that I would get to do my own work. I occasionally get my wish.

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