More than 25,000 students applied for spots in the class that enters Case Western Reserve this fall, an increase of 10 percent over last year and the university’s tenth straight all-time record.
Since President Barbara R. Snyder’s term began in 2007, total annual applications have more than tripled. In addition, Case Western Reserve’s application growth over the past several years ranks first among all private institutions in the Association of American Universities, which includes the 62 leading campuses in the U.S. and Canada.
“Our continued progress demonstrates that high school students increasingly recognize that Case Western Reserve gives them the academic and extracurricular experiences they need to excel after graduation, no matter what fields they choose to pursue,” President Snyder said. “I commend our enrollment team for helping students around the world understand just how much our campus has to offer—and our faculty and staff for providing so much for students once they arrive.”
The growth in applications has been accompanied by an increase in the academic quality of enrolled students. Since 2007, average SAT scores have climbed more than 80 points and the proportion of students in the top 10 percent of their graduating classes has climbed substantially. A decade ago, the university accepted nearly three quarters of its applicants; in 2016, the figure was just more than a third.
The university has achieved these gains in part by telling its story more effectively, and also by being able to highlight several new facilities and programs. In recent years, Case Western Reserve has added several facilities and programs to expand the breath of opportunities students may pursue. In 2015, for example, the university opened the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box] innovation hub and makerspace, located on campus in the Richey Mixon building. Think[box] students and staff collaborate extensively with CWRU LaunchNet, a center dedicated to providing entrepreneurial students and other members of the campus community assistance with taking their ideas from concept to a marketable initiative or product. As part of those efforts, several student and alumni startups have appeared at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in recent years.
Also in 2015, the university opened the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center, where more than a dozen student musical groups perform and speakers appear as part of the Think Forum series and Writers Center Stage. A year earlier, the university dedicated the Tinkham Veale University Center, a gleaming 82,000-square-foot facility open 24 hours a day during the academic year.
The university also has dramatically strengthened its international programs. The percentage of international undergraduates in the entering class totaled 16 percent last fall—more than double the figure in 2012. Meanwhile, the proportion of U.S. undergraduates studying abroad climbed from a fifth to nearly half from 2010 to 2015. Last year, Case Western Reserve received the Institute of International Education’s prestigious Heiskell Award for innovation in international education. This year’s application numbers also showed strong gains among international and underrepresented minority students.
The overall figures are especially promising given that this academic year marks the first time that Case Western Reserve has implemented an admissions and financial aid policy known as Meet Full Need. Under its provisions, the university seeks to provide aid packages that meet the full demonstrated financial need for all admitted students.
“We developed and adopted this approach specifically because we wanted to enhance diversity and affordability,” said Vice President for Enrollment Management Rick Bischoff, who joined the university in 2009 and is the architect of the new model. “These initial numbers align with our expectations, and we will continue to monitor our progress with regard to admission and enrollment decisions.”