2 Great Case Western Reserve Essay Examples
Case Western Reserve is a highly-selective college in Ohio. With small class sizes and an abundance of eager applicants, it’s important that your application stands out with strong essays. In this post, we’ll share real essays students have submitted to Case Western, and share what they did well and how they could be made even better. (Names and identifying information have been changed, but all other details are preserved).
Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized.
Read our Case Western essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts.
Essay Example 1
Prompt: In the college application process, you are constantly prompted for a list of your achievements, awards, and accomplishments. While this information is useful to us, we are interested in hearing more about you. Describe an event, achievement, or experience of which you are particularly proud but that will not show up on a resume, may not garner any recognition, and does not appear anywhere else on your admission application. (700 words max)
My Senegalese side of the family had always told me that I couldn’t dance because I had inherited a terrible rhythm from my English father. While they were right, I was devastated as this small fact utterly destroyed my hopes of being sprayed with one-dollar bills on the dance floor. Because I couldn’t follow a rhythm to save my life, I was missing out on an essential part of my culture– because Senegalese people live to dance. We’ll find any excuse to blast some P-Square whether it be high school graduation, a Senegalese traditional wedding, or even a fifteen-year-old’s birthday party.
However, one Christmas eve, everything changed for me. It was my brother’s birthday dinner, and my cousins ate their jollof rice. “Don’t Jealous Me” from Black is King summoned my brother from his place in front of his food, and he pulled out his trademark dance move. Being the birthday boy, my grandpa started spraying him with cash. At that moment, I knew that I needed to overcome my lack of rhythm and make some money.
I made my way over to our makeshift dance floor.
“Oh, Katie’s got some moves!” My aunt cheered for me. A few minutes later, my uncle announced that the first annual inter-cousin dance competition was about to begin. My growing confidence in my spectacular dance moves fueled a familiar sense of competitiveness in a whole new setting. I was going to win this competition, no matter what.
I danced and danced to Yemi Alade, the Black is King soundtrack, and more P-Square for what felt like hours, surrounded by my sweaty cousins all jumping for the dollar bills my grandpa was still spraying. But, at this point, all I cared about was winning. When the music finally stopped, my aunt called for a speech from each competitor on why they deserved to win.
My turn for a speech arrived, and I paused dramatically.
“All my life, you all have told me that I would never be able to dance because of my English genes. Today I proved you all wrong.” I then proceeded to exclaim why I deserved to win more than my brother and everyone else.
When everyone finished their speeches and my relatives had concluded their final debates on the winner, they called us over.
“The winner is… Katie!”
The feeling of pride I felt at this moment was more rewarding than any National Latin Exam award or lacrosse game win. Despite the adamant protests of my siblings and cousins, the validation I had gained at being able to relate to my Senegalese heritage was something that I will never forget.
What the Essay Did Well
This is a good essay for two main reasons: the topic was perfect for this prompt and this student brought the reader into the action with her.
To begin with, this prompt specifically asks to learn something about the applicant that isn’t anywhere else on their application. It would be a mistake to simply expand on an activity that’s already listed on her resume, but this student smartly wrote about something completely separate from the rest of the application. Focusing on her heritage and a family celebration allowed her to explain her background, demonstrate the importance of family, and show us her internal conflict.
Her topic is also very focused which works in this essay’s favor. The essay tells the story of a singular Christmas dinner and the dance competition she partook in. Honing in on this one night allowed for the inclusion of more details and personal reflection, both of which are essential for a good essay.
This student’s use of specific details really helps to bring the readers into the story. Since we have never been to her family celebrations, understanding what it sounds, looks, and tastes like lets us appreciate the deeper aspects of the story. Telling us about the jollof rice, the specific songs and artists that were playing, and including direct quotes makes the story come to life.
What Could Be Improved
This essay could be improved further with more elaboration on what drives this student. She included background about her dual-heritage, but we don’t fully understand how isolated she felt from her Sengalese culture. Is it just dancing that makes her feel left out? Does she feel like she is being torn between two cultures and doesn’t have a place in either of them? Delving into these deeper questions would provide great personal depth and self-reflection that would reveal a lot to the admissions committee.
Additionally, she tells us that she is competitive, but we don’t really understand what drives this competition. We get the sense from this essay that this student is a generally competitive person, but where did that come from and how does it motivate them? Building on questions like these, providing more depth and context for the essay, would make this response even better.
Essay Example 2
Prompt: By applying to the Pre-Professional Scholars Program, you are applying to gain admission to professional school earlier than students who apply in the traditional way. Please indicate why you’re interested in your chosen profession. How do you see yourself being particularly suited to this field? What events and/or experiences have led you to your choice? (250-500 words)
In the United States, common illnesses faced by seven-year-old children do not include malaria. Strep throat, the flu, and even chickenpox are relatively normal for kids to undergo at least once in their lifetime. However, malaria remains a danger for people living in countries that consistently battle the influx of mosquito swarms day and night.
As a malaria survivor myself, I can testify to the horrible experience of chills and high fever in 100-degree heat. All frequent flyers to Sub-saharan Africa know that you’re supposed to start taking the prescription drug five days before your flight. However, sometimes, amid all the craziness it takes to prepare for a trip to a third-world country, it’s possible this little pill might slip from one’s mind. Two weeks later, as my parents prepared to make the long bus ride to the Ewohimi village, I began to feel a little sick. By the time we’d arrived, I was curled up in a ball on my mother’s lap.
My great-grandmother died of a wound infection. The kind of injury that would have you in and out of the hospital in a couple of days killed her due to the lack of resources in Nigerian hospitals. I still remember the shock that crossed my mother’s face as she heard the news over the phone. It didn’t make any sense. Because how can such a simple thing kill someone?
Global health inequities have resulted in the countless loss of lives. Having experienced the result of this inequality myself, I hope to change the supply of healthcare in whatever way I can.
Three out of four members of my father’s family have carried the burden of cancer on their backs. My grandmother passed away from ovarian cancer. Lung cancer killed my nonsmoking grandfather. My aunt can never carry children as a result of her past with cervical cancer. My dad is the only one who’s been lucky enough to avoid the trials and pain that came along with chemotherapy. I’ve seen each of them deteriorate physically and mentally in the days after treatment. As a potential future radiation oncologist, I aspire to make new breakthroughs in cancer treatment research.
I’ve volunteered at my local hospital as well as taken advanced science and math classes throughout my years of high school. In my role as the co-editor-in-chief of my school newspaper, I’ve been able to spread awareness about health inequity and the impact of Covid-19 throughout the world. I have experienced different global healthcare disparities throughout my travels firsthand, and I’m excited to make more of an impact by starting my career in medicine.
What the Essay Did Well
This essay does an excellent job of taking time to build to the prompt’s response and not jumping the gun. A less sophisticated essay would tell the reader in the first or second paragraph exactly why they want to be a doctor, but this essay builds suspense over three paragraphs. We are compelled to keep reading because we need to know how all these stories relate to one another.
Another positive aspect of this essay is the conversational tone. It doesn’t feel like this student used a thesaurus on every word or tried to include fancy diction. The topic was very personal and vulnerable, and the voice matched the content. Phrases like “As a malaria survivor myself,” “All frequent flyers to Sub-saharan Africa know…” and “Because how can such a simple thing kill someone?” all create a more casual and conversational tone by letting us in on her credibility, insider tips, and inner thoughts.
Finally, by taking the time to focus on the background and why behind their chosen career, this student didn’t need to include too many basic sentences later on about why they want to go into medicine. Showing us how they’ve been scarred and affected by every family member who battled cancer is a much stronger reasoning than a run-of-the-mill sentence like “I want to be a radiation oncologist because I’ve seen the toll it takes on patients and their family.” Since there was such strong buildup at the beginning of the essay, once we learn what this student wants to do, we are able to connect the dots in our head.
What Could Be Improved
The weakest aspect of this essay is the last paragraph. This paragraph reads like a resume and feels out of place in such a descriptive essay. Because the prompt asks how you see yourself suited to the field and what events have led to pursuing this career, the student probably felt compelled to explain their practical experience with medical care. However, all of the anecdotes at the beginning answered those questions in a far more reflective and engaging manner.
Personal experiences are just as valid motivators — if not more — than extracurricular activities. Admissions officers know that this student volunteered at the hospital and was editor-in-chief at the paper, but they would never know about how malaria affected them, the helpless feeling of hearing their grandpa died, or the battles this student’s family has faced. Briefly throwing those activities in at the end distracted the reader from the rest of the essay and left a less compelling impression.
Where to Get Feedback on Your Essay
Want feedback like this on your Case Western Reserve essay before you submit? We offer expert essay review by advisors who have helped students get into their dream schools. You can book a review with an expert to receive notes on your topic, grammar, and essay structure to make your essay stand out to admissions officers.
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