How to Write the Case Western Essays 2020-2021

Located in Cleveland, Ohio, Case Western Reserve University is one of the top colleges in the United States, ranking at #40 in National Universities by U.S. News. Slightly more than 5,000 undergraduate students attend Case Western, which has a strong reputation for scientific research and boasts 16 Nobel Laureates. In addition to the natural sciences, Case is especially known for educating leaders in engineering and the medical professions. 

 

Case is a competitive school: only 29% of applicants were admitted in 2019, including 36% of early applicants. So, writing strong, revealing essays can make all the difference for your application.

 

In addition to the Common App personal essay, your application to Case Western requires answering one additional prompt of 750 words. To apply to the Pre-Professional Scholars Program, which grants conditional admission to the School of Medicine or School of Dental Medicine, you will need to complete an additional short prompt of 250-500 words.

 

Want to know your chances at Case Western? Calculate your chances for free right now.

 

Want to learn what CWRU will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Case needs to know.

 

Case Western Supplemental Essay Prompts

All Applicants

 

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. (750 words)

 

Pre-Professional Scholars Applicants

 

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? This essay should be between 250 and 500 words in length.

All Applicants

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. (750 words)

Here, Case is openly inviting you to do the opposite of what you have been doing in the rest of your application. They are asking you to tell a story that you would not have expected to find yourself bragging about in a college application. Your priority with this prompt should be to show a more human side of yourself and showcase how you meet the opportunities for excellence that arise every day. The first thing to do before you start writing this essay is to make sure you are not writing about a topic that was part of your Common App essay or your list of extracurriculars.

 

One way to help yourself identify a good story for this prompt is to reflect on moments when you were most impressed by the character of a friend or sibling and ask yourself what parallel experiences you have had. For example, recalling the time that your friend saved you from disaster might inspire you to write this essay about how your attention to detail helped you catch a critical rigging mistake as a member of the technical crew for your school’s production of West Side Story.

 

Here are three tactics that can help you turn this essay into a stellar part of your application:

 

Consider stories and accomplishments that subvert or add nuance to the first impression someone might have of you.

 

If you’re a roboticist applying to the College of Engineering, this is an opportunity to talk about the sweater it took you a month to knit rather than your first successful Arduino project. If you’re a social activist who spends the day organizing protests, this is the opportunity to share how your persistence one weekend helped you reel in the biggest fish you’ve ever seen. In other words, use this prompt to highlight the kind of victory that brightens your week, even if it doesn’t get you a certificate. At the same time, it is important that the story you tell here is actually anchored to a value or interest that will contribute to your and your classmates’ success at Case. An essay that shows a different side of you will not be as valuable if the reader is left wondering why that different side matters at all.

 

A good example of this tactic is an essay that talks about how knitting a sweater helped you understand the value of being patient, keeping a vision when something seems to be falling apart, and coping with the mistakes you make.

 

A bad example of this tactic is an essay that talks about how proud you are that your sweater looks exactly like you imagined it would and that you were able to sell it for a profit.

 

Write about a time that you failed despite your best efforts.

 

Whether it’s engineering, medicine, or the liberal arts, failure is a constant part of learning and doing productive things. It may seem unnatural to write an essay about something that didn’t go well. But if you can offer a compelling story about how you worked hard to succeed at a task you care about and how you responded to the failure, Case will come away with a rich understanding of your maturity and resilience. For example, say you are a social activist. Consider telling the story about how, despite being a routine public speaker, your voice once failed you, and you took that opportunity to embrace your own vulnerability and learn how to rely on others.

 

By demonstrating a capacious understanding of what is an achievement, you can highlight your drive to be a person of strong character. But, if you choose to make use of this tactic, be sure that you are demonstrating your values and intelligence both before and after the failure occurred.

 

Showcase your humility and sense of perspective

 

No matter what story you tell, avoid dwelling on feeling like your achievement should have been recognized by someone and that you were unfairly denied validation. This is not the place to vent about how you actually deserved to place higher in a science fair. Instead, this is the place to show that you understand that not all great things we do happen in public. Case has produced far more thoughtful thinkers and leaders than the sixteen who won Nobel Prizes. Use your essay to show that you are content despite not winning recognition, because the satisfaction of having done something valuable is enough.

 

Pre-Professional Scholars Applicants 

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? This essay should be between 250 and 500 words in length.

The Pre-Professional Scholars Program is a valuable opportunity to lock in your admission to medical or dental school once you complete your bachelor’s degree. PPSP is geared toward those who are confident that dentistry or medicine are the fields that they wish to pursue. Take note of the expectations that Case Western Reserve has for strong applicants to the PPSP. Alongside a challenging academic course in high school, Pre-Professional Scholars typically have volunteered or shadowed in a medical setting and have “demonstrated care and concern for others.” Only about 10 students are accepted for dentistry and 15-20 students are accepted for medicine.

 

Here are four tips to strengthen your PPSP essay:

 

Demonstrate fit with the profession.

 

On a surface level, there are certain interests that drive most people interested with medicine—a love of science and a desire to help others, for example. A strong PPSP essay will go beyond these basic notions and engage the more complex dynamics of the profession. For example, you can tell a story that shows how you thrive in environments where you have to decide between snap judgments and more diligent research. Or you can discuss how your vision of making an impact on the world is most vivid to you on the micro level, helping one person at a time. Showing that you have thought deeply about, and are comfortable with, the tensions and complexities of medical professions will show your readiness.

 

Discuss a pivotal moment in your volunteering or shadowing experience.

 

One approach you might take is to talk about a moment that shook your confidence in whether or not you really did want to pursue dentistry or medicine. Maybe you watched a doctor or the healthcare system fail badly. Perhaps you felt more overwhelmed by a task than you’ve ever felt before. Bring the reader into that moment, and tell them why it is that your resolve was strengthened. If you don’t have a remarkable volunteering experience to share, try drawing from moments in your own life.

 

Mention your commitment.

 

By pre-admitting you to one of the most prestigious dental or medical schools in the country, Case will be showing that they think you’ll actually stick around to attend. You would be spending seven or eight years in school before embarking on a very demanding and rigorous career. Therefore, you want to convey that the traits and experiences driving you toward a health profession and PPSP are core to your personality. Consider showing how your strong judgment under high pressure or your relentless drive to find the right answer shows up in the rest of your life. You may even consider highlighting elements of these traits in your Common App essay and the Case supplemental essay so that you can offer a consistent image of yourself.

 

Explain your interest in Case’s School of Medicine or School of Dental Medicine.

 

In addition to being confident this early that you want to pursue medicine/dentistry, applying to PPSP also communicates that you have a particular interest in the Case Western Reserve professional schools. Before writing, brainstorm a few characteristics of the relevant professional school and think about how you will weave that into your essay.

 

For example, Case Western’s School of Medicine is well-known for its Western Reserve2 (WR2) curriculum, which joins together the study of medicine and public health. If you’re drawn to the opportunity to learn under the WR2 curriculum, you could mention how your experience working in a clinic in the suburbs and a clinic on a tribal reservation forced you to confront the apparent tension between the nominal similarities in how patients are treated and the disparate social contexts and impacts. Alternatively, you might discuss your interest in advancements in medical technology and highlight the opportunity that Case Western offers for collaboration between the School of Dental Medicine and the School of Engineering.

 

Want help with your college essays to improve your admissions chances? Sign up for your free CollegeVine account and get access to our essay guides and courses. You can also get your essay peer-reviewed and improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.

Want more college essay tips?

We'll send them straight to your inbox.


Short bio
Our college essay experts go through a rigorous selection process that evaluates their writing skills and knowledge of college admissions. We also train them on how to interpret prompts, facilitate the brainstorming process, and provide inspiration for great essays, with curriculum culled from our years of experience helping students write essays that work.