Considering: Rice, Case Western, Northwestern

I’m currently a junior in high school and I’m considering Rice University (Houston, Texas), Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio), and Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois) for application. I plan to major in engineering, specifically mechanical engineering. Right now, I’m looking for any first-hand observations that anyone might have made of these three schools. These observations can pertain to the actual coursework and undergrad program, professors, campus life, neighboring areas, bandwidth, student demographic, or anything else you can think of.

I’ve already garnered some statistical information from some student guides, so mainly I’m looking for the kind of comments that would come from a first-hand observer. Ideally, I’d like to get input before the end of the month (when National Merit Scholarship applications are due).

Case was my reach school (I’m stupid, what can I say?), and I could have gotten in (I was on the waiting list, that was because enrollment went up like 150% or something ridiculous because they hosted the 2004 VP debates) but I decided against going and went to UD.

Case is a very balanced school and campus, with lots to do around it. Don’t worry about it being “in” Cleveland, it’s not the bad part. :wink: It’s very beautiful, but don’t expect your “traditional” school look, it’s still urban and has lots of roads and new buildings.

My #1 problem with Case is that people put their 4 years in and then leave. That’s it. At UD they stay longer to get a minor, masters, etc. They just don’t want to leave. There’s more of a party, community, and friendly atmosphere at UD than Case had, and frankly, it’s what this shy, scared, and insecure kid needed. Case could be your perfect school, but it wasn’t for me.

PS- My mom is a Case grad.
PSS- Consider going greek no matter where you go, I hated the idea at first, but now have joined one at UD. Look into it at Case (I recomend Phi Kappa Psi, but what do I know?)


The forums on are a great source of this kind of information. (CD can be too, by the way, but a LOT more people post about colleges at cc.) Good luck!

Northwestern is very close to my home and the Midwest Regional was held there for a few years. It is a large school in a suburb just north of Chicago and part of it is right on the lake. It is well repsected for other curriculums like medicine and biology, economics, art, etc. Easy to grab public transportation downtown, and easy to get to from O’Hare airport. Tuition is pricey though, I think it was in the upper $30k and maybe higher for some curriculums.
I attended Bradley University in Peoria, IL, and so did my son. It is a smaller school (5000-6000 undergrads) in a smaller town, but is well known for engineering. And you would be close to the Cat teams in the Peoria area if you would like to mentor.

Rice has a great robotics culture and very diverse mechanical engineering field. Here are a few links to robotics labs in mechanical engineering RiSys , Mahi and the mems website.

In terms of the area, Houston is very pleasant all year round except for the summer months when it gets very hot !

There are also many great job opportunities at Houston such as Medical, NASA, Petroleum and manufacturing.

And if you want to do FIRST, you can join the Rice students who help mentor the DiscoBots 2587

If you have any more specific questions, PM me.

Thanks to all who provided input. I ended up putting down Case Western Reserve on my application mainly due to population (Rice seems really small and Northwestern seems a little big) and geographical factors. (I also put Carnegie Mellon on my application; CMU has been my number one pick for quite some time.)

I thought it was interesting how you chose your school based on size,
I was curious on the exact numbers of the schools so i did a little digging.

Undergraduates: 7,976
Postgraduates: 7,153

Case Western
Undergraduates: 4,186
Postgraduates: 5,766

Undergraduates: 3,051
Postgraduates: 2,144

As a progenitor/financier of Kuiper’s endeavor, I have a bit of “inside” on the process; for a while, the 3 schools were neck-and-neck. Other factors at work included geography (ironically, snow being a plus) and finances, which were of interest to me. Some stats (from US News & World Report’s College edition)

             Average total cost after grants

Rice: $18,819
Case Western: $22,517
Northwestern: $24,894
Carnegie-Mellon: $27,065

Interestingly, an acquaintance from a nearby school with similar grades and family economics reported that the schools with big sticker prices ended up being less expensive than “cheaper” schools after grants. When all the aid offers were in their results were:

Princeton - cheapest
MIT - 2nd
Local state university, in-state tuition - most expensive

It seems counter-intuitive, but the local state U. doesn’t give much financial aid to middle-income families ($30,000 - $60,000). There are so many low-income families in our area (over half the public school students in our county receive free or reduced lunch, and that doesn’t even count the ones who qualify but don’t apply for free lunch) that need the money more.

Just curious if you ended up at Case. Five alumni of our team are at Case–one junior, one sophomore and three freshmen–all with different science/engineering majors.

Hmm maybe they should all check into FRC Team 2399. They’ve yet to register for an event this year, but I know a former student on Team 11 is actively asking about mentors (of the professional persuasion, but as many teams have shown, it doesn’t hurt to have college student involvement :p)

Tell them to seek out Professor Wyatt Newman - <– LOL @ smiley in URL

He has mentored 2399 the past few years.

I’m also applying to Case and Rice this year, Northwestern is a possibility as well. Hopefully I’ll be at either school. Rice is a bit of a reach for me though, bu still worth a try.

As for anyone interested in 2399 at Case, please email the professor Travis referenced or Edward V. Ed is by far one of the best designers our team has had, hopefully I’ll be at Case as well to help out 2399.