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University of Notre Dame 2019-20 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Regular Decision: 

University of Notre Dame 2019-20 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 3 essays of 200 words.

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why, Oddball, Community


Please provide a response to the following question:

What excites you about the University of Notre Dame that makes it stand out from other institutions? (200 words)

Why Notre Dame? You have 200 words to explain to Admissions Officers at University of Notre Dame why you are taking the time to apply and fill out these supplements! As with any other why essay, your goal here isn’t simply to regurgitate facts from the admissions highlights page. Take your research to the next level and dig for the kinds of classes and opportunities that spark your interest. By using carefully-selected details, you’ll show admissions not only that you care about the school, but also what kind of student you’d be when you get there.

Your answer can refer to academics (majors, classes, professors), the community (clubs, events, student body), or anything else that makes you want to be a Notre Dame student (campus culture, sports, your dad’s stories of his glory days). This is where you prove that you have done your homework on Notre Dame. Feel free to explore their website for little bits of information that excite you. Maybe you want to join their Culinary Appreciation and Outreach Society. Do they have a Race and Gender in Reality TV class that you would love to take? Let them know! Lastly, remember to connect your own experiences to the ones you hope to have at Notre Dame.   

Please provide responses to TWO (2) of the following questions in 200 words:

The founder of the University of Notre Dame, Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C., was only 28 when he established the University with the vision that it would become a “powerful means of doing good.” We have always known that young people can be catalysts for change. What is one way that you have made an impact in your community?

This prompt wants you to think back on a time you worked for the greater good and put others before yourself. From the time you volunteered as a crossing guard to the winter you organized a coat drive for local people experiencing homelessness, all stories of impact and service are relevant here. Admissions wants to know that you not only look out for others, but also have community-awareness, an ability to recognize when your actions affect others.

If you were to bring a new friend to your hometown and give them a personal tour, what is a meaningful place you would show them?

It’s The Bachelor “hometowns week” and this is your shot at showing admissions where you come from and what it means to you. The prompt only asks for one place, so take a mental memory tour of your town and see what sticks out to you. Is there a restaurant that your family always goes to for Sunday dinner? Is there a soccer field where you finally figured out what “give & go” meant? Maybe your formative years were spent at church, or the mall was the only place you could have some independence with your friends. Wherever you end up, take a moment: What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? Bring the reader there mentally with sensory-rich words. Once you’re “there together,” explain the significance of this place and share why it’s so special to you. Like with all supplemental essays, your response should reveal something new about you to admissions.

Defend an unpopular opinion you hold.

Um, we kind of love this new prompt. From pineapple on pizza to the American Office being better than the British Office, you know you have one. While this can be taken seriously (e.g. you believe that all schools should require uniforms), it’s also a chance to get creative and add a little humor. We all have unpopular opinions, and defending them can elicit some really entertaining and fun responses. At the end of the day, this is really an opportunity to show your logic and reasoning skills. Get specific! Show the reader your point of view and give concrete details/examples. The opinion you choose isn’t as important as the effort and passion you put in to defending it. Think of something you love (or love to hate) and break it down. Choose your fighter.

Many high schools have books that are required reading. Thinking beyond the common examples, what book do you believe should be on your school’s reading list and why?

This reminds us of people who still say “The Great Gatsby” is their favorite book at the age of 35. Not to knock it, we love us some 20s glamour and a dead body in a swimming pool, but have they read it since their sophomore year of high school?! (Whew, sorry. Had to get that off our chest.) Admissions wants to know that you’re expanding your mind beyond your required reading list. Don’t worry about getting too intellectual here, just think of something that has spoken to you or made your imagination soar. Maybe you finally got around to reading the memoir of your favorite historical figure. Maybe you discovered Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” and became entranced. No matter the book, be sure to answer the “why?” part of the question comprehensively.

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