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University of Notre Dame 2021-22 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Please note this is the guide for the 2021-22 essay prompts. As soon as the 2022-23 prompts are available, we will be updating this guide -- stay tuned!

University of Notre Dame 2021-22 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 2 essays of 200 words.

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

The University of Notre Dame Writing Section consists of one (1) essay response to a required question and one (1) essay response to one of three questions you select from the options provided. In total, you will write two (2) essay responses. The word count is a maximum of 200 words per essay.

Required Question:

The founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Blessed Basil Moreau, wrote, “We shall always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart.” How do you hope a Notre Dame education and experience will transform your mind and heart? 

With this subtly-worded Why essay, admissions wants to know how you plan on using a Notre Dame education to not only accomplish your academic goals, but to enrich your emotional and cultural literacy as well. Beyond the typical reasons, why do you really want to join the Fighting Irish? What will you get out of this experience that you couldn’t possibly get at any other school? In order to give a cohesive, well-rounded response in under 200 words, we suggest you set aside a good portion of time to research the school and learn about what it’s actually like to attend. Will you transform your mind by signing up for the literature course called “#Wanderlust: Medieval Pilgrims, Instagram, Influencers, and Self-Love”? (Yes, this is a real class!) Will you transform your heart by taking advantage of the plethora of volunteer opportunities offered by the Office of Human Resources? Try to gather as much information as you can so that you can infuse your response with detail. The goal here is to demonstrate your commitment to the school, while also showcasing how this education and experience will propel you into adulthood!


Additional Prompts (You choose 1):

1. During the spring semester, Notre Dame faculty gave 3-Minute Lightning Talks on exciting topics within their fields of expertise. While you don’t have a Ph.D. yet, we bet you’re developing an expertise in something. If you were giving a Lightning Talk, what topic (academic or not) would you choose?

This is a fun one. Another way to think about this is: if you had a Ted Talk, what would it be about? Are you fascinated with fungi? Can you spot all the Marvel Easter eggs in WandaVision? Do you know everything there is to know about DIY kombucha? We all have our moments of “nerding-out,” and this is your chance to proudly wave your flag. Don’t worry about this being too academic–unless you just can’t get enough of that battle of Antietam, in which case, go for it! This is your time to shine in a way that your resume and application don’t let you. Give admissions a peek into your passions; get off the page and let them know that you are a three-dimensional person who contains multitudes!

2. There is a story or meaning behind every name or nickname—both those we’re given and those that we choose. What is meaningful to you about your name?

If you find yourself drawn to this prompt, lean in. What do those close to you call you? Maybe you love being named Jennifer, because it’s like having alter egos (Jen at school, Jenny at home, and JJ with friends). Or, perhaps, you love your name, Mahaskah, because it represents the language and culture of your indigenous heritage. Does everyone call you a nickname à la Miley Cyrus? (Fun fact: her given name was Destiny Hope, but everyone called her Miley because she was such a smiley baby!) Maybe your name was passed down to you and with it comes a history and well wishes. Whatever your story is, make sure that admissions will come away with newfound insight into who you are and what is important to you.

3. What would you fight for?

This prompt is vague, which we encourage you to take full advantage of. What is something that you are passionate about? What is a change you’d like to see or make in the world? Maybe, as a non-binary person, you want to write about the fight to decolonize gender. Or, perhaps, you already actively fight for accessible healthcare through social media and protests. Do you hope to continue advocating for change at the University of Notre Dame? You can also take this prompt in a totally different direction. Is there a person who has greatly inspired you and deserves your fealty? Is there a place or an item that you would shield to protect? If you were standing across from a small militia (300, anyone?) all on your own, what would be behind you? Admissions wants to know.

We try our best to make sure our guides are as up to date as possible, but we still recommend confirming each prompt and word count with the school in question.
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