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The Requirements: 2 essays of 200 words.
The University of Notre Dame Writing Supplement consists of one (1) essay response to a required question and one (1) essay response to one of four questions you select from a list of options provided. In total, you will write two (2) essay responses. The word count is a maximum of 200 words per essay.
Why Notre Dame? How do you plan on using a Notre Dame education to not only accomplish your academic goals, but also enrich your emotional and cultural literacy? 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 their literature course, “#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 relevant details. The goal here is to demonstrate your commitment to the school while also showcasing how this education and experience will propel you into adulthood!
Admissions wants to know what or who has made you into the person you are today. Where do you come from? What has shaped you as a person and how has that made your perspective unique? What you focus on here can be reflective of larger cultural constructs or specific to you and only you. Since Notre Dame is looking to add diverse perspectives to the melting pot that is their student body, is there anything you can teach your classmates about your hometown, traditions, culture, cuisine, orientation, identity, race, or ethnicity that they might not already know? Were you raised in a Jewish family in the Bible Belt? Did you immigrate to the United States as a child? What has influenced the person you are today? What do you believe and how will your worldview bring something of value to the community at Notre Dame?
If you choose this prompt, then odds are you’re passionate about something impacting you, your community, or the world at large. You don’t have to be a protest organizer to impress admissions here; it can be just as bold to engage in a dialogue with family members from older generations on controversial topics or utilize your creativity to draw informative comics breaking down complex issues for Instagram or TikTok. If you’re feeling stuck, maybe start by thinking about the topics that are most important to you. What keeps you up at night? Gun violence? Climate change? Food deserts? Next, think about what steps you’ve taken in your life to create change, inform, and/or organize. Ultimately, the key to writing an excellent response to this prompt is in the details. Don’t just tell Notre Dame about something you’ve advocated for recently; tell them why you did so and maybe even share how you would like to continue engaging with or fighting for equity and justice in the future.
For this prompt, we recommend that you start by brainstorming a few ethical dilemmas or challenges—big and small—that bother you or impact your life. Although the scope and scale of your problem can vary, remember that Notre Dame is looking to accept applicants who want to be a part of the solution. Show that you’re not only informed and concerned, but also actively engaged in addressing the problem head on. Sharing your ideas for solving the problem will demonstrate your problem solving skills and creativity. Don’t worry too much about the logistics; focus, instead, on your vision, values, and drive.
This prompt is giving you the opportunity to address what you like most about yourself. Or, alternatively, a kind word that allowed you to see yourself in a new light. You’ll want to avoid self-aggrandizing (e.g. “I was told I was very selfless at one of the volunteer events I attended”) and, instead, use the words available to you to reflect on what’s important to you, what kind of person you’d like to be, or how you’d like to be remembered and regarded. Some folks may use this prompt as an opportunity to write about a special relationship with a loved one who saw them in a different way or unlocked their potential at a pivotal moment. There’s really no wrong way to go about it, so long as you’re revealing information about yourself without excessively bragging in the process.