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University of Notre Dame 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

University of Notre Dame 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: Two 200-word essays; three 50-word short responses

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

The University of Notre Dame Writing Section consists of responses to two (2) brief essay questions and three (3) short-answer responses to questions you select from the options provided.  
Please choose two questions from the options below. Your brief essay response to each question should be no more than 150 words. 

1) Notre Dame fosters an undergraduate experience dedicated to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual development of each individual, characterized by a collective sense of care for every person.  How do you foster service to others in your community?

Notre Dame wants to welcome motivated, socially aware students to campus next fall, so tell admissions about a time when you gave back to your community in a meaningful way. (Hint: your “community” can be as small as your neighborhood and as large as the entire world or even universe!) Maybe you’ve volunteered at your local soup kitchen every other weekend since you were in middle school or canvassed for political candidates that you believe will generate positive change for generations to come. Whatever your example(s) may be, don’t be afraid to touch on what those experiences meant to you. And bonus points if you can connect your past service to the work you hope to do in the future, hopefully at Notre Dame!

2) What is distinctive about your personal experiences and development (eg, family support, culture, disability, personal background, community, etc)?  Why are these experiences important to you and how will you enrich the Notre Dame community? 

This prompt is asking you to cover a lot of ground in just 150 words, so the key to a dynamic response will be to make it succinct and authentic. Can you think of an experience or aspect of your background that has influenced who you are today? Maybe you grew up in a commune, which shaped you to consider the needs of the collective over those of the individual. Perhaps your younger sibling was born deaf, and so you have been an interpreter since you were a child, helping those around you to communicate effectively. Our advice is to freewrite everything that comes to mind, step away, then revisit with fresh eyes to piece your story together. Don’t forget to address what this experience has meant to you and why you would be a meaningful addition to the Notre Dame community at large.

3) Describe a time when you advocated for something you believed in and influenced others through thoughtful discourse to promote a deeper understanding of a difficult situation.

If you choose this prompt, 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 effect change and engage in difficult conversations in order to call others in and spread awareness. 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, how you did so, and maybe even how you would like to continue engaging with or fighting for equity and justice in the future. 

Please choose three questions from the options below. Your response to each short-answer question should be no more than 50 words. 

1) Everyone has different priorities when considering their higher education options and building their college or university list. Tell us about your “non-negotiable” factor(s) when searching for your future college home.

2) What brings you joy?

3) What is worth fighting for?

4) What is something that genuinely interests you, and how does this tie to the academic area you hope to study at Notre Dame?

5) How does faith influence the decisions you make?


Do not overthink your responses to these questions. Instead, identify the three that call to you and trust your instincts. Perhaps you want to tell admissions about the look on your sister’s face every time you agree to play dress-up with her to answer #2. Maybe you’ve been hoping for the opportunity to speak about the role religion plays in your life. If you opt to respond to prompt #4, we recommend doing a little research to make sure you can point to one of Notre Dame’s offerings with a specificity that can only be accomplished by having spent a solid amount of time browsing the website (or taking a campus tour!). A little research will also do you a favor if you respond to prompt #1 (i.e. make sure Notre Dame meets the parameters of your so-called “non-negotiables”). Just because these short answers are brief doesn’t mean you can rush through them. Leave yourself enough time to think through your responses and don’t forget to proofread!

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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