Author: Lesley Stevenson, The Observer

Notre Dame’s incoming class of 2018 comes to campus from the University’s highest-qualified applicant pool and reflects the Office of Undergraduate Admissions’ efforts to extend and personalize its recruitment process, according to Don Bishop, associate vice president for undergraduate enrollment.

“The quality of the applicant pool has jumped in the past four years, and we are using numbers less to select the class,” Bishop said. “While we are more selective than ever, we are also more on mission in that selection process.”

Bishop said although Notre Dame received 17 percent more applications this year from students ranked in the top 1 percent of the nation academically, the admissions committee also prioritized personal qualities and factors beyond the numbers.

“Notre Dame did not admit over 3,500 of its applicants that had a test score or class performance in the top 1 percent of the nation because we felt other students showed greater academic and intellectual curiosity and creativity, stronger leadership, a deeper commitment to service and/or a more sincere belief in the value system of Notre Dame,” Bishop said.

“Notre Dame employs a holistic admissions process that is aligned with the University’s mission as the world’s leading Catholic research university,” he said. “This process increasingly is evaluating student motivation for being high performers in an effort to identify the more intellectually-driven students who also have the potential to become innovative and entrepreneurial leaders with a strong desire to serve others.”

Of 17,901 applications, 3,786 students gained admission to the University and 2,010 chose to enroll, Bishop said. He said 61 enrollees came from the wait list. Those numbers constitute a 21 percent admit rate and a 53 percent yield rate, or rate of admitted students who accept their offers of admission.

“Notre Dame’s 53 percent yield rate is among the top 10 private national research universities for yield success,” Bishop said.

Bishop said the heightened yield rate resulted from an effort to enhance recruitment materials, personalize connections with students, reach underrepresented groups and promote Notre Dame’s unique character as a Catholic research institution.

“We do not view ourselves as a generic top-10 university,” he said. “We seek to find and admit students who believe in Notre Dame’s mission. We are acting on that assessment of students and this has improved our yield rate — along with improved merit and financial aid awards.”

Bob Mundy, director of admissions, said the incoming class is “very well-fitted for Notre Dame.”

“Our new students will continue our tradition of great intellectual prowess and promise, while being grounded with the personal traits that make us a different place in the higher education world,” he said. “We expect them to excel in our classrooms and share their many gifts with others. It’s a class of various exceptional accomplishments and wonderful personal stories as well.”

Bishop said the class of 2018 is more diverse both geographically and ethnically than its predecessors. He said it continues the upward trend of ethnic diversity, into which both U.S. students of color and international students factor.

The incoming class includes 110 international students; a number Bishop said is “an all-time record.”

“The average student will travel over 900 miles to start their first year at Notre Dame, 1.8 million miles collectively,” he said. “Notre Dame is arguably the most nationally representative university in the United States. It is also becoming increasingly more global.”

Bishop said the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has capitalized on new recruitment strategies to publicize Notre Dame’s mission and resources to find students who fit well into the University’s values. He said his staff’s increased use of social media and personal contact, as well as the willingness of current students, parents and alumni to connect with prospective and admitted students, made the process “more selective and even more on mission.”

Bishop said the collective efforts helped forge new contacts with low-income and first-generation students and secure relationships with “the highest caliber schools in the United States and across the globe.”

“Notre Dame is improving its content of recruitment materials — website and printed — to increase the awareness of the academic quality of our faculty, research opportunities for undergraduates, the power of the alumni network and the esteem that top employers have for [Notre Dame],” he said. “We have also improved our financial aid services and family advising in counseling on affording the costs of Notre Dame and making a value centered investment.”

Bishop said the class of 2018 compares well with those of other elite institutions.

“Notre Dame’s first-year class is likely among the top 10 to 15 in the nation for their academic accomplishments and even higher if you add in the consideration of leadership, sense of faith and service towards others,” he said. “We would not trade our first-year class for any other … in the U.S.”