The 2021 Short Answer Prompts

Author: Zach Klonsinski

View of the Golden Dome on the Main Building at the Univ of Notre Dame

Each year, our admissions staff puts a great deal of thought and effort into determining which questions to include in our writing supplement. This year’s prompts include a variety of questions that allow you to introduce yourself to us, including one required response and one more of your choice from the remaining three.

The one required question we always ask is why you are submitting an application to Notre Dame. The core of the question is this—why are you taking the time and energy to submit an application to the University of Notre Dame? How will your Notre Dame experience allow for transformational change for your mind and heart, specifically?

For your second supplemental choice, you will pick from the three prompts below. You should pick the one that speaks to you. There is no right or wrong prompt in our process—we’re just excited to see how our applicants will introduce themselves to us this year!

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?

“Expertise” can take many forms, and we know our applicant pool possesses a vast wealth of life experience. You could be a passionate researcher, the movie buff on any trivia team, or an avid baker who would be at home in the small French village from “Beauty in the Beast.” With hundreds of student clubs and organizations on Notre Dame’s campus, our community thrives by embracing everyone’s “expertise”—what’s yours?

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?

What’s in a name? Or, more specifically, what’s in your name? It could be your full legal name or a nickname used among your friends. Maybe your middle name is special. We want to know!

Does your name have any special significance in your family’s history or culture, or do you identify with any particular meaning or interpretation of your name? Did you choose the name you prefer to go by? Was a younger family member not able to pronounce your name correctly when they were little, leading to a family nickname? There’s no limit to what a name can mean or the stories it can tell. 

So…what’s in your name?

What would you fight for?

This question harkens to a long-running video series Notre Dame produces highlighting how Fighting Irish students, faculty, staff, and alumni are making the world a better place. 

The series has highlighted undergraduate Architecture students working with the Navajo to design a school building that preserves and draws inspiration from their culture, the natural world, and the Catholic faith; faculty conducting life-saving research on the cancer-causing man-made chemicals used in the gear worn by firefighters; and institutes that design and execute research projects to help people on the brink of homelessness move out of poverty.

While the series is academic in nature, not everything worth fighting for is. Should you choose to answer this question as your optional essay, your answer need not be academic. Rather, you should feel free to share anything that you are passionate about. Maybe there’s a global change or trend that you feel needs to be addressed, or perhaps you just really believe pineapple should [always/never] be on pizza. There’s no dream too big or passion too small.

So we ask you: What would you fight for?

You have our permission to introduce yourself to us in your writing supplement however you believe is best. We look forward to meeting you!