Q: What do you look for in a good application and/or essay?
A: Even though it is annoying to hear at times, Notre Dame reviews applications holistically. That is the best way to ensure that each applicant is seen as an individual and not a series of test scores and grammatical finesse. However, there are many things that an applicant can do to increase their chances of admissions.
The first, and perhaps the most obvious, is having a consistent academic track record for success. That could be seen in a variety of ways: great grades, AP courses, looking outside for additional education opportunities, etc.
The second would be answering the question, "what do you do in your free time?" Notre Dame is known for its excellence in service, athletics, community, and faith; but, all of these things happen outside of the classroom. How do you spend your time and how has it progressed you as a person?
My final piece of advice would be to look at your application/essay and make sure that it radiates your genuine self. The application process is the best and easiest when you are genuine. It also makes sure that you apply and go to the schools that are a genuine fit for you. That's what it's all about! College is four years of hard work, long nights, and - at times - tears. But, if you are at your true home it can be the greatest four years of your life, surrounded by friends, loud laughs, and family.
Q: Have any of you had imposter syndrome as a student at ND and if so, how did you handle it?
A: Imposter syndrome is definitely present on any campus and Notre Dame is no exception. I personally have experienced it concerning race as I am a black student at a predominantly white institution. The one thing that made it less of a burden, and at times completely disappear, was finding my own home filled with my interests and friends. Not that it's a safe space, but I created my own community of things that effortlessly bring me back to my own passions, culture, hobbies, etc. I have joined clubs, added a minor, sought out certain people, gotten closer to professors, and everything in between in order to fight imposter syndrome, and I definitely have come a long way.
For others currently experiencing this, or about to enter a new chapter in life where this will occur, I beg you to do the same! In any environment where you have to go out of your way to find someone like you (whether it be race, gender, sexual orientation, faith, ethnicity, language, culture, etc.) it is exponentially important to find others who can relate so that you both are not alone. As humans, we are social beings that thrive on interaction and feeling secure. That can only happen when we have a place to genuinely be ourselves and express every aspect of our being. Imposter syndrome can become almost second nature, but there are steps to make sure that does not become our nature, our reality, or our world.
Q: Even though ND is test-optional for the 2020-2021 application year, would you still recommend aspiring students submit their scores?
A: As stated above, Notre Dame reviews applications on the basis of the whole individual. That being said, this test-optional program allows each student to have more control in what they allow colleges to see and what will best enhance their application. The University has stated that, "we are committed to a fair and equitable review of your application and will not compare your application to a classmate’s in our assessment," clarifying that the inclusion of test scores, or exclusion, will not affect one's ability to be admitted. This option does not harm one's application. For more information on this please click here where the University has more specific details.