Ask Admissions: Intellectual Curiosity and Spiritual Life

Author: Adeline Chappuis


Q: Are classes more difficult than AP classes? Do credits from community colleges transfer as credits to ND?

A: Depends on the class greatly, but I would say more classes at Notre Dame are harder than not. Taking AP classes aid in transitioning from high school to college classes, but Notre Dame classes will aim to give you the ground you need to succeed in life, not just college. 

Biology is the exception to the rule. For me, AP biology required me to memorize a ton of details, even if I didn’t completely understand the big picture. In Notre Dame’s introductory biology courses, big pictures are key! It lets you understand the role of each idea in the view of the whole world. This was easier for me. It’s a different way of thinking. AP biology attempts to prepare you for college, when Notre Dame’s intro bio courses prepare you for biology careers. Not to mention, part of the course is character building and exploring what it means to be a scientist/biologist. 

The only other experience I can speak to is Calculus I. I got a 4 in AP Calc AB but really didn’t want to spend an entire year taking math when I was an environmental science major, so I took the credit exam and passed. I’m really happy I didn’t take Calc I because some of my friends struggled despite also taking Calculus AP in high school. 

All of this is to say, AP classes are slowly being seen more as preparation for college rather than taking the place for college classes. But don’t feel pressured to take AP classes you’ll hate; you don’t have to take six AP classes in one year to make any admissions team like you. Take AP classes because you want to be challenged in that subject and have deeper understanding. (: Being intellectually curious is awesome! 

As far as transfer credits, usually community college courses will not transfer regardless of when they were taken. When you take these courses before matriculation, they are seen as part of your academic preparation for Notre Dame. Online courses are also traditionally not taken either. However, with the pandemic, many departments (as they are the ones that eventually approve the transfer) are being exceptionally flexible and allowing students to take community college and online courses. 


Q: What is the spiritual life like for students? 

A: At Notre Dame, we have the special opportunity to develop our hearts as well as our minds. Spiritual life on campus is strong and it can be for you! That is, if you want it to be. I’ve enjoyed going to daily mass with my friends, taking an adoration break between classes, and learning theology in my coursework! I teach catechism to the surrounding parishes. Notre Dame also offers retreats and pilgrimages that I have yet to experience. Campus spiritual life has all this to offer and more! My personal spiritual life has really strengthened at Our Lady’s University. 

If you’re not Catholic, that’s fine, too. Campus Ministry does a great job at providing spiritual resources for those who aren’t Catholic. Spiritual life is what you make of it here. I have greatly enjoyed this here, and I hope you will, too, regardless of belief system.


Q: How do you provide academic advice to students? For Academic Support, what kind of learning disability services do you offer? How recent must a student’s disability testing be to qualify for accommodations?

A: There are so many resources for academic advice! Every first year student will receive an advisor based on his or her college, and then after that, you not only get a college advisor, you have an advisor for each major and minor program you aim to complete. Because I’ve bounced from one college to another during my first year, I had more than one advisor and both have been incredibly helpful in my discernment process. They help you figure out everything from whether you should drop a class or what the next 4 years will look like in classes. Our advisors are amazing!

For students with disabilities, Sara Bea Accessibility Services gives students the support they need. If you are in need of accommodations for any reason, the wording on their website says documents must be “current.” To start the process, there is a form to fill out and they will arrange meetings to discuss. They have a wide variety of accommodations they make for students. They are described well on their website here. While there are many official offerings available, please know that Notre Dame has a very collaborative environment and everyone wants everyone else to succeed! Your peers and professors have your back, too. Peers act as note takers and more, and most professors include a section on the syllabus just for students who need accommodations. We are all ND; we all support one another.