Q: Does the admissions office care about grades as much as personality and diversity?
A: The honest and blunt truth of it all is that Notre Dame is an incredible institution that thrives in the midst of academic challenge and pushing the limitations of each of its students, in and outside of the classroom. In order to continue this, the University consistently admits students of great academic standing and personal diversity. There is no "Notre Dame student" for the sake of academic rigor. Instead, each year the campus becomes more diverse and more inclusive. It is a feat to find students that have both stellar grades, community involvement, different backgrounds, a thirst for knowledge, and active participation in extracurriculars - especially in high school. However, it is a feat that has continuously afforded the University with an unmatched student body that pushes the meaning of Notre Dame excellence to the next level.
Q: How frequent are the masses at ND?
A: Masses at Notre Dame are more frequent than winter chills, and that's a lot! On-campus, there are Masses every single day, and more than 50 on Sunday. When we take into consideration the Basilica of the Sacred Heart's parishioners, as well as students, faculty, and staff, there are few days when God is not being celebrated. Additionally, there are over thirty residence halls on campus that each hold dorm Mass, and usually, another Mass during the week. The Basilica had several Sunday Masses, a Vigil Mass...or two, and daily Mass. Some academic buildings or office buildings also hold Masses and adoration, namely Malloy Hall. Notre Dame takes pride in its active Catholicism and exhibits its faith through Mass across campus, every day. This is in addition to non-Catholic services in the greater South Bend community as well as through clubs such as Iron Sharpens Iron.
Q: What are some favorite ND traditions? Is it easy to hang out outside of campus and is it safe?
A: This is one of my favorite ND questions because, well, there are too many traditions to really give you a straightforward answer. Among my favorites are SYRs, aka Set-Up Your Roommate, and Formals, Touchdown push ups, Domerfest (strictly for the laughs afterward), the Main Building steps, the Grotto, Quarter Dogs, and unofficially the Flex Point Purge. Some of these traditions are actually superstitions, but it's all in good fun!
To answer your last question, outside of campus is actually safe. Like all cities, it is best to stay cognizant, alert, and aware of your surroundings, but as someone who grew up always going to Philly...South Bend is nothing to worry about! I understand that some heading to Notre Dame for their First-Year, may not have been as exposed to city life as others and for them, I would say just be smart. The South Bend community is small but mighty and offers a lot of hidden gems - especially for ND students who don't often find themselves in South Bend. Whether it be the farmer's market, coffee shops, or restaurants, South Bend is great. Just always be aware of where you are and how late it is, as I would say any time you are off-campus.