Firstly, we at Notre Dame take a holistic approach to reviewing undergraduate applications. The most competitive applicants to Notre Dame are well-rounded, so we take a well-rounded, or holistic, view of students' applications. That holistic review means that admissions counselors at Notre Dame evaluate both the academic and non-academic components of the application.
All factors are weighed evenly. Academic factors include: academic rigor of a student's courses, a student's grades, and test scores (if a student chooses to submit their test scores). Non-academically-speaking, the factors that we evaluate are: a student's activities, leadership in their activities, recommendation letters, and the application essays.
The context of a student's application is also incredibly important to the admissions process at Notre Dame. The context revolves around where the student goes to high school and what opportunities are available to a student. Context means not comparing different schools and different applicants from those different schools, however.
The high school will provide recommendation letters as well as a school profile to let us know about available academic rigor. We will also want to know if a student has long commutes to school or has major family responsibilities in conjunction with their classes and activities. For the 2021 admissions cycle, especially, we will evaluate whether/how a student may have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
One deadline is not preferred over the other, and there is no advantage to applying to either deadline.
If a student chooses to apply using the Restrictive Early Action deadline, they will receive a decision from Notre Dame around the middle of December. If a student chooses to apply using the Regular Decision deadline, they will receive a decision by the end of March.
As a final note, the majority of applicants apply using the Regular Decision deadline.
I hope this gives some clarity into the general aspects of our Notre Dame application process!
Matt Greene is is an assistant director with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. He is the regional counselor for Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Read Matt's profile.