Meet the Class of 2020: Notre Dame Welcomes Class of High-Achieving, Service-Focused Students

Author: Shannon Rooney


This August, 2,048 first-year students arrived on campus. Marked by their academic achievements and dedication to service, the Class of 2020 brings a variety of talents and academic interests to Notre Dame.

Chosen from a pool of 19,505 applicants, the enrolling students were admitted through the University’s holistic selection process, which is focused on their records of achievement and significant attributes revealed through essays, letters of recommendations, and extensive discussions of activities, along with the students’ motivation for their success.

The Class of 2020 may be the most nationally and globally diverse student body in Notre Dame history. The average student traveled over 750 miles to begin their Notre Dame career. In addition, the new first-year class attended 1,361 different high schools, hold 47 different national citizenships, and speak 57 languages.

Don Bishop, Associate Vice President of Undergraduate Enrollment says, “The students as a group are truly remarkable in their motivation for scholarship and learning as well as their commitment to servant leadership. The enrolling class is comprised of students with compelling achievements and special talents with the potential to become tremendous scholars, researchers, creative artists, corporate and political/community leaders and entrepreneurs.” Among their ranks are: a student who founded his own nanotechnology company; an engineering intent who invented a wheelchair stroller for paraplegic mothers; and a student named the 2016 Top Young Applied Mathematician in Ireland.

“We sought and have enrolled students interested in using and developing their talents to seek a greater understanding of themselves and others,” Bishop adds. “During their years at Notre Dame, we will do our best to guide our students toward a deeper personal development leading them towards a greater sense of wisdom.”

As in previous years, the applicant pool and the enrolling class set new records for selectivity. The number of applications was up 1,348 from the previous record set last year. Forty-one percent of enrolled students ranked in the top one percent of their class, while 91 percent ranked in the top ten percent.

The Class of 2020 also continues an upward trend in diversity. This year 208 first-year students are first-generation college students. Notre Dame also set a new record in African-American enrollment with 147 students identifying African-American when reporting their single or multiple race or ethnicity. The 218 Hispanic students enrolling places Notre Dame among the top five most selective private universities for Hispanic enrollment.

“The University has a distinctive mission, unlike any of the other most selective top 15 national research universities,” says Bishop. “It’s our job in admissions to find the students that will make the most use of all the resources that are at Notre Dame: balancing the academic and social development aspects of Notre Dame and then becoming a force for good in the world.”