Student Advice for Early Applications

Author: Hailey Oppenlander


Hello, future Domers!

Notre Dame’s Restrictive Early Action application deadline is November 1st! For those of you polishing (or perhaps writing …) your essays and crafting the perfect application, here are some last-minute tips to help you before you hit submit:


1) Display your personality

The admissions counselors will already be able to see your amazing test scores, incredible GPA, and an expansive list of extracurricular activities that indicate your preparedness for college. The essays are a chance to go beyond that! Essays are a window into who you are – something that might not be as visible in other parts of your application. Use them as an opportunity to display your personality and show what really matters to you, instead of writing a copy of the activities list you already submitted. Since Notre Dame doesn’t have interviews, the essays are the way that admissions counselors get a feel for your personality. So be genuine! 


2) Have others read your essays

Friends, teachers, parents - have them read over your essays! A second pair of eyes (or third, or fourth) can be extremely valuable, and not just for catching typos – but also to see how a reader reacts to your writing. Sometimes things make sense to us, but they don’t come across the way we want for those reading our essays for the first time. 


3) Be specific

I heard this advice many times: if you dropped your college essay on the floor but didn’t have your name on it, would someone who picked it up and read it still know it’s yours?

Don’t be vague in your essay! Many applicants to Notre Dame may have done similar extracurriculars as you or have the same test scores as you, so what makes you stand out? How are your experiences, talents, passions, or personality different from everyone else? You want to make your essay memorable and distinctly “yours.” 


4) Don’t wait until the last minute to submit

This one comes from experience, my friends . . . the Common App CAN crash. 

Looking back, October 30th might not have been the best time to log on and finally submit the application I had completed a month earlier – but senior year is a busy time, and it’s easy to push things back until the very last minute. And because every other 18-year-old in the country also had the same idea, the Common App crashed and went offline for site maintenance during the exact hours I had planned to submit all of my early applications.

You never know what may happen (Murphy’s Law will get ya), so avoid the extra stress and submit before the deadline!



If you’re still debating whether to apply Restrictive Early Action versus Regular Decision, what I learned from counselors is that if the extra time would help you add to or improve your application (whether that means another round of standardized test scores, more activities or valuable work/learning experiences, or another semester of grades to help your GPA), then you might want to consider waiting to apply until Regular Decision. If there’s nothing else that you could or would want to change about your application, then you can rest at peace knowing that you’ve done all you can do, and send in your application now!

I’ll be lighting a candle here at the Grotto for all of you!