As a tour guide, one of my favorite personal anecdotes to share is at the end of my tour, when I explain why I chose Notre Dame over all of the other amazing schools in the country. It is a great time to put a personal spin on the tour, and it is my way of trying to relate to the prospective undergraduates by putting myself back in their shoes as high school students.
After spending 18 years growing up in Indianapolis, Notre Dame has been a huge part of my childhood. Nearly everyone cheers on the Notre Dame football team; most people are aware of the institution’s rigorous academic programs; and Notre Dame’s Catholic identity attracts many students attending parochial schools. Even as a little fourth-grader, I had my eyes set on attending Notre Dame, but I knew it would be a tremendous uphill battle to make it here.
When it finally came time to apply for colleges, I kept my expectations low because I was well aware that even the best applicants are never guaranteed a spot. After applying regular decision to over ten schools from Los Angeles to Boston, I was pleasantly surprised to be admitted into nine of those schools, including Notre Dame. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with options I never imagined having.
After narrowing my choices down to two schools of equal academic merit, I had a lot of thinking to do. I made a pro-con list, took advice from friends and family, and did whatever I could to reason why one school was objectively better than the other.
Finally, I came to the conclusion that neither school was objectively better than the other so I started thinking about the two schools in ways other than rankings and academic programs. I remembered my many visits to Notre Dame, including the kindness of the students and faculty who showed me around campus. I vividly remembered watching students run to one another and embrace as if they hadn’t seen each other in years. People always told me about the Notre Dame community, and I realized that I yearned to be a part of it.
Other than the overwhelming sense of community, both as a student body and as each residence hall, I was drawn to Notre Dame’s endless traditions. From touchdown push-ups during game days to dorm mass and inter-hall flag football, there were so many unique traditions that made Notre Dame stand out against other colleges in my mind. Sure, going to a college based on its academic programs is of utmost importance, but I have also learned that you’ll make the most treasured memories outside of the classroom.
In hindsight, I am beyond happy I chose Notre Dame almost 4 years ago. I trusted my gut decision, and it worked in my favor. I am surrounded by incredibly talented yet humble people every day, and I have built some lifelong friendships along the way.
After all the doubting and worrying, I finally realized that there wasn’t a right or wrong answer. Choosing colleges is a huge decision that will affect the path of your life; but whatever school you choose, you’ll make friends, you’ll get a degree, and you’ll form memories you will remember for a lifetime.