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How to Write the Notre Dame Supplemental Essays

Notre Dame requires students to write two supplemental essays. Each essay must be answered in 200 words or less.

Required question:

The founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Blessed Basil Moreau, wrote, “We shall always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart.” How do you hope a Notre Dame education and experience will transform your mind and heart?

With only 200 words to answer this complex question, try to focus on one way you hope to grow in each sector, academically and personally. Academically, you may want to look at particular courses, departments, and professors that you would be especially interested in at Notre Dame. Specifically, mention how Notre Dame’s academic resources would help you grow and how you would utilize your education in the future. For the personal growth portion of the essay, consider how the university’s community may influence your growth. Notre Dame’s mission statement says “As a Catholic university, one of its distinctive goals is to provide a forum where, through free inquiry and open discussion, the various lines of Catholic thought may intersect with all the forms of knowledge found in the arts, sciences, professions, and every other area of human scholarship and creativity.” While you do not need to be Catholic to apply to and attend Notre Dame, the school looks for students who are excited to enter their community with tolerance, openness, and a willingness to discuss the intersection of religious experience and academic excellence. Write about what you expect to gain from this kind of community and specifically how you may be able to contribute when engaging with diverse perspectives.

Choose one of the following questions:

During the spring semester, Notre Dame faculty gave 3-Minute Lightning Talks on exciting topics within their fields of expertise. While you don’t have a Ph.D. yet, we bet you’re developing an expertise in something. If you were giving a Lightning Talk, what topic (academic or not) would you choose?

To answer this question, start by watching a few of the Lightning Talks linked in the prompt. Choose a topic about which you are intensely curious and/or very knowledgeable. Stay away from topics that you would see in a standard course listing, such as “Economics 101.” The admissions committee is looking for real specificity. Ideally, your talk should be one that only you could give. This is a great chance to flex your creativity! Come up with a topic that you would be uniquely qualified to speak about and excited to share with others!

There is a story or meaning behind every name or nickname—both those we’re given and those that we choose. What is meaningful to you about your name?

To start brainstorming this essay, think about each part of your given name as well as any nicknames you were given in childhood, on a sports team, or by friends and family members. Some questions to consider include: Where did these names come from? How did they make you feel? How does this name or nickname connect to who you are now or what you want to do in the future? If you’re picking between a few options, focus on the intention behind the name rather than the name itself. Ultimately, the admissions committee is looking for your ability to find meaning and inspiration in something that is a deeply personal part of your daily life.

What would you fight for?

In this essay, the admissions team is looking for a glimpse into what motivates you to take action. This could be an issue, cause, person, place, idea, or anything that you feel a strong sense of connection to or protective over! While not stated explicitly in the question, you’ll also want to include why this topic is important to you and what motivates you to fight for it. A true passion should be evident in your writing!