Here’s a look at the University of Notre Dame’s 2020-2021 supplemental essay prompts and how to best answer them.
The University of Notre Dame Writing Supplement consists of one (1) essay response to a required question and two (2) essay responses to questions you select from a list of options provided. In total, you will write three (3) essay responses. The word count is a maximum of 200 words per essay.
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?
This is Notre Dame’s version of “Why us?”. This is your chance to talk about what makes you interested in attending Notre Dame and what drew you to it in the first place. It’s important to address both aspects of the question: the mind and the heart. What do you hope to learn while you’re at Notre Dame? How do you hope your opinions and world views change? How do you hope to feel while you’re at Notre Dame? How will your heart expand throughout your years and how will you give more of your heart to your community?
Additional Prompts (You choose 2):
- A Notre Dame education is not just for you, but also for those who will benefit from the impact you make. Who do you aspire to serve after you graduate?
The Notre Dame admissions office would like to know how you have gotten involved in your community, what impact your involvement has had on others, and how you intend to continue that impact beyond your years at Notre Dame. Do you advocate for others? Have you joined a political campaign? Have you gotten involved with a local animal shelter? Have you tried to solve (or perhaps solved!) a local problem?
The impact can be on one person or several people; it can be on animals; it can be on the local environment, such as creating a new skate park or dog park. Be sure to describe not just the action you’ve taken, but what you learned about yourself in the process, and of course how others have been positively affected.
- In response to the rising momentum behind the Black Lives Matter movement during June 2020, G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean of the Notre Dame Law School, penned an open letter entitled, “I am George Floyd. Except I can breathe. And I can do something.” He issues a call to the Notre Dame community saying, “Each of us must do what we can, wherever we are.” What is one action you are taking “to change this world for the better?”
If you don’t believe you have a solid answer to this question, or it seems too big for you, skip it. However, if you’ve been engaged in social movements and demonstrations, then this is a great place to expand upon your involvement. Maybe you’ve helped organize protests, or gathered signatures for a legislative change. Whatever you’ve done, choose one action and go into detail. Additionally, mention how you plan on continuing this work throughout your time at Notre Dame.
- God and the Good Life is an interdisciplinary course created by the departments of Philosophy and Film, Television, and Theatre that asks students to consider moral questions about what they believe and how they want to live their lives. What do God and a good life mean to you?
If you choose to answer this question, make sure that you can address both God and the good life parts of this question. How does faith impact your life? How have you been involved in your local spiritual chapter? Does this involvement influence your ability to lead a good life? Are the two mutually exclusive or inextricably linked? Consider these questions as you craft your response.
- Notre Dame has a rich history deeply rooted in tradition. Share how a favorite tradition from your life has impacted who you are today.
This is a great question to answer with an anecdote. Do you always end the day the same way? Do you follow the same holiday traditions each year? Or does your family have a special cake that they like to make on birthdays that is unique from others? Find which traditions make you unique and pick one to use in this response.
- What brings you joy?
This is an open-ended question that you can answer in a variety of ways. If you have some aspects of your personality that you haven’t touched upon yet in other parts of your application, then this is a great place to start. Do you love playing cards with your little brother? Are you passionate about gardening? Think about something that makes your days a little brighter, and explain to the admissions officers why it’s important to you.
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