Notre Dame Essay Examples

Notre Dame Essay Examples

Feeling stuck as you begin to write your Notre Dame essay? By reading Notre Dame essay examples, you can prepare yourself to write your own Why Notre Dame essay. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at some Notre Dame essay examples—specifically, some why school essay examples. By writing a strong why Notre Dame essay, you can maximize your odds in the admissions process.

It’s important to include specific details about Notre Dame in your Why Notre Dame essay. By reading through Notre Dame essay examples, you can find some inspiration for your own supplements. When you read Notre Dame essays that worked, you’ll learn more about what kind of essays function best. 

Reading Notre Dame essay examples can also help you learn what makes a strong structure for a college essay. So, pay attention to the grammar, content, and flow of each of these Notre Dame essays.

Soon, we’ll take a look at some Notre Dame essay examples. But first, let’s learn a bit more about Notre Dame. 

What kind of school is Notre Dame?

Notre Dame is a private, Catholic university located in Notre Dame, Indiana. With a total undergraduate enrollment of just under 9,000, Notre Dame is considered a mid-sized university with a suburban setting. Moreover, Notre Dame is a research university, allowing students the opportunity to participate in original research projects. So, for students interested in conducting original research, the many innovative projects at Notre Dame can form a great foundation for a Why Notre Dame essay. 

Notre Dame Essay Examples

As a Catholic university, Notre Dame’s culture centers around the Catholic faith. However, the school welcomes students from all religious backgrounds. You may find that many Notre Dame essay examples focus on Catholicism and service, as the Notre Dame questions address community and core values. Many Notre Dame essays that worked successfully detail a commitment to service and community. Other successful Notre Dame essay examples address topics of religious faith. 

Competitive Notre Dame admissions

Notre Dame is a competitive school as well. The Notre Dame acceptance rate is currently 15%, making it a “reach” school on many students’ college lists. With such a competitive applicant pool, you should put thought and effort into every aspect of your application. So, make sure to visit the Notre Dame admissions website for a full application overview. Researching different Notre Dame essay examples can also help you as you complete your Notre Dame application. 

Notre Dame Essay Requirements

The Notre Dame application requirements include several supplemental essays. One of these Notre Dame questions is required; the other four are options from which all students must select one. So, in total, each student will complete two Notre Dame essays. 

Here are the Notre Dame essay prompts: 

PromptWord CountRequired or Optional?
Notre Dame is a Catholic university, founded by members of the Congregation of Holy Cross, with a mission to educate the hearts and minds of students. What excites you about attending Notre Dame?200 WordsRequired 
People in the Notre Dame community come from many different places, backgrounds, and walks of life. How is where you’re from a part of who you are?200 WordsOptional (choose one of four)
Tell us about a time when you advocated for something you believe in.200 WordsOptional (choose one of four)
If you were given unlimited resources to help solve one problem in your community, what would it be and how would you accomplish it?200 WordsOptional (choose one of four)
What is the greatest compliment you have ever been given? Why was it meaningful to you?200 WordsOptional (choose one of four)

Students are required to complete two of the Notre Dame questions. While all students must complete the first prompt—the Why Notre Dame essay—students can choose from the other four prompts. 

Mind the word limit

All of the Notre Dame questions have the same word limit of 200 words. Our Notre Dame essay examples respond to a variety of prompts; by reading these Notre Dame essays that worked, you can learn how to approach any of the Notre Dame questions. The Notre Dame Admissions Office has also compiled guides and tips on writing the supplemental essays. 

Reading different Notre Dame essay examples for each of the different Notre Dame prompts can also help you pick which optional question to answer. Which essays do you find the most compelling? Additionally, which essay prompts most align with what you like about Notre Dame’s campus? Reading other Why School essay examples can also help you brainstorm. Notre Dame essays that worked can give you a solid sense of what a successful essay looks like. Moreover, these Notre Dame essay examples can help you focus on what speaks to you about Notre Dame’s campus. 

Writing Why School Essays

The Why School essay is a common supplemental essay prompt. In addition to the Why Notre Dame essay, you will likely need to write a number of why school essays. Schools like Northwestern, Duke University, Yale University, and the University of Chicago all have a Why School essay. It’s important to spend time and effort on your Why School essay, as it is the best chance to express your interest directly to college admissions offices.

Reading different Why School essay examples can help you learn about each school. Sample essays can also help you learn what other students find compelling about different colleges. Still, your Why School essay should reflect your own interests and passions. Research each school and highlight 1-2 aspects of each college in every Why School essay. If you’re feeling stuck, try to find Why School essay examples for your college of choice. 

Focusing your interests

It can be helpful to focus on your intended major when writing a Why School essay. However, you should plan to include 1-3 non-academic features as well. So, first, think about what you’d like to pursue in college outside the classroom. Then, look for a specific club, resource, or program at each school that aligns with these interests.

Many of the Notre Dame essay examples focus on community service, as Notre Dame is a Catholic university. So, for instance, pointing to specific community service opportunities at Notre Dame can bolster your Notre Dame essay. 

Research is also a key component in many Why School essay examples. The more you know about a given college, the stronger your essays will be. Many of the Notre Dame essays that worked showcase the deep knowledge students have around Notre Dame’s mission and programs. So, reading Notre Dame essay examples can help you with your research. We’ve also compiled a helpful list of tips for researching colleges in the next section if you need more help!

5 Tips for Researching Colleges

Notre Dame Essay Examples

If you’re feeling stuck about your Why Notre Dame essay, we’ve compiled some tips on researching colleges. With thorough research, you can prepare yourself to write strong Why School essays that reference specific details. 

If you’re unsure about what to research for each school, we have some suggestions:

1. Research your specific major

Focusing on your major is a great way to find specific information about the college you’re applying to. Read through the course offerings and see if any classes pique your interest. Additionally, look for any research projects or professors to highlight as well. Connecting your academic goals to Notre Dame’s programs will show the admissions team that you genuinely want to attend. 

2. Learn about internship opportunities 

By learning about internship opportunities, you can gain an understanding of how a given college can help you reach your career goals. This can form a great topic for your Why School essay. Many colleges offer undergraduate research opportunities or career services that help connect students with local internships. Additionally, some schools allow students to work closely with faculty on research—look to see if there are any unique opportunities available. Think broadly about what you’d like to pursue with your degree, and find the specific programs that will help you get there. 

3. Consider study abroad and extracurricular programs 

Many students look forward to studying abroad during their undergraduate years. By researching a school’s study abroad options, you can connect your personal goals with their programs. So, look at each program and make note of any interesting or unique excursions, classes, or experiences. If the school does not offer study abroad programs, look for any interesting summer programs or clubs to mention in your essay. Telling admissions officers how you’ll involve yourself on campus can help communicate your excitement in the application process. 

4. Research the surrounding area

Many Why School essay examples will mention a school’s surrounding area. So, if you go this route, keep it specific. Is there a company or business in the area you’re interested in working for? What makes the surrounding area special? What about the town or city calls to you? However, remember that the college itself should form the foundation of your Why School essay. So, be sure to not spend too much time on the surrounding area in your essay—you should still focus primarily on the school’s campus. However, it’s important to know the surrounding area well before you apply to any school. 

5. Learn about the history 

Researching a school’s history can give you great insight into its core values and guiding principles. When was the school founded? How has it changed over the years? While you may not reference the school’s history directly in your essay, you can build your essay around the school’s mission and goals. Plus, you may learn something interesting that you can weave into your essay. Showing admissions officers that you’ve done your research is a great way to demonstrate your interest.

A helpful example

Let’s imagine a hypothetical student, Emma, who is submitting a Notre Dame application.  After reading some Notre Dame essay examples, Emma is ready to write her own. Emma plans to major in English, has organized several book drives in her community, and is heavily involved with her high school’s band. She also likes that Notre Dame offers a concentration in creative writing, as she wants to be an author after graduation. 

After researching Notre Dame, she knows that she wants to highlight the unique creative writing program, the robust community service programs, and the famous Notre Dame Marching Band. She’ll also mention specific courses she’s excited to take and a volunteer project she’s interested in pursuing. Inspired by reading Notre Dame essays that worked, she’ll focus on her commitment to volunteering and her community, highlighting Notre Dame’s core mission. Additionally, like many other Notre Dame essay examples, her essay will acknowledge Notre Dame’s long history and communicate her excitement to join campus. 

Notre Dame Essay Example

Notre Dame Essay Examples

We’ve included an example of a Why Notre Dame essay in this section. As one of the many Notre Dame essays that worked, this essay is a great resource for students interested in Notre Dame. This essay also does a great job of including specific details about the student’s experiences and what excites them about Notre Dame: 

Why Notre Dame essay example

Essay prompt: Why Notre Dame?

After one hour long information session at a random high school in Delaware, I was in love. But really, my interest in Notre Dame started well before this Tuesday in September of my senior year.

My sophomore year of high school, my guidance counselors encouraged me to make a list of what I thought I wanted in a college. These guidelines considered factors such as how far away I want to go from home and did I prefer an urban or rural environment. When I compared my list to everything the University of Notre Dame has to offer, I realized it is a perfect match. It fits all of the smaller components I desire including a beautiful campus, medium class size, varsity athletics and an array of extracurricular activities.

Notre Dame also matches the more significant items on my checklist. To be specific, I have attended Catholic school since I was three years old and my faith is an integral part of my life. I appreciate that attending Notre Dame would offer me the opportunity to continue my faith education in a comfortable, Christian environment.

Plenty of schools have strong academics, varsity athletics, and a religious background. Notre Dame has all three. But, that alone is not why Notre Dame is my “dream school.” What makes Notre Dame so special to me is its incomparable sense of community, service, and faith. Every aspect of student-life at Notre Dame is based on community. I want to be one of those students who will forever believe that their residence hall is the best on campus, a fan who cheers for the Irish in a sea of navy and gold, and a classmate who works with her peers to ensure learning and success for the entire class.

Service is another significant element of the Notre Dame experience. I value the put-others-first attitude and the desire to give back that Notre Dame students emulate. Finally, Catholic identity and faith formation do not take a backseat at the University of Notre Dame. I value the opportunity to attend mass in my dorm and grow in my faith surrounded by students and staff who support me in everything I do.

Why this Notre Dame essay worked

As with many Notre Dame essay examples, this essay speaks to what makes Notre Dame unique—namely, the school’s focus on service and Catholic values. The student’s passion about Notre Dame comes through, and it’s also clear that they’ve done extensive research on the extracurriculars and academics offered. 

Like other Notre Dame essays that worked, this successful essay highlights the school’s commitment to service. This writer actively highlights their commitment to service while also emphasizing how they’ll engage with the community at Notre Dame. 

If you’re wondering how to get into Notre Dame, reading Notre Dame essay examples like the one above can help you focus your supplemental essays. As you write, think about what makes Notre Dame unique and interesting to you. This can help guide your research and, moreover, will make your Why Notre Dame essay feel authentic to you and your goals. 

If you’re looking for additional resources, the Notre Dame admissions office has a guide on the supplemental essay. You can also find some additional tips on the Notre Dame questions here, as well as information on how to get into Notre Dame from U.S. News

Does Notre Dame care about essays?

Yes—Notre Dame cares about essays.

It’s hard to say exactly how the supplemental essays play into the Notre Dame admissions process, as the school reviews applications holistically. Still, it’s important to put time and effort into your Notre Dame questions. 

The Why Notre Dame essay lets you communicate directly with admissions officers and highlight why you’re applying to Notre Dame. Given the low Notre Dame acceptance rate, your essays are the best opportunity to stand out through the application process. The admissions officers at Notre Dame want to know why you want to join their community, and the Notre Dame questions aim to help you explain your reasons. 

Reading Notre Dame essays that worked can also help you learn which kind of students get into Notre Dame. The Why Notre Dame essay is one of the more personal elements of a student’s Notre Dame application, allowing admissions officers greater insight to your goals and academic passions. When you read Notre Dame essay examples, note how these essays connect each student’s profile to Notre Dame’s mission and values. If you’re wondering how to get into Notre Dame, focus your research on the Notre Dame essay examples. In doing so, you’ll gain a better understanding of what a successful application can look like. 

Other CollegeAdvisor Resources on Notre Dame

If you plan to apply to Notre Dame, CollegeAdvisor has many resources to help you. You can read our guide on Notre Dame here, where you’ll find helpful information such as application deadlines, Notre Dame’s location, information on tuition,  and popular majors. You can also watch our University of Notre Dame panel with alumni and current students. If you’re currently researching schools, our panel can teach you more about Notre Dame’s campus life and application process. 

For more information on the Why Notre Dame essay (as well as the other Notre Dame questions), you can read our Notre Dame essay guide here. This guide provides a deep dive on the Notre Dame application requirements and is a great place to start your research. In addition to Notre Dame essay examples, reading resources on how to get into Notre Dame can help prepare you for the admissions process. You can also read about our Client Success Story about the Whitaker Family—this can help you see what the application process looks like and how CollegeAdvisor can support you through it. 

Resources on Notre Dame majors

If you’re interested in majoring in business, CollegeAdvisor also has an in-depth guide on the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame. You can learn about the different business majors as well as the specific requirements for students in the business school. For students interested in the QuestBridge scholarship, you can read our guide here. The University of Notre Dame is a QuestBridge College Partner, meaning students can match with Notre Dame and receive a scholarship that covers the full cost of college. 

Overall, CollegeAdvisor has plenty of resources available specific to Notre Dame, as well as resources on the college application process as a whole. You can also find more Why School essay examples in our guide here, and information on college application deadlines here. We also feature guides on How to Choose a Major and How to Pay for College. Additionally, you can find over 300 free college admissions webinars on a wide variety of topics in our library

Notre Dame Essay Examples – Final Thoughts

The Why Notre Dame essay is a central part of any student’s Notre Dame application. Reading Notre Dame essays that worked can help you jumpstart the writing process. It can also give you a solid framework for what kind of essays create a lasting impact. 

As we discussed, students can choose between four Notre Dame questions for their second supplement. Choose your topic carefully so that your essay highlights your strengths. The best Notre Dame essay examples showcase the core parts of the writers’ identities and describe how Notre Dame will help them achieve their goals. Connecting your experiences to Notre Dame’s overall mission and values can help your Notre Dame essay stand out. 

One last thing to remember

The biggest takeaway from our Notre Dame essay examples should be the importance of research. Make sure to research the specific programs and majors at all the colleges on your list. Our Notre Dame essays that worked highlight specific offerings. So, the time and effort you spend researching schools will pay off during the application process. 

If you’re feeling stuck in your research, you can read more about the college search here. Spend time looking through the Notre Dame Admissions website to keep up to date on the Notre Dame application requirements. While the application process can be daunting, familiarizing yourself with Notre Dame essay examples is a great place to start. 

Looking for personalized expert guidance as you respond to the Notre Dame questions? Click here to schedule a free consultation with our team. 

Notre Dame Essay Examples

This article was written by senior advisor, Jess Klein. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how can support you in the college application process.