The Ivy Coach Daily

August 30, 2023

2023-2024 University of Notre Dame Supplemental Essay Prompts

An aerial view of Notre Dame University's center of campus.
Notre Dame has published its essay prompts for the Class of 2028 (photo credit: Eccekevin).

The University of Notre Dame has published its 2023-2024 supplemental admissions essays for applicants to the Class of 2028. This year, in addition to the Personal Statement on The Common Application, Notre Dame applicants are asked to respond to two of three essay questions in a maximum of 150 words and three of five short-answer prompts in 50 words or fewer.

2023-2024 Notre Dame Essay Topics and Short Answers

Essays 

Applicants are asked to respond to two of the following three essay questions in 150 words or fewer:

1. Notre Dame fosters an undergraduate experience dedicated to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual development of each individual, characterized by a collective sense of care for every person. How do you foster service to others in your community?

Notre Dame, as a Catholic University, wants to see how you serve humanity. Ideally, applicants will showcase how they serve their community through their singular hook.

If their hook is applied mathematics, it would behoove an applicant to highlight how they’re addressing a community issue — like recycling or the school budget. If their hook is political science, they should write about how they’re agitating for change from a political standpoint with their town or city board (or its equivalent).

2. What is distinctive about your personal experiences and development (e.g., family support, culture, disability, personal background, community, etc.)? Why are these experiences important to you and how will you enrich the Notre Dame community?

In the wake of the Supreme Court outlawing the practice of Affirmative Action, many highly selective universities like Notre Dame have included this sort of community question in their supplements. To answer this essay question powerfully, students need not be underrepresented minorities to write a powerful response. The question is intentionally open-ended. If a student wishes to write about their faith and how they’ll bring their spiritual beliefs to Notre Dame, that works! If a student wishes to write about their disability and how they’ll bring a sense of activism for people with disabilities to Notre Dame’s community, that works too!

3. Describe a time when you advocated for something you believed in and influenced others through thoughtful discourse to promote a deeper understanding of a difficult situation.

Notre Dame’s admissions committee wants to understand what matters to a student, what makes them tick, and how they’ll go about agitating for the change they wish to see in the world — starting on Notre Dame’s campus. In order to get a sense of the change they’ll fight for each day, the best predictor is the change they’ve fought for to date.

So Notre Dame applicants will ideally zero in on one specific story — one that hopefully ties into the singular hook they present to Notre Dame (rather than well-roundedness) — and, through that story, make it clear what matters to them and why.

Also, it’s important to note that students do not need to have successfully swayed others to take action. Maybe they failed to persuade their peers. That’s ok! The mere act of trying to agitate for change in a specific area, ideally related to the student’s hook, will present the applicant in a good light — even if they’re ultimately unsuccessful. In fact, their failure will only make them more human and more likable to the admissions committee.

Short Answers

Students are asked to respond to three of the following five short-answer essay prompts.

1. Everyone has different priorities when considering their higher education options and building their college or university list. Tell us about your “non-negotiable” factor(s) when searching for your future college home.

Students will ideally pick something that sings Notre Dame! Because the admissions committee isn’t asking, “Why Notre Dame,” students do not need to include a specific reference to a Notre Dame program, institute, activity, or tradition. But they should choose something that Notre Dame either does extraordinarily well or one can’t find at most other top universities.

2. What brings you joy?

Too many applicants choose a topic that’s simply silly for this prompt, which is a common short-answer essay question among the elite universities. While the prompt need not relate to a student’s hook, it should always highlight how they think. It should always highlight a student’s intellectual curiosity. It can’t just be silly.

3. What is worth fighting for?

Here’s an opportunity for applicants to get deep but we encourage them not to pick too grandiose of a topic. They should instead choose something that they can genuinely change in the course of their lifetimes. Applicants should think locally, not globally.

4. What is something that genuinely interests you and how does this tie to the academic area you hope to study at Notre Dame?

This prompt presents applicants the chance to tie in a Notre Dame specific that doesn’t apply to any school but Notre Dame — so long as it relates to the student’s academic interest (which ideally relates to the hook they’ve demonstrated in the activities section and in other essays). Applicants should avoid name-dropping professors and listing classes when tying in their academic interest with Notre Dame.  

5. How does faith influence the decisions you make?

As a Catholic University, Notre Dame wants to understand how an applicant’s faith drives how they live their life. Students need not be religious to earn admission to Notre Dame. In fact, students need not even be Catholic. But Notre Dame’s admissions committee wants to feel that you appreciate the role faith can play in the lives of your peers and that you’re open to believing in something bigger than yourself.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with Notre Dame Essays

If you’re interested in giving yourself the best chance of earning admission to Notre Dame by submitting essays that wow Notre Dame admissions officers, fill out Ivy Coach’s free consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to go through our college counseling services for seniors.

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