How to Write the Notre Dame Supplemental Essays 2021-2022

Padya Paramita

How to Write the Notre Dame Supplemental Essays 2021-2022

The University of Notre Dame prides itself on its close-knit community and strong alumni network. It says a lot about a school when the biggest stereotype surrounding it is that the people are exceptionally friendly. But simply being a nice person will not help you stand out in your college application! If you want to get into this Indiana college, you must take advantage of the Notre Dame supplemental essays 2021-2022 to convey how you would fit in with this lively community.

At Notre Dame, students can major in one of the 75 programs available across the School of Architecture, School of Business, College of Arts and Letters, College of Engineering, School of Global Affairs, and School of Science. No matter the field, this Indiana university has a program to suit your academic interests. So let the college know who you are and what you can bring to your chosen program by presenting informative and well-written essays. To guide you through the Notre Dame supplemental essays 2021-2022, I’ve outlined the prompts, the dos and don'ts of your response, and more tips to provide you with a smooth-sailing process.

Prompts for the Notre Dame Supplemental Essays 2021-2022

The University of Notre Dame Writing Section consists of one (1) essay response to a required question and one (1) essay response to questions you select from the options provided. In total, you will write two (2) essay responses. The recommended word count is approximately 150 to 200 words per essay.

Required Question

Please provide a response to the following 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?

The first and only required prompt among the Notre Dame supplemental essays 2021-2022 asks the classic “why this school” question. Admissions officers want to know which features of the college appeal to you the most and how the resources at Notre Dame can benefit you compared to those at other schools. The key to writing this essay lies in going beyond a listing of things that make Notre Dame an exceptional school. Since these essays are for your college application, your answer should be geared as specifically to you as possible, especially because the word limit is so restricted.

You need to spend a considerable amount of time digging into the university’s website, taking note of which opportunities support your aspirations the most, and letting your knowledge of Notre Dame shine through in your essay. Because your word limit is so tight, you don’t have space to wander all over the place.. Pick one or two criteria that are important to you. Look through academic programs, research opportunities, and extracurricular offerings. How does the particular college within Notre Dame that you’re applying to stand out over other similar undergraduate programs? Are there any particular courses that the university offers in your field that you can’t find elsewhere? Is there a student organization that perfectly aligns with a current club you enjoy? Highlight how you will grow. Make sure your essay can’t be applied to any other college on your list, and convince the admissions officers that Notre Dame is the school for you.

Optional Questions

Please provide responses to ONE (1) of the following questions:

Prompt 1

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?

This is a very open-ended question, one that you should answer honestly and in a unique manner. Think carefully about what you can give a presentation on at this very moment. Since the prompt has stated “academic or not,” you could talk about ANYTHING, from your favorite theory in physics to your favorite basketball player. Often, admissions officers appreciate students thinking critically about topics that normally people might write off. So, if there’s a topic that might have been underestimated that you might bring a fresh perspective to, as long as it’s not controversial or problematic, go for it! 

Because this is part of your college application, you should also look to answer the question of how the perspective from your experiences would help you contribute to Notre Dame if you have space. Similar to the other essays, don’t talk about what you think admissions officers want to hear. What are you genuinely excited about talking about—and maybe participating in at Notre Dame? What kinds of activities have you led in high school that you believe have prepared you to continue to make an impact in while at Notre Dame? 

Prompt 2

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?

This is a question that can be seen as more lighthearted than the others—but it doesn’t have to be. As you brainstorm your Notre Dame supplemental essays 2021-2022 think about whether this particular prompt would allow you to show a side of yourself that you haven’t been able to elsewhere in your application. It doesn’t matter whether your name is common or super unique—what admissions officers want to see is the connection you have with your name. You could also write about a nickname because the prompt has specified so! If you do, think carefully about where the nickname came from, who refers to you with the nickname, who you might have grown to become because of it. If you write about your name, consider who you are with your name—and who you might be without it. If there are particular anecdotes that can help you demonstrate why your name is meaningful to it, definitely share those! Remember that admissions officers are just trying to get to know you. There is no right or wrong answer here.

Prompt 3

What would you fight for?

On its website, Notre Dame states that it looks for students “who are involved—in the classroom, in the community, and in the relentless pursuit of truth.” Part of this means showcasing that you’re a driven individual who has goals that center around making an impact and helping others. 

You can tie your aspirations to your academic interests. If you’re a prospective biology major and wish to pursue medicine eventually, what kind of patients do you want to help out when you’ve become a full-fledged MD? Or, if you’re involved in activism, what kind of causes or beliefs do you want to protect? Within the given 200 words you must focus on how you would take efforts to make a difference in your community or cause—so you should take a more reflective approach. Think about your most significant involvement, but stay wary of commonly cited activities such as service trips. Remember that fighting for someone or something doesn’t have to signify a large-scale activity or cause such as the planet Earth. You could want to fight for your entire neighborhood or school, or you might fight for one or two individuals who you care about, and still make a difference. 

Don’t spend too much time describing what your aspirations are. Focus more on why you’ve chosen a particular group of people or cause. Does it connect with the way you grew up? Is there something you’ve always wished to help people who come from the same ethnic background as you with? You should also talk about how what or who you wish to fight for would benefit from what you may have to offer. Why is it crucial that you serve this particular cause? Finally, if you have space, outline how a Notre Dame education can help you get there.

Additional Tips for the Notre Dame Supplemental Essays 2021-2022

  • Choose Your Optional Prompt Wisely - Since the Notre Dame supplemental essays 2021-2022 have provided you the liberty of picking only one of the three optional essays, you must take advantage of this circumstance. Go through all of the prompts carefully and decide which one can inspire the most powerful essay from your perspective. You could begin by eliminating prompts that might be too risky.
  • Don’t Repeat the Personal Statement - Choose a topic where you don’t have to repeat information that’s already included in the rest of your application. If your personal statement highlights the people you wish to help out later in your career, choose essay prompts from the four other options. Your Notre Dame supplemental essays 2021-2022 are designed to provide new information about you. Narrating the same story won’t work in your favor, as admissions officers might think it’s a waste of their time.
  • Be as Specific to Yourself As Possible - Remember these are your supplemental essays. In all of the responses, it’s easy to be tempted to elaborate more generally on the topics—whether it’s Notre Dame’s resources or the cause you might fight for. But resist that urge! You’re under a very strict limit. Use it wisely—connect the majority of your points to yourself. Why does it matter to you if Notre Dame has particularly good resources? What is your personal connection to an unpopular opinion? Avoid generic responses at all costs. 


The Notre Dame supplemental essays 2021-2022 ask questions that provide admissions officers with the chance to get to know you in order to gauge how you would fit into the community. Don’t miss this chance to show your perspective and convey what makes you a unique and memorable candidate. You got this!

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