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A call for transparency from Notre Dame International

| Thursday, March 2, 2017

It’s no secret that students here are among the most driven and talented in the country. What attracts all of us to attend the University of Notre Dame, often turning down hefty scholarships at other universities, isn’t just football and the Dome, but also the promise that Notre Dame will expand our opportunities, not limit them.

Ironically, this limiting of opportunities is exactly what so many sophomores are facing right now. The same University that promised so much — and is receiving hefty tuition fees for fulfilling their promises — isn’t making good on them.

We believe this is wrong.

One of our major considerations when choosing a college was the availability and accessibility of their study abroad programs, and from a glance at Notre Dame’s materials, which state, “At Notre Dame, we think every student should have an opportunity to study abroad before graduating,” we both were quickly assured that we’d be able to go anywhere we pleased.

However, after having seen the study abroad decisions for many of our peers over the past month, we’ve realized this just isn’t the case. There is a stark divide between the advertisement and the reality of Notre Dame Study Abroad. We know of too many qualified students who were waitlisted to one or both of the programs to which they applied, and we think it should be clarified that no one receives a “rejection” decision, but instead, all those not accepted are left in limbo, having been placed on the “waitlist.”

We recognize that with the sheer number of highly qualified applicants at the University, it might be necessary to have a rigorous application process. But that doesn’t excuse the blatant lack of transparency.

Upon requesting more information on his waitlist status, one of our classmates received back this response that many may find familiar: “I cannot share any sort of ‘ranking’ on your individual waitlist status, nor can I advise on the likelihood of a spot opening up on your respective program.”

We did not apply to Notre Dame without knowledge of their acceptance rate, and we certainly did not apply without backup plans. Why should study abroad be any different?

As much as the University likes to tell students that summer study abroad is a valid alternative, this is neither equal nor economically feasible for many students. Families don’t necessarily have $8,000 to spend in addition to Notre Dame tuition, especially when summer is typically a time for students to make money — not spend it. A Principles of Microeconomics class will teach you that the economic cost of this program includes not only the price of it but also the wages foregone from the summer job the student would have worked otherwise.

So, we are not seeking a complete overhaul of the system, but rather asking for transparency of acceptance rates from past years as well as of the effect of your “first, second and third” choice weighting on your probability of acceptance to a program.

We believe this would help students to make more informed decisions when applying and avoid unpleasant surprises when decisions are released.

Brittany Margritz

Marea Hurson
Feb. 28

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Letters to the Editor can be submitted by all members of the Notre Dame community. To submit a letter to the Viewpoint Editor, email viewpoint@ndsmcobserver.com

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  • Stasera

    Totally agree. I had the same problem when I was there. People I know who went to other universities were shocked by the competitiveness and exclusivity of study abroad. For them it was just a matter of signing up and paying fees. Not sure why the Dome creates more red tape around this than necessary.

    • HolyHandGrenade

      Maybe ND should be using its endowment to fund more student residences and larger programs for host institutions off campus rather than on? It certainly has a more stark impact than slightly lower occupancy rates per dorm, relative superiority of facilities vs previous iterations, comfort, etc… but it’s apparent that investments like McCourtney Hall are truly “investments” with returns from Courting esteemed professors and increasing college rankings. Whereas study abroad efforts in this context only affect students…

  • Patrick Ganninger

    Transparency on study abroad tuition costs would also be nice. Notre Dame students at John Cabot University in Rome pay Notre Dame tuition, which is around $25,000/semester. However, tuition at JCU is $12,000/semester. Where does this extra money go? It would be nice to know.

  • Paul

    As someone who participated in a study abroad program, I can vouch for the fact that NDI is absolute trash (please excuse my language but no other word better describes it). It was full of disappointments. Besides the travels I arranged on my own, my time abroad with ND was meaningless.

  • John H. Gleason

    All of the authors’ points seem valid. I would merely add that students with an unusually high interest in other places and other cultures might consider skipping a US college altogether and attending college entirely at a foreign university. (This approach might not be feasible for some business majors and other majors.)