A call for transparency from Notre Dame International
Letter to the Editor | 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.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.