Notre Dame offers admission to 3,600 potential students
Courtney Becker | Monday, May 1, 2017
Decision day has arrived for the 3,600 potential students admitted into the Notre Dame class of 2021. This year’s pool of 19,565 applicants — a new record for the University — allowed the admissions office to continue its trend of focusing on the whole applicant rather than one aspect of an application, such as test scores or grades, associate vice president of student enrollment Don Bishop said.
“We understand in admissions that no matter how much you read the files and whether you use the numbers too much or not enough to inform you, there is a lot of serendipity,” Bishop said. “There are a lot of dynamics at college that you either respond to Notre Dame or you don’t in the way that we expected, and those attributes — there’s no SAT score for these sort of attributes. It’s not in the curriculum. It’s not your grades — there are just these intangibles.”
Director of admissions Bob Mundy said the department narrowed down the strong applicant pool — which included 7,500 applicants in the top one percent of the nation based on test scores and grades, of which only about one in three applicants was admitted — by searching for the right “match” with the University.
“Some would call that reading for fit,” Mundy said. “Where, again, you’ve got these 7,500 really talented students, but sort of project forward — what’s [this student] going to look like when she’s a student here? … What kind of Notre Dame citizen is she going to be?”
Several factors the department took into account in admitting students, Bishop said, were not quantifiable traits, such as leadership ability and desire to do good in the world.
“Our attitude has been, ‘No, don’t overuse the numbers,’” he said. “So once you have a high enough number, we stop using the numbers [and] we look at the other attributes. So what other attributes? Well, there’s service to others, there’s leadership, there’s creativity [and] there’s kind of their motivation for their success.”
This year’s pool of admitted students is also one of the most geographically diverse, Bishop said.
“Our largest state of admits this year was California this time,” he said. “ … Apparently, we’re doing very well with international students and U.S. students studying abroad. So we are probably going to be at 7 to 8 percent international students this year, and probably closer to 10 percent of students that are outside of the U.S. … That’s going to be a historical high, and that’s something [that] is a goal of Notre Dame, is to keep becoming more global.”
In addition to increased geographic diversity, Bishop said this year’s group of admitted students includes more women intending to major in fields of study that are typically male-dominated.
“We also are seeing an increase in the number of women in engineering and the number of women in business,” he said. “That was a goal this year. It’s still under 40 percent in both, but compared to the national averages, we’re actually really moving up.”
After informing potential students of their acceptance to the University online at 18:42 military time, Mundy said the admissions department took a more “personal” approach in connecting with admitted students through the acceptance packet this year.
“We took a great line from one of their writings — like why they wanted to be at Notre Dame or something that happened to them in their life — and we captured it and put it on a refrigerator magnet with the Dome on the left side,” Mundy said. “And it’s just one of these real soft [things that we] put in an envelope, wrote them a note — we handwrite notes to probably 2,000 students — and we wrote saying, ‘Here’s something that really impressed us.’”
In addition to this touch, Mundy said a revamped revisit format has attracted more families than ever before.
“We also pretty dramatically changed our yield weekend events, or our yield events,” he said. “ … This year, we really have centered them around four events — four weekends … and then on Monday, we had a really well-defined academic day for the students, where each of the colleges sort of bought in.”
Bishop said the increase in the number of families taking a second look at campus led to an increase in the number of early enrollments.
“That’s been interesting to us, because right now we are a little ahead in our deposits from last year,” he said. “We still think in our model that we’re going to be right where we want to be, and we hope to take some students off wait list, but this increased number of visitors, I think, will be an ongoing trend.”
Rather than hoping to fill the entire class of 2021 with initially accepted students, Bishop said the department aims to take 50 to 100 students off the wait list each year.
“Wait list allows us to look at what part of the class didn’t fill in the way we expected,” he said. “ … So it allows us to kind of fill in an area, or — and this is also, I think, more true for the majority of the decisions — we look at how people respond to the adversity of being wait-listed, and we kind of reward the emotionally-skilled families [and] students where they showed character and they showed desire to be at Notre Dame.”
Bishop said he hopes the finalized class of 2021 lives up to his expectations of being “forces for good” at the University and beyond.
“We want you to be a force for good — not only being a high force, but a force for good,” Bishop said. “A lot of schools, their focus is on just getting you to be a high force for success, whether that’s as a scientist, a business person, a doctor, a politician, whatever. At Notre Dame, it’s for good.”