Notre Dame welcomes most diverse first-year class in history
Alysa Guffey | Friday, August 20, 2021
After receiving 23,642 applications and admitting 3,446 students to the class of 2025, Notre Dame expects to welcome about 2,072 students into the class of 2025 this weekend.
Don Bishop, senior vice president of undergraduate enrollment, said the 58% yield rate — the number of students who choose to accept their admittance to the University — for the class of 2025 is the second-highest ever, behind the 61% yield rate in 2001.
As of Aug. 15, 2,072 first-year students are expected to enroll in the class of 2025. Bishop said the University expects the number to end up being around 2,065 students due to various changing circumstances.
The University hit a record with the number of applications and also hit a record with the lowest admittance rate ever at 15%.
Bishop noted that compared to 2010, the University admitted about 620 fewer students while enrolling the same number of first-year students.
“Notre Dame, while gaining in selectivity, has also gained in the preference of students who have been admitted,” Bishop said.
As a result, Bishop said he believes that this year’s first-year class is “more qualified than any class” to be at Notre Dame.
“We’ve now said that for about 11 straight years, but it’s been true for 11 straight years,” Bishop said.
The class of 2025 will be the most diverse class in Notre Dame history ethnically, racially, globally and socio-economically, Bishop said.
First-generation, Pell Grant and students with family incomes under $65,000 make up 20.3% of the first-year class. In addition, U.S. students of color and international students are 38.8% of the class.
Bishop said the diversity of the class was highly rewarding after several years dedicated to increasing the reach of the University to these students.
“About three years ago, internally, we developed a commitment to adding more lower-income, first-gen, Pell students and even beyond that, lower-income students that don’t have all the advantages that maybe the median student at Notre Dame has, and we built a budget for financial aid to anticipate a lot more spending on financial aid — which we’ve been doing,” Bishop said. “And we’ve been ramping up some of the recruitment efforts to keep finding more of those students.”
The class is composed of 151 international students, with another 98 of students having citizenship in the U.S. but living most or all of their lives abroad. Overall, Bishop said 15.2% of the class has some form of international status.
The University will also welcome 97 students into the Notre Dame-Holy Cross Gateway Program — a record number for the program. Students in the program complete one year at Holy Cross College and then transfer to the University.
Transfer applications rose by 46% in the application cycle, with 229 transfer students scheduled to enroll this fall, 77 of which are from the gateway program.
“We believe part of this surge was the positive view of Notre Dame being more open for the past year than most of the other highly rated selective universities,” Bishop said.
Due to travel restrictions of the pandemic, the entire 2020-2021 admissions cycle was conducted virtually. Christy Pratt, director of undergraduate admissions, said she feels her office was able to reach more students as a result.
“We took away the barrier of [prospective students] having to either travel to where we were going, or for them to come to Notre Dame because for a lot of students that is cost-prohibitive,” Pratt said.
Bishop said the virtual format also allowed the University to engage students and alumni to target specific groups, including women in S.T.E.M., African-American students and international communities.
Last fall, many international students were unable to travel to Notre Dame to begin their first year. However, this year Pratt said the number of students unable to travel to Notre Dame due to travel restrictions and difficulties obtaining visas is significantly lower.
“We’re very happy that we’re going to have almost all of our foreign international students from outside of the U.S. be able to join us this fall,” Pratt said.
In June 2020, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions announced it would be going “test-optional,” meaning applicants would not need to submit a standardized test score with their application. Of enrolling students, 36% chose to be test-optional.
Bishop noted the University had been strongly considering adopting this policy before the pandemic and would have installed a test-optional pilot program regardless. Bishop said prospective students are evaluated less on statistics and more on their desire to learn by being test-optional.
“I think we are building each year a stronger cohort of students more capable of developing wisdom and not just piling up statistical achievements,” Bishop said. “Our students are less likely to fall into the treadmill of achievement trap.”
Overall, Pratt said she believes the class of 2025 exemplifies the desire to be part of the Notre Dame community, especially with some not stepping foot in a physical classroom for over a year.
“I think these are the students that are eager and hungry to be here,” Pratt said.