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Notre Dame sees increase in selectivity for class of 2026

About 2,053 first-years will arrive on campus this weekend and begin their time at Notre Dame. The class of 2026 followed recent trends, with applications, selectivity and racial diversity all increasing.

The incoming first-years were the first class to be able to have in-person tours and information classes since the pandemic. Director of undergraduate admissions Christy Pratt said this change led to an “explosion of interest” in information sessions and tours, which coincided with another record number of applications.

With 26,508 students applying in 2022 — almost 3,000 more than in 2021 — the acceptance rate continued to fall and the yield rate stayed high. According to new vice president for undergraduate admission Micki Kidder, 3,412 were admitted for an acceptance rate of 12.9% and about 2,050 enrolled for a yield rate of around 60%.

“The students and families were definitely hungry to come back to Notre Dame and to be able to talk to our staff,” Pratt said.

Citing a recent report that 1.3 million students have disappeared from American colleges and universities since the start of the pandemic, Kidder said it is impressive that Notre Dame continues to see increases in applications.

Notre Dame is in its third year of test-optional applications. Kidder said 50% of applicants provided test scores. Sixty-seven percent of admitted students in the class of 2026 had a test score reviewed, according to admissions data obtained by The Observer.

Fifty states and 95 countries are represented in the class of 2026, according to the admissions website. The University also reported 159 members of the incoming class are international students, the highest number ever. 

While domestic students were able to come to campus for information sessions, travel restrictions hindered international students’ ability to come to campus and forced most of their recruitment to take place virtually.

“So I think that that speaks so much to this shared mission in service to something greater than ourselves that young leaders from all across the country and beyond are matriculating here for an excellent undergraduate education,” Kidder said.

The University will see an influx of 192 transfer students, with 95 of those coming from the Gateway program, in which students spend their first year at Holy Cross. Kidder said 95 is a much higher number than usual for the Gateway program.

Kidder said 50% of the freshmen class has received some form of need-based aid. Additionally, 19% of the class are either first-generation college students or on a Pell grant and 19% of freshmen are legacy students, meaning one of their parents attended the University.

Forty percent of the class of 2026 are U.S. students of color or international students, according to Kidder, marking consecutive years of increased ethnic diversity

“[We’re] just really, really excited to welcome in a very inclusive way, the most diverse class that we’ve seen here at Notre Dame,” Kidder said.

As the incoming freshmen acclimate to campus, Pratt said it is important to note that these are students who did not have a typical high school experience.

“These are also students that are similar to all of our other students in that they are going to engage in our communities and be excited to be here and be that force for good,” Pratt said.

Kidder added that she expects the first-year class to engage in the community in a lively manner.

“While they come in as this extraordinarily inclusive class, they’re contributing to the mission-centric conversation in a very lively, rigorous, empathetic, courageous manner, and we could not be more excited to see what they do in conjunction with the entire student body, so we’re thrilled to welcome them this week,” she said.

A version of this story was published in our Aug. 19 issue.

Ryan Peters

Contact Ryan at rpeters5@nd.edu.

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