Notre Dame undergraduate admissions to remain test-optional through 2024

The University’s division of undergraduate enrollment announced in a press release Tuesday that it will remain test-optional through the 2024 application cycle. The practice, which allows applicants to choose whether to submit standardized test scores, was first adopted by Notre Dame in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One-third of the students admitted to the class of 2026 did not submit a test score with their application, the release said.

“By remaining test-optional through the 2024 admissions cycle, we will have the opportunity to continue to study the impact of this practice while giving students the ability to choose whether or not they wish to include test information in putting forward their best and strongest application,” vice president for undergraduate enrollment Micki Kidder said in the release.

The policy applies to both the restrictive early action and regular decision application cycles.


University hosts Welcome Weekend

More than 2,000 first-year students will descend upon campus to begin their Notre Dame experience this year. The class of 2026, heralded as the most diverse and selective cohort to date, will move into residence halls and acclimate to the campus community around them through Welcome Weekend.

Welcome Weekend, the University’s annual process of orienting first-years, will involve the typical introduction to hall staff and fellow hallmates, connecting with faculty and staff and accessing academic, spiritual and wellness resources. In the days preceding the class of 2026’s first classes, student leaders and volunteers across campus will come together to embrace the new students.

Andrew Whittington, program director for first-year advising in the Center for University Advising, said the weekend serves as a gateway to many of the unique aspects of the Notre Dame experience. 

“Our team of faculty, staff, and students seeks to share and invite students into the unique characteristics of our Catholic, Holy Cross undergraduate experience,” he wrote in an email. 

Emily Orsini, program director for new student engagement and formation, said allowing new students to feel connected and build community were priorities. 

“The most important part of welcoming the class of 2026 is to make sure every new student feels welcome,” Orsini wrote in an email. “We want to make sure we have diverse programming opportunities that students will be able to engage in. We want to create time and space throughout the weekend where new students can form connections with one another to start to build community.”

This year’s Welcome Weekend will feature reimagined aspects, including a scaled-back vision of the Moreau First-Year Experience class kickoff. Orsini said the University will also emphasize diversity, equity and inclusion in its programming during the weekend.

Staff also looked to add flexibility to the experience, developing periods of opt-in programming.

“That allows students to pick their own adventure and do what they need or want during that time. Students will have options to attend programs that campus partners have organized, hang out in the hall, take a nap, unpack, etc. We know how busy this weekend can be and we hope this time will provide students with what they need whether that be rest or participating in an activity,” Orsini said. 

Whittington emphasized that Welcome Weekend is only the beginning of a much longer experience and no student is able to garner a complete sense of belonging in just a few days.

“But, Welcome Weekend’s combination of residential, curricular, and co-curricular engagement serves as an invitation, hopefully, an inspiring and dynamic invitation,” he wrote. “As far as my role goes, I’m in the business of communicating those first truths that each new student belongs here, can grow here, and can do good here.”

Orsini concurred that though the weekend is simply an introduction, it holds a lot of potential. 

“I think it’s a time for students to start to familiarize themselves with the Notre Dame community as well as the resources and academic opportunities that are offered here,” she noted. “We hope Welcome Weekend is a time where students get excited about their time here from both the academic and social engagement perspectives.”

As Welcome Weekend committees arrived in dorms across campus preparing to help move in the class of 2026, Whittington wrote that the weekend provided an opportunity to embrace the incoming class. 

“These new students, your new classmates, had the choice of joining any number of impressive university communities. They chose us. We’re just so darn grateful for that decision and are honored to celebrate them, learn more about them, and invite them to take their place alongside us as members of the Notre Dame family,” he stated. 

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

Isa Sheikh

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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

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