Taking a look at Notre Dame supplemental essay examples is a top-notch method for learning how to write your own responses to the essay prompts.
Supplemental college application essays are one of the best ways to stand out and show your top-choice school why you are a perfect applicant for their program. They allow you to showcase your personal self, and that is the best way to stay in the minds of the admissions committee and go from an applicant to a student.
How to write a college essay can be tricky; there is a lot to say within a word count that might seem big, but gets eaten up quickly. Studying sample college essays will illustrate writing methods and give you tremendous insight into how to go about creating your own essay.
This article will provide samples to the Notre Dame supplemental essays.
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Notre Dame Supplemental Essay Examples
Please note that all Notre Dame supplemental essays have a maximum word count of 200 words.
Applicants are required to answer two prompts in total. All applicants must use the first prompt, but may choose from three additional prompts for their second essay.
Need more tips for writing?
The founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Blessed Basil Moreau, wrote, “We shall always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart.” How do you hope a Notre Dame education and experience will transform your mind and heart?
Sample Essay #1:
These days we see science and religion as enemies, fighting with one another.
Born Catholic I started my life unquestioning my religion. When I was in high school, I began walking two paths: one towards science, the other away from faith.
I was frustrated with the Church, avowed there was no God and picked fights with family and friends about it.
My studies gave me the opportunity to visit a particle accelerator. One of the scientists who gave us the tour was, as I found out, religious. I stayed behind, grilling him about how he reconciled faith and science, and he talked about the mystery of the universe. His pursuit for Truth in science was because he loved the profound expanse of nature. His love of God came from the same place.
Notre Dame prides itself on its religious origins and its Catholicism. I have come to a place where I want to explore the universe in an institution that advances science, but remains humbled by the profundity of Creation. I think that these qualities of Notre Dame’s will help me to reconcile the struggle my values and find my place in the universe.
Sample Essay #2:
A flip-opening, hand-held communication device was science-fiction on Star Trek in 1966. Thirty years later, the first flip-opening cell phone was publicly in-use. Now, we live in a world of boundless communication opportunities.
Yet, we see increasing division, tribalism on social media, and the proliferation of echo chambers. Most Americans only speak one language; many of them don’t even have passports.
I want to be part of the change that sees more bridges built and helps to ensure that we use our vast communication potential to join humanity together, and I want Notre Dame to be the place where my journey starts.
Notre Dame is a cultural-connector, with robust study-abroad program and a clear effort being put forward to bring together different cultures.
Through Notre Dame’s study abroad semester program, I can study computer science, connect with a vast network of people, and help break through communication barriers so that we can use our technology to stop talking at each other and start connecting with each other.
This will require my own thinking to be challenged. A place of great learning and great connection like Notre Dame is the best place to start challenging myself and breaking down those walls.
Sample Essay #3:
I tried to build a solar panel when I was ten. It consisted of a battery, jumper cables, and a glass-paned window that I found in a junk heap. Two things are clear: I have long been passionate about clean energy, and I have a long way to go.
High school saw me campaigning for the environment, joining “go green” clubs, and studying clean energy technology. I got interested in sustaining our environment, globally, and I wrote papers on the efficacy of providing food on a global scale.
That’s when I found ND Energy and the research initiatives Notre Dame is undertaking in these areas. I read a report by Marc Muller (et al.): Impact of transnational land acquisitions on local food security and dietary diversity. The report indicated that my assumptions about global food supply were wrong. The report spoke of a paradox: closing the “global yield gap” threatened local food supply through the export market.
I was upset. It felt like my hard work had been invalidated. After a short period of frustration, I realized that any place that challenges me and makes me grow in my understanding is exactly the place I need to study.
Sample Essay #1:
I spent a lot of my recent years trying to read as many important books as I can, tracking down lists of books everybody “should” read, mostly composed of classics, academically-sanctioned works of genius, and the most seminal benchmarks of literature throughout the ages. All of this has made reading a chore – a list that I check off. I’m not saying they aren’t great works, just that I put the canons of others ahead of my own enjoyment.
My Lightning Talk would be on literary enjoyment – reading for pleasure – and how this act opens up the mind and the imagination. When I was a boy, I read tirelessly, mostly seeking out the sort of science-fiction and fantasy novels that were likely to have a Frank Frazetta painting for a cover. They were pulpy explorations of pretend worlds that fueled my mind and let me push my imagination to its limits.
I would like to unpack the idea that literature can be fun and still beneficial. I would talk about those pulp-fantasy novels and how they have opened my mind to new worlds.
Sample Essay #2:
Jumping out of a plane is safe enough that they’ll let untrained members of the public go skydiving. But if it’s so safe, why do people get a thrill out of it? Shouldn’t we relax up there?
I’m a bit of a thrill-seeker, spending hours at skateparks, trying to learn parkour, and driving a little faster than I’m supposed to. Recently, I’ve started to wonder “Why?”
I’ve been reading a lot of articles and books about adrenaline and people who go looking for that rush. Freud posited the death wish. Psychologists call it “sensation seeking”. Some people claim it’s for fun, others for a challenge. Adrenaline junkies get worse and worse, needing more of a “hit” as though these heightened brain chemical reactions are the same as a drug.
My talk would be about the reasons why we go looking for thrills and about how it affects our minds and bodies. Knowing why people seek out adrenaline-inducing experiences would help us master our habits and pursue our passions.
Sample Essay #3:
I was listening to the Howard Stern Show, and two of the guys on the show were really yelling at each other. Howard’s program is filled with these moments and it’s one of the most popular shows of all time.
Contentious posts rate higher on social media. Youtube videos with titles like, “So-and-so DESTROYS Somebody” gain millions of views. Why do we fight? Is there a value?
I’ve begun to research why we argue and if there are benefits to it. There are! We work out ideas together as a group that way, we engage with each other, and we can either work out problems or discover who is problematic.
There is a strong movement for social media companies to take responsibility for their users’ speech and shut it down if it gets out of hand. Ironically, the discussions on this topic – free speech and censorship – are as divisive as the speech itself.
My Lightning Talk would be about our fascination with, and the uses for, argumentative behaviors, and about whether or not we should be allowed to say anything we want.
Sample Essay #1:
My name, Dipti, has been a source of relentless pain and teasing, bringing me down constantly, and I hated it.
When we moved to the US, nobody said anything mean to the three-year-old me, but as soon as I went to school, I was bullied. It was my clothes, so I stopped wearing “weird” clothes. It was my food, so I got mom to pack “normal” lunches. It was my name, and I couldn’t escape.
I tried to be called “Dee”, but I was “Dipti” in roll-call.
Dipti means “light”, but it felt heavy. It’s my grandmother’s name, but I didn’t remember her. I had to meet her again when we got enough money to bring her over to stay with us.
Grandma Dipti was Light. I barely understood her words, but I understood her love, and felt shame for trying to abandon her name, like I was abandoning her beautiful spirit.
Now I don’t care who dislikes my name. Embracing who I am found me friends who love me for me. I am working on a family tree, plunging into my personal history, and I love knowing where I come from.
Now my name is a joy and a light in my life.
Sample Essay #2:
I share my name with a month of the year and with a general; my name is Julian.
First, I learned of Caesar’s conquests and power. It set a high standard to strive for, and led me to run for student council – Julian the Senator. My connection to a famous historical figure also gave me a love of history; I study it, love it, and hope to become a history professor.
But, in my studies, I also discovered Gaius Julius Caesar’s abuses of his power, precipitating the fall of the Roman republic and the rise of the Roman empire. This is a cautionary tale: use power for good.
Some people nickname me Jules or Julie. “Girls’ names!” That used to annoy me a lot, but I have gained two perspectives in consequence of these labels: the first is that I need a thicker skin; little things shouldn’t bother me. The second is that teasing might sting a bit, but others have it worse with aggressive misgendering, or severe bullying.
I know that I have certain powers on student senate and if I ever cross the Rubicon, it will be for the rights of the bullied, not to become a tyrant.
Sample Essay #3:
My parents just liked the sound of the name “Alan”, so that’s my name. I have no relatives named Alan, they didn’t have any close friends named Alan, and Alan doesn’t even mean anything. Some people speculate that it means “deer”, but there are others who think it means, “little rock”, or “handsome”, so it could mean anything.
I gave this very little heed growing up, although I did get annoyed once when my siblings and I were all looking up our names and they had substantive meanings but mine just means nothing.
Some people have names they have to live up to. Their names are grand. Mine is plain. But I like that. I like that, with my name, I don’t have to live up to my name, but I can fill it.
I wasn’t captain of the debate team because I had something to prove, no; it was because I loved debating. My passion led me forward, not some silly high bar set by a name.
This lack of meaning in my main moniker taught me to strive for individuality.
Sample Essay #1:
Apparently, there was a time when I would have said, “My girl,” because I once got into a fight with my best friend Chris over a girl whom we both liked. We both lost a little blood, and a lot of dignity, and of course we both lost the girl, who wasn’t that impressed by our pugilistic posturing.
But that wouldn’t even be true, because I wasn’t really fighting for a girlfriend – she clearly didn’t want me to fight – but for my own, bruised ego. I was fighting for fear – not because I was afraid for my life, but afraid of being passed over by this person for whom I had developed a crush. So, I lied to myself and thought I was noble, but really, I was petty.
Chris had been my friend since Grade 2, and we lost it all over a girl. We stopped hanging out for a while after that. Chris wouldn’t talk to me for ages. It took a long time, but I kept trying and apologizing until the bridges were mended and Chris and I could laugh as friends again.
So, there it is: I would fight for a friend.
Sample Essay #2:
My grandfather never talked about Vietnam, or if he did it was just to reminisce about his army buddies.
I was doing a report for history where I was instructed to talk to a veteran, so I asked Grandad if I could talk with him. I was surprised and a little sorry he said yes; I feared his taciturnity on the subject would make the interview hard.
I was right; getting Grandad to use more words was like trying to get Charles Dickens to use fewer. Frustrated, I asked him outright why he wouldn’t talk about it.
His voice cracked for the only moment I ever heard it do so when he said, “What the hell was the point? Who were we there for?” It wasn’t just PTSD, but shame that silenced him, because he did not feel like he had fought for a worthy cause.
If I were to go to war – to fight – it would be to stop the Holocaust, to overthrow a tyrant, or to defend the defenseless.
I will fight for the weak and helpless, physically, or by using my voice as an advocate for the voiceless. I will fight for those who need me.
Sample Essay #3:
I saw them taken out in herds, like beasts. I saw the things they owned, the meager few possessions that they had all scattered around. They had nowhere to go, this was their home. They are called homeless, and they are chased away even from parks and curbs beside the opulent homes of others.
I was only ten, but the sight of impotence in the face of compounding bad fortunate remained as a ghost about my shoulders. I could not shake this specter off, so instead I fought back.
The first fundraiser I started was vague and ill-defined. “Help the Homeless!” the banners read, and that was about as far as I had thought it through, but I was only twelve. Over the years my efforts became more sophisticated, raising money to petition legislators, or to provide funding for affordable housing.
“The poor will always be with you,” is a quote that stays with me. I can accept that, but what I cannot accept is to complacently allow them to suffer. So, I know what I will fight for: the impoverished and unsheltered. I will fight my whole life, not just as an obligation, but as a privilege.
Wondering how to navigate your applications?
1. What structure should I use in these essays?
While your essays will be personal, you should use the academic essay structure to make your story flow.
2. Are these essays optional?
No. You have some choice, but you must complete two essays.
All applicants complete the first essay prompt (Prompt #1), and then choose one from the three other sub-prompts (three entries in Prompt #2).
Generally-speaking, any time you are given the option to submit an essay, test, or short answer, take advantage of the opportunity to showcase your application and make it more memorable.
Essentially, consider everything mandatory, because good quality submissions will all help your application.
3. Are the word counts strict?
Consider them strict, yes.
Keep to the directions you are given, find your creative voice within those boundaries.
Colleges look for people who think outside the box, not those who color outside the lines.
4. How are my essays used in the evaluation process?
Notre Dame doesn’t use interviews in its admissions process, so the essays are the best way that the admissions committee has of seeing the “you” beyond pure numbers and data. While you can give a picture of yourself through extracurriculars, the essays allow you to speak directly to the committee and show your passion and your journey that is taking you to your top-choice school.
5. What should I talk about in my essays?
You will be talking about yourself, but specifically highlighting experiences you’ve had, knowledge you’ve gained, and traits and abilities you’ve acquired that will appeal to the school you’re applying to (in this case, Notre Dame).
Try to highlight courses, research, or values that the school has, even if only in oblique ways.
Valuable qualities to show are leadership, curiosity, perseverance, dedication, problem-solving, studiousness, and creative thinking.
If you can showcase that you learn from failure, that can also be beneficial.
6. What if I’m short of the word count by a lot?
Your goal is to say something meaningful about yourself, something memorable that will stick with the admissions committee, and something that will make you connect with the college you’re applying to. If you’ve done that with fifty words to spare, there’s nothing wrong with coming in under the word count.
On the other hand, if you’ve only written fifty words out of two-hundred, it’s likely that you haven’t said enough.
Avail yourself of college essay advisors so you know when you’ve said what you’re trying to say.
7. I’m not Catholic, Christian, or even religious. Will that hurt my chances with Notre Dame or affect my studies?
Notre Dame is open to all denominations, faiths, and persons from non-religious backgrounds. No matter who you are, you are welcomed into Notre Dame’s studies, and your application is not contingent on your spirituality or lack thereof.
Many universities and colleges in the US were founded by religious institutions or religious persons, but none of those schools will penalize a non-religious applicant or make them feel unwelcome on campus or in class.
8. Can I re-use my essays?
When you’re applying to a variety of schools, and we do recommend you apply to 8-10, there may be some overlap in college essay topics. As always, do your research. Before writing all of your essays, take a look at the different topics, and if you find areas of overlap, you can certainly reuse writing.
With that said, colleges are looking for values in line with theirs, so you may need to make sure that your essays align with multiple colleges in every way, not just the specific prompts.
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