Impressions Of
University of Notre Dame

Academic Experience

Male Physics Major C/O 2019

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
Most of my classes have a problem set each week and then exams. It’s pretty difficult. I’ve had a pretty hard time being a Physics major, but I like it a lot so that’s why I stuck with it.

Is there anything you feel the Physics department does especially well or especially poorly?
There are not too many students per class. In my class, there are 27 Physics majors and, because of that, there is a good community among Physics majors. Everybody knows everybody in the department and they do a good job of fostering that by putting on a lot of different events. They make sure that we get to know each other and stay involved with the department. Also, there’s a very high student to faculty ratio so we get a lot of individual attention from professors which is really helpful.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it is particularly competitive or collaborative?
Most people are very collaborative just because the material is so difficult that we have to work together to understand it. There will always be people who are going to be a little bit more competitive. The campus at large is pretty supportive academically. We are not cutthroat.

Female Computer Science Major C/O 2019

Is there anything you feel the Computer Science department does especially well or especially poorly?
My favorite thing about the department is the T.A. system. Most of the T.A.’s are undergrads who took the class the semester or year before, so they really know what’s going on. In some classes I’ve taken in other departments we have graduate T.A.’s who aren’t that in touch with what the class is doing and can take a really long time to understand what you’re asking. The undergrad T.A.’s also have super convenient office hours because they’re on the same schedule as you, like they’ll have office hours from 6PM to midnight. There are also so many T.A.’s that they’re always available. It’s so nice because you get tons of one on one help, you get to know the T.A.’s and they’re students in other class years, and you also get to know the people that come to office hours all the time. It’s really helpful and fosters collaboration.

How accessible are your professors?
Super accessible. There are several professors that are teaching professors, meaning that their focus is on teaching instead of research, and they’ll have lots of office hours. People will also hang out in the hallway of where all the professors’ offices are and will pop in and ask questions. People will also build close relationships with their professors.

Female American Studies Major C/O 2021

How accessible have your professors been?
They’ve been very accessible. They have office hours every week. I’d go to my Spanish professor’s office and go over grammar with her. I didn’t utilize that as much as I could have, but I knew it was an option and it was nice having that be an option.

Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Politically, I think Notre Dame is pretty in the middle which is nice. I did feel like in the minority in an Africana Studies class because I’m from a conservative family. When I said thoughts, like, “Maybe, instead of people donating more money to fund social projects it should be more employment-based,” I sometimes felt a little bit attacked. Each professor is going to lead the class very differently. I didn’t feel that way in my other classes.

Social Opportunities

Female Business Analytics Major C/O 2019

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in at Notre Dame?
I personally like to go to house parties with my friends and then we go out to bars. Bars are a big deal here, especially your senior year. Freshman year is very heavy on dorm parties, sophomore and junior year are more heavy off-campus parties, and then partially junior year and senior year is your bar life. In the fall, football pretty much takes up your life, but in the spring, there is not a lot going on so the school tries to make different events for every weekend like conferences, small little festivals, and things like that.

How happy are you with the weekend options? Is there anything you would change?
I’m not particularly thrilled about them. For example, after I started exploring South Bend more I started seeing posters about salsa nights and wine nights in South Bend. Because the Notre Dame and South Bend communities are so far removed and Notre Dame is such a bubble, it’s really hard to know about that kind of stuff. It made me sad because I’m graduating and there are so many cool things going on in South Bend that I had no idea about. Sometimes it feels like there are the same things to do every weekend on campus and I wanted to do something different. I’ve been taking trips to Chicago which is super close to do something different or go to a concert because there’s not a lot of unique things going on.

Female Computer Science Major C/O 2019

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in at Notre Dame?
There are dorm parties and off-campus parties. I go to those occasionally. The dorm parties end strictly at 2AM because of parietals. For the most part, my friends and I are relatively low-key. We go to a lot of the on-campus events that Notre Dame sponsors. They’ll bring in comedians, magicians, and movies that are currently playing in theaters for really cheap. The dorms will also have events like dances, formals, and there are cultural events on-campus. My favorite thing to do on the weekend is to invite a bunch of friends over and have a low-key board game night or make food and that kind of thing.

What are some of your favorite on-campus events?
In terms of dorm-specific signature events, The Keenan Revue is a comedy show that’s huge and the line is like a mile out the door for the free but limited tickets. The comedy is all inside Notre Dame jokes. Then Lewis Hall has L-Hop where each floor of the building makes a different breakfast food and all night for one Friday night of the year you can get food there.

Female American Studies Major C/O 2021

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in at Notre Dame?
There are a lot of sport houses. People say Notre Dame isn’t a party school, but going to a party is always an option. There are dorm parties in the men’s dorms basically every night of the weekend. There are also sport houses that throw parties, like the lacrosse house and hockey house, and the glee club will throw parties too. It’s definitely an option. It’s also different for me because I was on a team and we’d have team parties, so that was a way I could party and hang out with people that other kids didn’t have.

How happy are you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change?
I always felt very safe. I never felt scared to walk around campus at night. If I could change anything, I would [have more large parties]. Sometimes we wanted to go out and do something and we ended up not being able to because a men’s team was traveling and if I went to a different party I wouldn’t know anybody. I’d like there to be more bigger parties where I could go with a group of people where people wouldn’t ask, “Why are you here?” because a dorm is such a small place so you would be noticed if you didn’t know anybody.

Campus Culture

Female Computer Science Major C/O 2019

How would you describe the social scene?
I don’t know if I have a very good idea of what overall people do that aren’t the people I interact with, but it seems pretty low-key to me. People mostly do work during the week and then will do fun things on Fridays and Saturdays. There are parties, but there a lot of people who aren’t doing that and doing random other fun stuff. A lot of the social scene revolves around dorm events, but then some people have their own things with their clubs. There are also a lot of clubs that do things on Friday and Saturday nights. Dorms are pretty identifying of somebody, that is part of your “Notre Dame Introduction” along with your class year and major. The dorms are assigned randomly, but they all have their own culture and character.

How would you describe the student body?
Well, it is about 80% Catholic. That’s all people who say they are Catholic, but not actually practicing. Because of that, it’s probably a more conservative culture than other campuses. That said, it’s definitely super liberal compared to Catholics in general. You get a lot more of a mix in viewpoints politically, we have the whole spectrum here.

How strong is the Catholic presence on campus?
It’s definitely present. There is dorm mass in every dorm every week and a lot of people from the dorm go to that. There will also be prayers at events. Beyond that, it’s all about how involved you want to be in it. It’s not forced down anyone’s throat.

Female Environmental Science and Political Science Double Major C/O 2021

How would you describe the social scene?
It’s really fun. It’s not cliquey at all. People socialize with each other, even the ones who go all the time and the ones who go to church all the time. It’s easy to interact.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
It’s about what I’m used to coming from my high school. They don’t attract as much diversity because of its Catholic identity, but I don’t think that holds it back in any way. They embrace the diversity they have. [About 67% of students are White.]

How would you describe the student body?
The student body is from everywhere. There’s a lot of people from California, Chicago, and New York area.  The student body is pretty affluent, sometimes surprisingly so. You also have those people who are there on scholarships. There’s a strong sports culture among the students. [35% of students come from the Midwest, 24% come from the East Coast, and 19% come from the West/Southwest. Socioeconomically, 44% of students come from the top 5% and the median family income is $191,400.]

Male Sociology Major C/O 2021

How did you meet your closest friends?
By default, I only really had three options of making friends, so my dorm, classes, or my varsity sport, just because I didn’t have much time for too many extracurriculars. I definitely met them through my sport, and also through my dorm because it does feel like a frat most of the time. Not fratty in a bad way, just the idea that there is the same camaraderie you’re looking for. Then a few in classes as well.

How would you describe the social scene?
Inclusive. It’s kind of what you expect. Everyone wants to have a good time and a lot of students are like-minded, so they’re able to get along and do social events together.

Being in a single-sex dorm, did you find it hard to make friends of the opposite gender?
Absolutely not, because it’s only during sleeping hours, so 2AM-9AM, which is when the opposite gender has to be out of the dorm. There will be opposite genders in your room. Classes feel completely mixed. It’s really just during studying and resting hours in your dorm that it’s not supposed to be co-ed.

South Bend, IN

Pros of

  • “It makes Notre Dame better because we’re all together in this tiny town, so it creates a greater sense of community.”
  • “South Bend is not doing well economically, so there are a lot of opportunities for students to learn and help the community. We do a lot of service trips through the school.” [Over 80% of students participate in some form of service learning. The poverty rate in South Bend is about 25%.]
  • “The city totally loves Notre Dame and the whole city gets behind the football games and you have a big community feel.”

Cons of

  • “The weather. It is snowing or freezing or around freezing from mid-November to May. You can’t be outside then. It was very cold.”
  • “Even though stores and things are only about 10 minutes away, I didn’t feel like those things were very accessible to me because I didn’t have a car. There is a bus and I know of people who use it a lot, but I never took the time to figure that out.”
  • “There’s not a lot going on in South Bend. People don’t go out and do much there.”

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Male Physics Major C/O 2019

What is something you wish you knew about Notre Dame before entering as a freshman?
Because of the lack of diversity both racially, religiously, and other ways, there is a very homogenous student body. I’ve been able to navigate that well enough, but I think somebody who doesn’t identify with the White, Catholic, upper-middle class person can have a hard time here. It would have been good for me to know that before coming in. [Socioeconomically, 44% of students come from the top 5%. About 67% of students are White.]

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
If possible, stay with a current student because it would give you a sense of how students live and go about their business. Students are required to live on campus for three years, so you’ll get the experience of what it means to live in a residence hall and the community students from there.

Female American Studies Major C/O 2021

What is something you wish you knew about Notre Dame before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew that I should make sure I spend time with people outside of my team more often. It’s something that is very easy for me to fall back on because I knew where my team was having dinner every night and I didn’t have to plan anything I would just show up. I think I missed out on a lot of friendships that I could have pursued because it was just easier for me to do my own thing.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Go do a student dorm mass. Thursday night at 10 o’clock in Dillon they have Milkshake Mass and the whole chapel is packed. After mass, the priests hand out hundreds of milkshakes and people will just chat and hang out. It’s such a cool thing to be a part of. It’s a great demonstration of the community at Notre Dame for the religious side and the community. If I were visiting, I would want to go there and be a part of that.

Male Sociology Major C/O 2021

What is something you wish you knew about Notre Dame before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew a lot of their abroad opportunities and how easy it is to get grants to study in foreign places. I would have probably taken advantage of that earlier. Now since I know I’m looking forward to doing that in future summers.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I’m a big advocate for the hockey team. I think they don’t get as much credit. If you’re on campus during that time of the year check it out because I think the atmosphere of the school really shows. The school band really goes all out for those games. It’s a good way for somebody to see what the school is all about.

Reasons to attend and not to attend University of Notre Dame

To Attend

  • “The community and feeling part of the school as a whole. There is the idea of the Notre Dame family, and it’s small enough that people really feel like they’re a part of things. There is football and unique dorm events that everybody does together. It makes people feel like they belong and are part of something cool. People have a lot of spirit for Notre Dame.”
  • “I think the social life is unique in that the dorms are not co-ed. If you don’t want to be part of a frat but are looking for something more, I think it’s a great opportunity to find a band of brothers from where you’re living naturally.”
  • “If you love big athletics. Kids go out to the games all the time, it doesn’t matter what time or the weather.”
  • “It’s a really good place to go if you are looking for religion to be an [aspect of your experience].”

To Not Attend

  • “If you struggle with Catholic identities or being around Catholicism too much, it’s probably not the school for you. Even though it’s not pushed on you, I know people who come in with a negative mindset have trouble loving it.”
  • “If you enjoy partying a lot, I would suggest not to go to Notre Dame. My roommate was from Miami and liked to go to clubs and stuff and she was frustrated that she couldn’t do that at Notre Dame.”
  • “It’s in the middle of nowhere, so it can be a hard adjustment for people who are used to city life.”
  • “If you’re not really social justice oriented, or you don’t care about social justice issues at all, then it’s probably not the school for you. That’s a big part of the identity of the school. They want the students to be focused on making a difference.”
Notice: University of Notre Dame is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by University of Notre Dame.

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