University of Notre Dame
BackgroundInterview Date:July 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in Louisiana with a graduating class of 220 students. There was definitely a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Environmental Science and Political Science Double Major
Extracurricular Activities: I play intramural sports and I was part of the Climbing Club.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The dorm athletic teams were where I met a lot of my friends and how I got to interact with a lot of the people in my dorm. It was a little hard going in because everyone had their friends, but when you played sports with them they were more likely to say hey to you in the hallways.
Have you taken many courses for your majors yet? Have you especially liked or disliked any of the classes?
For Political Science I can’t say there has been a subject I haven’t liked yet just because it’s an interesting subject.
For Environmental Science, I’ve disliked more classes than I’ve liked because they haven’t been Environmental Science specific, they’ve just been general science courses. You’re in there with all the pre-med students and all these people that you’re not ever going to have a class together. It’s hard to make friends or feel good about your major because Environmental Science is such a small major. Right now, I know two people in the major because these classes are so huge and the people you meet are in the science majors.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it is particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s competitive, but not to the point where they want to thrive more than they want to help you. I’ve had a ton of people help me and I’ve never had someone tell me they’re not going to help me. It’s nice.
Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Yeah, I think it’s more open among students than maybe it is with the administration. The students are a lot more negative because we’re more used to being around people with different ideas and people who are identifying in different ways. I’d say the students have more experience in that than the administration.
How accessible are your professors?
They’ve been super accessible. It’s more about learning to go to office hours as a freshman, but once you go it’s not a problem. They’re so open and they would love for you to come and talk to them.
Why did you choose your combination of majors? Are you happy with your choice?
I’m happy with my choice. I was thinking about what I enjoy and I enjoy being outside, so I picked Environmental Science. Then I was thinking about how Political Science really complements Environmental Science well. You need a Political Science perspective when you’re thinking about Environmental Science to understand how feasible things are to implement, like bans on certain items and changing public opinion of things.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: McGlinn Hall with one roommate
Sophomore: McGlinn Hall with one roommate
How was transitioning from Louisiana to South Bend, Indiana?
The only problem was the weather. That was something I wasn’t expecting because I had never experienced a real winter before. I have family near there so I had been in the area before and kind of knew going in what to expect. I wasn’t expecting to get snow for a week in April. That was definitely a change, but it was something that I’m glad I did because I now know that I hate the cold and know I want to move back to the South after school.
How was transitioning from Louisiana to South Bend, Indiana?
The weather was different, that was a big part. South Bend weather is not the best. It’s just cold and wet, although that was something pretty easy to transition to. It’s pretty flat out there. Culture-wise, staying on campus I didn’t meet people living in South Bend, Indiana. Kids at Notre Dame come from all over, there are actually a lot from New Jersey, so the culture didn’t feel like a huge change.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
It’s super safe. I don’t think I’ve ever felt unsafe. Most times if I was leaving the library late I was usually with a friend. I don’t think I ever saw someone on campus who I thought was out of place. The campus isn’t super accessible to the general public, so that’s something that helps.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
I rarely go off campus, so I’m not sure.
Pros and cons of being in South Bend, Indiana?
Pros: It makes Notre Dame better because we’re all together in this tiny town so it creates a greater sense of community.
Cons: It’s in the middle of nowhere, so it’s not always ideal for your career plans. For the most part, I think Notre Dame’s alumni network makes up for that.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in at Notre Dame?
On the weekends you can go to guys’ dorms or go somewhere in your own dorm. Boys dorms will have parties. I didn’t go off campus much because it was honestly too cold. There is always something going on and you can find what level you’re comfortable with. Notre Dame people are really helpful and people will tell you where to go.
What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
I really only went out on Friday and Saturday because I was really busy during the weeks. Thursday nights there is a really good Mexican restaurant that people always go to that has karaoke and they have so much fun. I wish I had gone, but maybe I’ll go next year.
What have been some of your favorite times at Notre Dame?
I really have enjoyed all the dances we’ve had so far because they play really good music. It’s what I enjoy a lot so it’s been a lot of fun. I love the community feeling before the dance. You’ll be in a boys’ dorm before a dance and everyone is super welcoming and trying to have a good time. I’ve also really loved how athletic everyone is and there’s always something you can do. There are people playing soccer on the quad or throwing a football.
How happy are you with the weekend options? Is there anything you would change?
I was really happy. I really loved that you could do it to whatever level you wanted. If you didn’t want to go out, there were always people who were doing movie nights or something like that, but if you were going out you could find those people too.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Through my dorm and random things. One girl I met through inter-hall sports and another I met randomly in the hallway.
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.
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. [35% of students come from the Midwest, 24% come from the East Coast, and 19% come from the West/Southwest.] The student body is pretty affluent, sometimes surprisingly so. [Socioeconomically, 44% of students come from the top 5% and the median family income is $191,400.] You also have those people who are there on scholarships [1.6% come from the bottom 20%]. There’s a strong sports culture among the students.
What impact does the school’s Catholic affiliation have on the student body?
You feel it because Notre Dame wants you to feel it, but what you want out of it is what you get out of it. You’re not pushed towards anything. There is dorm mass and you see nuns and priests walking around, but if you don’t want it you don’t have to have it.
Do you think people are generally happy with their choice of Notre Dame by senior year?
I think everyone leaves loving Notre Dame. That goes back to the fact that campus is so special and they work to make it that way because it’s in South Bend. South Bend has really embraced Notre Dame and that makes everyone feel really welcome. After four years, people come back very, very thankful.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating were they to your needs?
I’ve used them and they were pretty accommodating. Whenever you have a question they’ll walk you through it and tell you exactly why something’s happening. I personally did not get more when I appealed, but I know some people who did. I don’t know anyone who is paying more than they can afford.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Notre Dame before entering as a freshman?
I wish they had warned me a little more about the climate. I wish I would have visited when it was that cold. Having to wear my parka for three straight months was rough. The climate is doable, but it will test you.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I just think that everything they tell you on the visit is true. I don’t think they make a baseless claim when people talk about how special campus is.
Reasons to attend Notre Dame:
1) It’s a really good place to go if you are looking for religion to be an [aspect of your experience].
2) The alumni network and how willing they are to help.
3) How beautiful campus is.
4) The education you get.
Reasons to not attend Notre Dame:
1) It’s expensive, so it’s sometimes hard to choose if you have a full ride at another school. [The total cost for the 2019-20 year is $74,193.]
2) If you’re 100% sure you don’t want a religious aspect, it can be frightening. You could be chased off by the strong Catholic identity. A common misconception is that people think it’s a lot more Catholic than it is and they’re going to push their beliefs on you, but that doesn’t happen.
3) It’s in the middle of nowhere, so it can be a hard adjustment for people who are used to city life.