University of Notre Dame’s students are immersed in a number of rich traditions. Between its Catholic roots, fanatic Fighting Irish football fans, and its superior academic reputation, students can’t help but get caught up in one of the most storied universities in the country.
As a very selective school with just over 8,000 undergraduates, Notre Dame is able to boast top-notch academic programs for its students. Most classes consist of less than 20 students, allowing students to interact with their professors more than they would at a big state university.
Aside from academics, Notre Dame students love their sports – especially football. Incoming freshmen can expect wild tailgates and standing room only at every home game. South Bend, Indiana isn’t the cultural capital of the world, and students partake in their share of dorm parties. Since most students stay on campus and in the same dorm all four years, an undergrad’s dorm mates often become their closest friends for the duration of their time in South Bend, and beyond.
It should come as no surprise that at one of the nation’s most prominent Catholic universities, religion plays a vital role in many students’ day-to-day lives. “Notre Dame has a chapel in every dorm,” writes an engineering student. “My dorm's chapel has seats for 150 people. For Sunday mass it is standing room only. People will stand in the back and sit on the floor in the front for mass.” Despite its deeply religious roots, students say that the university is inclusive and that the administration does a good job of incorporating students from a variety of backgrounds. “If you're not Catholic, don't worry about it too much,” writes a freshman. “I'm not and I get along fine...I'm not even Christian and I still feel like I fit in and my friends don't judge me or anything.”
Although many undergrads agree that the student body is accepting, most will not deny that Notre Dame can be lacking in diversity. A junior economics major argues
that the undergrad population is “[v]ery homogenous. The student body is overly Catholic, white, and upper-middle class. Fitting all of those categories, I can't say what it would be like for other students, but I imagine it would be a little disconcerting.” He does add that “[g]eographically, the student body is very diverse as there are students from all over the country.”
Aside from the university’s Catholic orientation, Notre Dame Football is most students’ second religion.“For many student[s], whether you grew up with it or not, Notre Dame = Football,” writes a junior business major. “In fall, football is what you do on the weekends. Win or lose, there will be a party to celebrate or drown your sorrows Saturday night.” Along with cheering on the Irish at football games, popular activities for students usually revolve around their housing units. “There are a myriad of traditions every year, many of them events organized and sponsored by the dorms, which function almost like fraternities or sororities in terms of the community and intimacy aspect,” writes a junior studying political science.
Indeed, when it comes to socializing at Notre Dame, most students agree that dorm life is of the utmost importance. While undergrads can be fiercely loyal to their dorms,
on-campus housing does have its drawbacks. “The thing that sucks about it is the anal rules about girls and guys visiting each other late at night - it can't happen,” complains a freshman from Minnesota. “There are a lot of rules, which honestly don't keep anybody from doing anything; it just means they have to do it quietly or behind closed doors.”
In terms of academics, undergrads say that most of their professors engage actively with students. “All classes are taught by professors - it's really fantastic! Most of them have a desire to know their students, though some are better at remembering names than others. Most of them love teaching and will join their students for lunch at the dining hall or even invite students to their houses for dinner,” writes a senior. While students tend to be dedicated to their academics, many point out that they cooperate on school work. “Students here are competitive, but not so much that they aren't willing to help each other out. Professors encourage students to collaborate and work together and I think that is what really helps with the sense of community on campus,” writes an accounting major from California. Students also point to Notre Dame’s vast and loyal base of alumni as an advantage of being a member of the Irish community.
With its abundance of tradition and pride, it’s no wonder so many applicants want to be a part of the Notre Dame community. One junior from Michigan writes, “I love the feeling of belonging to the University, of feeling that you´re really at someplace special. It´s the ‘Notre Dame family’, as cheesy as that sounds.”