Courtney Becker | May 2, 2017
Decision day has arrived for the 3,600 potential students admitted into the Notre Dame class of 2021. This year’s pool of 19,565 applicants — a new record for the University — allowed the admissions office to continue its trend of focusing on the whole applicant rather than one aspect of an application, such as test scores or grades, associate vice president of student enrollment Don Bishop said.
“We understand in admissions that no matter how much you read the files and whether you use the numbers too much or not enough to inform you, there is a lot of serendipity,” Bishop said. “There are a lot of dynamics at college that you either respond to Notre Dame or you don’t in the way that we expected, and those attributes — there’s no SAT score for these sort of attributes. It’s not in the curriculum. It’s not your grades — there are just these intangibles.”
Director of admissions Bob Mundy said the department narrowed down the strong applicant pool — which included 7,500 applicants in the top one percent of the nation based on test scores and grades, of which only about one in three applicants was admitted — by searching for the right “match” with the University.
“Some would call that reading for fit,” Mundy said. “Where, again, you’ve got these 7,500 really talented students, but sort of project forward — what’s [this student] going to look like when she’s a student here? … What kind of Notre Dame citizen is she going to be?”
Several factors the department took into account in admitting students, Bishop said, were not quantifiable traits, such as leadership ability and desire to do good in the world.
“Our attitude has been, ‘No, don’t overuse the numbers,’” he said. “So once you have a high enough number, we stop using the numbers [and] we look at the other attributes. So what other attributes? Well, there’s service to others, there’s leadership, there’s creativity [and] there’s kind of their motivation for their success.”