What is it Like to Attend University of Notre Dame?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Sean graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Classics. He is a Chicago tutor who specializes in many levels of Latin tutoring, AP English tutoring, and Literature & Composition tutoring. Check out his review of his alma mater:

VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?

Sean: Notre Dame is pretty self-contained. It’s a very walkable (and beautiful) campus, although having a bike is helpful. You can get by without a car if you live on campus, but it’s helpful having some wheels if you live off campus as a senior.

VT:  How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Sean: The faculty at ND are very personable and approachable. The university is a relatively small, tight-knit community. My professors seemed to genuinely care about my well-being, not only academically, but in a general sense as well. Many times for smaller classes, professors would invite the class over to their house for dinner toward the end of the semester, which was a great way to get to know them outside the classroom setting.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Sean: Dorm life is central to the Notre Dame experience, and quite unique; all the dorms are single-sex. This is another aspect that helps contribute to the close, family atmosphere at the school. I am still very close friends with three of the people I met on the day I moved into in my dorm – I have stood up in each of their weddings. Every dorm has its own history, personality, and even mascot. Mine was a kangaroo, and every spring we hosted chariot races on the quad.

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study?

Sean: Notre Dame focuses on undergraduate studies and is strong in many areas. I studied Latin, in the college of Liberal Arts. I was very happy with the support I received, especially from the faculty in my department, who helped me figure out my post-graduation career options.

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Sean: There is no Greek life at Notre Dame, but since the dorms are single-sex, each one is like its own fraternity or sorority. One thing everyone has in common is a love for Fighting Irish football. The pep rallies, tailgating, and games each fall weekend are great ways for students to connect and share great memories.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Sean: Since I majored in Latin, there weren’t too many companies coming to recruit me so I can’t speak too much to that! I will say again that the Classics department helped me in discerning that I wanted to go to graduate school for Latin. They guided me through the selection process, helping me earn a full tuition scholarship for grad school.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

Sean: Everything you need is at hand somewhere on campus. Whether it’s more crowded, social areas to work at like the Huddle (Student Center), or the peace and quiet of the upper floors of the Library, there’s a place for you.

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus? 

Sean: At any given time, there is so much taking place on campus that you don’t really need to go into South Bend for much, which is okay because it is a small town and doesn’t have much going for it. Chicago is a 90-minute drive or a two-hour train ride away, which was great to get away for a weekend sometimes.

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Sean: There are about 8,000 undergraduates at ND. My biggest, intro-level Philosophy class maybe had 150 students. Most of my language classes in the Classics department had less than 15 people. This was nice because you really got to know professors and received lots of individual attention. This was also tough sometimes because you received lots of individual attention – you had to be on your game every day in class so you wouldn’t be unprepared or embarrassed.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Sean: One class I will never forget was a class about Warfare in Antiquity. We learned about people like Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and Julius Caesar, along with incredibly detailed techniques of ancient battle formations. One day, our professor told the class that our assignment was to make a shield and spear out of cardboard, and to meet at the practice football field the next day for practice. When we got there, a ROTC commander showed us how to march in formation, split us into two groups, and we re-created an ancient Greek battle. It was definitely a unique experience, something I don’t think I would have had anywhere else.


Check out Sean’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.