When Autumn Stevens began her exploration of colleges, she never imagined she would end up at the University of Notre Dame. In fact, she had set her mind to attending an altogether different university that was on her radar as her top choice of the 15 total she was planning on applying to.

“I ended up doing campus visits at eight of the schools I applied to,” she says, “but also toured three other schools that I did not apply to.” Her selection of schools varied geographically, some located as close as Michigan, others as far away as Alabama. She kept copious notes from each visit and was able to review them after the visits to refresh her memory. “When you are visiting so many schools sometimes they run together so notes and photos are important to remember how you feel during the visit and what you really like about the school.”

Applying to all of these schools also took a great deal of effort, with Autumn writing several drafts of her essays before submission. “For Notre Dame specifically, I wrote a particularly honest essay,” she reveals. “I chose to answer this prompt: ‘This is your chance to take a risk.’ Knowing the importance of Catholicism at Notre Dame, I wrote about my relationship with religion (or lack thereof), and stressed my excitement to take my first step into faith during college. Sharing my non-involvement in any religion was a big risk to me, knowing that 80% of all students at ND are Catholic.”

The risk paid off: Along with her acceptance letter, Autumn received a more personal welcome to the university. “A few weeks after my acceptance, I received a handwritten letter from a student working in admissions, and inside the letter was a quote from that essay. I do believe that essay was the reason for my acceptance, and I am glad that I spent so much time making sure it was perfect.”

“Parros College Planning helped me in so many ways, and especially in the essay writing process. Without their assistance I do not believe I would have been accepted to as many schools as I was,” revealed Autumn, as she considered the entire application process and how difficult it really is. There were definitely high’s and low’s to the process, and the best advice anyone can give is to start applying early.

Over the last 10 years, Parros College Planning has helped students like Autumn tackle a wide range of prompts through the Essay Strategy that they have developed. Parros believes that a student needs to understand themselves first, and what the college is looking for in a student second. You can’t beat a ‘good fit’ when selecting your college, and all of this helps to understand if it is right for you.

Autumn’s advice to high school seniors pertains to the endurance needed when applying to a wide net of schools. “If you are applying to as many schools as I did, then the application process is going to be extremely long and tedious. Prepare to make yourself sound fun and interesting, even if you truly aren’t. Then expect to write a lot of essays.”

How did she get through it? By keeping her eyes on the prize. “Keep reminding yourself that by January 1st, all of it will be over. Eventually you will end up at a school you love, and you won’t really mind all of the hard work that it took to get there.”

Eventually, Autumn realized that her “prize” was Notre Dame. She was particularly drawn to “the competitive nature that lies in every aspect of the school.” Indeed, Notre Dame is traditionally known for its athletic and scholastic competition, “but rivalry also lies in the community life,” claims Autumn. Inter-school competition even lies in the residence halls. “Each dorm is its own ‘college,’ with colors, a mascot, and tons of old dorm traditions. The dorms compete in athletic competitions against each other, always fighting for the honor of their dorm. Silly competitions like these bring the students closer together, and I think that is very impressive.” It is this spirit of tradition and community, as well as a devotion to athletic and academic achievement that draws students from across the country to apply to Notre Dame.

If the University of Notre Dame sounds like a good fit for you, consider scheduling a consultation with us so we can discuss application strategies, and earn you a spot in Notre Dame’s next freshman class.