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Notre Dame Leadership Seminar: 7 Reasons Why It's Great

You may be asking what a leadership seminar is – and luckily, you’re in the right place to ask. The Notre Dame Leadership Seminars is a 10-day program in which academically talented and leadership-oriented students live on the school’s campus, engage in social activities, and take classes on major global topics. In addition, tuition, housing, and meals for admitted students will be fully paid for by the University.


If you’re passionate about social issues and have taken initiatives in your community, this program offers you a chance to be recognized for your actions and meet with like-minded individuals. If you’re interested, keep reading to learn more about the details and why it’s a great opportunity for you!


What’s a day in the life of a leadership seminar student?

The program usually runs in the summer, such as through late July to early August. While the ten-day duration of the program may seem short compared to other summer programs, participants' schedules are jam-packed with many events and activities. Notre Dame emphasizes world-class academics, intentional community, servant leadership, and spirituality, which will be evident in its small class settings and peer-to-peer learning environment.


Students will take classes with top faculty on global issues, which will increase their skills in critical thinking, research, and presentation skills. At the completion of the program, each participant will receive one transferable college credit.


Other items on the itinerary include community-organized activities with friends from all around the world, service initiatives, and spiritual services. Of course, room and board will be provided as well.


What are the eligibility and application requirements?

Applications will open around mid-October and be available until mid-to-late January. Those who are eligible to submit applications should meet the following criteria:

  • Be a current high school junior who will be entering your senior year fall of 2023.

  • Plans to attend college immediately after high school.

  • Generally within the top 10% of their class, having pursued the most rigorous curriculum offered in their high schools.

  • The mid-range SAT score for math & reading is 1300-1500 or 31 and above for the ACT. (Standardized test scores are not required, but are preferred.)

  • Demonstrated leadership abilities in school, church, community, and/or social organizations.

  • Be at least 16 years old by or on August 1, 2023.

The application will entail the submission of an online application, a high school transcript, a counselor report, and a letter of recommendation from a high school teacher. Make sure to have your guidance counselor's and teacher’s email addresses so that the Notre Dame office can send them an email for your application. Any test scores can be scanned and sent to them by late February, and international applicants who do not attend an English-speaking school will be required to submit a TOEFL or Duolingo English test score. A non-refundable $60 application fee will need to be sent as well.


How competitive is the program?

The Notre Dame Leadership Seminar is prestigious, and only a select few applicants are selected annually. The website states that only around 100 students are chosen to attend every application cycle.


7 Reasons Why the Notre Dame Leadership Seminar is Great


1. You get to visit the University of Notre Dame.

The University of Notre Dame ranks among the top colleges in the United States, so being accepted to their leadership program is a huge honor and opportunity. If you are interested in applying to the college in your senior year, you can tour its campus early and see whether its campus life, faculty, and community fit your vibe.


2. You can boost your resume for college applications.

If you like Notre Dame, then you can get an edge in the Notre Dame application process because the university has already accepted and recognized you for the Leadership Seminar. Of course, this applies to other colleges as well, because going to an accredited authority for leadership reflects well on your character and ambitions.


3. The program is heavily subsidized.

As stated previously, the program fees for tuition, housing, and meals are free for accepted students, which can greatly reduce the costs of attendance.


However, as a caveat, it must be mentioned that there is a $60 application fee and $150 enrollment fee, and students are responsible for their own transportation. Application fee waivers and aid for travel expenses are possible, but financial assistance is only given in extreme circumstances. The enrollment fee must be paid for by all students.


4. You will engage in deep social and global topics.

The subjects that students can learn about will be connected strongly with current global matters, which broadens their scope of learning and their thoughts on society. For example, one global issue that may be explored is violence and peace in the modern era, such as wars, refugee crises, conflict, and more. Another major area of interest lies in the environment, and the corresponding debates on the science, policy, and ethics of climate change. Yet another topic that may stir up curiosity is investing, which will help students learn about financial literacy and compound interest. All of these topics are very relevant in current political and social discourse that will aid participants in navigating this complex world.


5. You will get to enjoy a lot of fun activities.

While you’re not in class or discussing important topics, there is so much for you to do. Organized activities for the community can include ice skating in Compton Family Ice Arena, open mic night, trivia, and more as you talk to students from all backgrounds. The purpose of these events is to help build a community, and you’ll be welcome to join in the fun!


6. You can make long-term connections.

When you become a member of a community, you can network with peers based on your interests and passions. For example, all participants will be paired up with a roommate in a shared dorm for the duration of your stay, whom you can become friends with as you spend time together. Of course, you can meet others naturally during classes, mealtimes, and events as well during the program. Moreover, you may connect a Notre Dame faculty member or Resident Counselors, who can provide you with valuable advice and recommendations for your career.


7. You can give back to the community by participating in volunteer service.

Kindness can go a long way, and you get to show that kindness to others during your time in Notre Dame Leadership Seminars. As part of cultivating true leadership, you can choose an organization to learn from and serve – this can range from a variety of activities such as walking dogs at the local shelter, collecting food donations, mentoring children, or planting vegetables at a community garden. If you’re interested in volunteering, you have so many opportunities available in this program.


Final Thoughts

Overall, the Notre Dame Leadership Seminar is a great pre-college program for you to visit a vibrant college campus, engage in community activities, and learn about the world at large all while you’re still in high school. If you’re eligible and interested after reading the above, I would highly recommend checking out the website when the application cycle re-opens.


Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are passionate about research then you could consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students to connect with researchers from prestigious universities. Last year, we had over 2100 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.



Lydia is currently a junior at Harvard University and studies Molecular and Cellular Biology. During high school, she was the captain of her high school’s Academic Decathlon team and attended the Governor's School of Engineering and Technology. In her spare time, she likes to create digital art while listening to music.

Image source: Notre Dame Leadership Seminar logo

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