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To commemorate Businessweek’s 2014 ranking of the top undergraduate business programs, Forster Thomas is profiling the top ten.  First up – the #1 school, University of Notre Dame: Mendoza.


By Ben Feuer


Mendoza is the #1 business school this year according to Bloomberg Businessweek, and there are a lot of very good reasons for that.  Here are a couple of points that distinguish Mendoza.

• Choose from five majors -- ACCT, FIN, MARK, MGT IT, MGT Consulting

• Strong emphasis on ethics – they even put it on their homepage.

• Happy student body – Mendoza graduates are loud and proud

• Chicago market feeder, with over 2300 graduates in the Chicago area on Linkedin

• With an average salary upon graduation of almost $60,000, you won’t need to pinch pennies with a Mendoza diploma in your pocket.


There is no separate application for UND Mendoza this year.  Interested students should apply to Notre Dame and pursue a “broad liberal arts curriculum in a variety of academic areas”, according to Mendoza’s home page, before declaring a business major in their second year.

Notre Dame accepts the common application, with a writing supplement, choosing three of the following five prompts and providing a response between 150 and 300 words to each.

  1. In his 2005 inaugural address, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of the University of Notre Dame, challenged our community: “We at Notre Dame must have the courage to be who we are. If we are afraid to be different from the world, how can we make a difference in the world?” When you leave Notre Dame, what is one way you will bravely face the world, stay true to your values, and make a difference large or small?

This is a kind of cousin to an essay about a goal or even a personal statement, but phrased broadly, so as to allow for the fact that you probably have no idea what career you’d like to have.  But most likely there is some corner of the world, something you’ve had personal experience with, where you WOULD like to make an impact.  Where is it?  This is not a ‘brag’ essay.  This should reveal something about who you are at your core, something surprising and (hopefully) endearing!

  1. What is your proudest accomplishment that doesn’t appear on your résumé — an act for which you did not receive a trophy, grade, or other type of outward recognition?

Another way to look at this question is “what don’t we know about you that we SHOULD know about you?”  The most obvious way to answer this question (and potentially a very effective one) is to talk about your family, using a specific incident as a springboard to discuss a larger lesson about your life, like when you went on a summer camping trip with your uncle and learned what roughing it really meant.  But this could also be a story about overcoming an internal obstacle, or even a powerful friendship.  Whatever you choose, it will most likely revolve around a relationship.

  1. Tell us about a time you fell in love… with an academic concept. What excited you about this idea, project, or lesson?

When writing an essay about academic achievement, the most important thing to remember is that this is NOT a question about grades.  Believe me, Notre Dame has seen your transcript.  This is an opportunity to go beyond that.  The question asks about excitement, falling in love with an idea – believe it or not, this is anything but a dry, intellectual question, so don’t treat it like one!  Tell them about a time when learning became hands on or personal for you, an unforgettable teacher, or a project that took you above and beyond your everyday expectations.

  1. Why are you interested in attending the University of Notre Dame?

A standard-issue ‘why our school’ question.  The usual caveats apply.  Try to find something specific that links your application to the school,  do your research, and don’t be afraid to discuss campus visits and current students you’re friendly with, especially if they helped to give you perspective on the school.

5.  By the end of the college application process, you will have probably written dozens of essays and responded to a multitude of questions. Use this opportunity to try something new.

This is what we in the business call an ‘open-ended’ question.  The worst thing you can do when faced with a question like this is panic.  With no multimedia component and only 150-300 words to play with, there’s no call to get too out of the box.  Think about strengths or interesting qualities in your application that might otherwise go un-noticed, and then figure out a specific format for your answer – don’t speak broadly about your non-profit commitments, instead, write about that one unforgettable summer in Kuala Lumpur. 


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