The University has high expectations for the class of 2010, and given their stellar credentials, the roughly 2,025 students in this year's freshman class should have no trouble rising to the challenge.
The Class of 2010 is the most diverse in Notre Dame's history, with minority groups making up 24 percent of the incoming freshman class, said Dan Saracino, assistant provost for enrollment. In prior years, the percentage of minority students has hovered around 22 percent.
All 50 US states are represented in the freshman class, which also boasts students from 41 nations.
Freshmen come from as far north as North Pole, Alaska and as far south as La Paz, Bolivia, Saracino said.
"It's a great mix of kids," he said.
Eighty-six percent were in the top 10 percent of their class. Seventy-three percent earned varsity letters in high school.
And they were selected from the largest pool of applicants the University has ever received.
The Office of Admissions received an unprecedented 12,800 applications this year - and just 3,490 students were admitted to the University.
What makes this class unique is the staggering number of students who chose Notre Dame once they were accepted, Saracino said. Fifty-eight percent of admitted students decided to enroll, the highest yield the University has ever experienced.
Saracino said more students are choosing Notre Dame because the University is committed to meeting the financial needs of admitted students.
"Notre Dame for the last 10 years has been meeting 100 percent of full demonstrated [financial] need of every single student. ... That says to every single student, 'If we admit you we will make it possible for you to come,' and that makes the students who want to come actually enroll," Saracino said.
"Another thing that has contributed to the increased yield, the University is doing a great job in helping students who have been admitted realize what is available here," he said, noting the University's effort to help admitted students get in touch with current students.
"Our goal is to not lose one student because of unanswered questions," Saracino said. "We make sure that they know that Notre Dame is the perfect place for them."
Saracino said the University is "extremely proud" of the diversity in the freshman class.
"If we're educating the leaders of tomorrow and we don't have a significant representation of ethnically underrepresented students, than we're not doing it," Saracino said.
The class' gender breakdown bucks the national trend, Saracino said. The class is 53 percent male and 47 percent female, which reflects Notre Dame's applicant pool.
"We're gender blind in admissions," Saracino said.
Other notable facts about the class of 2010:
u 85 percent are Catholic.
u 24 percent are children of alumni (the highest of any university in the country, Saracino said).
u 92 percent did community service in high school.
u 41 percent captained a varsity sport.
u 53 percent were involved in the performing arts in high school.
u 37 percent were involved in student government.
u 13 percent were editors of high school publications.
u 7 percent were senior class or student body presidents.
u 8 percent are first-generation college students.
u 5 percent are Eagle Scouts.
"We're trying to create a class that is the most talented - intellectually and in terms of character and values. ... They will add much to the University and it will be an exciting year at Notre Dame," Saracino said. "You'll be walking across campus and hearing Spanish spoken more than you ever have before."
Last year's freshmen stepped onto campus as University President Father John Jenkins began his first year at the helm of the University and head football coach Charlie Weis became the new face of Notre Dame football.
"It's tough to top that," Saracino said. "Perhaps what these freshmen have to look forward to is a national championship in football."