I would like to apologize in advance to Fr. John I. Jenkins C.S.C., the Notre Dame Board of Trustees, faculty and staff, student government, McKenna Hall, the dining hall workers and Fr. Edward F. Sorin C.S.C. for criticizing your private research university which is inspired by its Catholic character to be a powerful force for good in the world.
From the title alone, you may think of me as a revolutionary whose sole destiny is to disseminate disinformation to the masses with hopes of political unrest. Perhaps you may think of me as an honest voice of reason amidst the nauseating din of Notre Dame exceptionalism. I can assure those who choose the latter that my honesty is uninfluenced by the rosy tour guide script curated by the admissions team.
1. Work hard, play hard is the name of the gameNotre Dame students pride themselves on subscribing to this mentality, one that is 50% noble and 50% ignoble in theory. Some have the liberty to increase the percentage of ignobility, thereby decreasing the amount of hard work, by midweek visits to South Bend’s finest establishments. Others are not afforded such liberty, condemned to weekend studies in Hesburgh Library. It is truly remarkable that Notre Dame’s exceptionally diverse student population comprises of individuals who can effortlessly balance working hard and playing hard. Notre Dame is not suited for those who can do only one.
2. Ohio and New JerseyFor context, roughly 35% of students from the class of 2026 are from either the Buckeye or the Garden State. I will warn prospective students (and current students alike) to consider how they will be intimidated by the Ohio and New Jersey cults. Steer clear, rest of the world... you are outnumbered!
3. Football games are more disappointing than you thinkI wager that Notre Dame students are actually Marcus Freeman apologists rather than actual football fans. Moreover, an even larger contingent is a fan of the tailgates or game day rituals, namely Instagram posts publicizing air pushups and non-publicized alcohol-related illnesses. Did I mention the loss to Marshall? If you are a legitimate football fan, avoid a fencing school.
4. No fraternities or sororities here!There is technically no Greek life here. The male and female dorms are but cheap imitations of frat and sorority culture. There are mild forms of “hazing” (if it can aptly be called that) but such rites of initiation result in firm slaps on the wrist from the Office of Community Standards. Dorm parties are playgrounds for first years to trampoline around in a crazed, sweaty mosh pit and swear that Notre Dame is the pinnacle of their human existence. However, if you are still attracted to sorority-esque practices, consider moving to Pasquerilla West Hall or Cavanaugh Hall. Their chants still haunt me in my sleep.
5. YikYak: A smartphone application for degeneracyBesides The Observer, YikYak is Notre Dame’s most reputed and trustworthy news outlet, the topic range of which, is vast. Admissions of guilt, risqué personal announcements, questions about academics and large-scale political arguments are all likely on YikYak. If you value reason or peace of mind, Notre Dame is not for you.
6. Midwest weather is midSouth Bend is notorious for brutal winters, except when it viciously ambushes you in November and blinds you until April. The permacloud is the main culprit behind Notre Dame’s poor weather. It essentially forces students into a vampiric hibernation inside their halls and their subsequent contemplation of orange spray tans. If you value more temperate weather, consider a university in the South.
This seven-fold list gives an abbreviated sense of my criticisms of Notre Dame, which account for my irks with the academics, culture, student life and facilities.
These are the potential talking points that I would share with student tours if I had not been rejected to being a tour guide, yet I still fancy the honor of tour guide antihero. Despite these grievances, there is not a legitimate, valid reason to willingly deny a Notre Dame education. I do not think the accumulation of seven or 14 or even 21 annoyances would cause me to transfer to another school. Notre Dame is difficult and some of the seven points are the sources of this difficulty.
But why opt for a one-sided education — one that only challenges your academic capabilities or one that only challenges your liver? Why shirk the University’s unique difficulty — one that pertains to the mind, body and spirit? Why settle for anything less?
At times, I hate going to Notre Dame because it is so frustratingly difficult. I believe that I must work consistently for my ambitions, yet so many ambitions have consistently turned up empty. I hate failing, yet all I seem to do is fail. I have considered (just pondered) that failure can be avoided by jumping ship to another school. Notre Dame is a sobering experience for one’s identity, but only if you intend it to be.
I challenge that happiness in college is overrated, misleading even. If your experience at Notre Dame is characterized by a constant state of air push-up Instagram posts, then you aren’t trying your hardest. You just aren’t. If you find yourself delighted with the fact that you always succeed in your ambitions, perhaps your ambitions are not challenging enough. And perhaps, you are even a coward. If you do not fail, then I doubt that you are even trying.
I offer a summarizing reason for why one should come to Notre Dame; it is more honest and relevant than any exaggeration that McKenna Hall could produce. I seriously doubt that any tour guide has the liberty to say that one should come to Notre Dame if he or she is willing to endure and learn from discomfort, difficulty and above all failure.
Such a task is not suited for everyone, and similarly, Notre Dame is not for everyone.
Jonah Tran is a first-year at Notre Dame double majoring in Finance and Classics and minoring in Constitutional Studies. He prides himself on sarcasm and being from the free state of Florida. You can contact Jonah by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jonah Tran is a sophomore at Notre Dame studying finance, classics and constitutional studies. He prides himself on sarcasm and his home — the free state of Florida. You can contact Jonah at email@example.com.