How do I qualify for the NDignite Connection program?

To qualify for the NDignite Connection program, students must meet the following criteria:

  1. Applicant should be in the 6th or 7th grade as of May 1, 2019.
  2. Applicant should be in the top 5% of his or her class and exhibit exceptional leadership characteristics.
  3. Applicant must be self-motivated and self-disciplined.
  4. Applicant should be willing to dedicate 6-7 hours per semester to NDignite Connection programming starting in September 2019.


How do I apply?

Our application cycle runs from March through mid-May each year.  When the application opens, students may complete their application here. Students will be asked to complete two short essays and identify a school counselor or administrator to provide a recommendation and official transcript on the student's behalf. Our office will provide admissions decisions by mid-July. (Please note that once students are admitted to the program, they do not need to reapply in future years.)


What if I don’t think I want to attend Notre Dame in the future?

That is completely fine. We’re always on the lookout for talented, motivated students to potentially join us on campus in the future. However, your participation in the NDignite Connection program does NOT require you to apply to or attend the University of Notre Dame if admitted. It’s our goal to help you find the best path for you!


How does the online program work?

After being admitted to the program, students and parents will receive an invitation to attend a required online orientation session and complete an enrollment agreement. Students must complete the enrollment agreement to officially enroll into the program. Students who complete an enrollment agreement will then receive instructions on how to watch the NDignite Connection broadcasts and access their appropriate grade-level activity.   


What types of activities are available to NDignite Connection students?

NDignite Connection activities are designed to help students develop their character and leadership skills. Here are some examples of assignments students have completed in the past:

NDignite Connection Sample Assignment 1

NDignite Connection Sample Assignment 2


Are there any in-person events included in the NDignite Connection program?

At this time, the NDignite Connection program is offered completely online and does NOT include any in-person events. However, through our partnership with Notre Dame alumni in the Philadelphia, PA and Camden, New Jersey areas, local students participate in two to four face-to-face events each year. The service, educational and cultural activities typically take place at Gesu School in Philadelphia.

Students admitted to the NDignite Connection program are welcome to schedule a campus visit and are encouraged to visit our office during your trip. Please call our office at (574) 631- 6697 or send an email to oer@nd.edu to inform us of your visit.

If you are interested in connecting with Notre Dame students, alumni and friends in your local area, click here to find a Notre Dame Club near you.


Does a family member need to be affiliated with the University of Notre Dame for me to join?

No, a family member does not have to be affiliated with Notre Dame for you to join the program.



How much does the NDignite Connection program cost?

NDignite Connection is offered at no cost to students. Occasionally, we will share information about opportunities that are available for students that may have a cost associated with them. However, those opportunities will not be required for participation in NDignite Connection.


How much time does my child need to spend on the NDignite Connection program?

All NDignite Connection participants are expected to watch six 30-minute broadcasts per semester on various important concepts. After watching each broadcast, students in 7th and 8th grade are expected to complete a 45-minute activity related to the broadcast topic. The online activities are not meant to be homework, but are designed to keep students thinking about each concept after the broadcast has ended.

When students matriculate into 9th and 10th grade, they are expected to engage in meaningful discussions with their peers and current college students in The Notre Dame Community. (Please note that OER is not currently accepting new applications from rising 8th and 9th graders for the NDignite Connection program.)

To get the most from the program, students in 7th and 8th grade are expected to complete 75% of all assignments while students in 9th and 10th grade are expected to participate in 75% of all discussions by the end of each semester. The total estimated time commitment is 7 to 8 hours per semester.

*NDignite Connection students in the Philadelphia and Camden areas are also expected to participate in at least two face-to-face events per year.


What’s the parent/guardian’s responsibility while my child is in the program?

We ask parents to support their student while participating in the NDignite Connection program by:

  1. Ensuring the student has regular access to a computer with high-speed internet
  2. Encouraging, motivating, and assisting their student in meeting program expectations and deadlines
  3. Reminding their student to check email and communicate with OER staff if questions arise
  4. Ensuring their student participates in all programming activities

*If your child is in the Philadelphia and Camden areas, you’ll need to provide transportation to and from the face-to-face events.


I can’t pay for my child to go to a university like Notre Dame later. Does that matter?

We want you and your student to know that attending a highly selective college or university is within reach. Many offer significant financial aid for students who are admitted and have demonstrated financial need. No matter your personal financial situation, your high-performing student has many options available. It’s our goal to help your student find the right college fit — whether that’s Notre Dame or not. Find out more about the University of Notre Dame's Office of Financial Aid by clicking here


What kind of results can we expect from the NDignite Connection program?

Counselors have told us that they’ve found their students to be more self-aware and confident in their gifts, talents, and interests as well as more knowledgeable on topics that matter to them and more driven to help those around them. Students also have a better understanding of what campus life is like at a highly selective university.


Do we have to commit to both years of the program?

Commitment is very important, and we expect students to give a 100% effort to the program. However, we understand schedules, activities, and priorities change. A student may decide that this program is not for him or her. We would ask that you contact our office to notify us of any changes.


How can my child apply?

Your student can apply online by clicking here and providing their counselor's name and email address.  Your student's school counselor must provide a recommendation by the deadline listed in the NDignite Connection application. If the counselor has not heard about the NDignite Connection program yet, please encourage them to contact our office at (574) 631-6697 to learn more.