The California Initiative aims to bring California to campus as well as Notre Dame to the West Coast. Recruiting top high school talent in the state is a vital part of that strategy. California students will enrich our undergraduate classes with their diversity of culture, ethnicity, nationality, and perspective. They will become part of our family and take back home our humane focus on values, virtues, and common good.
California has always been one of our top states for recruiting students – second only to Illinois – and our reputation and wonderful alumni there have opened the doors for accelerated success already. Many highly ranked and respected high schools are in California, and the state has many extremely academically-talented students in both public and private schools. In addition, the California culture instills in these students the qualities that align perfectly with our mission – the entrepreneurial spirit to develop into ambitious, virtuous, and innovative leaders ready to advance positive change in their community and world.
Recruiting in California also provides opportunities to increase the diversity on campus that is so important for learning, creativity, and preparation for effective service in the world of the future. California already has a majority-minority population, a leading example of what the whole United States will be within a generation. It also has a high Catholic population. By attracting more of these students, we will elevate our Catholic identity while advancing our mission to serve underrepresented people.
Our commitment to finding internships and permanent employment in California for our undergraduates and alumni has been a great recruiting tool to heighten those high school students’ and their parents’ interest in Notre Dame. Many of the students who grew up in California expect to return upon graduation. Knowing that Notre Dame now has a presence out here and is building brand and relationships in the state has provided an extra attraction.
Our work here focuses partly on establishing great relationships with the high school counselors who advise these students as they make decisions for their future. The more they get to know about Notre Dame – our unique culture as well as our top academic quality and our diverse learning experiences, from research, international study, and internships to community service and learning – the more they will suggest that students take a good look at what we have to offer. In many cases, we have excellent alumni who have helped us make these connections. The virtuous cycle is already in motion – as students learn more about Notre Dame, more will come to our campus; as more experience our undergraduate education, they will spread the word back home in California.