Ten reasons to pick JMU

Photo by JMU's Chris Valazquez

Photo by JMU’s Chris Velazquez

February and March are the longest months of a high-school senior’s life — the months before most colleges and universities announce who’s been accepted. After that comes the decision that will change their lives: What school to choose? It’s a huge decision and as deadlines loom, it doesn’t get easier.  So here’s a little help: My Top Ten reasons to pick JMU …..

  1. You’ll earn a degree of substance and significance that will mean much more in practice than it ever will mean on paper. Madison has always charted its own path and never believed that the status quo or the experience of another university is what works best for us. In fact, Madison offers exceptional opportunities to students — from athletics and leadership to dazzling arts and undergraduate research. Many opportunities here simply aren’t available at other schools.
  2. JMU is a fun place to go to college. Students love it here. In fact, more than 90 percent of freshmen come back for the sophomore year.
  3. Harrisonburg has a little bit of everything: beautiful mountains (for climbing, biking, skiing), a lively downtown, great food (Ethiopian, Asian, Greek, Cuban, you name it), convenience (everything is close to campus), and shopping. (Well, maybe not great shopping, but there’s always Amazon.)
  4. images-2JMU students are ambitious but not obsessed. The typical JMU student wants to wring every drop out of college that they can. Many pursue two and three majors. They also devote time and talent to worthy campus and community organizations. Few students spend four years only studying. They work hard, don’t misunderstand me, but they look at life in balance, a philosophy promoted by the university. Here, it’s about the whole person.
  5. It could change your way of looking at the world — literally. JMU is one of the top master’s-level universities in the nation for the number of students who study abroad. Almost all of these students returned “home” to JMU changed in some way. It is an enlightening experience to step out from the comfort of the familiar and venture into another world that is exotic, often challenging, but always interesting.
  6. Here students are people, not numbers. The student teacher ratio at JMU is 16:1. At an institution of higher education with an enrollment around 20,000, that’s remarkable. Teaching matters here. It’s not an ancillary activity that professors endure so they can do their research. Over and over we hear stories about students whose lives have been changed by the diligent and dedicated mentoring their professors generously give. A top piece of advice that new grads almost always offer to freshmen is this: Get to know your professors.
  7. You’ve got a great shot at landing a good job. That’s because there’s a very practical bent at JMU. I’ve heard SMAD students report that their professors regularly remind them that they are teaching them for jobs that don’t yet exist. JMU’s determination to respond to the marketplace sets it apart.  The combination of a liberal arts-focused college with a penchant for understanding the reality of landing a job is priceless.
  8. You can make it through in four years if you work and plan well. JMU has one of the highest four-year graduation rates in the nation. And you can change your major if you wish. JMU offers 71 undergraduates degrees. The programs are strong and many are nationally ranked.
  9. images-1We turn out citizens. There’s more to life than education; and there’s more to education than academics. Eventually, all students graduate and what they do with the rest of their lives is important. We understand that, so from day one we cultivate the habit of thinking big, thinking broadly, and thinking how one person, one group, one JMU class can change the world. We’ll challenge you to do that—to start a meaningful life right here.
  10. JMU has a spirit like none other. It’s an extraordinarily open and friendly campus. If there’s one stat to remember, this is it: 97 percent of students give it high marks. You should keep that in mind when making this all important decision. And if you are, by chance, leaning elsewhere, you can always change your mind.

About grahammb
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

70 Responses to Ten reasons to pick JMU

  1. Hildred says:

    This is a good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Short but very accurate info… Thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read article!

    Like

  2. Anonymous says:

    Whats up! I simply would like to give an enormous thumbs up for the nice data you may have here on
    this post. I will be coming again to your blog for
    extra soon.

    Like

  3. Sarah says:

    I am happy to see that this discussion is still alive- I wanted to share the link to a friend’s blog post which summarizes her thoughts on her personal JMU experience. It is a valuable read for prospective Dukes and parents, as well as current students/alumni.

    http://whatsagime.blogspot.com/2013/05/to-2013-graduating-class-of-james.html

    Enjoy!

    Like

    • grahammb says:

      Sarah,
      Share away! We are also delighted this discussion is on going and spontaneous. I think it says a lot about the JMU community — and certainly affirms many of the comments made here.

      Like

  4. The Hof says:

    My two cents: I have no connection with JMU other than hiring their students for paid or unpaid internships for a federal agency. I can say, without hesitation, that the JMU students have been uniformly superb. Undergraduates from places like UVA, Georgetown, George Washington, Harvard, and Yale submit terrible applications that are either poorly written or are so overloaded with arrogance that I refuse to take them on. Give me a JMU student any day of the week. I wish more of them would apply.

    Like

  5. Bola Osundina says:

    My son has JMU very high on his list as a prospective international student. The main concern for us as parents is being so far away with no guarantee of accommodation on campus.

    Like

    • grahammb says:

      Hi Bola,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m doing so checking on this and will get back to you!

      Like

      • Mary says:

        I believe all freshmen are guaranteed housing, and all freshmen are housed together. In fact, unless your family lives very close to the campus, you are required to live on campus as a freshman. There is an excellent option that freshmen can take advantage of when first registering for their freshman housing, where they can choose to sign a contract that guarantees the first two years on campus. My son did this and was extremely happy that he did, because when it came time to try to get on campus for a second year, he was guaranteed a spot and didn’t have to go through the stress of worrying about getting space for that second year. But to take advantage of this option, you should be fairly certain that you’ll want to stay on campus for a second year. My son (a rising junior) had a great time in a mostly sophomore dorm and made another group of new friends.

        Like

        • Anonymous says:

          Thanks, Mary. I’ve also got a call – actually an email — into Residence Life. I can say that International students are very welcomed here.
          Bola, you might want to check out this blog site, written by current JMU international students: http://jmuiscblog.com

          Like

    • Mary says:

      Freshmen are guaranteed housing at JMU, and international students can choose to live in the international dorm if they wish to do so. You can also opt to sign up for a second year on campus when initially registering for first year housing.

      Like

    • I randomly found this blog and randomly read your statement Bola. My name is Thomas Lavenir and I work at the office of International Student and Scholar Services. My role is to work with international students once they are admitted to JMU. I work in conjunction with many departments at JMU including the Office of Residence Life and the Off Campus life and have advised many students on these issues including during orientation. I would really like to touch base with you individually. Could you e-mail me directly at lavenitp@jmu.edu. Thanks!
      P.S. There is NO international dorm (many used to know it as Ashby”) but it is a learning community where ideally half of the residents are from abroad (outside of the US) and the rest have had some experiences abroad or are studying international affairs and/or simply have an interest in learning about cultures, languages and countries. This learning community is called the Madison International and is hosted (along with one or 2 other learning communities) in Hoffman Hall.

      Like

  6. William F Speth says:

    My daughter, out of state student, graduated in 2000. JMU was the first school we visited. I was totally impressed. We visited UVA, Richmond, Wm & Mary, Duke, Wake Forest, Boston College, Northeastern, Miami of Ohio, and Penn State. Her choice, JMU. Freshmen year, undecided major. She got excellent help and advice from faculty members and steered her to a health science career. Today she is a medical doctor. Faculty was there for her to provide reference letters to Med School and Navy Scholarship Program. She was a walk-on to the track and field/cross country team after others told her she wasn’t Division I talent.

    Like

    • grahammb says:

      William,
      Thanks for the affirmation. I think you’ve touched on a critical element of JMU: the faculty is there for students. So glad to hear about your daughter’s success.

      Like

  7. Mary says:

    From the parent and professional work world perspectives, JMU is excellent. I work with people who graduated from a wide variety of universities, including some from Ivy League schools, some from public ivies, some from small liberal art schools, some from large state schools, and of course…a number of people from JMU. The JMU graduates are some of our best employees, and in terms of the total package — smarts, resourcefulness, presentation skills, ability to work with others in a team, ability to problem solve and think critically, and just plain likeability — the JMU folks consistently come out on top. As a parent of a current JMU sophomore, I couldn’t be happier with our experience with the school. My son is happy, thriving, learning, and has formed important relationships with his professors; and the school has always been extremely responsive to us in a timely manner when we’ve needed an answer to a question or a problem solved. When we took my son on college visits, JMU was his yardstick for every other visit, and nothing else ever measured up. Now my high-school-junior daughter, who used to have her sights on UVA or W&M, now only has eyes for JMU and is conducting her college visits in the same vein as her brother. We are keeping our fingers crossed that she can get in when the time comes to apply next fall!

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Mary,
      How right you are! As the parent of three JMU grads — from three different colleges within the university — I can affirm such marketplace success. JMU grads are equipped with the necessary academics and the essential people skills to excel in the real world.

      Like

  8. Valerie Mayes says:

    I am a 1982 graduate of JMU. Was proud then and still very proud today to be a Duke!

    Like

  9. Stephen Kurtzke says:

    Reason #1: You didn’t get into UVA but it’s OK CVille’s only like 45 minutes away

    Like

    • Bill says:

      The state of Virginia has excellent schools and UVA is certainly near the top. Academically, they compete with the best across the country. Unfortunately, I’m concerned they may be too focused on their traditions to meet the needs of a changing market. After I was accepted to both JMU and Virginia, JMU separated themselves when I visited in March by selling me on a more well-rounded product. They certainly made good on their sell because I landed a great job in the spring of my senior year. I was able to learn a lot in the classroom, be involved with multiple organizations, and enjoy myself along the way. Employers saw a more complete candidate.

      Stephen, I’m sorry to hear you didn’t get the choice you had hoped. Best of luck with the rest of your time in Harrisonburg.

      -JMU alum, Class of 2012

      Like

      • Stephen,

        I have to echo what Bill has said here. Now, nearly 10 years into my career, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve beat out candidates from UVA and other prestigious schools (even the Harvard and Yale graduates) because of my experiences at JMU. Hiring managers often cite JMU’s focus on the whole person, the grit, determination and team attitude JMU candidates share, and the hiring managers own consistent history of proven success with past JMU hires as reasons to value the school and the capabilities of their alumni.

        If I were alone in this experience I would thank my lucky starts but so many of my JMU classmates have had the same experiences in their careers (different professions, industries and areas of the country and world) I think its worth sharing as a trend. UVA, William and Mary and other legendary schools from the region have the historical advantage having been universities for over 100 years. In a relatively short period of time, JMU has redefined the meaning and value of higher education and proven time and again their graduates can compete with the best of the best in today’s competitive market.

        My advice – seize every moment – the JMU experience can be amazing if you embrace every opportunity and I assure you the investment will pay dividends. Of course, the first step… you have to “Be the Change.”

        ~ Jenn
        JMU Class of 2004

        Like

    • Funny – when I arrived to JMU in the fall of 1990 from Long Island, NY – VA friends asked why I didn’t go to UVA? I had great grades, high SAT scores, etc. You know what? I had never even HEARD of UVA. In researching schools all over the East Coast, I chose JMU over Cornell, Carnegie Melon, FIT and a number of other private schools offering good scholarships. In addition to wanting a strong liberal arts degree, I wanted an accredited art school. There are great art schools in this country, and great universities – it is hard to find an intense art program along with “regular” academics, athletics, and a traditional campus life. JMU “had it all” for me. Even now that I know about UVA and their great reputation and academics, I still wouldn’t go back and choose it over JMU.

      Like

  10. Sarah says:

    Where can I get copies of the awesome hi-res photos in the background of this blog? I miss JMU and want to see the beautiful campus! Class of 2010 and SO grateful I chose to be a DUKE!

    Like

  11. Npullen says:

    I’m excited to read about the growth of the Madison family. Not long ago when I was there enrollment recently pushed pass 10K. I cannot underscore the breadth of relationships established there. My wife and I met there, my brother currently attends, and we certainly look forward to sending some new Dukes. Roommates become lifelong buds.
    Many of the science professors kept up my excitement and motivation for an academic career [as well as providing some realistic expectations]. Now, we are in Missouri, where I’m a biology professor at a private liberal arts college. It’s a little tougher for us to swing by Harrisonburg now, I guess, but I still keep in contact with my undergraduate research mentor. In fact, we corresponded today regarding how best to teach a lab – another example of a great relationship via JMU.

    Like

  12. Beth says:

    We moved our son out of VA when he was in high school. He always wanted to go back to VA for college. He looked at several other places before settling on JMU. We love JMU and get down to Harrisonburg as much as we can (it’s a 6 hour drive). JMU has the most school spirit of any school I’ve been to, and our son got an excellent education. He just finished his master’s degree there. And, I think it was the right decision…..he met a girl there, they got married, and now BOTH work for JMU. We plan on having a little place near there after we retire. That’s how much we love it.

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      My daughter is a freshman and absolutely loves JMU. Being from NC we have great schools and I never dreamed she would end up at JMU. Though she thinks it’s the “arctic!” She is a dance major and the program is excellent, as well as Forbes being top notch. The only down side is that several of the dorms are old and do not have A/C. It was definitely the right decision for her.

      Like

  13. Camdace says:

    From my first visit to JMU instantly knew it was the school for me. JMU has a great spirit and sense of home. I still JMU home and I only lived there for 4 years. As a Student Affair Professional having worked at three universities, JMU is by far the best one I have ever been a part of. JMU has a way of challenging, teaching, and empowering students to see the world in a new way. I just met with a student at the current University I work at who wanted to transfer and I couldn’t help but share my JMU store and encourage him to go there!

    Like

  14. K Morgan says:

    My freshman son loves JMU. Best decision ever. As his parents, we are your biggest fans and toot your horn everywhere we go. (Unless it is basketball season, then we cheer for Mason, our alma mater. Sorry! lol) Seriously, JMU really offers small classes, professors that care and actually know your kid, a million ways to get involved in the JMU community, and bonus – possibly the friendliest place on earth with better-than-your-mom-makes food. :-) It’s the total package.

    “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats JMU is lighting lots and lots of fires! Great job!

    Like

    • grahammb says:

      Great endorsement…..thanks! And welcome to the JMU family. As a JMU parent, you’re a pretty important part of our community. I love your description of our food! And I love the Yeats quote….so, so true.

      Like

  15. L Devin says:

    Our daughter is mulling over why she should attend JMU so far away from home (PA), instead of Purdue or Penn State or WVU. Trying to weigh all the pros and cons. It seems like a happy place to spend 4 years, but “ya never know….” What does JMU have that would warrant enrolling so much farther from home? Help????

    Like

    • CMR14 says:

      L Devin, there is a large majority of students at JMU who are out of state! I am from NJ and the 5 1/2 hour drive flies by because I am so excited to get back to Harrisonburg. JMU provides so many things to get involved with that students want to stay as much as they can (might not be the right thing to say to a parent!) When I was choosing a college, I thought distance would be a factor, but once you find a school you are passionate about you completely forget about it. Regardless of if your daughter picks JMU or not, have distance from home as one of the last things that is decided. Hope this helps!!

      Like

    • M. McCann says:

      Moved from the suburbs of Pittsburgh and decided on JMU after being accepted to W&J and Westminster, while also avoiding the larger schools such as Pitt, WVU, Penn State, and others. While it’s true that you can’t ever be sure, I would suggest that your daughter go with her gut. When I visited there was no question. When I got accepted, more questions flooded my mind and increased my doubts.

      Luckily, my parents reassured what I had always felt. It paid off. 1. I think they visited me more at JMU than if I had been closer due to the atmosphere of that wonderful place and my overall satisfaction with the school. 2. I left James Madison as a critical thinker–this can’t be underestimated in our world today. 3. If your daughter is growing and being challenged by the school and her peers, then she will be successful no matter her choice.

      She should choose the school that is considerate of her personality, that welcomes her input, and that will challenge her in ways in which she has not yet conceived. While I think that JMU does this for most students, it’s no guarantee. That said, enrolling at this university was the most rewarding risk I’ve ever taken.

      Best of luck in the decision!

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      2002 JMU Grad. I’m from Pennsylvania as well, and I’ve been to all of these campuses and towns. Let me know what part of PA you’re from, your daughter’s desired focus/major and other thoughts about what she wants out of the college experience and I can provide some insight. benhill@alumni.jmu.edu

      Like

      • L Devin says:

        @Anonymous

        We are from a nice suburb of Pittsburgh. She wants to major in marketing/pr/advertising. She thinks she wants a big school with major football games to attend and lots of social activity. Many friends are pulling for her to attend Penn State or WVU like they plan to do. I am not certain how she would do in classes with 300 students and a TA teaching.

        Ever since we began discussing the future, she has had some weird feeling that JMU is the college for her. i have no clue where she got the idea. A friend must have mentioned that she enjoyed a visit???

        She is outgoing and a good student and is accepted EA at all those universities, as well as 3 private schools. She has a 3.9 GPA in mostly honors classes, NHS, etc, but I doubt her SATs are good enough for JMU merit money/grants. Too many choices….

        We are coming down to CHOICES on Monday. I am just not sure about gambling on being that far from home with nobody she knows at all. Trying to figure out what reasons would justify choosing JMU over PSU, WVU, Purdue (also far away).

        Many thanks for all the helpful input on this blog!!!

        Like

        • Jon says:

          I am a freshman here from New Jersey. I gambled too, and it was the best decision I ever made. Choices sealed the deal for me, so I hope you and your daughter enjoy Choices on Monday as much as I did. There is a sense of family on this campus. You meet so many people so quickly and everyone wants you to be part of the community. It is impossible to feel alone

          Like

        • Mary says:

          I am the parent of a current JMU student and another one who is considering attending JMU. Due to this perspective, I have researched and visited many colleges along with my kids, including the three you mentioned. The caliber of the students at many Virginia colleges, and JMU is no exception, is very high. That is because these colleges attract many students from the top high schools in the country (especially those in the Northern Virginia/Washington DC suburban area — with a population nearing 5 million people). Virginia is chock full of successful, goal oriented families and students. JMU attracts a fair share of these students, which feeds a vibrant, active, and intellectually stimulating campus life. The average GPA of the entering freshman class is close to a 3.9 at JMU, which is far higher than many other state schools but typical of many state schools in Virginia, for the reasons I mentioned above. The top five or six Virginia colleges (or which JMU is one!) attract a lot of strong out of state students, as well, so your daughter would be in good company. About 30 per cent of JMU students are from out of state, mostly from New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. She would grow personally and expand her horizons by being in a place where she knows few or no people from high school, yet there are enough students from her region that she could connect with if she were feeling homesick or needed a ride home. It is striking how warm and welcoming JMU is, and I think
          you and your daughter will feel this at Choices. Good luck to your daughter with the decision!

          Like

    • Duke Snyder says:

      Congrats on your daughter having her choice of multiple strong schools. That’s a good position to be in. I was out of state as well, New Jersey. And although I passed a million schools along that long drive, JMU was the best choice I ever made.

      I’m a JMU grad and business owner who does a good deal of hiring. If your daughter is looking into something like Electrical or Mechanical Engineering, then Purdue might have the edge over JMU as they have great national reputation for their Engineering program that currently exceeds ours. Or if she’s fully committed to living in PA for her entire career, you could make the argument that the PSU alumni network would open more doors up there. Plus I’d imagine there is a difference in tuition with PA residents.

      But unless one of the above is true, JMU is the place to go. The academics and reputation are strong and getting stronger daily. Where my business is located (DC area), JMU has a fantastic reputation with employers, and alumni connections are getting increasingly valuable as the first generations of JMU alum whom were not primarily teachers have moved into Executive roles with influence.

      Most people easily find there way into a wide range of social groups. Being Greek is fine. Not being Greek is fine. Lots of sports clubs, etc. It’s big enough to stay busy, but not so big like PSU where you can get lost in the shuffle. From an employer perspective, WVU can’t hang with her other options. Although Morgantown is highly recommended for a road trip – good times for sure.

      Best of luck with her choice!

      Like

    • grahammb says:

      I’d like to weigh in here. JMU has a new engineering program that is highly innovative and forward thinking. Last year’s graduates did extremely well securing jobs and spots in graduate programs, including PhD programs. IF engineering is a consideration, I’d suggest taking a look at JMU.

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I am from PA as well, and I wanted to give you a different perspective about JMU. I am currently in the process of transferring out of JMU because I have been unimpressed with the teachers and the overall attitude of the students. Yes, it is a spirited place to be, but most of the excitement takes place in the prevalence of the party scene. You mentioned interest in the smaller classes. For the first two years your daughter will be placed into classes with 100-200 students for at least half a dozen of them (for her general education classes) The other classes that were smaller, I felt the teachers acted highly superior to the students, only lecturing and not taking any time for discussion.

      Like

      • grahammb says:

        Anonymous, thanks for your honest perspective. Of course, JMU isn’t for everyone and different students have different experiences. Sometimes transferring is the best option; I know my daughter started at a university in NC and transferred to JMU and loved it. Very, very best of luck to you!!

        Like

        • Mom says:

          JMU has many wonderful attributes…had one child go there and loved it. The other one went to JMU as a transfer student. For a place that is supposed to be so friendly, beware about transferring there. My child said all the kids talk about is parties, everyone already made their friends freshman year, and aren’t interested in getting to know you. Attended one semester and came home. Oh, and greek life at JMU- they don’t want Juniors. So all in all a huge waste of money and the advising – all I can say is beware. They will tell you things that aren’t true and don’t follow though on what needs to be done. Her counselor said she got transcripts and course syllabuses reviewed and it was not done. JMU is a great place but I don’t recommend it unless your are from NOVA and strart freshman year. Just the truth.

          Like

      • Anonymous says:

        That has not been the experience of my son at all. We have not found JMU to be a party school, despite it’s reputation.

        My son is a business major and has had no large classes and has made it a point to know his professors and make the most of the experiences. His largest class as a freshman was about 50 kids and obviously he is taking primarily gen ed classes.

        I went to Purdue, myself, and in 4 years, I can only recall 3-5 professors – most classes were taught by TA’s.

        Like

  16. DUKES DUKES DUKES DUKES DUKES DUKES

    Like

    • grahammb says:

      Yep….and as affirmation, we’ve had more than 7,000 hits on the blog today in response to this post. That says alot about the enthusiasm of the Madison Community!

      Like

  17. Anonymous says:

    Our daughter is a freshman and truly loves JMU. She is having an awesome experience and we are grateful. Go Dukes!!

    Like

  18. Taylor says:

    Unless you are a health sciences student, where the student teacher ratio is around 100:1……

    Like

  19. Kathy Soule says:

    I am a proud graduate of JMU (class of 1978). I have always loved JMU and have always hoped that one of my 3 boys would end up there. I’m happy and proud to say that one has–he is currently a junior in the SMAD program. As wonderful as I think JMU was when I attended, I have been very disappointed in the current room and board situation at JMU. I, as well as the majority of students when I was there, lived on campus all 4 years. It was a wonderful part of the overall JMU experience. I loved walking out of my dorm room and having a whole floor full of women to hang out with, or walking out of my dorm to be right in the middle of all the JMU action. I think JMU has done a great disservice to its current students by forcing them off campus after freshman or sophomore year. The students miss out on a lot of the college experience by being stuck in an apartment or townhouse a mile or more from campus, especially when there is limited bus service to these apartments and townhouse developments. I cannot understand growing the enrollment at JMU by more than two times in the last 30 years, but doing very little to keep up with housing for those same students. In my humble opinion, JMU needs to rethink their current housing situation.

    Like

    • grahammb says:

      Hi Kathy,
      Thanks for your comment. It is definitely a valid perspective to consider. I know every university struggles with that balance — wanting to offer a quality education to as many students as possible and weighing that desire against the housing facilities they can offer. I am sure the office of residence life would be happy to have your input, and that of your son.Thanks so much for your input.

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Good point, but VA state government has been mandated growth in enrollment in a state schools for years now. Several new spaces have been allocated for new dorms recently to accomdate- but at least half of jmu students will have to remain off campus within a mile or two miles.

      Like

    • Tasha H. says:

      I just graduated from JMU and living off campus made college that much more of a transition into the real world. Living in a great old house with my best friends, close to class and campus, couldn’t have been any more perfect. Plus, having a house let us have space to have company and guests more regularly(including a few college seniors we persuaded to attend JMU!) I loved the dorms- it was essential to making friends that would last all four years- and I certainly recommend two years on campus. But living off campus really helped me feel prepared to transition to the real world(we handled all our bills) and still get the awesome JMU experience! I wouldn’t have traded it for the world!

      Like

    • Mary says:

      My son (currently a JMU sophomore) did the two-year contract option when he registered for his freshman year. This guarantees that a student can stay on campus for at least two years. He is happy to be there again as a sophomore for all of the reasons you state. He says that he knows some juniors on campus, too, but that most opted to move off campus by that stage because most other juniors and seniors are also off campus. I agree that it is nice to walk right out of your dorm into the action, but now that everyone else moves off as a junior or senior, there is plenty of action just off campus, and the off campus students usually live near a lot of other JMU students, thus replicating some of that bonding they had in the earlier years. Older students my son has talked to have said that they still feel very connected to the campus, in part because the off-campus housing is very close to campus (often just a block or two off), there are lots of other students surrounding them, and the university runs an excellent, reliable bus service for long hours each day throughout the off campus perimeter area — apartments and townhouses — and back onto campus.

      Like

  20. So proud to be a JMU Duke – Class of 2004. My degree has served me well both professionally and personally and now, almost 15 years from when I first stepped foot on the campus, there still isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t tell someone how JMU helped get me where I am. By far one of the best decisions I’ve made in life. Go Dukes!

    Like

  21. Anonymous says:

    Cuban food?! Where?! Is it decent?!

    Like

    • grahammb says:

      It’s a new restaurant, Cuban Burger….haven’t been myself, but it sounds interesting. I don’t think many cities H’burg’s size can boast quite so many ethnic eateries. ( And Jennifer, what’s your profession?)

      Like

  22. Sara H says:

    Love this! I graduated in 2011 and I took advantage of every opportunity I could get my hands on at JMU. I absolutely loved my experience and I totally agree with this post, especially #5. Studying abroad was the best 3 months of my life! Everyone I know who went to or who visited JMU loved it and had the best time. J-M-U Duuuukes!

    Like

    • grahammb says:

      Sara, where was your study abroad? We’d love to hear more about your experience.

      Like

      • Sara H says:

        I studied abroad in Fall 2009 for COB300 to Antwerp, Belgium! Seriously, the best time of my life!

        In Antwerp, we explored all the time. We walked to all of the touristy places, went to the movies, ate at different restaurants, went on a brewery tour, shopped a lot on The Meir, and experienced the nightlife. We ate way too many frits (french fries), kabobs, and dessert covered waffles to count, and of course took advantage of the locally made beverages! The group I went with traveled to Czech, Paris, Barcelona, London, Dublin, Amsterdam, Strasbourg, and many more cities. It is so easy to travel in Europe by train and plane and I feel like every weekend we were off to yet another country.

        You learn and experience so much more studying abroad, and you create the greatest memories and friendships. I’ll never forget it and I encourage everyone to take advantage of traveling opportunities at college whether it’s studying abroad, participating in alternative breaks, or traveling with organizations. It’s definitely worth it!

        Like

        • grahammb says:

          Sara, what a great experience. I think now — maybe more than any other time in history — these experiences are more than valuable; they’re essential. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

          Like

  23. Great article! I’m so glad that you were able to use one of my photos!

    Like

  24. As a ’94 JMU grad, these are many of the reasons I chose JMU as an out-of-state applicant; so glad to see they are still true today. #4 – many classes required and/or encouraged community service. This is an amazing experience for young people – not only to get practical experience in different fields of study but to see one’s direct impact on the world. #5 – I studied abroad in London. I have met many people all over the world who studied abroad during their college years and NONE compare to JMU. I now have 4 children of my own and they will all be required to study abroad at some point during High School or College – it is truly life changing.
    Great post – loved it!

    Like

  25. Mark Thomas says:

    This is a lovely article and you look like you have a very beautiful campus. Far more importantly though, you seem to be striving to get well balanced students and encouraging staff to stay in close contact with them. That leads to a fantastic college experience. It is also a great reminder that the first real lesson in business is getting to know someone.

    Like

    • grahammb says:

      Mark, you’re so right that getting to know someone is the “first real lesson.” I think it applies to any field, business included, and students who avail themselves of opportunities to develop those relationship skills start out in life ahead of the game. Thanks for your comment.

      Like

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