Rooms with a view

Josh Smead

Josh Smead

You’ve been accepted to James Madison University. You’re psyched about moving to campus. You’re searching for a roommate, and you’re wondering if your flat screen or your favorite lounge chair will fit into your room. In fact, you’re wondering what your room will look like.

Now you can get an early look via a cool new app that’s free and downloadable.[UPDATE: The app is now available. Here’s the link: ]

Josh Smead (’12), coordinator of social media and marketing for the Office of Residence Life, has spent this year working on an app that will allow incoming students to see what their residence hall rooms look like before they arrive on campus.

“The app will let new students virtually tour every single residence hall on campus,” Josh says. Some colleges and universities offer similar services, but “nothing like this. As far as we can tell, this is the first app like this anywhere in the country.”

Students will not only be able to view a residence hall room, but they will be able to navigate through the 3-D image for a realistic “walk” through their room.

If you follow this blog, you’ll recognize Josh’s name. Last year, he and a couple of other seniors designed an iPad app that allows visitors to tour JMU’s Lisanby Museum virtually and also provides an enhanced experience by giving them access to additional information.

Double room in Shorts Hall

Double room in Shorts Hall

The residence hall app was “a little more challenging,” Josh says. The Lisanby app had a single room to navigate, while the new residence hall app has 28 navigable environments, one for each of JMU’s residence halls. (The “Tree House” residence halls are all identical and thus are grouped together; Greek Row is not included because it is not designated for first year housing.) Plus, Josh adds, when he created the Lisanby app, he had the help of fellow students Peter Epley (’12, engineering) and Matt Burton (’12, physics).  This time around, however, “I had to teach myself programming to create the app,” he says.

In addition to navigating individual rooms, Josh figured out a way of integrating a campus map into the new app. The built-in map function has all the major campus landmarks and will allow users to see where they are on campus.

And soon Josh, ever the explorer, will start a new personal venture. He’s leaving JMU and enrolling in a graduate program at Syracuse University to become an architect.  “I have wanted to become an architect nearly my whole life,” he says, “and I finally had the opportunity, so I took it.”

The new app, which is called JMU Res Life, has just been submitted to the Apple store and should be available shortly. 

Tick, tick, tick……

Freshmen, listen up.

Today, as you know, is Day One. First day of classes of your first semester at James Madison University. As of today, you have 3 years, 8 months and 10 days left until May 7, 2016, your graduation day. That’s 1349 days or 192 full weeks. That’s 32,376 hours. That’s only 1,942,560 minutes.

The clock is ticking. Your Madison Experience has started.

Day One is interesting, challenging, sometimes scary but always exciting—a beginning unmatched in your life thus far. High school is in the past. Your focus is 100 percent forward. So to kick off Day One, here are some things you might want to ponder—and take to heart.

1. College really will be over much sooner than you can even imagine today. With four years of college stretching out in front of you, it seems like a long, long time, but it will fly by. In fact, on this day three years from now—the first day of  your senior year, you’ll be a little stunned that it has arrived so quickly. When you reach your last semester, you’ll be in shock. NOW, not then, is the time to consider how you’ll spend the next four years.

2. This is not grade 13. You CAN blow a class first semester. So keep in mind as you file your professors’ syllabi away in your notebook, the work won’t get done unless you do it and do it well. There’s a little saying worth remembering: failing to plan is planning to fail. Thinking ahead, staying on top of assignments and obligations, considering carefully the what and how of involvement are critical choices that will make all the difference four years from now.

3. The relationships you develop with peers in your major may be some of the most important ones in your college career. Those are the people you can often turn to for academic help and those are the people you may pull all-nighters with. If you enjoy the people you’re struggling with, it makes the struggle fun.

4. All of the professors are on your side. You don’t even have to be in their class to ask them for help. Most of them are actually offended if you don’t come to them for help outside the classroom. So don’t hesitate.

5. You will have a lot of discretionary time in the next four years. Even though every semester feels like a mini-marathon, your time is yours to manage. In fact, discretionary time in college  is often much more than you’ll have later. During college, you might pull a few all nighters, but on the job you may pull some 70-hour work weeks. So enjoy your time—and use it wisely.

6. Before you is an opportunity to learn that will be unmatched at any other time in your life. For the next four years, you’ll be exposed to new ideas, innovative thinking and extraordinary people. It is an unparalleled opportunity that you’ll never have again. You don’t get a do over of college, and while pursuing interesting subjects is something you may do for the rest of your life, it will never again be as easy or as acessible as it will be for the next four years.

Got it? Good. Because right now, you now have less than 116,553,600 seconds to maximize your Madison Experience.

Tick. Tick. Tick….

Thanks to recent 2012 JMU ISAT grad Dave Stevens for his help compiling this list.
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