James Madison University Application Essay Prompts
Admission Application Review Process
JMU’s research demonstrates that high school curriculum and grades are the most consistent indicators of how a student will do in college.
JMU also realizes that a letter of recommendation, personal statement, extra-curricular activities, secondary school report and standardized test scores may be helpful in the review of your application.
Effective for the freshman class entering in the fall 2018, JMU will not require the SAT/ACT to be part of your application file. If you choose not to submit standardized test scores, you will not be penalized in the admissions application, scholarship or Honors College review processes.
Completing your Application file:
In addition to the Application for Admissions, an applicant must submit:
- Official High School Transcript
- Senior Year Schedule (often listed on high school transcript)
If applicants feel any of the following items will help strengthen their file, they may submit:
- Extracurricular activities and awards/recognitions (optional part of the online admissions application)
- Letter of recommendation
- Personal Statement (optional part of the online admissions application)
- Secondary school report
- Standardized tests
What JMU considers during the application review
Program of Study
We like to see students who challenge themselves with the highest level of curriculum available in their high school. This typically means taking college level courses that are offered including, but not limited to, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Dual Enrollment, AICE, and/or Governor’s School courses. Honors-level courses may increase competitiveness.
Because strong students come from many different types of schools, JMU examines each applicant within the context of his or her high school.
Competitive applicants should minimally have the following:
- 4 years of math (one full year beyond Algebra II*);
- 3 years of laboratory science (preferably including biology, chemistry and physics OR an AP/IB/DE science);
- 3 to 4 years of the same foreign language or two years of two different foreign languages;
- 4 years of English; and
- 4 years of social science.
*Some courses recommended beyond Algebra II include pre-Calculus, Math Analysis, Probability/Statistics, Calculus, and Algebra Trigonometry. AP Computer Science, Computer Mathematics, Consumer Mathematics, and Algebra Functions & Data Analysis do not qualify as courses beyond Algebra II.
If you have questions concerning what courses to take, please contact our Office of Admissions.
JMU evaluates your grades in core subject areas: mathematics, English, foreign language, social studies and lab sciences. A competitive candidate is an A/B student in these core courses. We look at your performance throughout your entire high school academic career.
The following items may be submitted to strengthen your file:
Extracurricular Activities and Awards/Recognitions
Please list your extracurricular activities in the space provided in the online application, as we will not accept supplementary resumes. Students can list their involvement with clubs, organizations, part-time jobs, athletics, and volunteer opportunities. Applicants may list their awards and recognitions on their application if they would like to highlight any of their achievements such as honor societies, placements in competitions, certifications, etc.
Letter of Recommendation
If an applicant wishes to have one included with their application, it must be requested by the applicant via our online recommendation system during the application process. JMU will contact the recommender with instructions for submitting the recommendation letter. Additional letters of recommendation will not be reviewed.
This is the space for you to tell us more about yourself. Feel free to use this space to explain any circumstances that may have affected you and cannot be found on your high school transcript. Your personal statement should be no more than 500 words.
Secondary School Report
When you ask your guidance counselor to send us your official high school transcripts, also ask him or her to complete the Secondary School Report Form (download PDF). Many high schools have developed their own version of this form. Either is acceptable.
If you opt to submit an SAT or ACT score, JMU requires that your official test result be sent to us electronically from the test agency and arrive by the application deadline.
Non-Admissions areas that may require the SAT/ACT:
Recruited NCAA Division I student-athletes: JMU needs access to prospective student-athletes’ SAT/ACT for athletic eligibility purposes. A student-athlete, who does not want his or her test score used during the Admissions review, does not need to submit a score to the JMU Office of Admissions. JMU Intercollegiate Athletics will receive the score directly from the NCAA Clearinghouse to determine the student-athlete’s eligibility.
JMU requires new freshmen to start in the fall semester.
This requirement is founded on our No. 1 concern: your success. JMU’s 1787 August Orientation for freshmen is designed specifically to address the difficult transition from high school to college and introduces you to the wealth of support services available university-wide. Beginning in the fall also lays the foundation for your academic achievement. Many of our programs are predicated on fall entry for freshmen and cannot be replicated during other terms.
Earning College Credit for Advanced Courses
Students can earn college credit for Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate courses and Cambridge International Examinations taken in high school. See the undergraduate catalog for course listings and required scores: AP | IB and Cambridge International Exam
If using the JMU Coalition Application, you may apply to the Honors College through that application.
You have two options:
1.Submit the Honors College application as part of your coalition application. Answer "yes" to the prompt, "Are you interested in applying to the James Madison University Honors College?"
2. Submit the Honors College application later if you would like additional time to finalize your responses. Respond "no" to the Honors College prompt, then email the following to the Associate Dean of Admissions prior to the Honors application deadline:
- A list of high school and community activities in which you have participated. Indicate how long you have participated, positions of leadership you have held, and awards or recognition received. Significant travel and work experiences may be included.
- A list of distinctions you have earned. (Example: Boy's/Girl's State, National Honors Society, art or music award.)
- Responses to the two Honors essay questions listed below.