JMU’s 2022 applicant pool the largest ever

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James Madison University is experiencing an historic increase in applications from the Class of 2026.

Regular Decision notices were posted by JMU’s Office of Admissions on Wednesday, March 9—beginning another exciting season for new Dukes.

JMU received 31,672 applications by the January 15 deadline, a 44-percent increase from 2021’s 22,035 total, according to Melinda J. Wood, JMU’s associate vice president for access and enrollment management and director of admissions.

The dramatic jump is due in part to the university’s decision to join the Common Application, a collective of more than 900 colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad. According to Wood, participation in the Common Application gives JMU “the ability to recruit a broader landscape of students, which is critical to our national platform.”

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“I absolutely believe that the Common Application is one of the primary ways that we will continue to raise awareness of JMU on a national stage,” says Wood.

Wood cites JMU’s eye-popping 105-percent uptick among first-generation college students—5,844 compared to last year’s 2,847 total—as yet another sign that Madison is a highly sought-after place to be.

The same holds true for ethnic diversity among applicants, with this year’s 10,094 representing around a 159-percent increase over last year’s 3,903 applicants.

“Historically, the Common Application has served under-represented minority students,” Wood says, and JMU’s foray into the field already populated by most Virginia colleges and universities “gives us a seat at the table, and an important one because so many first-generation students who don’t have the support structure at home to understand what the process for applying to college looks like can now easily find JMU.”

Adds Wood, “We can expect to see greater access to under-represented populations that have historically not always applied, which I believe is essential for JMU as student demographics change in the next five to seven years.”

The pool includes students from a significantly higher number of different high schools this time around—a 28-percent increase with 3,873 compared to last year’s 3,026.

The top five cities in Virginia for total numbers of applicants are Virginia Beach, Alexandria, Fairfax, Ashburn and Arlington.

The top five states outside of Virginia are New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts. JMU also received applications from all 50 states this year including Wyoming, which was not represented in the 2021 pool.

Wood says the performance of her admissions staff is nothing short of remarkable.

“I look at this as a moment when the admissions staff has really risen to the occasion and is leading this university through a celebratory moment in our history,” she says. “It has taken tremendous collaboration and teamwork to ensure careful evaluation and consideration of each applicant given the dramatic increase in applications. I cannot thank or recognize each and every member of our team enough for their collective expertise and dedication during this historic time in the life of JMU.”

JMU is poised to welcome its newest crop of Dukes into the fold, Wood says. “We are excited to see all the ways that the Class of 2026 will write its unique chapter as a part of the JMU family.”

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Published: Thursday, March 10, 2022

Last Updated: Thursday, January 4, 2024

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