What makes for a successful admissions season? I’ve worked in the admissions office at James Madison University (JMU) for the past 20 years and I can tell you it all boils down to two things: the strength of the freshman applicant pool, and the ease and simplicity of the process for all parties involved.
First, you need to ensure you recruit enough strong applicants to fill the freshman class. This year, JMU received 25,000 undergraduate applications, and with only 4,170 openings for incoming freshmen there was no need to obtain more applications.
What we always want are strong applicants – students who are informed and genuinely invested in attending our institution – quality over quantity, if you will. This means each prospective student visits the website, does the research, decides on the “right” college fit and then applies.
Sounds simple, right? I believe the college search process should be approached as a part-time job for high school seniors in that they should invest the appropriate time and resources into researching and applying to colleges, and submitting sincere applications.
If students can just check a few more boxes to submit a few more applications, then they’re taking the easy way out.
Many schools maintain that the more applications they receive – and the more applicants they can deny – the more selective they appear. JMU does not subscribe to this notion.
A competitive college should receive plenty of applications on its own merit – receiving more doesn’t necessarily make a school more selective. This is especially true when those extra applications are the result of high school students merely checking an extra box on their electronic applications.
See page 2 for more on technology’s role in admissions…