What I Wish I Knew Before Going to James Madison University (JMU)

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to James Madison University! Getting into JMU is a huge accomplishment and it should be treated as such. Before you dress yourself entirely in purple and embark on an incredible four-year journey, there are some things that you should probably know.

Research the jobs that are available for students

As a freshman, you’re not going to have a large amount of jobs that you are eligible to apply for and the requirement of living on campus your first year might remove any need for a job. However, once you start to get further in your college career, you start to see more doors open and the necessity for a job increase. JMU has a large variety of jobs that a student can take. Depending on what classes you’ve taken, you can become a tutor, either as a private one or as a student athlete tutor. If you want to work in the writing center or any other tutoring center, you will have to take special classes in order to even apply. There are also dining services jobs that don’t require any experience, office jobs that may require work study, and research assistant jobs in every department.

Research places to live

This may or may not be an obvious tip for you. For some people, they’re just looking for a place to live. For others, they want the perfect apartment. For me, I was just looking for a place to live. I just wanted a nice place that didn’t cost $500+ a month. And I got it. At first, it was the perfect place and I still think it’s a pretty good place to live. However, it didn’t work as well as I wanted. The big thing was how far it was from campus. Sure, the bus system supported my housing complex but distance became a problem when I would miss the bus or if I stayed on campus late. Then, I either had to find a ride home or walk home which isn’t fun. Another thing was cost. Sure, it was cheaper and bigger than other places but there were still places that are much cheaper.

JMU classes are more difficult than they look

When people think of tough schools in Virginia, they think of UVA. Don’t get me wrong, UVA’s classes are difficult but other schools in Virginia such as JMU can be just as difficult. When I transferred to JMU from Northern Virginia Community College, I thought I had a good grasp on how to do well in my classes. I even thought getting a 2.7 GPA, the cut-off for the College of Business, would be easy but my first two semesters at JMU were the most challenging semesters in my entire college career. I managed to avoid retaking classes and managed to keep my GPA above a 3.0. However, I know plenty of people who have struggled in the Business classes and their gen-eds and either just barely made the cut-off or had to retake a class or two.

There are a variety of resources that can help you academically and professionally

My biggest advice to any incoming freshman or transfer student is to take advantage of any resources your school offers. One, because of how much you pay in tuition, and two, because of the many benefits you will get from using these resources. JMU is really good at preparing its students for their post-graduate lives. JMU has academic tutoring centers that will help you improve your presentation, writing, and study skills. It also has a Career and Academic Planning center which will help you with resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn, and your interviewing skills. JMU also has a career fair every semester where any student from any major can talk to recruiters from world-renowned companies and give them their resumes. There’s also the Dux Leadership Center, workshops, and various extracurricular activities.

It’s okay if you don’t click with the social scene right away

This one is a little more personal. Let’s get the facts out of the way first. JMU is a huge party school. JMU students are some of the nicest people you’re ever going to meet. And there always seems to be something going on. That being said, you’re not going to make friends overnight and that’s okay. You may not grow close to anyone at all your first semester and that’s okay too. It may seem like it because of the amount of activities you participate in with your dormmates the week of orientation but friendships and relationships don’t always work that way. If they do, great. If not, that’s what clubs and your classes are for. The idea that college is the best four years of your life is a lie so don’t worry about it.

Listen to these other two JMU students give some of their advice as well.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.