Applicants Getting More Competitive
Officials Say Early Action Apps, Quality Of Students On The Rise
Posted: February 12, 2013
HARRISONBURG — James Madison University’s increasingly favorable reputation is leading to higher quality freshman applicants, according to Michael Walsh, director of admissions.
Again this year, the university saw a double-digit increase in students applying during the school’s “early action” period, a competitive process where the students with the best curriculum, grades, test scores and extracurricular activities are considered for admission before “regular decision” applicants.
The increase in early action applications is not surprising in itself, Walsh said, considering they are nonbinding. But he is impressed with the stronger credentials he’s seeing in freshmen who apply early.
As evidence of the increase in quality, Walsh pointed to the “early action yields,” the number of students gaining early acceptance who actually end up attending.
“The early action students are really serious about us and they’re a stronger pool,” Walsh said. “When we get a higher yield out of a more competitive pool that indicates that JMU has a solid reputation.”
As the university’s popularity and standing grow, more competitive pools of students are in turn attracted to the university.
“Our reputation continues to grow not only within the state of Virginia, but basically along the mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New England states,” Walsh said.
Last year, early applications increased by more than 18 percent. Of the in-state students who applied early and were accepted, about 40 percent actually attended JMU, Walsh said, which was higher than the regular decision yield, which was in the low 30th percentile.
For out-of-state students, the early action yield was slightly higher than the regular decision yield.
This year, a 23 percent increase in early applications brings the total to about 11,100, Walsh said.
And as early action applications have risen, so have the number of regular decision applications, meaning that the increase in the early applications is not due to more students changing the type of applications they’re submitting, Walsh said.
Freshman applications increased overall by about 3 percent, bringing the total to around 23,850.
“Many universities who saw early action go up are seeing overall numbers go down slightly,” Walsh said. “We’re still up 3 percent and we saw significant growth [in] out-of-state [applications].”
The favorable yields also kept JMU from using its waitlist, Walsh said, indicating that those who apply are serious about attending the university.
“Somebody with credentials this past year was wait-listed and two or three years ago would have been admitted,” he said. “The pool [of applicants] is getting more competitive.”
Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or firstname.lastname@example.org