Application review of Early Action applicants is completed by mid-January. Application review of Regular Decision applicants is completed by mid-April. All Early Action and Regular Decision applicants with complete files are given the same consideration by a committee of Honors College professors and administrators. However, a large percentage of our seats are filled by Early Action applicants.
Your academic record and essays are evaluated on the following criteria:
- High School grades
- Strength of application essays
- Leadership and service
- Extracurricular Activities
- Strength of High School curriculum.
The typical successful applicant will have demonstrated the following characteristics:
- Leadership & Service: 1-2 deep and sustained engagements in leadership positions or service activities. (Honors values long-term engagement in a few experiences more highly than shallow participation in a long list of activities.)
- Essays: Essays are evaluated for an understanding of the Honors College’s purpose. Essays are also evaluated for coherent arguments, appropriate word choices, and should sufficiently address the question prompts. Applicants are especially encouraged to submit essays that show evidence of scholarship, creative endeavors, service, leadership, personal reflection, and collaboration. Please write your essays off-line before copy-pasting them into the online application form. Essays are required to be a minimum of 200 words and a maximum of 500 words in length.
- Grades: Mostly A's and A-'s with no more than 2-3 B's.
- Strength of Curriculum: 4-5 AP or dual enrollment classes or participation in an IB program
In addition, consideration is given for exceptional experiences, unique personal distinctions and special honors, and Governor’s School or similar participation. Self-reporting of SAT or ACT test scores is optional, but not required.
Frequently Asked Questions About Early Action
Is it easier to be admitted if I apply Early Action?
No. Whether you apply Early Action or Regular Decision, the ultimate decision will be the same. We offer early admission to candidates whom we are certain we would admit at any time. Students admitted under Early Action typically have very strong and complete records of achievement and involvement. We offered admission to about one-third of our early applicants and one-half of our regular applicants.
What happens if I am not admitted under the Early Action Program?
Most students not admitted during Early Action are automatically reviewed again carefully as part of the Regular Decision pool and they are notified of our admission decision in early April. However, we do send non-acceptance letters to some of our early applicants. We feel it is unfair to keep a student waiting until April when we know they are not competitive for admission to JMU. We will send non-acceptance letters to students who are clearly not competitive for admission.
If I am admitted Early Action, am I obligated to attend?
Absolutely not! We hope you decide to attend James Madison, of course, but the date by which we must hear from you, May 1, is the same for all enrolling freshmen.
Are my chances for admission reduced if I am deferred in Early Action?
No. Deferral does not imply weakness in an application. We simply like to make the majority of our decisions during the Regular Decision process, when we can compare applications in the context of the greater pool.