Where should I go to college? Student stories, James Madison University

October 12, 2015
Jiyoun Jeon graduated from James Madison University this year with a biology degree.

Jiyoun Jeon graduated from James Madison University this year with a biology degree.

By Jiyoun Jeon

If there was one thing I absolutely had to get out of my college experience as a senior in high school, it was to be away from home. So when my acceptance letter to James Madison University came in the mail, I sent in my “yes” within a day, without research or hesitation.

The media’s portrayal of college is centered on parties and guys, and as the first generation in my family to attend, it was what I assumed college would be like. But James Madison University offered much more than I expected.

Located in the cozy town of Harrisonburg, Virginia, JMU blends perfectly with the crisp and natural setting of the Shenandoah Valley. The drive to the school comprises a two-way highway completely enclosed in mountains covered in green and red depending on the seasons and a wide-open sky painted in various shades of blue throughout the day.

In addition to the breathtaking view, JMU offers the complete college club experience, ranging from sorority and fraternity life to snowboarding/ski club (the Massanutten ski resort is only minutes away) and multicultural clubs.

The dining options are endless on campus. Princeton Review thought so, too — JMU has placed Top 10 in its “Best Campus Food” list for 11 consecutive years. A single “punch” (what JMU Dukes call our meal swipes) gets you anything from the buffet-style meals at dining halls to Mexican, Asian and Italian cuisines.

Despite being a minority at the university, JMU was where I embraced the thought that everyone is equal in the rights they deserve and how they should be treated without any judgment. New students from across the country (and world) are brought into an existing system of warmth and hospitality. This is a campus in which holding the door for the person behind you is known as the Madison Tradition.

To walk around campus knowing that someone you randomly run into — an individual with a different set of experiences and history — is also bleeding the proud colors of purple and gold? That’s an experience everyone should partake in no matter what college you attend.

Graduates from JMU stretch from Lindsay Czarniak, an ESPN anchor, Marcia Angell, a Harvard University Medical School faculty, G.J. Hart, the CEO of California Pizza Kitchen, and Christina Tosi, the owner of the new rising dessert Momofuku Milk Bar in New York.

Student life is centered around academics with buildings stretching across the university’s 721-acre campus for every major you can imagine. As a biology student, I was offered opportunities to enroll in classes such as ornithology, the study of birds, as well as plant biology, where most of my class periods were spent outside enjoying the sun.

Harrisonburg is a small town, but its hotspots are diverse, ranging from burger joints and food trucks to the world’s best ice cream spot (according to myself, anyway): Kline’s Dairy Bar.

One of the most popular hangouts around campus is The Quad, which is located at the heart of the campus where students lounge around and even sunbathe in the summer next to the famous Kissing Rock, one of the longest-lived legends on campus which predicts you will marry anyone you kiss on this rock, and the Arboretum, which offers hiking trails and nature walks to destress and reorganize yourself in between exams and projects.

After spending four years at James Madison University, I can guarantee that it will become your home away from home and a place for which you will always be homesick.

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