The eighth grade recruiting season is one of the most stressful times of the school year for both the McNicholas administration as well as the student ambassadors. While the administration has the responsibility of planning events such as Open House and shadow visits, the student ambassadors are responsible for committing to and helping with these events.
According to Director of Admissions and Enrollment Mrs. Christina Mullis, shadow days and Open House are the two deciding factors for most prospective students.
Open House allows prospective families to see the McNick spirit and community, as well as extracurricular activities. “It’s an important part of the process to come with their families to experience the culture of the school,” Mullis said.
Shadow days, on the other hand, allow the students to experience a typical school day. Mullis said that a student’s shadow day experience is very important and is often the final determining factor in their high school decision.
On the day of Open House, student ambassadors lead prospective families on a tour around the McNick campus and inform them of different aspects of the school’s community and curriculum. According to Mullis, not one department should outshine the others during the tour; guides shouldn’t necessarily focus on only one area of McNick. She went on to say that it doesn’t matter if students know all the facts about the school either. Mullis explained that Open House is more about welcoming the prospective families into the community and letting them see the nature behind McNick. She wants the first goal of student ambassadors to be making the prospective students feel at home and at ease at McNick and making them excited for high school.
Based on information gathered from the prospective students as well as ambassadors after the Open House, it appears that these goals have been accomplished.
Ambassadors, in an effort to keep families engaged, reported that they focused on the parts of McNick that interested the prospective student the most. They also said that mustering up some enthusiasm and interest in the student helped to engage them. If the prospective students didn’t seem to be interested, ambassadors said that they would switch topics or tell of how McNick has many different opportunities, until they found one that the prospective family was interested in.
Ambassadors also offered advice that they wanted to give to prospective students, and it might help freshman as well. “If you want to join a club that you think you might like, don’t be afraid to do it even if you don’t know anyone else in it,” sophomore ambassador Annie Savage said. Other advice included not procrastinating and planning a schedule to have an easier class as a break sometime during the day.
After their Open House tour, prospective students reported that, compared to other schools as well as other parts of McNick, the Arts (both visual and performing) and Science Departments seemed stellar and most interesting. The Math Department also received recognition, as well as McNick’s sports programs and Technology Department. The curriculum, faculty/staff, and the general diversity of class options were also praised.
In addition, all but three of the prospective students ranked McNick higher above the other schools they were considering. The three that didn’t report McNick at a higher ranking said that it was either a very close second or tied for first.
Prospective students also complimented the McNick community, saying that they felt welcomed and engaged. Katie Limberg, an eighth grader at St. Andrews, even went as far to say that “[McNicholas] seems kind of like home.”