Freshmen share reasons for attending McNick, prepare to welcome shadows

As the 133 new freshmen students walked through the doors of McNick on Aug. 24, the admissions department was preparing for shadow students for the Class of 2021. Beginning on Sept. 27, the first group of shadow students will have the opportunity to experience the day as a Rocket.

According to Director of Admissions Christina Mullis, shadow days can be critical in influencing students’ final high school choice. “The shadow day is a huge part of that decision-making… students are increasingly making the choice, and their parents are allowing them to make that choice of where to go to high school,” she said.

Every year, dozens of shadow students make their way through the halls of McNick. Last year, 133 of the 246 shadow students became members of the Class of 2020. This year, McNick is introducing a change to the shadow program. Instead of attending a first-bell class, prospective students will meet with Mullis in a session of “Rocket Training.” Here they will learn more information about school features outside the classroom, such as extracurricular clubs as well as sports and art programs. Students will also be able to prepare and review their schedule for the day.

“[The goal is] getting them to start envisioning themselves here and seeing the opportunities that we have,” Mullis stated.

According to Mullis, the class size of schools is decreasing with each year across the nation. With students increasingly being the ones to make the final high school decision, the admissions department aims not only to speak with their parents, but also with the prospective students. Mullis is hopeful that this new “Rocket Training” session will help shadows learn more about the school while feeling more comfortable during their visit.

It also is very important, Mullis said, for the faculty and students to do their part in welcoming the shadows as well. “While my office organizes these shadow days…. the real work is really done by our students and our faculty — just a nice reminder of being welcoming to these students.”

With the shadowing dates and Open House quickly approaching, students from the Class of 2020 shared many different reasons why they chose McNick. Among these reasons was a sense of community displayed around the campus.

“Everyone is so kind and welcoming. McNick is like my home away from home because of the people,” said freshman Anna Voet.

Fellow freshman Aidan Guessford had similar thoughts, citing “the overall atmosphere and homey feel of McNick” as one of the qualities that drew him to the school.

The co-ed atmosphere was important to many students as well. “I think it is important to be able to work with the opposite gender because that’s what real life is like,” freshman Sophie Gephardt said.

The students were also impressed with the extensive list of extracurricular programs McNick had to offer. “McNick is full of opportunities and clubs that you can be involved in,” Rachel Jefferies.

Freshman Will Ayers was also drawn to the school by “all of the different activities, clubs, and classes you could choose from.”

Factors such as location and the number of friends attending also had an impact on the final decisions of the Class of 2020, but a large number of students were drawn to the school by several reasons put together.

“I don’t think one factor made me come to McNick. I was more drawn to all the factors put together that made McNick the right choice for me,” Gephardt said.

Members of the McNicholas Class of 2020 participate in Freshmen Spirit Night. Many freshmen cited the sense of community as one of the main factors influencing their decision to attend McNick. The McNicholas “shadow season” officially begins on Sept. 27. (Picture from

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