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Preparing for Tomorrow

College Planning Guide


The college application process is an exciting time for students and their families.  Students are deciding where to spend the next four (or more) years of their life to grow academically, personally, and professionally.  This time can also be stressful as there are many pieces to the college application puzzle.  Your school counselors are here to assist in the college application journey and will be with students and families each step of the way.  Please contact your school counselor with any questions or concerns.  During the summer months, we can be reached most efficiently via email.

Junior Year Timeline


  • Take the Practice ACT at McNick
  • ACT parent meeting provided by TorchPrep


  • Senior course selection
    • Keep class choices rigorous – colleges are increasing the amount of weight given to your senior schedule during the admission process
  • Receive and begin to complete College and Career Development packet activities

    • Job Shadowing Experience, Resume Development, College Visit, Draft College Application Essay


  • Take state funded ACT test (will not include writing portion)
  • Begin to visit college campuses
    • A school may seem perfect, but you cannot know for sure until you step foot on the campus!
  • Finalize your resume
  • Complete your college application essay



  • Re-take ACT, if needed
  • Send your scores to your colleges of interest directly from the ACT
  • If planning on playing a sport in college:


  • Continue to visit college campuses and refine your list
  • If pursuing a fine art degree, begin preparing your portfolio
Senior Year Timeline


  • College Application Bootcamp
  • Senior parent meeting regarding the college application process
  • Refine your list of colleges to around 5 schools


  • Stay strong academically!  All schools will review your final transcript.
  • Request a letter of recommendation from a teacher
  • School counselors will meet with seniors as a group to review logistics of the college application process
  • All seniors will meet individually with their school counselor for a college/post high school planning session


  • Complete and submit all college applications
  • Submit one Transcript Request through Naviance for each institution you are applying to
  • FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) opens
  • Financial Aid night


  • Submit your FAFSA


  • Relax and enjoy the Holidays!


  • Begin searching for scholarships


  • Focus more time on your scholarship search. 
  • Turn in a copy of all scholarships offered to you to the counseling department (even if you are not accepting them)
  • Finish strong academically!  Occasionally, a school will withdraw an offer of admission if a student has a poor senior year


  • May 1st is the generally accepted National Notification Date
  • Inform your counselor of the school you will be attending.  Final transcripts will be automatically sent by the counseling office once we know where you are attending in the Fall.
The College Visit

As you embark on your college selection process, the best resource to you is the college visit.  It is very important to get a feel for the atmosphere of each school you are considering to determine which one(s) will be a good fit for you.

  • Students are permitted to take one(1) college visit day their junior year, and no more than two(2) college visit days their senior year.
  • Students must complete the college visitation form and submit it to the counseling office one week before the scheduled visit.
  • To schedule a visit, call the college’s admissions office or visit their admissions web site.
  • Some schools will allow the potential student to stay in a residence hall room overnight at no cost.  If interested, ask the admissions office for more information.
Testing Information


  • Sophomores take the Pre-ACT in fall
  • Juniors take a practice ACT in fall and a state-funded ACT in March
  • Register in May of Junior year to re-take the ACT if initial scores are not satisfactory
  • We recommend taking the ACT once with writing


  • SAT is generally only required for East and West coast schools.  However, most colleges and universities will accept SAT scores. 
  • Contact your school counselor if you are unsure if you should take the SAT.

Preparation Programs

  • Below are local test-preparation programs we recommend.
    • TorchPrep     (ACT)                        
    • Crescendo     (PSAT/SAT/HSPT)  
Financial Aid/Scholarship Information


  • Step 1: create a FSA ID
  • Step 2: complete the FAFSA
  • Opens October 1st
  • All families should complete the FAFSA, even if you think you won’t qualify for aid
  • Submit by December 1st

Scholarship Searches

  • Utilize Naviance  for local scholarships 
    • Go to “Colleges” tab, then scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “scholarship list”
  • Check your McNick email regularly for scholarship announcements
  • Register for a third party scholarship search engine
    • College Board          
    • Fast Web      
    • BEWARE OF SCAMS.  You should never have to pay an application fee for a scholarship!


Vietnam Veterans of America Scholarship is now accepting scholarship applications for eligible immediate family members of military personnel. Click for more information.

The American Legion Anderson Post 318 Veteran Scholarships will be awarded to the deserving children or grandchildren of honorably discharged veterans.  Students applying for these scholarships must be in the graduating class of 2021 at McNicholas High School. Click for more information.


Other Resources

Collegiate Athletics

  • Students who plan to play a sport at the college level must register with the NCAA Clearinghouse

Military Information

Naviance College Planning and Career Tool 

Naviance is a comprehensive career exploration and college readiness platform.
 Naviance offers assessments to aid students' self-discovery, identify
strengths, and connect those strengths to careers.  For Senior students, Naviance
is a critical tool in the college admissions process.

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