Every year, students across the nation receive a high honor of being recognized as a National Merit Scholar. This year, at Santa Fe High School, five students have been given the chance to be National Merit Semifinalists. Rakin Hussain, Joshua Zhu, David Lyon, Marleigh Smith, and Lauren Hamilton all reached outstanding heights on their PSAT.
Since 1955, the National Merit Scholarship program has conducted an annual scholarship held for students with outstanding scores on the PSAT. Over 4.26 million students took the PSAT in the 2018-2019 stated collegeboard.org. Each year, anyone who is not a senior can take the PSAT. Only Juniors can qualify for National Merit Semifinalists.
The major reason students want to qualify as a National Merit Scholar is because of the scholarships that come with it. Many institutions and universities, like Oklahoma University, will give large academic scholarships to a candidate who is a national semifinalist.
“I believe the corporation can give up to $2,500 and sometimes colleges will give you scholarships,” said senior Lyon, “especially Oklahoma colleges, they give you almost full rides if you’re a National Merit Scholar.”
There are many factors that go into succeeding to qualify as a National Merit Scholar. Similar to most situations, the environment that surrounds students plays a role in how people succeed.
Among the semifinalists, they all agreed that parents and teachers played a big role in their lives by motivating them. Both parents and teachers encouraged their students to always do their best and to not give in to pressure. There are a lot of components that go into trying to become a National Merit Scholar; some are financial and others are for legacy.
“My sister was a big motivator. My sister is seven years older than me and when she was in high school she was a National Merit student,” said Zhu. “I think she was such a role model overall because she taught me so many things. I saw her as a second mother figure because of how much older she was to me.”
Behind every great success, there is hard work. The semifinalist were not even considering the PSAT and they were simply studying for the SAT. Some of National Merit Semifinalist needed only a little help studying. Hussain recognized and planned to improve his score.
“I bought a couple of SAT test books to help me prepare. I would do some drills every morning for ten minutes when I woke up, before I ate, brushed my teeth, anything. And then, every couple of weeks,during the weekends, I would take a practice test,” said Hussain.
To become a National Merit is not out of any persons reach. Although family can play a part in academics, it doesn’t define their character. But where, and who people are from can motivate individuals to become more than they ever knew they could be. Creating healthy study habits, creating flash cards and writing in-class notes, help with academic growth and learning.
The most important part of being academically successful is to spread out learning which will help with understanding. It isn’t significant where students come from, it matters on the effort and the drive students have that affects their achievements.
Students will find out results in Spring of 2020.
For more information contact India Smith [email protected]