CHS to release names of 34 National Merit Semifinalists Sept. 16

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On September 16, CHS will announce the 34 seniors who have qualified as National Merit Semifinalists by scoring in the top one-half percent of the state on the PSAT.

In order to become Finalists and qualify for scholarships, Semifinalists must fill out an application, receive a letter of recommendation from his or her counselor and write an essay.

According to counselor Bettina Cool, the National Merit Scholarship program benefits Semifinalists and Finalists both financially and academically.

“There are schools in which (National Merit) is more influential than others,” Cool said. “For example, IU asks if students qualified as Finalists or Semifinalists, but I don’t think it has a big bearing on whether or not they are accepted. Typically, students will receive money. But for more selective schools, it’s more of a determining factor.”

Semifinalist and senior Reid Watson said the National Merit Scholarship program is helpful to students who want to make an impression on colleges.

“National Merit is a great way to distinguish yourself,” Watson said. “It’s a relatively selective process, so it’s a nice way to make yourself stand out. Plus, you know exactly how to qualify for it and exactly how it will benefit you. For other scholarships, the initial process is difficult, but the first step of National Merit is purely based on the PSAT.”

Of the 16,000 Semifinalists in the nation, 15,000 will become Finalists. Results will arrive in February.

“There isn’t a perfect solution (to becoming a Finalist),” Watson said. “It’s about knowing your strengths and weaknesses and working with them.”

Laura Peng is a reporter for the HiLite. Contact her at lpeng@hilite.org.

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