Park students awarded National Merit Scholar semifinalist title

Two Park National Merit Scholars work towards becoming finalists


Lex Lee

Junior Maxwell Warity studies for the PSAT October 18. The test took place Oct. 12.

Serena Bovee

Two Park students have been awarded the honor of having the chance to become a National Merit Scholar. The title of  “National Merit Scholar” is extremely prestigious.  According to one National Merit Scholar, senior Gwen Rockler-Gladen, the PSAT enabled her to be considered for National Merit Scholar. 

“The national merit scholarship takes a benchmark for PSAT (Preliminary SAT) score to enter a competition for a scholarship. It is a weird selection score index, and if you do well enough you are a semifinalist,” Rockler-Gladen said.

According to National Merit semifinalist Denly Lindeman there are multiple steps to becoming a National Merit Scholar, all of them having massive difficulty to undertake for the student.

“To be a semifinalist you have to score well on the PSAT, and to become a finalist you have to write an essay,” Lindeman said.

Becoming a National Merit Scholar requires taking the PSAT and scoring very well. There are ways to prepare for the test which require a multitude of effort, but according to Rockler-Gladen, the problem wasn’t the test, but what came afterwards.

“It has taken a whole lot of work, it was a test. Now it is a ton more work. I have to write an essay and fill out a bunch of forms to qualify to be a semifinalist,” Rockler-Gladen said.

The main reason to actively attempt to become a National Merit Scholar is to receive a scholarship. Making it through the process increases your chances of making it into a college and can give you a full-ride scholarship. Even being a semifinalist can help alleviate college fees, according to Lindeman.

“It looks amazing on college applications and large scholarship payments that can result in you having a free-ride through college,” Lindeman said.

According to principal LaNisha Paddock, Park is proud of students who get to receive these awards.  

“It’s so fun to see our students get acknowledged for the work they’ve done academically with the PSAT. And then the really cool part is then they are able to be considered for scholarships,”  Paddock said.

There are also Commended Students; these are people who scored high enough to join the program, but didn’t quite make it into the competition. These students are still in the top 50,000 of students nationwide, but according to Commended Student and senior Sebastian Tangelson, their scores did not meet the requirements..

“We are the Walmart version of the merit scholar. National Merit Scholar is the top 1% and Commended is the lower end of this 1%,” Tangelson said.

There are many reasons to become a National Merit Scholar, but the amount of work required is large. With the benefits the program offers, Rockler-Gladen emphasizes the importance of being prepared early on to help ensure your success.

“Make sure you are prepared for the PSAT, make sure you are paying attention in class and possibly take the PSAT in sophomore year so you can try again junior year,” Rockler-Gladen said.