10 RBHS seniors become National Merit Semifinalists


National merit semifinalist Michelle Yang works on a computer. Photo by Humera Lodhi.

Humera Lodhi

Each October high school juniors all across the country take the PSAT, or the preliminary SAT, in hopes of qualifying for the National Merit Scholarship Program. The PSAT has a score index ranging from 60-240, and the students who earn a high enough score, which varies from state to state, are then announced as National Merit Semifinalists, which includes an opportunity for a $2,500 scholarship.

Each year there is flexibility in the qualifying score among the states. This year the National Merit Scholarship Committee announced the Missouri qualifying score to be 209. On Sept. 11, RBHS informed those students who had earned the score of their achievement. Ten Rock Bridge seniors were announced as National Merit Semifinalists.
The 10 are seniors Jett Ballou-Crawford, Alain Chen, Sarah Freyermuth, Theron Howe, Madeline Mueller, Suryanshi Rawat, Robert Schmidt, Brett Stover, Delaney Tevis, Michele Yang.
All are glad of their achievement  and while many other Semifinalists spent large amounts of time studying for the PSAT, Senior Freyermuth had a unique approach to preparing for the test.
“’I studied a little bit but a firm believer in the fact that if you’ve always been in the habit of paying attention in school and working hard then you’ve basically already had 11 years of preparation for the PSAT,” Freyermuth said. “ If you haven’t done anything for the past 11 years then cramming for the PSAT isn’t really going to help you much. So school has always been pretty important to me and I mostly relied on all the knowledge I’d learned over the previous 11 years while I was taking the PSAT.

While Freyermuth is excited about being named a semifinalist, she is mainly appreciative of the financial rewards the honor brings.

“I’m excited and also relieved,”  Freyermuth said. “I don’t know how I would pay for college without some of the scholarship opportunities National Merit gives me.”
However, senior Michelle Yang says, the wait is not yet over. Once announced as a semifinalist, students have an opportunity to apply to become National Merit Finalists. Each year approximately 16,000 students become finalists. Being a finalist allows one to be eligible for 8,300 scholarships from various colleges. Some even offer full tuition.
“After your official PSAT you have to wait an entire year to find out whether you’ve become a Semifinalist,” Yang said. “Then, to become a finalist, you have to fill out an application with your essay, two rec letters, an SAT score, and high school activities. You send off your application and get informed some time in the spring whether you’ve been accepted. About 90 percent of semifinalists become finalists, so my fingers are crossed.”
Hickman had four National Merit Semifinalist and two other Columbia schools each had one.
The range of qualifying scores was North Dakota’s and the “U.S. Territories'” 201 and the Dist. of Columbia’s, “outside” the United States’ and New Jersey’s 224.
By Humera Lodhi