BY TANVI BARGAJE
Thirty-nine seniors from University High School are semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program this year. This is an increase of 3 from the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years.
These students are part of the 16,000 program semifinalists across the country, and make up 1% of the 1.6 million students who took the Preliminary SAT (PSAT/NMSQT) in October 2017.
UHS has had the highest number of National Merit semifinalists throughout all schools in the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) for 4 of the past 5 years. This year, Northwood High School has 28 Semifinalists, Irvine High School has 12 and Woodbridge High School has 8.
“Uni is such an academic school, [so] I’m not terribly surprised that we always get so many people into National Merit,” senior semifinalist Lan Jiang said, “If you’re looking at how strongly a class performs overall, the amount of National Merit semifinalists is a pretty good indicator of the academic strength of the class.”
“Kids here are just super studious and they challenge themselves more than most schools,” college and career coordinator Mrs. Angela Gatlin said. “They have good study skills and take many practice tests.”
Around 50,000 students with the highest Selection Index Scores qualify for recognition of the National Merit Scholarship Program and qualify as either Commended Students or semifinalists.
To become finalists, current semifinalists must maintain consistent high academic performance, earn scores on the SAT that confirm the scores on their PSAT/NMSQT and receive a recommendation for the scholarship by their high school principal. A total of 15,000 out of 16,000 semifinalists are selected to be finalists based on their skills, abilities and accomplishments.
To participate in the National Merit Scholarship Program, the student must be a U.S. citizen and take the PSAT/NMSQT by junior year.
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) offers three types of scholarship awards to 7,500, or 50%, of Finalists: National Merit scholarships, corporate-sponsored merit scholarships, and college-sponsored merit scholarships. In addition, Special Scholarships are offered to approximately 1,100 non-Finalists that meet the NMSC requirements and the sponsor’s criteria.
The National Merit Scholarship offers $2,500 single payment scholarships that are awarded to 7,500 finalists.The Corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship Award offers $500 to $1,000 awarded by corporate sponsors to students. The College-sponsored Merit Scholarship award offers $500 to $2,000 by sponsor college officials selecting winners of their awards from Finalists who have been accepted for admission
“I think the award itself, to me, doesn’t mean as much, but the scholarship opportunities means a lot,” Jiang said. “USC offers [at least] half off tuition if you’re a National Merit semifinalist.”
The semifinalists this year are Rahan Arasteh, Ivy Cao, Rohan Chawla, Harry Chen, Kyle Chen, Kevin Choy, Kayli Choy, Atharva Deodhar, Dhanvi Desu, Michael Diao, Haley Edwards, Alyssa Eng, Charles Feuerborn, Madeleine Fruman, Aaron Fu, Justin Im, Kaleb Jen, Lan Jiang, Jet Jue, Brian Kim, Jamie Kim, David Kurniawan, Calvin Lee, Iris Lee, Jerry Li, Albert Lin, Anton Ni, Andrea Roy, Ruisi Shu, Annika Sial, Daniel Talebzadeh Shoushtari, Monica Tang, Tu Trinh, Noah Verdegan, Alexander Xu, Maggie Zhang, Sandy Zhang, Amy Zhong, and Joshua Zou.
Current juniors are encouraged to take the PSAT/NMSQT exam on October 13, 2018. Students can purchase the exam for $10 at the SAC (Student Activities Center) from October 1 through October 10.