Achieving great things

Scholarships given to students based on academic achievement


Photo courtesy of Millard West

Every year a different number of students from all three Millard high schools qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. This years semi-finalists are Anderson Kelly and Riya Kulkarni representing Millard West. “It takes a lot of hard work and motivation to earn this scholarship,” senior Riya Kulkarni said. “I just keep pushing myself to my greatest academic level because you can never stop achieving.”

Leah Pickhinke, Staff Reporter

National Merit Scholarships are given out every year to only a few who qualify. Of the approximately 1.5 million who take the PSAT/NMSQT, around 50,000 high scores qualify as Commended Students, and 16,000 (representing less than 1%) become semi-finalists. The initial screening or entry requirement is taking the Preliminary SAT/PSAT in a student’s junior year. 

The PSAT is a shortened version of the SAT college entrance exam and measures what students learn in high school and what they need to succeed in college, including verbal, mathematical and writing skills. For juniors, it serves as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT), however the exam is purely optional and considered practice for high performing freshman and sophomores. 

The skills used are mainly based on what a student is taught at their high school and the measure of a student’s level of knowledge and ability to answer the questions in a timely manner.

“Earning a National Merit Scholarship distinguishes among the top scholars and students and colleges know how well a student is ready for the most rigorous colleges and studies at the collegiate level,” principal Dr. Greg Tiemann said. “Many top universities use the National Merit Scholarship to identify the most outstanding students and even offer full-ride scholarships based on that one achievement. (PSAT score and application).”

The testing process is long and rigorous but can come with money granted to students that score at a certain level. This opportunity can be great for students wanting to continue their education with the grant of money to pay for their schooling.

“Your PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) gives you valuable practice for the SAT,” counselor Kelsey Nodgaard said. “It opens opportunities for scholarships and recognition. The kind of scholarship(s) a student receives varies from college to college depending on if they are a National Merit Semi Finalist, National Merit Finalist or National Merit Commended.”

Of the 16,000 students selected to become semifinalists, 15,000 of them make it to finals. From there, it is determined whether or not each student should get a scholarship or not. The process of finals happens in early to mid February.

“Being a National Merit semi-finalist is really significant to me because it means a lot to qualify for a scholarship,” senior Anderson Kelly said. “It is an honor and a great opportunity to earn scholarship money for continuing my education beyond high school.”

Once returning the attached registration form and submitting a $25.00 payment to the Counseling Office students will be able to take the PSAT at Millard West on Wednesday, Oct.12, 2022, at 8:00 a.m.