Seniors Honored as National Merit Semifinalists

Seniors Honored as National Merit Semifinalists

By now, almost all Seabury Juniors and Seniors have taken the PSAT. And if you did, you’ve been entered into the National Merit Scholarship Corporation’s academic contest for recognition and scholarships. This year, two Seabury Hall seniors scored well enough to receive National Merit Scholar commendations, Elizabeth Hampe and Christiana Joiner. Seabury Tides spoke with Chris to talk about the honor.

This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.


Seabury Tides: Good Afternoon. First and foremost, what exactly is a National Merit Scholarship, and how does a high school student become a commended student, semifinalist, or finalist? 

Chris: The National Merit Scholarship is a scholarship given out by the National Merit program in relation to the PSAT that juniors take across America. It’s…determined by the state so there’s going to be different qualifying scores for each state. But essentially, how you become a commended student, finalist, or semifinalist is there’s 3 sections of the PSAT; there’s a reading section, writing section, and a math section…those scores are added up, multiplied by 2, and then they are weighed against what the state qualifying score is…and if you’re in the top 3%, you are going to become a commended student. Semifinalists are the top 16,000. Then, you go and write an essay. And those that are chosen from that essay are called finalists…

Seabury Tides: What does the selection process mean for your chances of admission at top colleges? 

Chris: Well…it’s just another thing to have on your resume. I’ve gotten a couple of emails from colleges saying “congratulations” and offering stuff with their programs…at the end of the day, it’s another thing on your resume that says “hey, this is where I’ve been applying myself, this is what my strengths are.”

Seabury Tides: And are there benefits to gaining National Merit recognition outside the initial scholarship opportunity?

Chris: I’m sure it happens, but I don’t know much about it…

Seabury Tides: Why do you think you scored so well? Is there something you can pass on to fellow students which might help them qualify for National Merit Scholar recognition?

Chris: Honestly, I think it was just… I read a lot. Anything I can get my hands on, I read, ever since I was a little kid. The more you read, the more words you pickup, the better your reading comprehension is, the better your writing is…I actually did the best on reading comprehension, so yeah, I recommend reading more…

Seabury Tides: And regarding academics in general, do you have any tips for the underclassmen at Seabury on being a successful student?

Chris: Don’t overload your schedule! …because you should take the classes that you are interested in…if you are trying to juggle so many classes and so much homework, then it’s causing you a lot of stress. Then you’re going to fall behind and that makes it infinitely harder to do anything, really.

Seabury Tides: Thank you Chris.