Two students qualify as National Merit Semifinalists


Seniors Varun Gullapalli and Nathan Gulliver are National Merit Scholar Semifinalists. Gullapalli and Gulliver have the chance to win a $2500 scholarship for college if they become scholars.
Qualifying to be a National Merit Semifinalist occurs because a student did well on the PSAT. There are many different tips to taking any standardized tests.

“I think it really depends on how familiar you are with the type of questions and new test-taking skills. The biggest tip I would have is just to do a lot of practice questions because with any kind of College Board type test, half is just knowing the questions and knowing how to take the test to get familiar with the type of questions they have are going to do better on the test itself,” Gulliver said.

Students face many challenges, be it mentally, at home, or being busy with sports/activities. The COVID-19 pandemic brought lots of challenges for all ages of students. E-learning seemed easy, but the education students received was not the same.

“COVID was a big challenge, like having a year at home and coming back and having to get back into you know, taking tests in person and having a PSAT right away. And just readjusting back to school after that year. That was so messed up,” Gulliver said.

Almost everything in life people can learn from, including people, organizations, and school. Gulliver shared what he learned while being a semifinalist.
“They’re really slow, the College Board, first finding out and now it’s another three more months to finalize. Another few months after that you finally get anything for being a finalist,” Gulliver said.

In order to become a scholar in the National Merit Scholarship program there is a process to go through.

“So you first do exceptionally well on the PSAT and then you gain the honor of becoming a semifinalist. Then you have to fill out the application. I think maybe like 90% of those who are semifinalists become finalists. Then after that, I think in the spring you are notified whether or not your application was good enough. They’ll pick half of those finalists to become scholars. So it’s all about that application,” Gullapalli said.

College is really expensive, as well as being away from parents and having to manage life alone can be difficult. Scholarships can take off a lot of money for college, even a little bit of money to help is a huge benefit.

“I mean, college is super expensive. Any money that I can earn so that my parents have to pay less or so I have to take out less loans means everything. I just want to make my education as affordable and as sustainable as possible,” Gullapalli said.

Whenever a person is waiting for a result it can always be nerve racking and a lot of pressure.

“I don’t really think there’s difficulties; it’s the pressure and also being patient. Becoming a finalist and potentially becoming a scholar is really nerve-racking. But honestly, since it’s like months away, it’s onto the back of my mind,” Gullapalli said.