The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. Nicholas Wilkins, Senior at Ooltewah High School was recently named a National Merit Semifinalist. There are nearly 1.5 million entrants each year with only 16,000 students who qualify as semifinalists. Nicholas is one of those students.
Nicholas Wilkins Interview
-What college do you want to go to?
Nicholas: “The University of Chicago is my first choice.”
-What colleges are you currently looking at?
Nicholas: “University of Chicago, Tulane University, Emory University, University of Tulsa, Duke University, Vanderbilt University, UTC, Oglethorpe University”
-Is there anyone in particular that helped you through the process to becoming a national merit semifinalist?
Nicholas: “To become a semifinalist, you really just have to take the PSAT and pass the score cut-off. I'll have to start actually doing things when I compete to be a finalist. When Mrs. Rox was still here, she spoke with me a lot because her daughter was a National Merit Scholar, and I've spoken with Dr. Williams a little because she was one.”
-Did you stumble upon this scholarship or has it been a goal of yours?
Nicholas: “I kind of stumbled upon it. Mrs. Hitchcox and Mrs. Fuller told me to sign up for the PSAT, so I took it, and then found out my scores were high enough when they came back. It wasn't really something I had heard of before taking the test.”
-What career are you planning to go into?
Nicholas: “I want to major in Sociology and Gender/Sexuality Studies, and then go on to be a social worker.”
-What was the process like to becoming a semifinalist?
Nicholas: “There wasn't much of a process. I took the PSAT my freshman year as practice, and then I took it again my junior year. This past April, we got a letter saying that they would release the semifinalists in September. To become a National Merit Scholar I'll have to take the SAT, write an essay, etc.”
-How will this affect your future?
Nicholas: “A lot of schools give scholarships to National Merit Scholars, and those that don't still give it weight when they're choosing who to accept.”
-How does it feel to be named a semifinalist?
Nicholas: “It's definitely cool, but at the same time, if I ended at this point, I wouldn't be getting much out of it. So, more than anything, I'm ready to begin the next steps in the process.”
-How would it feel to be named a National Merit Scholar?
Nicholas: “I would be one of around 7,600 students nationwide elected to be a National Merit Scholar, so it'd definitely be an honor. I also couldn't complain about any scholarships that may come with it.”