Every year, students across the country take the PSAT to prep for the SAT and to help them get the highest score possible on the test. And every year, around 16,000 students are sent a letter from the National Merit Scholarship program saying they have been named semifinalists.
This year, Somerset senior Nick Thoreson is one of those 16,000 students who were named to the semifinalist list. He now has a chance to move on to be one of the 15,000 finalists who will vie for scholarships from both the National Merit Scholarship program and corporations, business organizations and colleges.
"I was trying to get onto the list and make it into the program. I was doing it to try and get scholarships and it is why I took the PSAT," Thoreson said. "I took the test a while ago and I hadn't heard yet, so I wasn't really expecting it. I was excited when I found out and so were my parents."
Thoreson is still in the process of applying to colleges, but has narrowed his field of study to either engineering or physics, with a possibility of going into nuclear engineering.
"Getting a scholarship would be important because it helps with college and it looks good on an application," Thoreson said. "I'm working on applying to UW-Madison and Michigan-Ann Arbor, right now. Both of those schools are good, but I haven't decided which I'd go to if I get into both."
Thoreson is currently taking and enjoying AP Calculus, Engineering Design and Development and AP Chemistry at Somerset High School. Outside of school, Thoreson is involved in the St. Anne's Rock youth group, archery and is on the Somerset-New Richmond trap shooting team.
Now that he has been named a finalist, Thoreson must work with his high school counselors and school staff to complete a detailed scholarship application which will provide the evaluators with his academic record, information on his participation in school and community activities, how he has demonstrated his leadership skills, his employment and what honors and awards he has received. Along with that, a finalist must be endorsed by a high school official, write an essay and earn SAT scores that confirm the student's earlier performance on the qualifying test.
From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level, and in February they will be notified of this designation.