Senior Karis Cho Is National Merit Finalist
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The PSAT provides eligibility of scholarships while also turning students into college standouts. Senior Karis Cho is one of three National Merit finalists at CAHS. Cho, along with seniors Coral James and Damian Oven, were recognized as National Merit finalists for receiving impressive PSAT scores.
“I actually studied for the SAT,” Cho said when asked about the academic choices she made in order to qualify. “If you study for the SAT, then the PSAT is a little bit easier than the SAT. So it kind of lines up.” She took an independent summer class to prep for the SAT. “It was a pretty intense class, about 16 weeks.” She found that SAT prep also prepared her for AP tests because “the multiple choice sections are similar.”
All students who take the PSAT are automatically entered into the National Merit competition. From there, “they take your score and they will convert it into a score especially for the competition,” said Cho. “If you score at a certain point level or higher, then you get commended. … When I first took it I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m going to make it.’ But then I took it and I was like, ‘I feel good about this.’”
The pool is then narrowed down until 16,000 semifinalists remain. As a semifinalist, you are assessed based on required materials, which include an essay, resume and any other applicable volunteer activities, ultimately producing 15,000 finalists — the top 1% of each state.
In February, Cho was alerted of her status as a finalist. From there, half of the finalists are chosen to be scholars.
Still waiting for updates on her status, Cho said, “There are three different types of scholarships, and you can only win one.” The first scholarship is given by the student’s first choice of college from the National Merit list, a preference the student specified earlier on their semifinalist application.
The next scholarship category is corporate scholarships based on sponsored majors. Cho said, “Most of the corporate scholarships are for math and science people.”
The last category is College Board’s scholarship of $2,500. Cho would like to receive the College Board scholarship, since her first-choice college does not participate in this program, and her major is not one supported by a corporation.
Cho eagerly awaits the notification of her scholar award. Her piece of advice for aspiring students would be, “Take the PSAT. Seriously. Because you can get actual scholarship money from it and you can have colleges interested in you.”