Bothell Students Qualify as National Merit Semifinalists


National Merit Semifinalists Kylie Neal (Left) and Nathan Hendrickson (right)

Every year, thousands of students take the PSAT and SAT, and only a select few high scorers qualify for the national merit scholarship. This year, two seniors at Bothell, Kylie Neal (‘22) and Nathan Hendrickson (‘22) have made it to the semifinals for this award.

Neal prepared beforehand on Khan Academy and through looking at the past year’s test, but she says, “I think a big factor was not stressing about it,”. Although the PSAT is the more standard route, due to being out of town, Hendrickson couldn’t take the test, and instead made a last minute decision to submit his SAT score of 1540. To his surprise, he qualified, stating “I was happy. I wasn’t expecting it honestly. I didn’t think I had that high a score”.

According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, roughly 1.5 million students apply annually, with 16,000 high scoring students proceeding to the semifinals. Now, these semi finalists must submit an essay, gain letters of recommendation, and be analyzed by their test scores and extracurriculars. 

Both Neal and Hendrickson boast extensive lists of achievements. Neal is co-president of Science Olympiad, treasurer of Honor Society, member of FBLA, and plays three instruments. On the weekends, she volunteers at her church’s kindergarten. She jokes “I literally don’t have free time.”  Hendrickson is in a similar boat, as he is vice president of Computer Science Club, a member of Honor Society, works in general contracting, volunteers, and has participated in cross country for three years.

Neal states that she is very grateful for the help she received during her application process. “Mrs. Guard wrote me a letter of recommendation and Mr.Felton. Both of them were super helpful and helped me through the process. And my mom,” who she thanks for telling her, “ what I had to do and pushed [her] to talk to Mr. Price about getting the information.”

Now these two will be judged against students from across the country in hopes of moving on to the finals in February. Then, 7,500 winners will be announced from March to June. Students are able to win from three scholarships; a college sponsored, corporate sponsored, or a $2,500 scholarship from the National Merit Corporation. For some students, this money can help change the college process and open up new opportunities. Neal says that since she qualified, “I’ve applied to and looked into different colleges that I didn’t before because of the scholarships they offer you.”