Kozak achieves national honor


Courtesy of Ben Kozak

Senior Ben Kozak has worked hard to achieve his goals in high school and he sits proudly in a senior portrait.

1,511,469 students took the PSAT to obtain a chance at a National Merit Scholarship this year. Out of these 1,511,469, only 16,000 students are deemed semi-finalists. Senior, Ben Kozak, is one such student, and he is the only qualifier at Trinity High School this year.

The National Merit Scholarship is an organization that aims to help students find scholarships and recognition based on their PSAT and SAT scores. Each year, students who take the PSAT in the fall of their Junior year can enter into the competition. Then, each state establishes what score is needed to become a semi-finalist, based on the scores of everyone in the state who took the exam at that time. 

This September, 34,000 students were commended for their scores in September. These students still have the opportunity to qualify for scholarships from corporations. 1,100 students will be notified that they have won one of these scholarships in March of 2021.

Also during September, 16,000 students were notified that they were semi-finalists. If the semifinalists complete various parts of the application, and take the SAT to confirm their high scores, they will be notified in February of 2021 if they are finalists. The National Merit Scholarship indicates that there will be 15,000 finalists this year. Finally, 7,600 finalist students will be selected for one of three different scholarships: a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship, a corporate scholarship or a college scholarship. They will be notified between March and mid-June.

Kozak expressed that becoming a semi-finalist is a great “awards-category” builder on college applications, and that it is a “cool title.” 

To prepare for the tests, Kozak practiced using the Khan Academy SAT practice for about 15 minutes, four times a week. If he could do it all over again, he said he would not have changed his approach because he felt very prepared. 

Currently, Kozak is planning to apply to Villanova, Lehigh, Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Delaware University, and Washington University. 

He hopes to major in chemical engineering and he explained, “I have always been strong in the sciences and math, and chemical engineering gives me a path into the medical field without being a doctor.” 

To anyone potentially wanting to become a National Merit Scholar, Kozak recommends practicing for the PSAT like it is the real SAT. He also says that if you put in the time, your score will benefit accordingly.