Senior Chris Alspaugh
Q: What does being recognized in the National Merit Scholarship Program mean to you?
A: “A lot of colleges look for that accolade and so it helps get admissions and scholarships for getting into college.”
Q: How did you find out? How did you feel?
A: “College Board has a website [where] you can check your scores to see if you were awarded it or not. After putting in the time and effort to prepare for the PSAT and seeing my score, I was happy and content that I was going to get the award.”
Q: What did you do to help improve your test scores leading up to it? What does it take to get the award?
A: “I took the PSAT team, but you get out what you put in. There’s a lot of studying I did outside of regular school hours looking at PSAT [tests] and what kind of questions they ask. The hardest section for me was the reading section. I’m better at math than these kind of things, with more defined rules. The reading section is harder for me to process some of the information.”
Q: What are your college and career plans?
A: “I’m currently pending acceptance to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but I [want to] be [an] aerospace engineer. I’ve been accepted into the University of Texas at Austin so I’ll at least be going somewhere else.”
Q: What activities are you involved in at school? Anything outside of school?
A: “Orchestra, National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta in school, and then outside of school I’m in gymnastics and I volunteer team court. I do recreational gymnastics, so it’s less stressful than being on a team.”
Q: How will this award affect your life/future?
A: “Hopefully it’s one of many things colleges look at. I can have a better chance at getting accepted into colleges that I want. People hopefully will see it for scholarships and I can reduce student loan debt.”
Q: What has been your biggest obstacle academically? Any specific class? How did you overcome it?
A: “Probably just the workload of all the AP classes I take. I took four last year and I’m taking six credits this year with AP classes. It’s a lot of homework and staying up late, but it pays off with my grades. Right now the classes are a little bit easier than they were last year. Last year I took AP U.S. history, which had a lot of reading homework, and AP calculus at the same time, so it was a lot of math homework. I set a good goal for myself and try not to [get distracted] and do other things. I like to schedule myself [like] ‘I’m going to work on it for this amount of time’ [and] that [kind of] thing.”
Q: Who in your life has helped you reach this point? How did they help you?
A: “My parents and the teachers that are there to teach me. My parents helped keep me focused on what I’m doing in the future and the teachers helped teach me the material right then and there.”
Q: What is your advice to others hoping to be National Merit Scholars?
A: “Study and look at the College Board website for all of the things that they quiz you on, and then if you’re lucky enough to get into the PSAT team then do it. Make sure you stay focused because it’s really easy to not get as much out of it as I did.”
Q: What class/outside of school tutoring prepared you the most?
A: “The algebra classes really help, but probably PSAT team because they [kind of] consolidate it all and [put] it together. They give you practice tests and those kind of things. The materials are available outside of just the PSAT team and class.”
Q: Do you have any good study tips for the standardized tests?
A: “Know what the question is trying to ask you. If you can identify what type of question it is, it’s [going to] help you a lot to knowing what answer they’re [going to] want. They have specific question types and they’re all on College Board website [that] they teach you. So if you look at the question type and you view sample of those questions, then you know ‘Oh, this question [is asking me] this.’”