MALONE –– Franklin Academy senior Zachary Barkman said he had never heard of the National Merit Scholarship Corp. before taking the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test during his junior year.
But his lack of knowledge in that area wasn’t reflected in his test results, as he was recently named a finalist in the organization’s scholarship competition.
Fewer than 1% of high school seniors in the nation achieve that stature, DA Principal Brandon Pelkey said in announcing Barkman’s recognition.
The National Merit Scholarship program grants scholarships to select students based on their PSAT test scores from their junior year, Pelkey explained. Barkman scored 1480 out of a possible 1520 on the test.
Many students use the PSAT as a warm-up for the SAT, which many colleges use in their applicant selection process. But the test, which has two sections –– math and evidence-based reading and writing –– is also used to determine students that qualify for a National Merit Scholarship.
“I was thrilled to see I didn’t really need to worry about my test-taking ability when the real SAT rolled around,” Barkman said
“I had no idea the doors that were opened when I qualified for the National Merit Scholarship,” he added. Barkman said his score on the test resulted in offers from many well-known colleges to attend tuition-free, with free room and board.
“I could’ve gone to colleges in places such as Dallas, Oklahoma, Alabama, or Florida on a free ride, and some even provided additional cash stipends for each semester,” Barkman said in an email. “But, because I’m not a big city guy, I turned them down in favor of a small private school in PA.” Barkman, the valedictorian of Franklin Academy’s Class of 2020, plans to attend Saint Vincent College, a private Benedictine liberal arts college in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where he intends to major in biochemistry.
During his time at FA, Barkman was a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Club and Epsilon Honor Society, as well as a member of the soccer team.
“To say the least, Zachary stays busy and excels in everything in which he is a part,” Pekley said.