Jasper Swallen maintains a busy schedule by most students’ standards.
The Baraboo High School senior is an active member of the National Honor Society, the high school’s Science and Key clubs, and recently co-founded a Model United Nations group. When he’s not doing coursework or acting as an ambassador to model foreign nations, he’s also involved in cross country, swimming and track and field.
In addition to his extracurricular accomplishments, Swallen has been named a semifinalist in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program. To qualify, Swallen scored exceptionally well on last year’s Preliminary SAT, beating out nearly 1.6 million other students who also took the test from 22,000 high schools nationwide. He joins 16,000 high school seniors from across the country in earning semifinalist honors.
“It’s great,” Swallen said of the recognition. “It’s great to have the opportunity to get the scholarships, and it looks really good on college applications.”
Swallen now has the opportunity to advance as a finalist in the program, where he would have a shot this spring at competing for one of 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million. About 15,000 semifinalists are notified in February that they have advanced to finalist standing.
To become a finalist, Swallen must submit a detailed scholarship application, which includes information on his academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. To advance beyond the semifinalist stage, students must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm his or her earlier performance on the qualifying test.
Baraboo High School Principal Glenn Bildsten said the institution is honored that one of its students received the “highly distinguished academic honor.”
“Jasper is not only a talented and dedicated student, he’s involved in a wide array of co-curricular activities at our school and takes on leadership positions,” Bildsten said. “He has an incredibly bright future ahead of him because he has a great work ethic and carries himself with humility.”
Outside of academics, Swallen enjoys reading, following political news and studying science — specifically chemistry. His father is a chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County.
Swallen said he plans to attend college after high school, but has yet to decide on a university.
“I’m planning on going to college, and for majors I’m thinking either political science or chemistry,” he said. “I haven’t decided — maybe some combination between the two.”
Swallen said it’s sometimes difficult to fit academics, sports and extracurricular activities into his already busy day, but added that he “makes do.”
“I try to make time in my day for everything,” he said. “I set up a schedule and things like that.”