Eight local high school seniors are in the running for the 2012 National Merit Scholarship Program.
Fewer than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors qualify as semifinalists, which include the highest-scoring entrants in each state.
“Out of 1.5 million students who take the qualifying test every year there’s about 16,000 semifinalists,” said Eileen Artemakis, spokeswoman for the program.
Five William S. Hart District high schools had students selected based upon their high PSAT scores:
Academy of the Canyons: Lily Y. Choi
Golden Valley: Jessica Kong
Valencia: Joshua J. Daymude, Julie Jang, Shannon Lieu
West Ranch: Christi A. Hong, David S. Lim
Saugus: Pilar A. Araujo
These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,300 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $34 million that will be offered next spring.
The good news is 90 percent of semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.
“We always like to say the finalists are all worthy of winning a scholarship. And if the funds were available we would love to give all of them scholarships, but with the funds that we have available for our three types of scholarships right now we’re looking at a little more than half that will win scholarships,” said Artemakis.
NMSC is a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 440 business organizations and higher education institutions.
Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2012.
Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 240 corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located.
In addition, about 200 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,800 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.
To become a finalist, a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the high school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the PSAT qualifying test.
The semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application by October 12, which includes the student’s essay and information about the Semifinalist’s participation and leadership in school and community activities.
Although only 50 percent of National Merit Scholars receive a scholarship from the NMSC, the designation brings new opportunities.
“Sometimes just being designated a finalist will look well on a scholarship application. And some of these colleges will offer scholarships on their own. And sometimes being a scholar and winning a scholarship from the NMSC. They may also win other scholarships besides. It can open doors to them,” said Artemakis.
NMSC likes to place the emphasis on achievement, not just the money.
“It’s not just the monetary value of winning a scholarship but the recognition that is also important. A National Merit Scholarship represents years of hard work and intellectual pursuits. Just being named a semifinalist in the program is the beginning and many times that in itself will spur them on to doing hard work, pursuing rigorous college studies.” Artemakis said.
Announcement dates are as follows:
April 18, 2012: Corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship Winners
May 2, 2012: National Merit $2500 Scholarship Winners
May 23, 2012: College-sponsored Merit Scholarship Winners
July 9, 2012: Additional College-sponsored Merit Scholarship Winners