Photo courtesy of SME office
National Merit semifinalists were released Thursday when the SME Office twitter account posted a congratulations to the recipients. Among them were seniors Haley Bell, Yashi Wang, Coleman Brockmeier, Peter Haynes, Katie Kuhlman, Eli Kurlbaum and Kate Haefele.
The National Merit Scholarship Program is “an annual competition for recognition and college undergraduate scholarships” administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, according to their website.
The competition is conducted throughout students’ junior and senior years of high school and begins when they take the PSAT in October of their junior year. Kuhlman was one of many students across the nation who had her sights on National Merit that year.
“A family friend told me how important the PSAT was, so I decided to study for it beforehand,” Kuhlman said. “I did a class for two hours a week and took some practice tests to get ready.”
She is now one of only 16,000 students (top 1 percent) selected as a semifinalist. She and the other candidates will compete in the National Merit competition in which they are evaluated based on submitted essays and extracurricular and community involvement. The final 7,400 selected finalists will receive one of three scholarship types: the National Merit $2500 scholarship, corporate-sponsored merit scholarships or college-sponsored merit scholarships. These final two scholarships can vary in amount depending on how much the corporation or college wants to donate.
Many of these scholarships help provide opportunities to students and can impact a student’s college search process in several ways. While Haynes says that becoming a semifinalist has not affected what top schools he’s looking at, he says that it will change his search for “safety schools” – schools he is confident he can get into.
“It will definitely change what schools I apply to as safety schools because I know that there are some schools that will give you a full ride just for being a finalist,” Haynes said.
He hopes that he can move onto the next round of the competition and plans to use this accomplishment to bolster his application for his first-choice school, Stanford University.
The final results of the competition will be released by the end of February. Until then, students will wait and hope they will receive what is considered by many colleges to be one of the most prestigious academic awards.