National Merit recognizes students throughout school

Every day, students walking to and from classes pass a fairly large display showcasing the students recognized as National Merit Scholar.

Students take the Preliminary SAT in September of their senior year; about 16,000 students across the nation are chosen from this pool to become semi-finalists. From there, students and the school must submit an application to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation become a finalist. The application gets sent to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Results are announced in February.

After a student applies to become a finalist, the student must request a transcript, SAT scores and a recommendation letter. Like most scholarships, there is also a writing portion to the scholarship.

Semi-Finalist Megan Pearson said the average cut between semi-finalists to finalists is about 1,000 students. This is not a competition against other people. Being chosen as a finalist is an individual effort.

There are many categories within the NMSC like the Achievement award and the Commended Award. National Merit Scholars are the students who receive money and the finalists receive recognition.

Through the process, students have to list their top choice colleges. If the colleges provide money to recognize National Merit, then the student is recognized as a scholar.

“PSATs are a bigger deal than most people think it is,” Semi- Finalist Suha Suliman said. “It opens up opportunities for scholarships and recognition. I think anyone should try and take [the PSAT] seriously.”

However, Pearson disagrees with Suliman’s view on the PSAT.

“I feel that it’s superficial because it’s purely based on one test,” Pearson said. “It doesn’t say much about the student. I feel like National Merit uses the PSAT to narrow down the millions of students in America to a couple thousand. I don’t think it reflects on me as a student. It just reflects on me as a test taker. However, it’s a big deal because there are multiple scholarships available for National Merit Finalists. But I don’t think it’s a huge deal in the eyes of teachers. It shouldn’t be in eyes of colleges because it’s only a test. ”