Effie Trinket’s famous statement in the Hunger Games is, “may the odds be ever in your favor,” but while winning the Hunger Games lottery meant a trip to certain death, for selected academically talented National Merit Semifinalists, the odds of winning a college scholarship, about 50 percent, are a reason to shout for joy.
National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) selected nearly 16,000 semifinalists in the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Selected seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for approximately 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $30 million that will be offered next spring. A not-for-profit organization, NMSC’s goal is to honor the nation’s scholastic champions and encourage the pursuit of academic excellence.
High school juniors entered the competition by taking the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Students with the highest PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index (calculated by doubling the sum of the reading, writing and language and math test scores) qualify for recognition. Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of high school seniors, include the highest-scoring entrants in each state.
Local high school National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists include Bell Creek Academy senior Lucas Nardin and Newsome seniors Cody Basquill, Ayotuntosimi Loye and Anika Shah.
Semifinalists advance to the finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic performance standards from grades 9-12, receiving a recommendation from their high school principal and submitting a completed application.
NMSC Executive Director of Public Affairs Eileen Artemakis said her staff hear from scholarship winners about the impact the scholarships have on their educational goals.
“We are thrilled to recognize and reward students who have excelled in high school and have positively impacted their communities, and the world in high school inspires them to continue to do so,” said Artemakis.
While it’s not easy to win a National Merit Scholarship, it’s not impossible either. With study, practice and preparation, students can ace the test. “The recognition and chance to win a scholarship is worth it,” said Artemakis.
National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced beginning in April and conclude in July.
For more information about the National Merit Scholarship Program, visit www.nationalmerit.org.