The National Merit Scholarship is a prestigious academic award offered to high school students in the United States. The scholarship program is sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) and recognizes students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievements. In this article, we will discuss the National Merit Scholarship program and how to apply for it.
What is the National Merit Scholarship?
The National Merit Scholarship program is a competition that recognizes high school students who demonstrate exceptional academic abilities. The program awards scholarships to students based on their PSAT/NMSQT scores, which they take in their junior year of high school.
The PSAT/NMSQT, which stands for Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, is a standardized test that measures critical reading, math, and writing skills. The test serves as an initial screening for the National Merit Scholarship program and helps determine which students qualify for the scholarship.
The National Merit Scholarship program offers three types of scholarships: National Merit Scholarships, Corporate-Sponsored Merit Scholarships, and College-Sponsored Merit Scholarships. National Merit Scholarships are awarded to students who score in the top 1% of test-takers in their state. Corporate-Sponsored Merit Scholarships are offered by corporate sponsors who select scholarship recipients based on criteria that they establish. College-Sponsored Merit Scholarships are awarded to students who are accepted and plan to attend a particular college or university.
How to apply for the National Merit Scholarship
If you are a high school student and want to apply for the National Merit Scholarship, you must take the PSAT/NMSQT in your junior year. The test is typically administered in October, and registration is handled by your high school. You can speak to your school counselor or PSAT coordinator for more information on how to register.
Once you have taken the PSAT/NMSQT, the NMSC will use your scores to determine if you qualify for the National Merit Scholarship program. If you are a semifinalist, you will be notified in September of your senior year. Semifinalists must then complete an application to become a finalist.
The National Merit Scholarship application includes several components, including an essay and information about your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and community service. Finalists must submit their application by a specified deadline, typically in January of their senior year.
Criteria for the National Merit Scholarship
The National Merit Scholarship program selects finalists based on several criteria, including:
- Academic record: The NMSC looks at your high school transcript and considers the difficulty of the courses you have taken.
- PSAT/NMSQT scores: Your PSAT/NMSQT scores are the primary selection criterion for the National Merit Scholarship program.
- Activities and leadership: The NMSC considers your participation in extracurricular activities, leadership positions, and community service.
- Honors and awards: The NMSC looks at any honors or awards you have received in academic, extracurricular, or community service activities.
Benefits of the National Merit Scholarship
The National Merit Scholarship is a prestigious academic award that can benefit recipients. In addition to the monetary award, National Merit Scholars receive recognition from colleges and universities, which can improve their chances of admission and may lead to other opportunities. The scholarship can also help students reduce the cost of their college education, as many colleges and universities offer additional financial aid to National Merit Scholars.
The National Merit Scholarship program is a highly competitive academic award recognizing high school students who demonstrate exceptional academic abilities. The scholarship program is sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) and awards scholarships based on PSAT/NMSQT scores, academic achievements, and other criteria.