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Does NMSF matter for the top-tiers?

lolololsdlolololsd Posts: 25Registered User New Member
Hi all!

So I just found out that I missed my state's cutoff for National Merit Semifinalist by a couple points, so I'm Commended.

Does National Merit Semifinalist mean much to the extremely selective colleges? Like will it make or break an application? I'm kind of disappointed that I didn't make it, but I didn't think NMSF was too big of a deal. Thoughts?

Thanks!
Post edited by lolololsd on
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Replies to: Does NMSF matter for the top-tiers?

  • kotterskotters Posts: 10Registered User New Member
    Don't worry about it. My best friend missed the cutoff for his state by 3 points last year. He got into Duke, WUSTL, Swarthmore, Cornell, etc.
  • Parent1234Parent1234 Posts: 26Registered User New Member
    Advice heard at a college admission small-group session for prospective honors applicants: We know that the cutoff scores vary among states and that it doesn't always seem fair. If you are from a higher cutoff state and would've been semifinalist in other states, consider writing on your application: PSAT score 214, Commended.
  • Aggie84Aggie84 Posts: 132Registered User Junior Member
    Would you recommend the same advice for an out of stater applying to a large state school that a lower qualifying score? Will the school already know--for example son scored 221 in VA, above minimums for cut-off in Kentucky, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma all which offer great packages if he advances to finalist, but he will be competing with in-staters with lower scores. This is not a criticism on these states or their students since we support him wanting to expand his horizons and go out of state, just curious. I would think it won't matter, since Finalist is a Finalist, just want to be sure.
  • TXArchitectTXArchitect Posts: 1,562Registered User Senior Member
    Some of the kids in the states you mentioned have PSAT scores high enough to make the cut in ANY state.

    I think we should just feel Blessed to qualify and further Blessed to receive Merit Scholarships based on NMF status.

    The kids' other high stats can earn them additional scholarships as well.
  • Aggie84Aggie84 Posts: 132Registered User Junior Member
    Fully understand and agree, not intending to cause any discord and if I was smart enough to figure out how to delete my post I would. Good luck to all in their pursuits. If a moderator wants to delete it fine by me.
  • TXArchitectTXArchitect Posts: 1,562Registered User Senior Member
    No cause for that! lol

    And, I don't think it is possible after twenty minutes or so, anyway...

    AND, you are not the only member to reconsider a posting...but "no worries" with this one.

    We NEED a clear and open dialouge.
  • Bartleby007Bartleby007 Posts: 462Registered User Member
    @lolololsd: Don't sweat it. NMS designation is no big deal. It certainly won't make or break your application to top-tier universities.

    Achieving NMS status is nothing more than a "happy coincidence"/positive side effect of being good at standardized tests.
  • Wolverine86Wolverine86 Posts: 1,261Registered User Senior Member
    ^Right...just a "happy coincidence". Lord do I get tired of people knocking NMSF/NMF/NMS status like it's some kind of fluke based solely on the PSAT. NMFs must also have high GPAs, a high SAT score to confirm their PSAT, excellent recommendations from their school, and no discipline issues. Pretty much everything that every high performing student at their school has...PLUS they performed extremely well on the PSAT. ABSOLUTELY NOT a "happy coincidence" or a "positive side effect"...it's a product of long-term, high level CONSISTENT performance in every aspect of their high school years. While it may not matter to "top tier" schools, the recognition of NMF status that many excellent school do offer allows these students to get a fantastic education that their families could otherwise not afford. Please try to inform yourself a little better before posting.
  • intparentintparent Posts: 10,339Registered User Senior Member
    Wolverine86, as the parent of an NMSF (and someone who personally missed by one point while in HS :) ), I agree with your post. However... to the OP, top colleges accept many students, obviously, that are not NMSF/NMF. However, it definitely does help an application to make it. It is a "big deal", but it is not the only deal.
  • Bartleby007Bartleby007 Posts: 462Registered User Member
    @Wolverine86:
    I was simply answering the OP's question...in the context of top-tier college admissions.

    Don't you think it's unfair that the NMSF cut-off is based on one's state of residence or, in some cases, choice of school (e.g., various East Coast prep schools)? For example, a student who scores a 218 in Wyoming might make the NMSF cut-off but another student who earns a 221 doesn't make the cut in Massachusetts. It seems rather arbitrary.

    If the NMS were truly merit-based, why the different standards/cut-offs?

    On top of that, a number of NMS-designated financial awards are only available to students who happen to have a parent affiliated with a large company sponsoring the NMS scholarship.

    An interesting side effect is that NMSF/F-designation provides a financial vehicle for some second-tier schools to recruit bright kids under the auspices of a merit-based process. Certain schools, such as USC, have been known to offer full-ride scholarship to NMFs in order to woo them away from HYPS, MIT, CalTech, etc.

    The selection process for NMSF/NMF/NMS is rather one-dimensional, if you ask me. The first cut is based on a standardized test score alone -- and we all know the inherent biases of such tests. That's why top-tier schools discount the weight of the award/honor. I wish that the NMS would fix the system or just do away with it altogether.

    FYI, the top schools have put in place need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid. Strong applicants from lower and middle class families should not worry about their families being able to afford the price tag of an education at top-tier colleges. Just apply. If you are accepted, the financial aid departments will put together an affordable package for the family/student.
  • PhilovitistPhilovitist Posts: 2,737Registered User Senior Member
    Don't you think it's unfair that the NMSF cut-off is based on one's state of residence or, in some cases, choice of school (e.g., various East Coast prep schools)? For example, a student who scores a 218 in Wyoming might make the NMSF cut-off but another student who earns a 221 doesn't make the cut in Massachusetts. It seems rather arbitrary.

    No, it's not unfair at all. Each state provides an education of a certain quality; those in lesser states are thus geographically disadvantaged.

    Setting a cut-off per state helps reward merit in the context of one person's educational resources.

    A high score from a student in a state like...er...North Dakota(?) is more of an achievement than a high score from a student in a state like Massachussets or California.
    for example son scored 221 in VA, above minimums for cut-off in Kentucky, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma

    There's a reason cutoffs are lower in those states. Getting a 221 as a Alabama student is harder than getting one in VA.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Posts: 57,843Registered User Senior Member
    Would you recommend the same advice for an out of stater applying to a large state school that a lower qualifying score? Will the school already know--for example son scored 221 in VA, above minimums for cut-off in Kentucky, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma all which offer great packages if he advances to finalist, but he will be competing with in-staters with lower scores. This is not a criticism on these states or their students since we support him wanting to expand his horizons and go out of state, just curious. I would think it won't matter, since Finalist is a Finalist, just want to be sure.



    If the school awards a NMF scholarship to all that apply, then why would it matter?

    And if there were a selection process, likely the SAT or ACT score will make the difference...NOT the PSAT score.
  • allyphoeallyphoe Posts: 689Registered User Member
    Setting a cut-off per state helps reward merit in the context of one person's educational resources.

    Except that it doesn't, so much. A kid who goes to the best school in North Dakota may well have better educational opportunities than a kid who goes to the worst school in New Jersey. State of residence is not a great metric for educational opportunity.
  • PhilovitistPhilovitist Posts: 2,737Registered User Senior Member
    Except that it doesn't, so much. A kid who goes to the best school in North Dakota may well have better educational opportunities than a kid who goes to the worst school in New Jersey. State of residence is not a great metric for educational opportunity.

    On average, it is. And you'll remember that elite private schools have their own cutoffs.

    Setting a state cutoff also ensuresvthat individuals from every state are recognized instead of those from the best areas. National Merit is actually just a regional award. And rightfully so.
  • Bartleby007Bartleby007 Posts: 462Registered User Member
    No, it's not unfair at all. Each state provides an education of a certain quality; those in lesser states are thus geographically disadvantaged.
    @Philovitist: Geography? Is that what NMS is all about? If that's what it is, let's change the name of the competition to reflect it, e.g., the California State Merit Scholar competition, the North Dakota State Merit Scholar contest, etc. But then the scholarship would lose the cachet of the "national" moniker, wouldn't it?

    In its current incarnation, the NMS competition attempts to "spread the wealth" artificially across the entire U.S. The fact of the matter is that educational resources (quality of teaching, opportunities, funding for teachers, after-school tutoring) are not evenly distributed across the country, within a given state, within a city/town, or even within a specific school.
    Setting a cut-off per state helps reward merit in the context of one person's educational resources.

    A high score from a student in a state like...er...North Dakota(?) is more of an achievement than a high score from a student in a state like Massachussets or California.
    If the point is to "reward merit in the context of one person's education resources," a far more compelling argument can be made for using socioeconomic status to stratify NMSF cut-offs.
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