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Why it’s easy to make semi finalist or finalist but tough to become a scholar?

RiversiderRiversider 934 replies111 threads Senior Member
For people who dismiss National merit scholarship as just a PSAT score. That’s only for becoming semi finalist , there is a lot more required for becoming a National Merit Scholar.

“National Merit $2,500 scholarship winners are the finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills and potential for success in rigorous college studies. These scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the finalists and their high schools, including: academic record, difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.”
edited July 2019
22 replies
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Replies to: Why it’s easy to make semi finalist or finalist but tough to become a scholar?

  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30512 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Are you asking or telling?

    Yes, it is difficult to get to National Merit Scholar. It’s quite an honor and opens doors to some very generous scholarship possibilities.

    If a student is not interested in any of the schools that offer these awards, there is still the one time $2500 grant.

    The rules in getting some of these awards are difficult to follow , but certainly worth while for those who want them.

    Congratulations to any and all who make NMS status. It is a prestigious accomplishment
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  • RiversiderRiversider 934 replies111 threads Senior Member
    Telling as it’s often dismissed by some posters as just one PSAT score.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30512 replies59 threads Senior Member
    I would not dismiss it. I would caution those who get semi finalist status or end up Commended student that it’s not going to be a huge windfall, but to become a NMS is quite the honor.

    The thing is, for many posters on this board, the goal is not getting even a full ride as NMS to those schools that offer it. They want HPYSMC et al. And they want it badly. Those schools don’t give a whole lot of weight, if any, to NMS standing. They get enough of them to fill their classes if they so choose. Like valedictorians, perfect test scores, they aren’t jumping up to grab those who achieve those very great honors because so many of those students end up knocking in their doors that they have the pick of them. You get the $2500 award for one year, is all the merit you get if you go to one of those schools as NMS.
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  • RiversiderRiversider 934 replies111 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2019
    Of course real advantages of NMS are at lower ranking schools offering full merit rides. My point was that making a scholar is not easy and high PSAT score though is awesome but it only gets your foot in for finalist and scholar levels, for which you have to naturally excel at all levels and no SAT prep school can help you with that.
    edited July 2019
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30512 replies59 threads Senior Member
    I’ve known many NMS. I was one myself, as was one of my kids. I think 100% of those who qualified with the PSAT who got the test score cuts on the SAT and a decent GPA did go on to be NMS finalists. And NMS. Some of them didn’t have the greatest grades either. The grades and rigor requirements were not difficult to meet and few schools will sabotage a NMS candidate with their LORs.
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  • RiversiderRiversider 934 replies111 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2019
    It’s easier for semifinalist to become finalist but becoming scholar isn’t easy unless finalist is getting a scholarship through participating college or parent’s employer.
    edited July 2019
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30512 replies59 threads Senior Member
    It made no difference for my kids. The schools they got, it was a $2500 check. Back in my day, that could make a big dent in private college tuition. It can just cover book and supplies these days.

    For those who can find a sponsor or want to go to a school that gives money for the standing, it’s s terrific program. My one son did get some free tuition offers due to NMS designation and one was a school in his list but not a favorite. He had the luxury of picking where he wanted to go, and it wasn’t that school. Also he wasn’t that great of a scholar—gpa was not that good., but he did very well on the PSAT and SATs I don’t think his school particularly thought he was a great scholar either but they clearly coughed up an acceptable letter of Rec. A lot of people at the school were surprised he was one of the few who got that designation. He was not on that radar. The Val and sal who got into Harvard and Yale did not get NMS standing.
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  • RiversiderRiversider 934 replies111 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2019
    Good for him. It’s not about just money. It’s a distinction and sense of achievement after hard work. In the end, if one has means (aid, parent or merit), then they should pick best suited college.
    edited July 2019
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30512 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Which all of mine did.

    College can be a tough time for young people. It helps that they picked the school, did not get pushed into it buy parents. I’ve seen the most academically talented kids drop out of college due to emotional issues.
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  • RiversiderRiversider 934 replies111 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2019
    I agree. Just because parents have best intentions, it doesn’t mean they can’t steer students wrong.
    edited July 2019
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  • PhlipperPhlipper 234 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I would say that its actually easier to become a NMS these days once you make NMF, the path is simply to choose one of the state schools in Florida ( great schools by the way) or those in Texas that offer the full rides, again, great schools, UTD, Texas Tech, UNT etc. Most of these schools will offer a small National Merit Scholarship in order to qualify their students as national Merit Scholars.
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  • RiversiderRiversider 934 replies111 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2019
    @Phlipper Its certainly is easy if your parents work for a participating employer or if you pick a random college trying to buy good students who are not eligible for need based aid and looking for merit scholarship to pay for college because otherwise they won’t even look at that these colleges.

    However, if you want a more selective college like Ivies and other T20, it’s unlikely to become scholar unless foundation selects you as their top scholars. Only 2,500 students out of 3 million high school graduates/16,000 semi finalists/15,000 finalist make it. Majority of finalist, 12,500 to be exact don’t get any money from foundation. If they pick a non participating top college, they get $0 dollar and stay finalist, doesn’t get scholar designation.
    edited July 2019
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  • RiversiderRiversider 934 replies111 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2019
    @Phlipper Different priorities. Yours was saving money, ours was excellence and best fit. Both you and I want bright future for our kids, we just use different navigation systems. I don’t put UTD and Texas Tech in same category as Harvard or MIT but more power to you if you do.
    edited July 2019
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  • PhlipperPhlipper 234 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @Riversider My kids chose their schools, it was the best fit for them. They get excellence for 75K less per year. If they wanted to attend the Ivies they would have and we would have found a way to pay for them.
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  • RiversiderRiversider 934 replies111 threads Senior Member
    Big savings. Congratulations!!
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  • NCALnowNCALnow 2 replies0 threads New Member
    @Riversider Can you clarify the statement " If they pick a non participating top college, they get $0 dollar and stay finalist, doesn’t get scholar designation. " My D was indicating she should only chose a college that participates (aka offers $ so NMS) and there was absolutely no point in choosing a HYP school. I thought it would be good to send it to them just to show your strong interest... but sounds like they do not even see this until AFTER admissions is over.
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  • RiversiderRiversider 934 replies111 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2019
    You can keep your dream school as your pick for NMS, you can change it later after RD decisions. I can’t recall what’s the last date but you can check their website for college choice deadlines.
    edited September 2019
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  • border1218border1218 66 replies0 threads Junior Member
    my son's top choice school offers free tuition for NMSF. obviously, he will accept that offer and go there (he's already been admitted). is he still eligible for the $2500?

    i'm getting the impression that you choose between:
    1. $2500
    2. corporate scholar
    3. college scholar

    is that right--that you can only choose one of the above? thanks.
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