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my National Merit kid is a freshman in college finally...feel free to ask questions!

FrozenMaineMomFrozenMaineMom 95 replies22 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
edited September 26 in National Merit Scholarships
Hi all, I just checked in on College Confidential after taking roughly 6 months off of the site. I was on this site literally every day for months trying to navigate the whole National Merit thing and college search in general so I figured I would try to give back before I forget everything. My daughter graduated in June as a NMF and we are from Maine. She decided to go to UCF. Just last night she called me and told me about the dinner UCF held for the National Merit kids to welcome them to school and remind them how much they are valued there. I believe there are 90 Freshman and that is their largest NM group yet. I still cannot get over the blessing that being a NMF was to our family. Our daughter decided the free undergrad years were of enormous value to her since she things she will go on to med school from here and knows how expensive that will be. In the end, she only applied to a few colleges and although we may have preferred for her to stay up North, we could not pass up the deal at UCF. If anyone has any questions that I can help with let me know and good luck with traversing this stressful time!




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edited September 26
30 replies
Post edited by MaineLonghorn on
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Replies to: my National Merit kid is a freshman in college finally...feel free to ask questions!

  • onthewestfenceonthewestfence 240 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @FrozenMaineMom Which other FL schools did you consider? Could you name the accepted colleges overall you had to select among? Is she in the BS/MD program at Barnett? TIA.
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  • carmartwinmomcarmartwinmom 22 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thank you for starting this thread!
    Do you remember if UCF sent out info to NMSF’s? I read last years info and there was a NMSF weekend in November. If they do the same this year, my son won’t be able to go then because he has football.
    Also- when you did visit did they have any reimbursement for flights and hotel? If that’s not an option I’ll have to search more diligently for cheaper options/timeframes.
    Thanks!
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  • FrozenMaineMomFrozenMaineMom 95 replies22 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Hi - yes, UCF did send something out to the NMSFs about coming to their November weekend. We chose not to go to the November weekend because my daughter had toured there the end of August and felt she knew enough about the school at that time and we didn't think we could afford to fly back down (more on that later!). Apparently it was well attended. However, they also offer an event the end March for the finalists and that is the one we chose to go to. She was already pretty sure that was where she wanted to go to school anyway but the event made us go and check everything out again. And yes, they paid for us to go down there! They paid our flight and hotels and a rental car for the weekend. It felt really nice that they wanted her that much. I had to ask Luke Van Blaricom (he is in charge of the whole NM program there) if they would pay for it though - they do not seem to advertise or offer it. It was nice to go at a time when other NM families were there to be able to talk about our research and bounce things off of them about what schools they were considering, etc. They do a nice job of making the NM kids feel special and the Burnett Honors College is just so impressive that it really is the reason she chose UCF. Also, once she saw the housing at the Towers (that she kept comparing to traditional dorm rooms at other schools) it just felt like a no-brainer. In all fairness, we really did not give a ton of thought to some of the other colleges offering full rides or close to for NM (University of Alabama, UTDallas, other FL schools) ...where she was going to go so far away from home, since we were pretty familiar with Orlando from vacationing there and liked the proximity to the airport, that also seemed like a safer choice to us. She is loving it so far except battling some homesickness and not used to the extreme heat :)
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  • drxxpressodrxxpresso 43 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thanks for the information @FrozenMaineMom! DD20 is very interested in UCF, and we’ll be doing a NMSF visit next month. Is there anything/anyone you found particularly helpful there in making your decision when you visited? DD is interested in majoring in Chemistry +/- a Physics minor then continuing to grad school.
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  • FrozenMaineMomFrozenMaineMom 95 replies22 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @drxxpresso , YES, we set up a meeting a few weeks ahead of time with Dr. Madi Dogariu (director of student services at Burnett Honors College) and also with Luke Van Blaricom (the National Merit Program Director). Both of them were extremely helpful and took the time to meet with us. Luke set up a tour of campus (and the Towers dorm which is phenomenal) and then answered questions about how the scholarship works. Over at the Burnett Honors College, my dd had over an hour with Dr Dogariu who is quite impressive. The pride they have in their honors college opportunities (the small classes for the honors classes, the research opportunities and advising help specific to the honors kids, etc.) is what really stood out. My daughter is not into the huge school environment as far as the football hype and all that comes with a large school - but she felt that the benefits specifically of the Burnett Honors College were definitely big enough for her to try to navigate going so far away from home. She is in Biomedical Sciences and felt pretty content with what she learned about their sciences depts. preparing her whether she continued on a path to med school or to grad school. When we went to the NMF dinner in March there was also time to meet many current honors students. Unless those students were great actors, the passion they had for the Honors College was quite evident and was contagious!
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  • carmartwinmomcarmartwinmom 22 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thank you so much again for taking the time out to start this thread.
    I’m sure I’ll be asking more questions as time goes on.
    I really appreciate it!
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  • drxxpressodrxxpresso 43 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Oh, I know what I’ve been wondering- when you do the more in-depth NM college visits do the parents tag along for just some the day? All? For example if she’s meeting with someone from her department of interest it doesn’t seem like you’d want your mom butting in, but I assume I’d go along for the tours and the more presentation-type meetings?
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  • NJEngineerDadNJEngineerDad 120 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @drxxpresso last year we let our son fly to Arizona State University (ASU) by himself to visit the Barrett Honors College. It was very well organized and we were condident it would be safe. This option is open to all national scholars 16 and older.
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  • BingeWatcherBingeWatcher 907 replies7 threadsRegistered User Member
    Thank you for this thread!!!
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  • FrozenMaineMomFrozenMaineMom 95 replies22 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @drxxpresso I know that some of the schools offered options for the kids to sit in on a class but mine never did get a chance to do that. As far as the other meetings go, I probably could have let my daughter have some of those meetings by herself but since we had to be with her in FL (flying from Maine) then we actually wanted to hear more as well to help quide her with her decisions and just be an extra set of ears. She could absolutely handle herself (they are National Merit kids afterall) but there was so much info to be learned and we wanted to understand the scholarship piece too and felt it was more appropriate to be there for that stuff. She did do some local (New England) touring of colleges without us but when it came down to the very serious final contenders we wanted to hear the info. too. If it was somewhere close to home I might not have felt the need as much?
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  • BMC9670BMC9670 19 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Does anyone know if UF does a NMSF or NMF event like UCF? It seems like UCF really rolls out the red carpet but UF relies on its ranking and reputation to lure candidates.
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  • PhlipperPhlipper 205 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Hi all, I just checked in on College Confidential after taking roughly 6 months off of the site. I was on this site literally every day for months trying to navigate the whole National Merit thing and college search in general so I figured I would try to give back before I forget everything. My daughter graduated in June as a NMF and we are from Maine. She decided to go to UCF. Just last night she called me and told me about the dinner UCF held for the National Merit kids to welcome them to school and remind them how much they are valued there. I believe there are 90 Freshman and that is their largest NM group yet. I still cannot get over the blessing that being a NMF was to our family. Our daughter decided the free undergrad years were of enormous value to her since she things she will go on to med school from here and knows how expensive that will be. In the end, she only applied to a few colleges and although we may have preferred for her to stay up North, we could not pass up the deal at UCF. If anyone has any questions that I can help with let me know and good luck with traversing this stressful time!

    My daughter was there ! She's a Sophomore this year and is still head over heels in love with UCF.
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  • drxxpressodrxxpresso 43 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @Phlipper can I ask what her major is? We’re visiting UCF next month, and DD is interested in Chemistry +/- physics. Not pre-med.
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  • PPugglePPuggle 19 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thanks for this thread. @FrozenMaineMom @Phlipper I'm so glad your daughters like it at UCF. We live in Orlando and years ago, I've heard that UCF rolls out the red carpet for NMF kids but that UF doesn't care, relying on their reputation to attract the students. My daughters are both semi-finalists and want to study CS. UCF is an amazing option for us and is better than UF specifically for CS. My only concern is that UCF is literally 20 min from our house and my daughters already spend a lot of time on campus through Dual Enrollment and with weekend meetings. Even if they live on campus, I'm worried they won't get the full college experience of going away, acclimating to some place new and having to find new friends.
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  • BingeWatcherBingeWatcher 907 replies7 threadsRegistered User Member
    @PPuggle I hear you about living local to a NMF school. We live local to Texas Tech which has the nation's most generous NMF and a great engineering school. D will not consider it because most of her high school goes there.
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  • PhlipperPhlipper 205 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    drxxpresso wrote: »
    @Phlipper can I ask what her major is? We’re visiting UCF next month, and DD is interested in Chemistry +/- physics. Not pre-med.

    She started as a Nursing major but has switched to pursuing a BFA in Music.
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  • FrozenMaineMomFrozenMaineMom 95 replies22 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @PPuggle I definitely am glad my daughter is getting the whole college experience and yet if I had a major university 20 minutes away, I know that would have been a really tough call for us. Homesickness is no joke and has been a surprise to us that she is experiencing it ...so if you had asked me 3 weeks ago I would have said "keep them as close as possible!" but now that we are coming out on the other side, I have seen her grow even more as a person learning to traverse being far away. She cannot believe how much time "adulting" takes (her own laundry, cooking, cleaning on top of the regular school stuff) and I think being far has allowed me NOT to be able to take over some of it for her as I might have been tempted...
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  • Icky19Icky19 5 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    We contacted UF to find out if they offered anything for NSF and the answer basically was "Congratulations, but UF doesn't do anything special for them".
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  • BingeWatcherBingeWatcher 907 replies7 threadsRegistered User Member
    @Phlipper Did you D not like the nursing prerequisites? Would she recommend UCF's nursing program to others?
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