322 NM Scholars from Class of '22 at Alabama

…this fall there are also 1,088 students recognized as National Merit Scholars, the most ever to attend the Capstone and 16% more than a year ago. The freshman class alone includes 322 National Merit Scholars, a 15% increase from last year.”

Big gains over the last few years:

  • 2017 – 134
  • 2018 – 185
  • 2019 – 258
  • 2020 – 223
  • 2021 – 281
  • 2022 – 322
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I’ll start with the statement that I like Alabama, and believe they are doing a great job of attracting high stats students. Illinois, where I live, is losing a lot of good students to Alabama.

The issue of the number of National Merit Scholars at Alabama sometimes comes up here on CC, and it’s important to note there are around 50,000 National Merit Scholars each year (a worthy achievement).

That number then gets whittled down to commended scholars (~34K most recently), National Merit Semifinalists (~15K-16K), and finally National Merit Finalists (~14K).

Just wanted to bring some perspective to this, but also acknowledge Alabama is doing well at attracting high stats students, enrolling 322 National Merit Scholars in this year’s class.

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There aren’t 50,000 National Merit Scholars. From your link, there are 50,000 National Merit “High Scorers”, which split into 34,000 National Merit Commended Students and 16,000 National Merit Semifinalists. The 16,000 Semifinalists turn into 15,000 Finalists, and then those become around 8,000-9,000 National Merit Scholars, the last winnowing down. The end distinction is a little…weird in some ways, since every student who gets a college National Merit scholarship is a National Merit Scholar – meaning that every National Merit Finalist at Alabama is a National Merit Scholar, but not every finalist at Harvard is.

You can see comparing the 2020 number from Alabama’s literature and the Alabama’s number from the National Merit Annual Report (page 39) that it is their matriculating students of those 8000 Scholars that they’re counting.

(No particular opinion on Alabama one way or the other – my kid’s more likely to go to UT Dallas – but I though it was interesting how many Finalists/Scholars they had.)

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Yes, I see your point. Thanks for the correction.

There is a huge benefit to knowing that is you are a NMF you are getting in Alabama and you know the cost, when the merit scholarship selection process at so many other schools seems murky and arbitrary.