College Rank and National Merit Finalist

<p>Can someone please explain to me how increasing the number of National Merit Finalists in an entering freshman class will improve a college ranking?</p>

<p>There is a trend at my alma mata where the college is so determined to give full scholarships to NMF that other top students, with better stats, SATs, leadership, records & GPAs are being disregarded. When NMF with a 1350 SAT and 3.6 gpa are being offered full tuition scholarships and students (non NMF) with 1550 and 4.0 are being offered $10,000 scholarships, something seems so out of balance. How would you like to be sitting in class with the kid with the 1350 & full scholarship, and you have the 1550 and a $35,000/year tuition bill? - although we know the 1550 student will probably not choose this school as they will have better offers!</p>

<p>Each year the school brags about it's increase in applications but fails to mention the thousands upon thousands of free applications it sends out. They also like to tout the fact that they have almost as many NMF compared to certain top ranking schools, but fail to mention they give full scholarships to NMF while the other top schools don't give any merit scholarships and are still able to attract more NMF.</p>

<p>When a fellow alumna of mine found out about the free applications to increase overall applicant stats, their response was, "isn't that cheating?"</p>

<p>Well sistersue, I find it more surprising that your university does not offer those sweet scholarships to their athletes and URMs as well...strange.</p>

<p>NMF is a one time only test taking in early Junior year. While SAT can be taking multiple times and it can be superscored. It's up to the college to give out money however it likes.</p>

<p>Note that there's a pretty strong correlation between the PSAT scores (that drive the NMF awards) and future performance on the SAT. I believe you'd find a very small number of kids who qualified for NMF and then went on to get a 1350/1600. The PSAT/NMF qualifications are based on the 240(0) scale, so I supposed that someone could get an 80(0) on the writing portion of the PSAT and not do well in CR or Math....but I think those cases would be rare. In fact, if the SAT scores don't validate that the PSAT scores were accurate, the student does not go from semi-finalist to finalist.</p>

<p>Since my NMF D passed up the offer from your alma mater, I guess at least one other deserving student got the $$.</p>

<p>neandrewthal18, the athletes definintely get sweet scholarships. URMs I don't know much about scholarship offers, but national hispanic & national achievement may cover this. I'm just wondering why the great focus on NMF versus other top students.</p>

<p>Astrophysicsmom, congrats to your d, but since she turned down the offer the $$ does not go to another student, at least not for this year.</p>

<p>And yes, the 1350, 3.6 is at the lower end of the spectrum, but still factual. </p>

<p>Anyway, does anyone know how or why NMF will improve a college's rank?</p>

<p>Certainly they use it in their promotional materials to entice top students to their university. I've seen them on commercials for the school during basketball games on ESPN, for example. As far as actual ranking (as in USNWR), the more students they admit with higher SAT scores (whether they are NMF or not), the higher more the top end of their range of scores shown on the middle 50% charts will be. In general, it is an enticement for top students (measured only by their performance on jr. year PSAT), to want to come to the university. The top students generally want to make sure they are going to a school where they will be challenged and with people similar to them. Most of these kids were probably bored with high school, and are looking forward to the rigors of college. </p>

<p>Why use NMF and not some other measure of performance? NMF is known country-wide, and again, it looks good on promo materials. Most honors programs and public u's that don't offer NMF full-rides use GPA and SAT scores to identify the top students; other scholarships (like the Robertson or Morehead at UNC/Duke) also take into account EC's, leadership, community service, research, etc. There are arguments for/against using any of these "measurement" tools. </p>

<p>I have no doubts that the 1350, 3.6 is factual; I still maintain that is by far the exception, and not the usual for NMF students. In general, you should be happy that your alma mater is continuing to seek top students--it raises the bar for the university.</p>

you should be happy that your alma mater is continuing to seek top students--it raises the bar for the university.


<p>I think even this is debatable. I do know that Berkeley used to aggressively seek out NMF students and give them merit scholarships. As a result for many years, it did have a huge number of NMF graduates. However, it assessed the benefits of the program and dropped it, I guess in line with UC's general position that the SAT is not a telling predictor of college and overall academic performance. And I know that University of Florida is going hog-wild with it, recruiting heavily for NMF and paying them handsomely. Maybe it comes down to a question of where one is on the prestige chain.</p>

<p>Actually, UF backed off this last year. They no longer seek NMF. They have lowered the money offered to them substantially also. Two years ago they invited potential NMF's to an overnight stay on campus and heavily pitched them and their parents. No such invitations went out last year or this year. They continue to court the National Achievement Scholars though. But now they have left NMFs to U of South Florida and U of Central Florida. USC (California not South Carolina) continues to provide a half tuition scholarship to NMFs.</p>

<p>There were several articles about this when U of Florida backed off. Their president told the NY Times that it was not helping their ranking because peers knew they were "buying" the NMFs.
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<p>Why would you not want your Alma Matre to recognize National Merit Finalist? Students achieving this recognition must truly be bright since they have only one chance to prove themselves. Also, the National Merit student, as mentioned above, must prove their score by doing as well on the first SAT taken after the PSAT. Since the National Merit is a national exam, it eliminates the disparities between one school's GPA versus another. A better question is why do schools put so much emphasis on essays (often written or edited by someone other than the student) and extracurricular activities (often made up or exaggerated).</p>

<p>Is there a handy list of schools that really love the NMFs? I have a DD for whom this award may be her top award.</p>

<p>To obtain the status of NMF you must prove to the National Merit Organization that the score on the PSAT test was not a fluke by providing a school transcript of all 3 years, a SAT score that verifies your PSAT score, ec's, etc. Students who are unable to provide the verification are then given the status of National Merit commended or semi-finalist. What college would not want a student who has consistently proven themselves as bright AND hard working? Personally, I think the scholarship offers they get are very much deserved.</p>

<p>reasonabledad - search the fin. aid forum. They have a pretty complete list.</p>

<p>Commended students had a score on the PSAT less than those becoming NM semifinalists, the finalists are the ones who jumped successfully through more hoops- SAT, gpa, essay, et al. The 1/3 or of the finalists (most semi- become finalists) who get money are the scholars.</p>

<p>Some schools try to recruit NM finalists by offering many scholarships, others don't need to do so to get the students. I wish schools would report the number of finalists, not just scholars, as many don't get the money, sometimes because of the school they chose or ranked as their first choice on the NMS form.</p>

<p>Does anyone know the SAT and GPA cut-offs for Finalist status? I don't quite see how that would work with all of the different high schools in the country...each with it's own student body and grading standards.</p>

<p>Our D received a great offer from Simmons, Pace, WPI, Univ of Oklahoma, Ursinis, & Univ of Texas At Dallas, I think as result of NMF.</p>

<p>How the heck did someone with 1350SAT and 3.6GPA even become a National Merit Finalist? To do so, you must submit your grades, an essay, and SAT scores. It's not an easy standard to meet.</p>

<p>I'm thinking those scores are anomalous. They do not correlate at all with those of any of the 5 finalists I know.</p>

<p>NMF is just what it is--a designation that you scored well on the PSAT junior year (where well varies quite a bit from state to state). If your score qualifies you as a semifinalist, you take the time to fill out the finalist application and you haven't committed a felony or ticked off your principal, you're probably in (and that's 94% of semifinalists). I'm guessing any GPA over 3.0 will probably suffice.</p>

<p>Most people report a good correlation between PSAT and SAT scores. S did--SAT (including Writing) was 10X PSAT score +50. The 1350 is consistent with about a 200 or so PSAT, and that is on the low end.</p>

<p>So the NMF designation is little more than recognition of a high-enough PSAT score, and we all know that there's a lot more to the student than one standardized test.</p>

<p>I also agree that schools should report NMF's, not just NM Scholars--no NMF scholarships awarded by HYPSM, etc.</p>

<p>isn't it possible that some schools have endowments that are ear marked for use for nmf recruitment? if this is the case, the use of the $$$'s are restricted then, aren't they?</p>

<p>isn't it said that some colleges "compete" against one another to garner the most nmf's? </p>

<p>aren't there are some schools that actively recruit nmf's and nmsf's and some schools that do not actively recruit?</p>

<p>i don't have it handy but there's probably a listing of the schools that do have the highest number of enrolled nmf's.</p>

<p>astrophysicsmom - nice post, well said.</p>

<p>reasonabledad - some to check out are.................. ut-dallas, houston, ok. state, wichita state, k-state, univ. of tulsa, ucf, texas tech, texas a & m, baylor, ok., tulane, case western reserve and arizona state. as your d starts receiving mailings and e-mails from the colleges, just make a quick effort to ask their admissions offices and honors departments what scholarship opportunities are available for nmsf's and nmf's. you'll want to find out if they allow scholarship stacking too.</p>

<p>I also do not understand why some schools are so excited about NMFs. Actually the PSAT score required to become NMF is frequently not even above 75th percentile for SAT scores in these schools.
From what I saw: the major thing determining why some strong students become NMF and others do not is whether their PARENTS knew that PSAT results can become big money later. Couple sample tests will turn a 210 (a standard unpreared score of a strong student) into a 220 (enough for NMF). The later steps are a formalityfor strong students (about 90% of semifinalists become finalists in most states, you have to screw-up big time in order to fail here). I know couple NMFs who are pretty average students and who never managed to push their SAT scores above 2200 and I know amazing kids with really high scores who are not NMFs. Just because they did't know that PSAT is important.
Naturally, good work should be rewarded. And good preparation to PSAT schould be rewarded. But is it really worth 200 thousands?</p>