how to become a finalist?

<p>i live in CA. just got the letter from national merit foundation saying i am one of the top 50,000. PSAT score was 228 so im fairly confident ill be a semifinalist in september. a few questions:
What do i need to do between now and september to ensure that i will become a finalist? i have heard that you must "exhibit leadership" in your semifinalist essay to become a finalist. should i start volunteering? at the same time, however, i have read that 15000/16000 semifinalists go on to become finalists, so what exactly could prevent that?
Would becoming a national merit finalist indeed guarantee one a scholarship to, say, the university of arizona, one of many schools that offer decent scholarships for finalists? or are these competitive? i should have a 4.25 cumulative weighted gpa after senior year, a 4.0 unweighted, and a challenging class load. is this good enough? i havent gotten in trouble at my school at all.</p>

<p>You are not required to do anything more than what you would normally do for college admissions. No one is required to volunteer, however volunteering is something that many college admissions committees look favorably upon.</p>

<p>The main reasons that students do not become finalists are
1) They did not apply (some students do not fill out the paper work)
2) Their SAT scores were very low (less than about 1950). You have not mentioned your SAT score, I expect it will be higher.
3) Their GPA was low or they had many bad grades
4) The school could not recommend them as they had disciplinary problems etc.</p>

<p>None of them may apply to you, so chances are you will become a finalist. Beyond that, to get the NMSC or Corporate awards (if you are eligible), they will look at your application, essay, ECs including Volunteering etc. However, you have to do all of this anyway for most college applications anyway. so my suggestion is work on your EC's if you have not done so already. You will get the NMSF forms in Aug/Sept and make sure you fill it out to the best of your ability i.e. write the best essay you can etc.</p>

<p>Also as CA student, you seem strong enough for some the UC schools and I am not sure why you are not considering them.</p>

<p>U of Arizona at least this year was giving scholarships to all NMF, i.e. non competitive. Next year it may be different case as Arizona is going through budget cuts. ASU which was matching U of A had cut the NMF awards down substantially this year, there is no guarantee that U of A will not do the same next year.</p>

<p>my sat is plenty higher. i am considering the UCs but will be unable to afford them, unless i received a scholarship (unlikely) or entered ROTC (dont want to be committed to the military). what exactly does pursuing a "competitive" NMF scholarship entail?</p>

<p>If your SAT is higher than 228, you'll fabulous college options! There're many schools that offer full ride scholarships for those with SATs that high, including U of Pittsburgh, etc. As for school sponsored NMF scholarships, as long as you qualify for finalist status you will receive the scholarship from college if you designate the college as your first choice in April.</p>

<p>I have the same question! So it looks like the jump from semifinalist to finalist involves more than what one got on the actual PSAT. If I'm not mistaken, then the PSAT score only plays a large role up to the semifinalist stage?</p>

<p>That sounds right to me. Once you're a semi-finalist I'm pretty sure your PSAT score becomes irrelevant. From then on I think it's just a matter of filling out your paperwork on time and not having any huge issues on your application.</p>

<p>About 16000 make semi finalist (SF), of which 15000 make finalist. So more or less every SF will make it, unless you have some disqualification, the most important ones are mentioned in post # 2. So chances are that if you make it SF you will make it NMF. Beyond that everything depends. </p>

<p>It depends upon the company where your parents work for, possibly the major you are interested (e.g. petroleum engineering students may get a scholarship from Chevron), where you live (some scholarships people who live in some areas of south Florida), which school you agree to go to, your profile etc.</p>

<p>About 8000 students get scholarships from many different sources. 2500 of them are from NMSC, the remaining come from corporations, schools etc. Everyone has different criteria. Hence one student with PSAT of 233 may not get a scholarship, while another with a PSAT of 203 may get a very good scholarship from the company his parents work for.</p>

<p>To go from NMSF to NMF....</p>

<p>1) keep your nose clean at school - you need the rec</p>

<p>2) Take the SAT by Dec and have score sent to NMCorp - code 0085
(Typically a score over 2000 is considered good enough - altho some with scores of 1950 have reported making NMF.)</p>

<p>3) Receive the NMSF paperwork in September. Follow all the directions, write a nice essay, and return paperwork to school before the due date.</p>

<p>4) Check with school to make sure paperwork is submitted on time to NMCorp.</p>

<p>5) Keep your GPA strong at school; the school sends your transcript to NMCorp with your paperwork.</p>

<p>6) Don't fret about picking #1 choice for college. That can be decided in late winter/early spring - depending on school's deadline.</p>

<p>The kids who don't make NMF after being named NMSF typically cause that to happen by...</p>

<p>1) bad behavior at school</p>

<p>2) poor academic performance (GPA issues)</p>

<p>3) didn't do the paperwork, did it incorrectly, or submitted it too late.</p>

<p>4) wrote a rude/poor essay.</p>

<p>5) didn't take the SAT, didn't send score to NMCorp, and/or didn't have a good SAT score (typically a score over 2000 is considered "safe.")</p>

<p>If you receive a rejection letter stating that you didn't make NMF, you can appeal. Some appeals have been successful.</p>

<p>Any questions...feel free to call NMCorp - they're very nice on the phone.</p>

<p>Nat'l Merit Corp 847-866-5100</p>

<p>^ Thanks so much! That helped immensely (: </p>

<ul>
<li><p>Regarding the "keeping one's nose clean at school" since a rec is needed -- we have a choice of choosing who to get the rec from, right? Or is it something generic submitted by the school? </p></li>
<li><p>What exactly is defined as a "strong" GPA? A lapse in a class wouldn't get me cut, would it?</p></li>
</ul>

<p>


</p>

<p>[ol]
[<em>]It has be the school principal or a designated school official like a GC. So it cannot be anybody
[</em>] Your GPA does not have to be a perfect 4.0 but it should be pretty high and small variances can be explained by the principal or GC or by yourself in your essay. If you get say a 3.8, no explanations may be necessary. If you get a 3.5 or 3.6, an explanation would be important. Once you start going below that, the explanation should be very strong. I am not sure there is a hard cut off but as always, higher the better.
[/ol]</p>

<p>^^^</p>

<p>Very true.</p>

<p>Yes, the GC or principal writes the rec, so "keeping one's nose clean" means staying out of detention and not getting suspended. </p>

<p>Generally, an A/B record with a couple of Cs (semester grades) is OK. D's are not good, nor are a bunch of Cs (again, talking about semester grades, not quarter grades)</p>

<p>Sounds good! Thanks for the clarification!</p>

<p>how do you make sure that the National Merit scholarship people get your SAT score?</p>

<p>You pay collegeboard money to send your sat scores to the national merit corp or you send your score to the national merit corp when you register for the sat. The same way you send your score to colleges.</p>