Students in running to be Merit Scholars

Eighteen distinguished Brahmas were selected as National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists. They are now in the running to become potential finalists.

As they advance toward possibly becoming National Merit Winners, these semifinalists earn recognition that can significantly heighten students’ chances in earning scholarships and better the college admissions’ impression of these individuals.

“It’s more than just a practice test. It’s a gateway to more [opportunities]. The exposure you get and the attention is great and it really does get your name out there to colleges and opens the door for more scholarship opportunities,” commented one of the semifinalists, senior Udodiri Okwandu.

The final selection of National Merit winners from the pool of qualified finalists may be eligible for three types of scholarships: the $2,500 Scholarship, College-sponsored, and Corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards. Each provides a generous sum of money toward the students’ college tuition.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for monetary rewards and nationwide acknowledgement. To qualify for the scholarship, students have to first take the PSAT in their junior year and earn a score in the top 5 percent of 1.5 million participants.

This year the cut off was 217 points out of the maximum 240 points. The process continues with the selection of one third of the 50,000 qualifiers who were the highest scoring entrants in each state to proceed to the semifinalist stage.

From then on, the semifinalists are determined by academic success, extracurricular and volunteer activities. In order to advance to the finalist round, semifinalists had to complete supplements similar to college applications.

The application required students to obtain a letter of recommendation from a guidance counselor or a teacher, list information about all their extracurricular activities and potential colleges, provide an SAT score, and write an essay.

These remarkable students are currently awaiting the results, which will be posted on Feb. 7, 2013.