LAHS students move a step closer to a National Merit Scholarship

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By Special to the Monitor

Los Alamos High School students Emma Carroll, Kathy Lin, Jamie Resnick, Shaina Riciputi, Dov Shlachter and Kendra Smale are a part of a nationwide group of students who share an impressive accomplishment.

Carroll, Lin, Resnick, Riciputi, Shlachter and Smale are among the 16,000 semifinalists in the 55th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

To be a semifinalist means they are able to continue to compete for approximately 8,200 National Merit Scholarships that are worth more than $36 million that will be offered next spring.

About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing and about half of them will win a National Merit Scholarship.

The competition is tough. More than 1.5 million juniors in about 22,000 high schools entered the 2010 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2008 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

The nationwide pool of semifinalists, which represents less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.

The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a finalist, a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the high school principal and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

The semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, which includes the student’s essay and information about the semifinalist’s participation and leadership in school and community activities.

Three types of National Merit Scholarship awards will be offered in the spring of 2010.

Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis.

Approximately 270 corporate and business-sponsored scholarships will provide about 1,000 corporate-sponsored scholarships for finalists who meet their specified criteria.

In addition, about 200 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,700 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 500 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.