National Merit qualifiers

National+Merit+qualifiers

chicagotribune.com

Rahul Khanna

Twenty-seven Northwood seniors were named semifinalists in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program on Sept. 9, joining nearly 16,000 students nationwide to compete for scholarships worth thousands of dollars.

More than 1.5 million students of the Class of 2021 entered the program by taking the 2019 PSAT, with the top 3% of scorers qualifying as commended scholars and the top 1% of scorers qualifying as semifinalists. Commended scholars will not continue in the National Merit competition, but may be eligible for other awards.

About 7,600 scholarships worth over $30 million will be awarded to students who successfully progress in the competition, on the basis of an application that each semifinalist will complete.

“I was actually pretty surprised that I qualified since I was unsure of a decent number of questions on the PSAT,” senior Kaela Birozy said. “Once I found out my score, though, I knew I was going to be a semifinalist, so that was definitely exciting.”

In order to become finalists, current semifinalists must complete the National Merit Scholarship Application, which includes writing essays, showing evidence of high academic performance throughout highschool and getting a recommendation from a school official. While SAT or ACT scores are generally required for the application, they will not be considered this year due to multiple test centers being closed.

Semifinalists will be notified by February whether they advanced to finalist standing or not.

“I’m happy to get this opportunity to win scholarship money,” senior Austin Wang said. “But it’s also a competitive process with a large application pool, and you really never know what they’re looking for.”

Roughly 15,000 of the 16,000 semifinalists are expected to advance to the finals. About half of the finalists will win scholarships ranging from a $2,500 National Merit scholarship to a corporate-sponsored or college-sponsored scholarship. Most scholarship winners will be announced by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation by June.

“Having National Merit recognition on an application is certainly notable as it is awarded to such a small number of students,” counselor Allison Singer said. “It’s a huge achievement, and we are so proud of our Semifinalists.”