The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) recently announced five Lower Merion School District seniors have been selected as National Merit Scholarship winners through their annual program recognizing and honoring the academically talented students of the United States.
Harriton's Anthony Zhu and Derek Goss and Lower Merion's Nisha Arya and Robert Zorc were each chosen for the $2,500 scholarship from a talent pool of more than 15,000 finalists in this year's program. Lower Merion's Michael Cheng was also selected as a winner of the National Merit Mary E. Beyerle Scholarship, a corporate-sponsored award designated for seven finalists from Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
National Merit Scholarship winners are the finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state's percentage of the nation's graduating high school seniors.
These scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.
The National Merit Scholarship Program begins as more than 1.6 million students in 22,000+ high schools take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which serves as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than one percent of the nation's high school seniors, were named semifinalists on a state-representational basis. Only 16,000 semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition.
From the semifinalist group, some 15,000 students met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. By the conclusion of the 2018 program, about 7,500 Finalists will have earned the "Merit Scholar" title and received a total of over $31 million in college scholarships.
NMSC, a non-profit corporation that operates without government assistance, was founded in 1955 specifically to conduct the National Merit Scholarship Program. The majority of scholarships offered each year are underwritten by approximately 410 independent corporate and college sponsors that share NMSC's goals of honoring scholastically talented youth and encouraging academic excellence at all levels of education.