EVANSTON, Ill. – Three local high school students are among 16,000 semifinalists in the 59th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) have named David Majure and Karam Rahatt, both of Lamar Foundation High School, and Madison M. Smith of Enterprise High School as National Merit semifinalists. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,000 National Merit Scholarships worth about $35 million that will be offered next spring.
To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition.
About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.
NMSC, a not-for-profi t organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifi cally to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 440 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.
Steps in the 2014 competition
About 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2012 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifi nalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.
To become a finalist, the semifinalist and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the Semifi nalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifi nalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school offi cial, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confi rm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.
From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level, and in February they will be notifi ed of this designation. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.