Two SLS students received nods from the National Merit Scholarship Program — Grace Jelinek, '20, was named a National Merit Semi-Finalist, and Zachary Hartlep, '20, received the National Merit Letter of Commendation.
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announces 16,000 semi-finalists who have the opportunity to continue in the competition for 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million. Over 90 percent of the semi-finalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.
Over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by participating in the 2018 PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semi-finalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of semi-finalists in a state is proportional to the state's percentage of the national total graduating seniors.
To become a Finalist, the semi-finalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semi-finalist's academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A semi-finalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT or ACT scores that confirm the student's earlier performance on the qualifying test.
From the approximately 16,000 semi-finalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level, and in February, they will be notified 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.
There are three types of National Merit Scholarships. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarships will be provided by approximately 220 corporations and business organization for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor's employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,100 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.
National Merit Scholarship winners of 2020 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 345,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.
ABOUT THE LETTER OF COMMENDATION:
About 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are recognized for their exceptional academic promise. Although they will not continue in the 2020 competition for National Merit Scholarship awards, Commended Students placed among the top 50,000 scorers of more than 1.5 million who entered the 2020 competition by taking the 2019 PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.
"Those being named Commended Students have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success," commented a spokesperson for NMSC. "These students represent a valuable national resource; recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role their schools play in their academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation. We hope that this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and encourage them as they continue their pursuit of academic success."
Congratulations, Grace and Zach!