Seven members of Watchung Hills Regional High School’s Class of 2013 achieved Semifinalist standing in the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship Program competition. They are Katherine Dong Joshua Ehrenberg, Diana Liao, Audrey Luo, all of Warren; Alan Gou, Jessica Xu, both of Watchung, and Felix Kung, Millington.
The Merit honorees are among some 16,000 Class of 2013 students nationwide to have achieved Semifinalist status in the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
Additionally, 24 members of Watchung Hills Class of 2013 were named Commended Students, in the top five percent nationwide of those taking the exam last fall. They are: Kayleigh Askin, Rohit Biswas, Daniel Codos, Rachel Hobble, Sheree Liu, Milonee Mehta, Brian Pester, Ujwal Rai, Lauren Sinski, Ryan Smith, all of Warren; Jackson Bahr, Timothy Carroll, Edward Chang, Casey Lane, Arjun Puranapanda, all of Watchung; Woo Chang, Kevin Chen, Jane Frank, Ari Goodman, Rohan Jadvani, Yitao Li, Matthew Piekarski, all of Green Brook; and Jessica Bethlahmy, Leanne Block, Millington. Each received a Letter of Commendation.
Last fall, more than 1.5 million juniors in about 22,000 high schools entered the 2013 National Merit Program by taking the 2011 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/ NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists represents less than one percent of the nation’s Class of 2013 graduates. As Semifinalists, they become eligible to advance in competition for some 8,300 Merit Scholarship awards, worth $32 million, to be distributed next spring. ( Semifinalist eligibility may differ from state to state, as the number of Semifinalists named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of high school graduating seniors.
In order to proceed to Finalist standing, the Semifinalists must fulfill additional requirements. These include an outstanding academic record, the endorsement and recommendation of the school principal, and subsequent SAT scores that confirm their earlier (that is, Preliminary SAT) achievement. The Semifinalists and a school official must also submit a detailed scholarship application, which includes such items as the student’s self-descriptive essay and information about the Semifinalist’s participation and leadership in school and community activity.
Approximately 15,000 Semifinalists are expected to advance to the Finalist level, and it is from this group that all Merit Scholarship winners will be chosen. In addition to high scores on the second stage of testing ( the SAT), Merit Scholars 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.
Three types of Merit Scholarship will be offered in the spring of 2013. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarships will be provided by some 240 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantors’ employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. Thirdly: there are some 4, 800 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for which only Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution are considered.
Merit Scholarship winners for 2013 will be announced nationwide from April to July next year. These scholarship recipients will join the ranks of more than 291,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title since the establishment of the Competition in 1955, say spokespersons for the Evanston, Illinois-based National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
By spotlighting the Semifinalists, the not-for-profit National Merit Scholarship Corporation hopes to increase the public’s interest in academic excellence and to encourage support for the education of talented young people.