Five local students are among 16,000 semifinalists nationwide in the National Merit Scholarship program.
Cindy W. Jiang and Andrew L. Scharf of New Providence High School and Berkeley Heights residents Alexandra M. Cassano, Kira E. Mathais-Prabhu and Helena Zhang of Governor Livingston High School will compete for a chance to be among the winners of 8,000 scholarships worth about $35 million.
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, 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.
To become a finalist, the semifinalist and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received.
A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm 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 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.
Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2014. 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 Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 240 corporations and business organizations 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.