Coon Rapids student semifinalist for National Merit Scholarship

Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation have announced the names of approximately 16,000 semifinalists in the 59th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

They include Emily Owens of Coon Rapids High School.

These 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 fulfil 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.

The corporation is a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Scholarships are underwritten by National Merit Scholarship Corporation with its own funds and by approximately 440 business organizations and higher education institutions that share the scholarship corporation’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

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 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists 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 student’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 awarded on a state representational basis.

In addition, about 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 240 corporations and business organizations to finalists who meet specific criteria; and about 200 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,500 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

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