Last month, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced two Wilton High School Class of ’17 graduates were amongst the 900 additional winners of National Merit Scholarships financed by colleges and universities. These Merit Scholar designees join over 3,200 other college-sponsored award recipients who were announced in June.
The WHS students are Brandon W. Zheng, who will be attending the University of Oklahoma and likely studying economics; and William J. Heffernan, who will be studying statistics at the University of South Carolina.
Offcials of each sponsor college selected their scholarship winners from among the Finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program who will attend their institution. College-sponsored awards provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship.
This year, 182 colleges and universities are sponsoring more than 4,000 Merit Scholarship awards. Sponsor colleges include 103 private and 79 public institutions located in 44 states and the District of Columbia.
This final group of winners brings the number of 2017 National Merit Scholars to more than 7,500. These distinguished high school graduates will receive scholarships for undergraduate study worth a total of over $32 million. In addition to college-sponsored awards, two other types of National Merit Scholarships were offered—2,500 National Merit $2500 Scholarships, for which all Finalists competed, and approximately 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who met criteria specifiied by their grantor organizations.
This year’s competition for National Merit Scholarships began when over 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools took the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. In September 2016, about 16,000 Semi nalists were named on a state-representational basis in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating
high school seniors. Semi nalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than one percent of the nation’s seniors.
To become a Finalist, each Semifinalist had to complete a detailed scholarship application, which included writing an essay, describing leadership positions and contributions in school and community activities, showing an outstanding academic record, and being endorsed and recommended by a high school official. Semifinalists also had to take the SAT® and earn scores that con rmed their performance on the initial qualifying test. From the Semifinalist group, about 15,000 attained Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists were chosen to receive National Merit Scholarships.
NMSC, a not-for-profit corporation that operates without government assistance, was founded in 1955 to conduct the National Merit Scholarship Program. Over the past 62 years, more than 330,000 outstanding young men and women have won National Merit Scholarships worth over $1 billion. The majority of awards offered each year are underwritten by approximately 420 independent corporate and college sponsors that support NMSC’s efforts to recognize scholastically talented youth and encourage the pursuit of academic excellence.