Wilton High School senior Michael Wallace just received great news–he was selected as a National Merit Scholar. The announcement was made yesterday by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Wallace is one of 2,500 students chosen as $2,500 scholarship winners from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding National Merit Scholarship Program Finalists.

National Merit $2500 Scholarship winners are the Finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.

These Scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the Finalists and their high schools:  academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the Finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.

Yesterday’s announcement was one of three the NMSC will make this year; in total about 7,500 academic champions will be awarded National Merit Scholarships totaling more than $31 million. Scholars may use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university.

The 2018 National Merit Scholarship Competition began in October 2016 when over 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. In the fall of 2017, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than 1.0% of the nation’s high school seniors, were named Semifinalists on a state-representational basis. Only these 16,000 Semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition.

From the Semifinalist group, some 15,000 students met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition in February 2018. Now, as the program concludes between April and July of 2018, about 7,500 Finalists will have earned the “Merit Scholar” title.