Three local high school seniors have recently been selected as National Merit $2,500 Scholarship recipients.
Grace Smith of Newnan High School, Sovi Wellons of The Heritage School and Joshua White of East Coweta High School are the 2020 local recipients.
The 2,500 Merit Scholar designees, including the three from Coweta County, were chosen from more than 15,000 finalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program, according to a release from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
National Merit $2,500 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.
The students were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who looked at information submitted by both the finalists and their high schools including their academic record; difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®); contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.
The NMSC finances most of these single-payment National Merit $2,500 Scholarships. Corporations and company foundations that sponsor awards through NMSC also help underwrite these scholarships with grants they provide in lieu of paying administrative fees.
Scholars may use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university, according to the release.
This year’s National Merit Scholarship Program began in October 2018 when over 1.5 million juniors in approximately 21,000 high schools took the PSAT/NMSQT, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.
Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than 1 percent 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.
By the conclusion of the 2020 program, about 7,600 finalists will have earned the “Merit Scholar” title and received a total of over $30 million in college scholarships.
NMSC, a not-for-profit corporation that operates without government assistance, was founded in 1955 specifically to conduct the National Merit Scholarship Program. The majority of scholarships offered each year are underwritten by approximately 400 independent corporate and college sponsors that share NMSC’s goals of honoring scholastically talented youth and encouraging academic excellence at all levels of education.