In September, senior Rebecca Daugherty was recognized for her outstanding PSAT scores during the fall of her junior year. This recognition allowed for her to partake in a national scholarship contest led by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation that awards students scholarships to promote respect of learning and shine a spotlight on brilliant students.
Last year, scholarships awarded to qualifying students had a total value of 40 million dollars distributed to over 8,600 qualified students with most awards coming for external organizations that hope to award students that show extreme promise. Along with those direct scholarships, many colleges and universities award additional money through National Merit Scholarship Corporation scholarships.
This nationally recognized academic competition began in 1955 and approximately 1.6 million high school students enter the program each year. Of the high school entrants, some 50,000 with the highest PSAT Selection Index scores qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship program. In September, these high scorers are notified through their schools that they are either a Commended Student or Semifinalist.
About 16,000 students are notified to be Semifinalists and they are designated on a state-representational basis and are the highest scoring students in their state. Each semifinalist submits a detailed scholarship application, which includes essays and information about extracurricular achievements, awards and leadership positions.
Over the past four years, Daugherty has participated in Girls Cross Country, Girls Track and Field, National Honors Society, National Spanish Honors Society, Symphony Orchestra and more. The leadership positions Daugherty holds include her planning events outside of sports practices and setting examples for the girls on the team.
To become a Semifinalist or a Finalist, scholars must undergo a series of tests and qualifications. Semifinalists also have to have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed, recommended by a school official and earn SAT scores that confirm their qualifying test performance.
“I was slightly surprised when I learned I was a semifinalist since I learned almost a year after I took the test, but it is very exciting,” Daughtery said. “Being a semifinalist is one representation of the work I’ve put into school, but it’s a standardized test and these tests don’t show the whole picture.”
Daugherty plans to attend either Butler or Purdue University in the fall of 2020. While she is undecided where she will attend, she plans to receive a bachelors in biology and go on to graduate school so she can teach at the university level.
“Being a semifinalist is definitely an accomplishment that I’m proud of. It is a recognition that I’m grateful for and I hope it will be helpful as I prepare for my future,” Daugherty said.