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2018 merit-scholar semifinalists include 4 from Arlington

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Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corp. have announced the names of about 16,000 Semifinalists in the 63rd annual National Merit Scholarship Program, including four from Arlington.

They are Charlotte J. Bell, Miles Bernhard, Linglong Le and Fiona J. Lessell.

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered next spring.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to finalist. About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship.

The 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 the corporation with its own funds and by about 420 business organizations and higher-education institutions that share goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

Steps in the 2018 Competition

About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2016 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 his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist’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 finalist, 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.

National Merit Scholarships

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered next spring. Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit® $2,500 scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by about 230 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 190 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.


This announcement was published Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017.

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