Three Lawrentians Awarded National Merit Scholarships 

Congratulations to V Formers Praneel Chakraborty, Ashley Duraiswamy, and Vincent Huang on receiving National Merit Scholarships.

Congratulations to V Formers Praneel Chakraborty, Ashley Duraiswamy, and Vincent Huang on receiving National Merit Scholarships. The National Merit Scholarship is awarded each year by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) whose mission is “to promote scholastic excellence and recognize students who exemplify it.” Only one percent of all high school seniors in the United States each year receive the scholarship.

The process begins with the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), where students must score in the top one percent of their state to qualify for the next round. Approximately 16,000 out of 50,000 students are recognized as National Merit Semifinalists. Students must then provide a list of extracurriculars, awards, honors, and an essay that is holistically evaluated by the College Board and the NMSC. Semifinalists also have to submit recommendation letters, a school transcript, and their Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores. All the applicants are notified in February regarding the finalist selections; approximately 15,000 of the 16,000 applicants advance to the finalist level.

Of the 15,000 finalists, about 8,000 students receive the Merit Scholarship Award. Finalists in each state that are deemed to have the strongest combination of academic accomplishment, passion, and potential for success in rigorous college studies are awarded the $2,500 general merit scholarship. These scholars are carefully selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors who assess the finalists’ applications.

For Duraiswamy, the “process was much simpler” than she expected, as there was a “great deal of overlap” between the National Merit Scholarship and college applications, allowing her “to reuse material that [she] had written for [her] Common Application”––the college admission application. Duraiswamy also commented on the broad nature of the scholarship’s essay prompt, which made it possible for her to reuse a personal statement she wrote previously. Her counselor was also able to submit excerpts from her college recommendation letter for the scholarship application. 

Reflecting on her experience, Duraiswamy encouraged all semifinalists to apply, saying, “Go for it; you may hesitate to embark on yet another application process when you’re already swamped with college [applications], but I promise it’ll be less overwhelming than you expect[ed it to be.]”

Huang agreed, “The scholarship application really didn’t take much time to complete. I was surprised to receive the scholarship and am thankful for the recognition.”

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