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Old 12-08-2018, 05:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoCUBS1 View Post
Can anyone here offer insights on the process for selecting National Merit Finalists?

My 11th grade daughter just received her NMQT/PSAT score of 1500 (226 index). She took one SAT with a score of 1530 (730 reading/800 math). Her GPA is weighted 4.5 out of 4.0 and will improve this semester as she expects As in all AP courses.

Does it seem she will qualify to be a national merit finalist? What can you tell me about the selection process, scholarship opportunities, etc? I read she needs additional essays and recommendations if she is a finalist. What else is required? Would it improve her National Merit chances if she retook the SAT to try to obtain a higher score on the Reading section?

Good job GoCUBS dd!


The vast majority of NMSF become finalists. As long as her SAT is a confirming score (I can't imagine 1530 wouldn't be confirming), her grades are good, and she completes her paperwork on time she will likely be a NMF.



My youngest was a NMF but did not qualify for any scholarships. Check the websites of the schools she is interested in and see what they give for NMF/SF. Some give hardly anything. Others give good scholarships.



Schools that I know have good programs for National Merit are U of Alabama, U of Nebraska, and U of Oklahoma. There are others but I know these because I know of kids who have gone to them. It is pretty easy to find information about National Merit on each college's website. Larger public universities tend to have better deals than private universities but that is not always true so you have to check.
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Old 12-08-2018, 05:30 PM
 
11,626 posts, read 19,886,645 times
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Originally Posted by GoCUBS1 View Post
Whats weird is that she got a perfect score on the Math section of SAT but lower in Reading. On the PSAT, she received a perfect score on the 2 Reading sections and her only mistakes were in the Math section. Go figure.

Maybe a dumb question, but will colleges evaluate her PSAT scores along with her SAT scores and see her strong PSAT Reading and will that balance (superscore?) her lower SAT Reading 730 score? Or is the PSAT not even considered as it is an easier test?

Since she did so well on the PSAT reading, I feel she could raise her SAT reading score since she has only taken the SAT one time. But then I worry she could jeopardize her perfect 800 SAT math score if she doesnt do as well on Math next time, and shell have to report both tests.

Colleges do not look at PSAT scores. End of story.



Some colleges require all standardized test scores but most schools superscore the SAT, meaning that they take your highest math/reading from all sittings. If she already got a perfect math score she could retake, focusing only on reading since she already has a perfect math score. The colleges would take the perfect math score as well as the highest reading score.



I would also encourage her to take the ACT. Some kids do much better on the ACT. My middle son scored 33 on the ACT but only 2000 on the (old) SAT. My oldest also scored 32 on the ACT but only 2100 on the (old) SAT. Those ACT scores are much higher in comparison to the SAT. They both found the ACT an easier test to manage. It is more of a speed test, but not as long as the SAT and they did better on it. It's worth a shot.


If your daughter is looking at super selective schools she should also take the SAT subject exams. The best time to take them is around the same time as the AP exam for that subject. For example, my son took the AP exam for some subjects on Thursday and the SAT subject the same weekend.
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Old 12-08-2018, 07:16 PM
 
5,940 posts, read 3,175,840 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoCUBS1 View Post
Thank you Suzy... I do not know how many of the 9 became finalists and received scholarships (Ill research that).

Im assuming the essay question is posted somewhere on the sites you recommended. Do you have any tips on selecting people for recommendations?

I think she has a pretty good extracurricular record with leadership roles (e.g. founded a HS club, HS sports co-captain, applying for Girl Scout Gold award). She also does a lot of volunteering (will receive presidential volunteer award) and is particularly strong in music (state recognized, performs with Chicago Youth Symphony). She wants to major in chemical engineering, and perhaps double major (or minor) in music performance, so maybe she has an opportunity for scholarships in these areas.

She will not qualify for needs-based aid, unless maybe at a more expensive private school (though I doubt it).

We toured some schools (Columbia, Penn, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, Caltech) that had chemical engineering and music programs shes interested in, and I believe several mentioned they do not award any merit aid at all. We have a few more schools she wants to look at. But maybe she wont have access to National Merit $ for the college she chooses.
Just experience based off my kids that help in getting accepted. HS Sports Co captain, Gold Award (Eagle for boys), volunteering are all big pluses that also help in the resume for that first job. Female majoring in Chem E may get her more money than National Merit or other scholarships depending on the school. Our daughter was in Physics with less impressive scores than yours, but got several generic "awards" that brought the cost down because the department was looking to increase female participation.


Certainly can't argue with your choice of schools, but also look for schools that have strong undergrad research initiatives and participation. As well as strong student sections of the appropriate professional society. Ours attended something like six fully funded conferences while a student. These things may not seem like much, but they make students stand out on that first resume. Because when applying for that first job, there are dozens or hundreds of identical new graduates who all took the same basic courses and have the same Chem E degree. But only a handful can say they did research, wrote a paper, attended conferences, or demonstrated leadership in their professional society. Having those things on a resume means more to me as a hiring manager than which school someone graduated from.


One final thought, don't overlook things like the SMART scholar program or the Palace Acquire program. Too much detail to go into here, but SMART scholar will fund graduate or undergraduate programs in STEM and guarantee a job at the end, while Palace Acquire will hire recent graduates and send them to graduate school while getting paid with a job waiting.
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Old 12-08-2018, 07:46 PM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
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Just to let everyone know, its right on the National Merit website that scores are sent to schools first. My sons school put scores out on the student portal on Friday.
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Old 12-08-2018, 09:44 PM
 
10,680 posts, read 5,140,124 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
Just experience based off my kids that help in getting accepted. HS Sports Co captain, Gold Award (Eagle for boys), volunteering are all big pluses that also help in the resume for that first job. Female majoring in Chem E may get her more money than National Merit or other scholarships depending on the school. Our daughter was in Physics with less impressive scores than yours, but got several generic "awards" that brought the cost down because the department was looking to increase female participation.


Certainly can't argue with your choice of schools, but also look for schools that have strong undergrad research initiatives and participation. As well as strong student sections of the appropriate professional society. Ours attended something like six fully funded conferences while a student. These things may not seem like much, but they make students stand out on that first resume. Because when applying for that first job, there are dozens or hundreds of identical new graduates who all took the same basic courses and have the same Chem E degree. But only a handful can say they did research, wrote a paper, attended conferences, or demonstrated leadership in their professional society. Having those things on a resume means more to me as a hiring manager than which school someone graduated from.


One final thought, don't overlook things like the SMART scholar program or the Palace Acquire program. Too much detail to go into here, but SMART scholar will fund graduate or undergraduate programs in STEM and guarantee a job at the end, while Palace Acquire will hire recent graduates and send them to graduate school while getting paid with a job waiting.
I like to dispel this myth. My female student applying to engineering school but only got $10k per year at Purdue. She did the summer program, I think it’s WTP at MIT, about 20% admit rate. She got accepted everywhere except MIT where she was waitlisted and rejected from Princeton. The only two reachees, or prestigious schools on her list. She ended up at a UC, it still kicked her butt in CS and Math. But she also got great support and small scholarship, I forgot exactly, maybe $8000 total for 4 years. She did do research first year, tutored and TA subsequent years, pretty good leadership experience. Had internships every summer after sophomore year.

Btw, USC only gave her $5k, out of $60K expense per year or something like that. Pretty pathetic.

My other daughter got merit from USC, Baylor, and Texas A&M. She was also admitted to Wellesley. So if you want music program, USC is second to Juliard, according to my daughter’s piano teacher, who graduated from there.
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Old 12-10-2018, 02:43 PM
 
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My daughter was in the top 5% nationally for PSAT, which made her a commended student. She didn't even mention it to us or any college she applied to. We found out on HS honors night, where she was recognized for this and many other academic achievements plus she received every major school award. As a side, she did have a friend who was a semi-finalist and another who was a finalist. Her SAT and ACT scores were great and she got early admission to every college she applied to and some big $$$ offers. She was disappointed about not doing better on the PSAT for about 5 seconds. The scholarship amounts are not large and she successfully pursued other, more lucrative STEM scholarship opportunities. I totally get the engineering/music combo. My girl is a phenomenal artist who chose bio engineering. In the end she chose our flagship state university that offers merit aid, so her education has cost very little so far. She doesn't regret her choice for a minute...she loves everything about her school.

Good luck!
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Old 12-11-2018, 07:35 PM
 
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My junior got his PSAT score two days early by using a proxy server in a different state. Obviously still used his login-in, but just by making it look like he was in a different state, he was able to access his scores on Monday and they aren't released here util Wednesday. Seems like their system would be a little more sophisticated than that. School administrators get the results super-early (Dec 3rd, I believe).
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Old 12-14-2018, 07:37 PM
 
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Don't get too excited about your child being a finalist. Very brief bragging rights but it sounds as if your daughter will have so many other accolades that being a National Merit Finalist will get lost in the mix.

Our youngest was a National Merit Finalist and he received a one semester only $2500 financial award from his selected college. They then reduced his other scholarship by a matching $2500, making our out-of-pocket costs the same.

This award is blown up to be more than it really is. Take pride in your daughter and her accomplishments but don't get too focused on this award.
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Old 12-14-2018, 11:00 PM
 
3,087 posts, read 6,512,487 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoCUBS1 View Post
Can anyone here offer insights on the process for selecting National Merit Finalists?

My 11th grade daughter just received her NMQT/PSAT score of 1500 (226 index). She took one SAT with a score of 1530 (730 reading/800 math). Her GPA is weighted 4.5 out of 4.0 and will improve this semester as she expects As in all AP courses.

Does it seem she will qualify to be a national merit finalist? What can you tell me about the selection process, scholarship opportunities, etc? I read she needs additional essays and recommendations if she is a finalist. What else is required? Would it improve her National Merit chances if she retook the SAT to try to obtain a higher score on the Reading section?
There's many different things here.

First, National Merit is only about the PSAT, after than the other tests are for other things and this test is no longer relevant. Then, if she hits the cutoff for NM semi-finalist then as long as she completes the paperwork on time, including the essay and recommendations (I believe they require one administrator, one teacher plus one from someone else who knows them well), the the only thing that would prevent her from becoming a Finalist would be discrepancies in her grades compared to her test scores or behavior issues. It's more about the scores for this part and not as much as who looks better on paper.

Second, actual NMF scholarships are very limited in amount and quantity, so lower expectations there. If she were to get one it can be used at her college of choice, however it likely would have the amount subtracted from their offer so that the total package would remain the same.

Third, there are many schools who will grant a good to great scholarships to NMF simply because they are a Finalist, with the stipulation that your student lists them as her first choice before a certain deadline. For instance Auburn University offered my daughter (who was a NMF) a scholarship worth $124,000 simply because she was a Finalist and they wanted her. In order to get that scholarship she would have to go in and list Auburn as her first choice. That's not where she chose to go though, so while it was a great offer, it wasn't taken.

Fourth, college acceptance is where the extra curricular activities, achievements/awards, SAT/ACT scores and essays come into play - before scholarships are offered.

Now where the real benefits of being a finalist come are the doors it opens. There are many colleges/universities that will trip all over themselves to recruit a NMF. They will provide separate tours/visits from the general public, some even paying airfare and hotel. Many colleges who do this for NMF will offer full tuition scholarships and a handful will offer full rides.

I will say that although my daughter did not apply to any ivy's because she was not interested in going that route, every single college she applied to accepted her and offered her really good scholarships.

Ironically the school she chose doesn't offer scholarships for NMF, however they gave her enough to almost be a full tuition from other avenues.

Just our experience....
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Old Today, 12:50 PM
 
Location: Mount Laurel
4,147 posts, read 8,540,964 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoCUBS1 View Post
Can anyone here offer insights on the process for selecting National Merit Finalists?

My 11th grade daughter just received her NMQT/PSAT score of 1500 (226 index). She took one SAT with a score of 1530 (730 reading/800 math). Her GPA is weighted 4.5 out of 4.0 and will improve this semester as she expects As in all AP courses.

Does it seem she will qualify to be a national merit finalist? What can you tell me about the selection process, scholarship opportunities, etc? I read she needs additional essays and recommendations if she is a finalist. What else is required? Would it improve her National Merit chances if she retook the SAT to try to obtain a higher score on the Reading section?
Congratulations to your daughter for a great score. Based on previous selection by the state, she will certainly make the semi finalist list in any of the states. My understanding getting on the list will open many doors and opportunities. Some may benefit depending on the school she ends up with. I know that a few years ago, my college offered full tuition for National Merit Finalist (about $200K).

If she sticks with staying in the top 1% for her other tests, she will have many opportunites. She should definitely take the ACT as well. Her scores should be very similar to her SAT.
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