Three seniors at San Marino High School were informed recently that they are semifinalists in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship program. The program selects 16,000 students to become semifinalists from the more than 1.5 million high school juniors who took the PSAT during the last academic year, which serves as an initial screen of program entrants.
Anna Moller, Matthew Lee and Andrew Yim have advanced to the next level of the program, where they remain in competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million.
Merit Scholar selection is based on student skill, accomplishment and potential for success in rigorous college studies. Factors for consideration include outstanding academic record, endorsement of high school officials, essay and standardized college entrance test scores.
The group represents less than 1% of high school seniors in the United States and includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. Approximately 90% of the students advance to become finalists. From the finalists, 7,500 will be announced in April 2021 as scholarship winners.
“I’m honored and excited to be named a semifinalist, and I want to say ‘thank you’ to my teachers for giving me such a solid start in my education,” said Moller, the daughter of Alison and Erik Moller. Anna is looking at colleges on the East Coast, and plans to study history with an emphasis on political science or international relations.
The son of Yun (George) Li and Linda Jing Yang, Matthew Lee wants to attend Columbia and study computer science with a minor in business or entrepreneurship.
“I’m extremely proud of my qualification as a National Merit Semifinalist, but I think credit is most due to my supportive parents and family and the amazing teachers at San Marino High School,” said Lee. “I am grateful for their unwarranted academic assistance and am excited for the next step in this scholarship process.”
Andrew Yim quipped that he is looking at attending any college that accepts him, though it is unlikely he will find many challenges in that category.
“I’ve been hearing about the prestige of National Merit Semifinalists since my first year in high school, and it’s cool to actually be one now as a senior,” said the son of Sandy Ro-Yim and John Yim. “If you’re wondering how I did it, my mom takes full credit for giving me a good breakfast the morning of the test.”
Yim is considering the pursuit of science in college.
“After experiencing a couple of chemistry classes in high school, I’ve realized that that’s what I want to study in college,” he said.
To become a finalist, the semifinalist and a high school official 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, and write an essay.
From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level, 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.
Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2021. 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 approximately 220 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 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance 4,100 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.
National Merit Scholarship winners of 2021 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July.