IUSD produces 110 semifinalists in the 2015 National Merit Scholarship program


The National Merit Scholarship Corp. has released its annual list of semifinalists in the running for National Merit awards, and 110 of them are from right here in IUSD.

meritThese Irvine scholars are in select company. About 16,000 students have earned the prestigious distinction nationwide, representing less than 1 percent of all high school seniors. The press release is here.

So what does it take to become a National Merit semifinalist? Well, for starters, you have to do really, really well on the Preliminary SAT.

About 1.4 million juniors from more than 22,000 high schools took the PSAT during the last school year, and those that aced the exam earned an opportunity to pursue roughly 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth some $33 million. The scholarships include corporate-sponsored awards, college-sponsored awards and “National Merit $2500 Scholarships,” of which 2,500 are up for grabs.

To make it to the next round, our local semifinalists must submit detailed applications and fulfill a number of additional requirements, like earning outstanding marks throughout high school, securing the recommendation of a school official and producing a high score on the SAT.

We’re told about 90 percent of all semifinalists will become finalists, and more than half of the latter group will become Merit Scholars — and earn the college funding that comes with that title.

Past National Merit Scholars include former Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, former Indiana Governor Mitchell Daniels, former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Elena Kagan, an associate justice on the Supreme Court.

Perhaps there’s a future Supreme Court justice or labor secretary somewhere in IUSD.