Senior Grant Hamilton became one of approximately 7,500 high school students who earned a prestigious National Merit Scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). A total of 1.5 million students competed for the scholarships, and NMSC selected winners based on their score on the PSAT, academic record, extracurricular activities and leadership, and an essay.
To receive a scholarship, students must make it through multiple rounds of selection. First, NMSC recognizes the top 50,000 scorers on the PSAT. About 34,000 of those receive Letters of Commendation, and the other 16,000 move on as semifinalists. These students receive application materials from NMSC. 15,000 semifinalists become finalists in February and receive a Certificate of Merit. Finally, 7,500 of these semifinalists receive scholarships.
Hamilton explained how he feels, saying, “I wouldn’t say I feel much about winning it … I suppose I’m just happy to have the money.”
He says not to worry too much about getting the scholarship. He believes there are more important priorities during your junior year than that. He also offered advice on studying for the SAT, saying, “Don’t feel the need to bulldoze your schedule to maximize your score, the most important and perhaps most difficult thing is simply knowing where your weaknesses lie.”
Hamilton offered some final advice to his fellow students, saying, “Appreciate that you are. Appreciate everything. Appreciate that you are even able to appreciate.”