Two University View Academy Seniors are in distinguished academic company. Both have a chance of earning a National Merit Scholarship for 2022. Mckinley Howard of Baton Rouge and Janey Saik of Port Sulphur took the qualifying test last year and ranked among the highest-scoring participants. “It feels like a very high honor. I’m proud of it,” said McKinley. She and Janey have to wait until September to find out if they’ll become semi-finalists and, later, recipients of the National Merit Scholarship.
Being awarded a National Merit Scholarship is no easy task. Each year, approximately 50,000 students qualify for recognition based on their PSAT scores. About 34,000 of these students receive Letters of Commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Those letters don’t include a scholarship check but look good to admissions offices and can be listed on a college application.
The remaining 16,000 students or so—those whose scores put them in the top 99th percentile in their state—become National Merit Semifinalists. Of these, about half win scholarships after submitting their high school records, as well as recommendations from teachers and a personal essay. Some students win a $2,500 scholarship from the National Merit Corporation. In contrast, others may win more significant awards from colleges hoping to attract top scorers.
Now, it’s a waiting game for Janey and Mckinley to find out if they’ll earn a National Merit Scholarship. “I will be anxious but keep myself in check about it,” confided Mckinley. It’s the same for Janey, who said, “It’s something I’ll look forward to.” But Janey’s anxiety is also about attending LSU after graduating from UVA. She wants to be a veterinarian. LSU offers a path to earn her undergraduate degree in three years and then go to the School of Veterinary Medicine.