Six Mustangs Announced as National Merit Finalists


Tara Holman

George Mason High School's National Merit finalists
George Mason High School’s National Merit finalists smile gleefully as they commemorate their progression to the final round of the National Merit Scholarship. The George Mason National Merit Finalists are (l to r) Jonathan Gilmour, Mary Keenan, Arijeet Sensharma, Benjamin Cohen, Orion Date, and Michael Winters. Congratulating them are George Mason counselor Brad McAdam and Principal Ty Byrd. (Photo By John Brett)

Each year, approximately 1.4 million students enter the National Merit Scholarship competition when taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). High school juniors enter the competition by scoring well on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarships Qualifying Test; semi-finalists are named at the beginning of the students’ senior year. Semifinalists are considered on academic standing, and are considered against all other 12th grade students in their respective state.

Following the semifinalists selection, students must complete a series of requirements to be considered as a finalist. Requirements include completed essays, and various information detailing extracurricular achievements, awards and leadership activities.

Undoubtedly, the process is rigorous and some students are deterred from the pursuing the scholarship due to the extraneous process and detailed requirements. When asked about the National Merit Scholarship and his experience, Senior Ben Cohen offered a smile and a reassuring response.

“Yeah, [it’s hard]. But, I’m excited that I achieved finalists standing and I’m looking forward to receiving a scholarship,” said Senior Ben Cohen.
Interestingly, about ninety percent of semifinalists advance to the finalist round and more than half of the finalists will earn a National Merit Scholarship. If fortunate to earn a National Merit Scholarship, three types of Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring: a Merit Scholarship, a corporate-sponsored Merit scholarship and a college-sponsored Merit scholarship.