AJA’s National Merit Semifinalists

AJA’s National Merit Semifinalists

Two seniors win one of high schools’ most prestigious award and could win $2,500 toward college.

Noah Chen and Matthew Minsk
Noah Chen and Matthew Minsk

Atlanta Jewish Academy is excited to have two National Merit semifinalists: seniors Noah Chen and Matthew Minsk. The top 1.25 percent of PSAT test takers become National Merit semifinalists. In February, the semifinalists advance to finalist standing.

Becoming a National Merit finalist is competitive and requires a top score on the PSAT. Although it varies from state to state, most students must score above 1400 (out of 1520) to qualify as a semifinalist. PSAT scores between 1210 and 1520 are also excellent scores that will put a student in the top 10 percent of all test takers.

AJA Head of School Rabbi Ari Leubitz said of the winning AJA students, “I am so proud of Matthew and Noah; these young men exemplify what an AJA student is – not only A+plus students, but A+ humans. They have shown strength not only in general studies, but also demonstrate a love for high-level Judaic studies and learning. These young men are all-around mensches!”

Atlanta Jewish Academy Head of School Rabbi Ari Leubitz

The parents of the two winners, Karen and Mike Chen, and Julie Kaminsky and Alan Minsk said they were proud of their sons, who have been friends since the first grade, and are looking forward to their sons’ futures.

The National Merit Scholarship program honors students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies. Over 1.5 million juniors took the PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) last year and 16,000 nationally qualified as National Merit semifinalists based on selection index score. Those who qualified were the highest scorers in each state.

To ensure that academically talented young people from all parts of the United States are included in this talent pool, semifinalists are designated on a state-representational basis. National Merit semifinalists then have the opportunity to apply to become National Merit finalists and earn a $2,500 scholarship to be used towards the student’s freshman year of their college of choice.

To be considered for a National Merit scholarship, semifinalists must advance to finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic standards and all other requirements. All winners are chosen for the finalist group based on their abilities, skills and accomplishments, regardless of gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference. Winners are selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors without consideration of family financial circumstances, college choice, major or career plans. About 7,500 finalists will be selected to receive a merit scholarship, notified from March through mid-June.

Colleges in the South where National Merit finalists get full rides or full-tuition scholarships include Auburn University, the University of Alabama (Birmingham and Huntsville campuses), Florida A&M and Florida International University.

A small number of schools offer full tuition to National Merit semifinalists, including the University of Alabama (with 3.5 or higher GPA), Auburn University, Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic University and Florida College.

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