Cleveland Students Recognized for National Merit Scholarship Competition

Clarion photo Bruce Mureithi
From Left To Right: Jackson Weinberg, Klara Kjome Fischer, Ian Song and Cody Ho.

This year, Cleveland is home to six students being recognized by the National Merit program for their outstanding test scores. Jackson Weinberg has been recognized as a Commended Scholar, and five semifinalists have been selected: Maia Connelly, William Hathaway, Cody Ho, Klara Kjome Fischer, and Ian Song.
The National Merit Scholarship program is a nationwide competition for merit-based college financial aid, based primarily on one’s PSAT scores. The only way you can qualify for this scholarship is to take the PSAT in your junior year of high school and get exemplary scores, which, in order to achieve Finalist status, must be confirmed by similar (or improved) SAT scores in the following year.
There are several tiers of recognition that students competing in the National Merit Scholarship program can achieve. They are, from least to most selective, as follows: Program Recognition (about 50,000 students), Commended Students (34,000), Semifinalists (16,000), Finalists (15,000), and ultimately, the winners of the scholarship awards.

Only 7,500 students across the country are selected from the Finalist pool for National Merit Scholarship awards of three different types: $2,500 scholarships awarded by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation itself, corporate-sponsored scholarships for family of employees or members, and college-sponsored scholarships, which are renewable for up to four years of study.

Jackson Weinberg, one of the students recognized, said about the advantages of recognition, “I think it carries with it recognition that I tested super well on the SAT. However, as colleges move towards test optional more and more, I don’t think that this recognition carries as much weight as it may have previously.” Jackson also noted that during the 2020-21 school year, the changes to the process were not released as transparently as they should have been. “This year, no Juniors took the PSAT, so you had to submit your SAT scores. This process wasn’t super well publicized and led to quite a few people who may have been recognized not to be able to be.”