by Ashley McCarrick

National Merit ® Semifinalists and Commended students for 2017 were just named, and it is an exciting and sometimes overwhelming time. Becoming a National Merit ® Semifinalist is quite an honor, but you have to take the steps below in order to capitalize on your achievement.

Find out about the next steps in the competition

You will need to take the SAT ® Test and score higher than the lowest state’s semifinalist cutoff. You will also have to write essays, submit a transcript, and get a recommendation from a designated school official. Go to the 2017 National Merit ® Scholarship Program for more specific information.

Research scholarship opportunities for Semifinalists, Finalists, and Commended Students

Most colleges list this information on their websites. Many corporations also offer scholarships for National Merit® students. What a great way to have your college tuition paid!

Decide on your top colleges for your National Merit® Scholarship application.

After you’ve done your research, it’s time to select your top colleges. Don’t list colleges that won’t give you any money – use this opportunity to secure big scholarships.

Congratulate yourself!

Your hard work has paid off. Thank the people who supported you during your journey and enjoy!

So, You Missed the Cutoff Score…

Remember, you can still go to a great college! Not being a semifinalist doesn’t even mean the Ivies are off-limits. It just means your SAT ® or ACT ® test score needs to be competitive for admission.

You can also still get plenty of scholarship money. There is a lot of focus on National Merit® at this time of year, but a lot of money is available for students that has nothing to do with National Merit ®. Go on college websites and sites like and look for requirements, then get to work!

Ashley McCarrick is an Executive Director at KD College Prep. She has been serving KD students since 2007 and enjoys helping teenagers discover their dreams. In her free time, Ashley delights in spending time with her daughter, Lilley, and volunteering with various local organizations. You may contact her at