“We take great pride in being the top university in Texas when it comes to enrolling National Merit Scholars,” Texas A&M President Michael K. Young said. “We are committed to academic excellence, and we are very pleased that these young scholars have selected Texas A&M to pursue their educational and career goals. We expect to continue to be among the national leaders going forward in the number of National Merit Scholars and in developing these bright young students to reach their fullest potential.”
Selection as a National Merit Scholar means recipients receive significant academic scholarships that vary from each institution.
According to figures from the National Merit Scholars program, a total of 7,563 designees were named merit finalists in 2018 to receive scholarship awards totaling $30.8 million. An additional 1,110 participants who were not finalists received special scholarships totaling $9.6 million.
Approximately 16,000 students nationwide were honored as semifinalists, based on their performance as juniors on the 2017 preliminary SAT (PSAT) test. The honorees account for less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors.
Over 650 high school seniors across North Texas were named as National Merit semifinalists on Wednesday, taking the first step in a scholarship competition that will award more than $31 million in the spring.
Ignoring pleas from the organization that runs the program to not compare high schools, educational systems or states because it will result in “erroneous conclusions” — since the program isn’t designed to measure the quality or effectiveness of learning — let’s do just that.
For the third straight year, two schools, the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science and Plano West High School, garnered the most honorees among Texas schools.
The Academy, a two-year, residency-based early college program at the University of North Texas, had 75 semifinalists — the most in the state — despite having fewer than 400 juniors and seniors in its program.
Plano West had 62 semifinalists, second-most in Texas. It’s also the second largest high school in the state, trailing only Allen.
Ten other North Texas campuses were also among the state’s Top 20: Plano East (35), Coppell (33), St. Mark’s (31), Highland Park (26), Flower Mound (22), Flower Mound Marcus (21), Southlake Carroll (21), Hockaday (20), Frisco Liberty (18) and Colleyville Heritage (17).
Of the 654 semifinalists from North Texas, nearly two-thirds of them (427 students) came from traditional public high schools. Private schools accounted for 110 honorees, at 28 different campuses. Early-college high schools (including TAMS) had 83 semifinalists, while selective magnet high schools — all of them Dallas ISD campuses — accounted for 14 honorees. A dozen home-schooled students from the DFW area also were named semifinalists.
Here’s the list of all the National Merit semifinalists in Texas.