Ridgefield High School senior Asher Anderson has been named a semifinalist for the prestigious National Merit Scholarship program. About 1.3 million students from more than 22,000 high schools across the country enter the National Merit Scholarship Program each year by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which serves as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of about 16,000 semifinalists represents less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors, and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state, according to a press release.
Anderson and his family moved from Connecticut to Ridgefield when he was in third grade. He is a member of the high school’s Knowledge Bowl team, serving as the varsity II team captain and is the vice president of the school’s robotics club.
“I’m really proud to represent Ridgefield by being named a national semifinalist,” Anderson said in a press release. “I love this community and my school, and I’m pleased that my hard work in preparing for the test paid off.”
Anderson said that his peers often assume that he excels academically thanks to his natural gifts and abilities but is quick to push back on that notion.
“I put in a lot of effort and time studying to prepare for the exam,” Anderson said in the press release. “I spent hours practicing every day for several weeks, getting incrementally better by taking practice tests and analyzing whether or not I was struggling with the same type of questions. It’s the unseen hard work that makes the biggest difference for me.”
After graduating in the spring, Anderson plans to study chemistry and engineering. He’s been interested in science for as long as he can remember but fully realized his passion after taking AP chemistry his sophomore year. He plans to apply to the University of Washington and Brigham Young University, but will apply to schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford, as well.
Outside of school, Anderson enjoys learning to play piano and is just a few badges shy of becoming an Eagle Scout. He is also active in his church and enjoys spending time with his three younger sisters, according to the press release.
Finalists for the National Merit Scholarship program will be announced in the spring of 2024. To become a finalist, semifinalists and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.
According to the press release, approximately 7,140 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $28 million will be offered in the spring. About 95 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.