Each year just 3,000 candidates are identified for the academic component of the program, based on having exceptionally high scores on the SAT or the ACT. Approximately 20 young women and 20 young men are selected as candidates from each state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and from families of U.S. citizens living abroad. Each Chief State School Officer may also nominate up to six candidates within his/her jurisdiction.
For Wang, this is the highest honor yet in a year of recognition for his scholarship and efforts. “This is essentially the highest award a high school student can receive,” he says. “It’s more selective than the National Merit Scholarship. It’s a great honor to know that all my hard work throughout school has culminated in being recognized as one of the top students in the country.”
Wang received word earlier this year that he was selected as a National Merit Semifinalist, and is waiting to hear whether he will advance to finalist standing. He is an accomplished musician, playing the French horn. He was chosen to perform in the Washington Educators Association All State Honor Band this year. This is the third year in a row he has been selected to participate in one of the state honor groups. He received a superior rating and first place in the regional solo and ensemble competition earlier this month, and will go to the state contest in April. He also swims for the MHS varsity team.
Candidates must apply to be considered for the Presidential Scholars program. The application covers test scores, grades and activities, and requires a teacher’s recommendation. Applicants must also submit several essays concerning family/community importance, a creative work, community service, a photograph, and a challenge or mistake. A school report must also be submitted.
Approximately 560 students will be named semifinalists. In April, the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars will review the applications and select up to 121 Academic Scholars and 20 Arts Scholars. These students will be honored at a National Recognition held in Washington, D.C. in June, during which they will meet with government officials, educators, authors, musicians, scientists and others. They will be awarded the Presidential Scholars Medallion at a special ceremony sponsored by the White House.