NORTH CANTON Hoover High School senior Matthew Polatas recently found out he is one of 16,000 students nationwide - and just one of three in Stark County -to be named a 2017 National Merit Scholarship semifinalist.
Polatas, the son of Carol and Stephen Polatas, along with others were selected from students who took the 2015 preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. With the highest possible score being 228, Polatas scored 224. He has the opportunity to compete for 7,500 National Merit Scholarships. The base individual scholarship is $2,500.
"I’m planning to study chemical engineering possibly at The Ohio State University or at Princeton," Polatas said. "I’ll start soon applying to colleges."
To be considered for Merit Scholarship, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level. About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to earn the finalist standing and about half of those students will win a National Merit Scholarship and the Merit Scholarship title.
"I had to fill out an extensive application that included listing my volunteer work and extracurricular activities," Polatas said. "I also wrote a 750-word essay with the topic of either a hardship I’ve overcome, an important experience or about a mentor. I also had to submit my school transcripts."
Information from the National Merit Scholarship Program states that students must submit a detailed application with information about his or her academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards received. Scholarship winners will be announced in news releases beginning in April 2017.
He said his father was a finalist when he was in high school and that his family is excited about the results.
"My family would be happy for me to get the scholarship," Polatas said. "Hoover has been honoring this and recognizing it as a big achievement. I thank all my teachers in high school for all the hard work they gave me to prepare for this."
The National Merit Scholarship Program is a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance. It was established in 1995. Scholarships are underwritten by its own funds and by approximately 420 business organizations and higher education institutions to honor the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.