Harbin has spent the last six years of his life working hard in the rigorous Scholars Academy curriculum and likes being successful in anything that he attempts. He attributes that success to his peer group.
“I tend to surround myself with people who try their hardest at all of the things that they do, so being successful is just a by-product of that,” said Harbin.
The nationwide pool of 16,000 Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) in each state. About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the PSAT/NMSQT. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.
Harbin also acknowledged that he is fortunate to enjoy learning.
“I know everyone doesn’t. Sitting in class isn’t always fun, but adding to the things that you know because of what you learned in those classes is a neat process,” said Harbin.
Harbin has also learned some things about the value of hard work and that a little preparation goes a long way.
“You reach a point when success can’t just stem from your natural abilities. A hard worker goes past those abilities that they have been given,” said Harbin.
To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and his or her 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.
With the majority of Harbin’s high school resume-building experiences behind him, he offered advice to younger students just entering the formative years of middle and high school.
“Pick a few things that matter and focus on those. Even though you’re supposed to try lots of things when you are in middle and high school, you might end up with not much to show for it,” added Harbin.
From the approximately 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level, and in February they will be notified of this designation. National Merit Scholarship winners of 2017 will be announced in nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. The scholarship recipients will join more than 323,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.