Ridgefield High School senior Asher Anderson has been named a semi-finalist 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 one percent of U.S. high school seniors, and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.
Anderson and his family moved from Connecticut to Ridgefield when he was in third grade. He is a member of the high school’s highly successful 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 semi-finalist,” Anderson said. “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. “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 says he’ll also apply to schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford.
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 says he enjoys spending time with his three younger sisters.
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 semi-finalist’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.
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.
Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference. National Merit Scholarship winners of 2024 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join nearly 375,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.