Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
August 23, 1996

National Merit scholars number nearly triples

by Anne Dolan
Iowa State welcomes 154 National Merit scholars and four National Achievement scholars (specifically for African Americans) to its freshman class this fall. It's the largest class of top national scholars in university history. A year ago, Iowa State had 54 National Merit and four National Achievement freshmen.

The scholarship programs identify "exceptionally able" high school students who performed well both during their high school years and on a series of standard entrance exams.

Tom Thielen, vice president for student affairs, said ISU strengthened its commit-ment to the National Merit and Achieve-ment programs in several ways in the last year: providing more scholarship dollars; committing staff time to contact finalists earlier in their senior year; and providing personalized campus visits for finalists.

For the first time at ISU, the scholarships this fall cover tuition and room and board, and are renewable for three more years to students with GPAs of at least 2.5.

"The changes we made in marketing Iowa State to National Merit and Achievement finalists obviously produced results," Thielen said. "If we can do this year after year, it will have a significant, positive impact on the campus."

Among this fall's Merit scholars, 51 are from Iowa, 32 from Minnesota, 23 from Illinois and 17 from Nebraska. A majority are enrolled in the colleges of Engineering (76 students) or Liberal Arts and Sciences (67 students).

The four Achievement scholars are from Indiana (2), Michigan and Louisiana.

When the national rankings are published by the National Merit Scholarship Corp. in January, ISU officials anticipate Iowa State will be among the top schools in the country and in the top five among public universities for its number of National Merit scholars.

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