Preparing for College

Should he put his "Commended" Status on his applications?

Question: My son had a near-perfect PSAT score in 10th grade, but when he took the test again as a junior--the year that counts for National Merit--he was ill, and he only made Commended status. Now, as a senior, he has SAT's of 2370, top grades, and 5's on many AP exams. Should he put his "Commended" Status on his applications? Should his counselor discuss his 10th grade PSAT's in the recommendation? He is applying to the most competitive colleges. Given that my son's credentials are generally better than most of his peers who have achieved semi-finalist status, will he be at a disadvantage with respect to them at the schools to which they are all applying?

National Merit results are a bigger deal for students and, especially, for parents than they are for the lion's share of colleges that most National Merit winners hope to attend. You may have already noticed that, while some colleges give big bucks to NM finalists, many of the hyper-competitive ones don't even participate.

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