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ASU has meteoric rise in National Merit Scholar rankings

January 12, 2007

ASU has risen again in the national rankings for freshman National Merit Scholars, attracting a higher number of these bright students than almost any other public university in the United States, according to a newly released report.

With a record 188 National Merit Scholars in this year’s freshman class, ASU ranks third among public universities and eighth among all schools, ahead of Yale, Princeton and Stanford. The ASU student body includes 606 National Merit Scholars overall, raising the level of class discussion and inquiry across the campuses.

National Merit Scholars score in the top one-half of 1 percent of all students who take the Preliminary SAT midway through high school. They must continue to show a consistent record of high academic performance in ninth grade through 12th grade, be recommended by their principals and complete a lengthy application.

For the past seven years, ASU has placed among the top 20 universities in the country. Fifteen years ago, ASU enrolled just six freshman National Merit Scholars.

The annual report by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation listed 387 public and private institutions that enrolled 8,319 scholars this year. The top 10 are:

• Harvard, 294.

• University of Florida, 257.

• University of Texas-Austin, 250.

• Washington University-St. Louis, 241.

• University of Southern California, 206.

• Northwestern, 198.

• University of Chicago, 196.

• ASU, 188.

• Yale, 186.

• Princeton and Stanford, 153.

“The quality of our faculty and degree programs continues to attract the best students from Arizona and across the country,” says James Rund, vice president for university undergraduate initiatives. “Barrett, the Honors College at ASU has become nationally known as the home for these students. This community of students is beginning to define our student body at large, and we could not be more pleased.”

Mark Jacobs, Barrett dean, says the effect of having 606 National Merit Scholars is felt across the ASU campuses, since the students are also enrolled in all the other colleges.

“These wonderful students enrich classroom discussions and contribute to the rising culture of intense intellectual engagement on campus,” Jacobs says.