Investing in Tomorrow’s Leaders: The Impact of National Merit Scholarships


Our unique model is about recognizing patterns and form new behaviors to fundamentally change the way we learn. Discover how to apply industry-proven decision making techniques to everyday life. Click here to learn more.

Amazon Link to Book

Investing in Tomorrow’s Leaders: The Impact of National Merit Scholarships

By: Dr. Joseph Kashiwagi

In the pursuit of quality education, parents often seek avenues that can provide their children with the best opportunities for success. One such avenue that has gained prominence in recent years is charter and private schools. Depending on each school, the education can be focused on different aspects to help them to be successful in the future. Among the various benefits they offer, one stands out prominently: the potential for students to earn National Merit Scholarships. These scholarships are not valuable in of itself but give students the opportunity to learn and grow habits that will lead them to success. Let’s delve into how these scholarships impact students and why they make charter and private schools an attractive option for parents.

Understanding Charter and Private Schools: A Brief Overview

Charter schools are publicly funded institutions that operate independently of the traditional public school system. Private schools have a separate source of funding, but they allow for similar education customizations. Both have the flexibility to design their own curriculum, teaching methods, and school policies while being held accountable for academic performance. This autonomy allows charter schools to innovate and tailor education to the specific needs of their students. Making education more individualized is very important for the development in a child since each one is so different. They will all have different paths in life so helping them find that path and guiding them on that path is of the upmost importance!

National Merit Scholarships: A Pathway to Success

The National Merit Scholarship Program is a prestigious academic competition aimed at identifying and rewarding outstanding high school students. Every year, approximately 1.5 million students across the United States take the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) to qualify for the program. Of these, only about 50,000 students are recognized as high scorers, and fewer than 10,000 are selected as National Merit Scholars, earning scholarships for college which means thousands of dollars that are put towards their education.

The Impact of National Merit Scholarships

  1. Financial Support: One of the most immediate benefits of earning a National Merit Scholarship is the financial assistance it provides for college education. These scholarships can cover a significant portion of tuition costs, alleviating the financial burden on both students and their families. I have seen families being saved with this funding allowing children to get an education that wouldn’t be possible.
  2. Prestige and Recognition: Being named a National Merit Scholar is a prestigious honor that can significantly enhance a student’s academic and professional reputation. It opens doors to prestigious universities and can lead to additional scholarship opportunities and career advancements in the future. This prestige and recognition alone won’t do anything unless it is coupled with extracurricular activities that colleges are looking for.
  3. Academic Excellence: The rigorous preparation required to excel in the PSAT/NMSQT and qualify for National Merit Scholarships cultivates a culture of academic excellence among students. It encourages them to strive for high achievement and sets a standard of excellence that extends beyond high school into their collegiate and professional endeavors. This is becoming less necessary as schools are looking for students who stand out in volunteering and outside of school activities.

Why Charter and Private Schools Facilitate National Merit Scholarships

  1. Individualized Attention: Smaller schools often boast smaller class sizes and a more personalized approach to education. This allows students to receive individualized attention from teachers, enabling them to reach their full academic potential and excel in standardized tests like the PSAT/NMSQT. This means that a child gets more attention and time with an adult that wants to help them succeed. This also leads to teachers knowing their students better and creating a lasting relationship.
  2. Innovative Curriculum: Charter and private schools have the flexibility to implement innovative teaching methods and curriculum designs that focus on critical thinking, problem-solving, and advanced academic skills. This holistic approach to education better prepares students for standardized tests and fosters the intellectual curiosity necessary to succeed in competitive academic environments. They learn the skills that they usually wouldn’t at a traditional school. These skills are the ones that are the most important in helping them be successful in life.
  3. Culture of Excellence: Many charter and private schools prioritize creating a culture of academic excellence and intellectual curiosity. They provide a supportive learning environment where students are encouraged to challenge themselves, pursue their passions, and strive for academic success. This culture of excellence motivates students to excel in their studies and pursue opportunities like the National Merit Scholarship Program. They want their students to succeed and teachers are more invested at a charter school to make it happen.


In conclusion, National Merit Scholarships offer students a pathway to success by providing financial support, prestige, and recognition for their academic achievements. The impact of these scholarships are minimizing due to schools recognizing other strengths in students. Colleges and universities are looking for more well-rounded students to put into their classes. Although important, the academic performance of a child is less important. These places are looking for students who have a passion and know what they want out of life. These students will be more valuable to these universities than anyone else because they will be the leaders of society. With the emergence of automation and technology, it is more important that we help our students to learn the soft skills that automation can’t replicate. This will ensure that our children have a successful future! Charter and private schools, with their emphasis on individualized attention, innovative curriculum, and culture of excellence, are well-positioned to prepare students for success in standardized tests like the PSAT/NMSQT and ultimately, for the opportunities that await them in college and beyond. This will not be enough to help students be successful! We as parents need to think about the development of our child in every aspect of their lives and this will be the most beneficial thing that we can do. By investing in charter school education, parents can empower their children to become tomorrow’s leaders, equipped with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to make a difference in the world.


Arizona is leading the charge for educational choice. As one of the first states to open the door for innovative charter schools, Arizona offers a wide variety of schools to choose from. In the summer of 2023, Arizona passed a law that allows more state funding to be used for private schools as well as charter schools. Because of this change, Leadership Society of Arizona was able to support the grand opening of an innovative private school in August 2023. LeadAZ Private School has created a unique blended approach to homeschooling and in-person education. Students can set the pace of their education but they also get one-on-one access to a team of highly-qualified instructors. Every student creates their own customized education experience. To make this possible, LeadAZ maintains a ratio of only 4 to students to every 1 instructor.

Learn More!