Sixty-one freshmen were granted President Scholars Awards this fall, four of them received full scholarships, 22 were given a 75 percent scholarship and 35 students were awarded a 50 percent scholarship. The total is similar to the 59 scholarships awarded last year.
Every year, the Presidential Scholars Awards are given to incoming freshmen who exhibit exceptional academic and leadership skills, said Tamara Long, director of admissions. She said the requirements for the award have changed from year to year to match the rising competition.
“Scholars are selected based mostly on their interview process, but their application and their response to questions about their faith and service are scored as well,” Long said.
Long said students are invited to compete for the full or half-tuition award based on their high school academic performance (27 or higher ACT score and 3.5 or better high school grade point average). While students are invited based on academics, they are selected based on the interview process.
Rachel Hurst, sophomore biology major from Midlothian and a recipient of the award, said the interview process was challenging but offered some benefits.
“The interview was highly nerve-wracking, but I was able to enjoy the experience,” Hurst said. “It gave me a chance to reflect on my high school experience and to define what I was looking to receive from my college education. But I also loved the insight it gave me into what ACU was all about.”
The interview process narrows down hundreds of students to help determine the prodigious students who will receive the award.
Recipient Jesse Leon, freshman biology major from Midlothian, said the obvious competition created some anxiety.
“I was very nervous because there were 75 other students and there were four sets of interviews over four days, so I felt really intimidated,” Leon said.
Once the selection process was done, both Hurst and Leon said that the waiting period was long and daunting. Once it was over, they were pleased to find out they had received the award.
“I was shocked to find out that I had gotten the scholarship,” Leon said. “It was confirmation for me and my decision to come to ACU. What I felt was pure happiness.”
“It was a strange moment,” Hurst said. “I had no idea what was happening. I didn’t even understand the letter as I was reading it, but once I got over the sleepiness and disorientation, it was pretty exciting. My parents were absolutely thrilled.”