After years of ranking first and second in recruiting National Merit Scholars, FAMU has dropped to fifth place with only 27 recruits, the lowest since 1989.
According to Rudolph Slaughter, director of recruitment and scholarships, change in administration as well as rising questions of the scholarship program were factors in the decline of the number of recruits.
“We weren’t certain of whether or not we had the money for the scholarship program,” Slaughter said. “But we do, and it’s been resolved.”
Timeliness also played a vital role in the decline of recruits for this school year.
The recruitment period for National Merit Scholars normally starts in September and ends in April.
During this time, colleges send out scholarship approval letters to students who are selected as semi-finalists.
The students become finalists after January.
Students must notify the National Merit Board of their choice of college no later than May 1.
FAMU sent its approval letters out to students in April. By that time, most students had already weighed their offers against others and had made a decision Slaughter said.
Adrienne Nairobi Harris, 18, a freshman political science/pre-law student from Orlando and Life Gets Better Scholarship recipient said she applied to the University of Central Florida, Florida State University and the University of West Florida, but chose FAMU because of what they had to offer.
“Overall, FAMU had the best scholarship package,” Harris said. “The scholarship covers my tuition, room and board and also allots a $500 stipend each semester for books. Plus my dad really wanted me to come to FAMU.”
Each year FAMU competes with Harvard, Stanford, Howard University and the University of Florida for National Merit Scholars. To be competitive each university should have about 60 National Merit finalists applying for admission .
FAMU has already taken necessary steps to get back in competition with the other universities.
About 200 profiles have been approved for perspective National Merit Scholar semifinalists. Notification letters were sent out to students mid-September.
“We will aggressively go after students from now to January,” said Slaughter.
“After January, they are finalists. By then we hope to double the number of scholars for the next school year.”
A listing of universities that placed ahead of FAMU will be available in December with the release of the National Merit Board Annual Report.