March 23, 2010 — One hundred one top high school seniors will vie for full scholarships to the University of Virginia this weekend as the Jefferson Scholars Foundation hosts its 30th annual Jefferson Scholars Selection Weekend. The scholarship finalists arrive Wednesday to participate in four days of seminars, examinations and interviews.
Selection is based upon demonstrated excellence and exceptional potential in the areas of leadership, scholarship and citizenship. This year's finalists emerged from a field of more than 1,200 nominees from 31 states, Washington, D.C., and countries all over the world.
During the weekend, the finalists participate in essay and mathematics examinations as well as seminars led by U.Va. faculty members. The Jefferson Scholars Selection Committee, comprising U.Va. alumni, faculty and administrators, will conduct individual interviews.
At the close of the weekend, approximately 30 finalists will be offered Jefferson Scholarships. They have until April 20 to accept.
The average SAT score of the finalists is 2224, compared to a national average of 1509. Twenty-five percent of the finalists are projected to be their class valedictorian or salutatorian, and 67 percent have received recognition from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
Finalists also excel in a wide range of endeavors outside the classroom. The majority are varsity athletes; 34 have participated in Student Council; 20 have founded organizations or businesses, and 16 have conducted independent research.
"The Jefferson Scholars Foundation's mission is to benefit the University of Virginia by recognizing and rewarding excellence,” said James H. Wright, president of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation. "These young men and women embody excellence in leadership, scholarship and citizenship, and possess the potential to provide the next generation of leadership to the university, the nation and the world."
The Jefferson Scholars competition is merit-based, and students do not apply for the scholarship. More than 3,500 secondary schools, including every secondary school in Virginia, are eligible to nominate up to two students from their senior class for the Jefferson Scholarship. The pool of nominees is reviewed by 56 regional selection committees across the country.
Additional nominees come from the U.Va. Office of Admission, which reviews the applications of all students, including international applicants who attend schools not eligible to participate in the regional competitions. Jefferson Scholarships cover the full cost of attending the University, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and other expenses. Over four years, a Jefferson Scholar from Virginia receives approximately $90,000; an out-of-state Jefferson Scholar receives over $185,000.
The foundation currently supports 122 undergraduate students.
"The work of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation would not be possible without the support of the University's alumni – not only financial support, but also their contributions of time and energy," Wright said. "This year, more than 700 dedicated alumni have devoted time to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, including serving on the regional selection committees that picked the Jefferson Scholar finalists. There is no other initiative at the University that consistently involves such a large number of alumni in active and productive service on behalf of the institution."