Jefferson Scholars Foundation Invites 105 Finalists to Annual Selection Weekend

March 24, 2009 — More than 100 outstanding high school seniors will vie for full scholarships to the University of Virginia as the Jefferson Scholars Foundation hosts its 29th annual Jefferson Scholars Selection Weekend. The scholarship finalists arrive Wednesday to participate in four days of seminars, examinations and interviews.
Scholars will be selected on the basis of demonstrated excellence and exceptional potential in the areas of leadership, scholarship and citizenship. This year's finalists emerged from a field of over 1,000 nominees from 29 states, plus Washington, D.C., Canada, El Salvador, India, Israel, Malaysia and South Korea.
During the competition weekend, finalists participate in essay and mathematics examinations as well as seminars led by University faculty members. The Jefferson Scholars Selection Committee, comprised of 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 composite SAT average of the finalists is 2,222, compared to a national average of 1,511; 30 percent of the finalists are projected to be their class valedictorian or salutatorian; and 69 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; 37 have participated in Student Council; 16 have been either president or vice president of their Student Council, and 19 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 3,000 secondary schools, including every secondary school in Virginia, are eligible to nominate one student from their senior class for the Jefferson Scholarship. The pool of nominees is reviewed by 53 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 $85,000; an out-of-state Jefferson Scholar receives more than $175,000. The foundation currently supports 132 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."