Digital cinema students

About the Competition

The Presidential Scholars Competition is designed for high school seniors to compete for 10 "full-ride" and 10 full-tuition scholarships.  Approximately 200 additional scholarships will be awarded to participants. 

Our fall 2020 competition was modified to an engaging virtual format to best serve high school seniors in a safe and healthy manner.  Registration for the 2020 scholarship competition has closed. 

Our fall 2021 competition will be offered on campus, in person, on two dates.  A virtual format option may also be offered, with a date yet to be determined.  Registration for the 2021 scholarship competition will open in August 2021.

Tentative dates:  November 7-8, 2021 (on campus, in person) and November 14-15, 2021 (on campus, in person).  Students choose one competition session date.  Registration deadlines are usually about two weeks prior to the selected session date.


Art student setting up senior exhibit

Who can participate?

You may participate in the fall 2021 scholarship completion if you meet these criteria:

  • You are a high school senior, graduating in 2022 and entering college in fall 2022.
  • You have applied to and been admitted to NMU for fall 2022 prior to the competition registration deadline.
  • You meet this academic criteria:   High school GPA is 3.50 or higher (cumulative, 9th-11th grade)

Panel of Experts: Opportunities and Support

This recording took place on Monday, October 26 at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time

This was a live webinar with an opportunity to submit questions for panelists' response.

Who attended?  Parents/guardians and others supporting their future Wildcat.

What will you learn?  Panelists briefly share information about the way their programs provide opportunities and services to support our students' success.  But the real learning comes from the Q&A!

Who are the panelists?  Representatives from the Honors Program, Academic and Career Advising, Center for Student Enrichment, Financial Aid, Housing and Residence Life, Admissions, Dean of Students, NMU Dining, and Career Services.

What are some common questions from past panel sessions? How does academic advising work at NMU? Will you accept my student's AP credits? Do you offer tutoring? What are the benefits of being a part of the Honors Program? Do students get to choose their roommates? What if my student has food allergies?  How do students develop competencies outside the classroom? Is there access to mental health services on campus?  How do you help graduates get jobs? If my student has received services at their high school, will that automatically continue at NMU? When will we know about our financial aid package and what if our situation has changed? How do students get involved? 


Students with the Wildcat statue

How did it look in 2020? Virtual Tours and Student Panels

How did it look in 2020?  Read below to see how we offered a virtual competition last fall.

...Each competition date will host its own virtual tours prior to the competition for a peek at NMU. Check out our schedule of events (posted above) on the tour times for your competition. Links to the virtual tours will be sent in a personalized itinerary if students would like to join.

NMU will also be hosting student panels after each of the small group sessions for students to learn more about life at NMU. We have student representatives from the Honors Program, Freshman Fellows, Student Leader Fellowship Program and past winners of the Leadership Scholarship. Learn about these programs, and more during our live student panels! Webinar links will be included in the personalized itineraries sent to participants.


sugarloaf overlook

How did it look in Fall 2020? Apply to Participate

How did it look in Fall 2020?  Read below to see how we offered the competition last fall.

...We will be offering multiple competition date options. You will select one virtual session option, but will need to participate in all components in order to be considered for the scholarships.

Virtual Competition Dates for 2020

Session Option 1:  October 25-26, with small groups on Sunday afternoon/evening and interviews scheduled for Monday morning, afternoon or evening. View participant schedule of events here.
Registration Deadline: October 16 at 8 a.m.

Session Option 2:  November 1-2, with small groups on Sunday afternoon/evening and interviews scheduled for Monday morning, afternoon or evening. View participant schedule of events here.
Registration Deadline: October 19 at 8 a.m.

Session Option 3:  November 9-10, with small groups on Monday evening and interviews scheduled for Tuesday morning, afternoon or evening. View participant schedule of events here.
Registration Deadline: October 26 at 8 a.m.

On the scholarship competition application form you will be asked to select your first choice date. Once we confirm your eligibility to compete, we will email you at the email address you provided on your competition application.

Students will also need to submit a resume of their leadership/involvement experiences.

Students participating in the Leadership portion of the competition will also complete an essay on one of their leadership activities when applying for the competition.

The application for the Fall 2020 competition is closed.
Jamrich Hall in Summer

The Presidential Scholars Competition allows high-achieving students to compete for 10 full-ride and 10 full-tuition scholarships

Major Awards

Harden Scholarships

  • Amount of award: "full-ride" includes
    • tuition (in-state or out-of-state rates) at full-time 12-16 credits per semester rate
    • most required fees (University fee, student activity fee, one-time student athletic event fee and MacBook Pro fee for Art and Design majors)
    • room and board (Quad II double residence hall room and required basic meal plan; winners may choose to pay differential for other options; students living in on-campus apartments, Spooner Hall, or not required to live on campus receive varying amounts toward living expenses)
  • Harden Scholarship recipients are also automatically admitted to the NMU Honors Program (no obligation).
  • Number offered: 10

Presidential Scholarships

  • Amount of award: full-tuition scholarships, including
    • tuition (in-state or out-of-state rates) at full-time 12-16 credits per semester rate
    • most required fees (University fee, student activity fee, one-time student athletic event fee and MacBook Pro fee for Art and Design majors)
  • Presidential Scholarship recipients are also automatically admitted to the NMU Honors Program (no obligation).
  • Number offered: 10

Additional Scholarships Awarded

  • Waldo Scholarships: $2000/yr (60 awarded.)
  • Kaye-Munson Scholarships: $1000/yr (140 awarded.)
  • These scholarships are in addition to the automatic merit scholarships awarded upon admission.

NMU Leadership Scholarships

  • Amount of award: $2000
  • Acceptance to the Student Leader Fellowship Program
  • Number offered: 10
  • Requires indication and additional information on registration form.

What does the competition consist of?

Students will receive a score for each part of the competition. Scored components include an interview, leadership/involvement resume, and small group activity. More details will be available when registration opens. 

Additional opportunities to learn more about NMU will be offered.  Details will be available at registration.


Virtual Session Information:  For any virtual competition or information sessions offered, NMU will be using Zoom as the main platform.  Access to Zoom, a camera and microphone on either a PC or smart phone will be needed to participate in the competition.

*By participating in NMU's Virtual Presidential Scholars competition, student participants agree that any technical difficulties they experience may be out of NMU's control and could negatively impact a student's competition results. The Admissions Office has taken preventative measures to minimize the risk of this by offering information on how to troubleshoot issues,but please be aware that the situation may be out of our control. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your participation, please contact the program coordinator, Kate Hooper.


If you have any questions about the Presidential Scholars Competition please call the Admissions Office at 906-227-2650 or email the program coordinator Kate Hooper at

Renewal Criteria for all scholarships listed above:
  • First-year students may receive scholarships for up to 8 semesters, or until completion of first bachelor's degree, whichever comes first.
  • Must maintain a cumulative 3.0 NMU G.P.A. and full-time enrollment.
  • Must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy requirements.

Presidential Scholars Competition - Frequently Asked Questions

There are a few major differences with the 2020 competition. The first is that the competition is 100 percent virtual. Due to COVID-19, we are unfortunately unable to welcome visitors to campus for the competition like we have in previous years.

We are also offering three competition dates to choose from instead of two. The third session is also on a Monday/Tuesday instead of the traditional Sunday/Monday.

Since we have implemented a test-blind admissions policy, ACT or SAT scores are no longer required to verify eligibility for the competition for students who have a 3.7 high school GPA or higher. For students with a 3.5-3.6 high school GPA to qualify for the competition, we do require an ACT score of 24 or higher OR an SAT score of 1160 or higher. Because of this, participants are no longer awarded points for their test scores and GPA.

Not necessarily. After your registration has been submitted, we will send you another email confirming two things: that you are eligible to compete and to verify which of the three dates you will be competing in. This message will go to the email address you put on your registration form, so please make sure this email address is correct!

You can change your competition date and interview time before the deadline for each competition. For example, for fall 2020, if you signed up for the October 25 - 26 competition, you have until that competition deadline to change the date (October 16 at 8 a.m.) 

Please contact program coordinator, Kate Hooper, if you need to make any changes to your event registration at or 906-227-2650.

No, in order to properly schedule these virtual events for all the student participants and faculty and staff volunteers, you will need to make sure you can commit to a single competition date option.

No, you will only compete in one session. Choose which one works best for you and your schedule.

All of the times listed on the agendas will be in Eastern Daylight*/Standard Time.


Fall 2020 Information: The Competition Introduction for the November 9 Student Small Groups will begin at 5:00 p.m. if you are in most of Michigan/on the east coast. If you are from other areas in the U.S., your time to log into your events will be different. Please check the chart below to see what time you should log into the events.



Eastern Time

(MI, IN, OH)

Central Time

(WI, IL, MN)

Mountain Time

(UT, CO, AZ)

Pacific Time

(CA, WA, OR)


5:00 p.m.

4:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.

Student Small Group

5:15 p.m.

4:15 p.m.

3:15 p.m.

2:15 p.m.

Student Panel

7:00 p.m.

6:00 p.m.

5:00 p.m.

4:00 p.m.

Interview Time Slots

Morning: 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Afternoon: 12:00 p.m.-5:00 pm.

Evening: 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Morning: 7:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

Afternoon: 11:00 a.m.-4:00 pm.

Evening: 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.

Morning: 6:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.

Afternoon: 10:00 a.m.-3:00 pm.

Evening: 3:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.

Morning: 5:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.

Afternoon: 9:00 a.m.-2:00 pm.

Evening: 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.


*NOTE: Again, the times listed on your agenda are EASTERN STANDARD TIME. Please adjust the time accordingly depending on which time zone you live in so you do not miss the competition. This is the last competition session and there is no make-up date scheduled.

All students will be awarded points based on the leadership/involvement resume submitted with the registration form, their participation in the Small Student Group Session and the Student Interview. The points from all three of these activities will be added together to make up one competition score.

Participants from all three competition dates will be ranked based on their total competition score. The participants with the 10 highest total scores will be awarded the Harden Scholarship and the next 10 highest scores will be awarded the Presidential Scholarship. The 60 next highest scores will be awarded the Waldo Scholarship and the next 140 will be awarded the Kaye-Munson scholarship.

Students who indicate on the competition’s registration form that they want to be considered for one of 10 Leadership Scholarships will be required to submit a short essay detailing one of the activities on their leadership/involvement resume. Facilitators will also be paying close attention to these student's leadership qualities through their performance in the Student Small Group Activity. 

Students are competing for one of 230 scholarships, with awards ranging from $1,000 to a “full-ride.”

Not at all - the competition is open to students interested in any program or that are undecided, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.

You will only participate in the competition one time - during the fall of your last year in high school. If you win a scholarship, the scholarship can be renewed for eight semesters or until a bachelor’s degree has been earned, whichever comes first, as long as you maintain full-time enrollment, a 3.0 cumulative NMU GPA or higher and meet Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy requirements.

Consistent with our admissions policy, we will use whichever GPA is most beneficial for the student. We will consider your highest GPA in determining eligibility for the competition.

Test scores (ACT/SAT) are not used for this competition.  

Access to Zoom, a camera and microphone on either a PC, tablet or smartphone will be needed to participate in the competition and to participate in the optional activities. If you need to download Zoom, you can do so here: During the student small group session, please also have a scrap piece of paper and a pen or pencil handy.

A few days before the competition you are registered for, you will receive an email containing Zoom links to all of the required and optional events. This message will go to the email address you put on your registration form, so please make sure this email address is correct!

If you do not receive the email with your links on the Thursday before the competition, please contact the Admissions Office at (906) 227-2650.

We will be hosting a Zoom test event before each Student Small Group Session so that you can check your connection and make sure your device’s camera and microphone are working properly. However, we do understand that device and connectivity issues may still happen. If a technological issue does occur during the competition, immediately contact Kate Hooper, the program coordinator, at

Parents should not be attending the Student Small Group Session or Student Interview Sessions. We will have a special Parent Town Hall session for parents of our competitors, so parents can ask questions and learn a little bit more about NMU. In Fall 2020, the Parent Town Hall took place on Monday, October 26 from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. and wasrecorded and is available for you to viewing.  See the link on this page.

Parents can always reach out to the NMU Admissions Office with questions, or you can view your visit options here:

International and Global Campus Students are not eligible to compete in the Presidential Scholars Competition.