University of Oklahoma’s National Scholars Program: Our Experience

The University of Oklahoma National Scholars Program, is a well run, welcoming program. Here is our experience with it!

If your student’s test scores have placed them among the top academic achievers in the nation, congratulations, that is something to celebrate! It also opens the door to many schools and scholarship opportunities. My son was fortunate to achieve the test scores and grades to be named a National Merit Scholar. From the moment the PSAT scores are announced junior year, these students will begin to receive an abundance of college propaganda and scholarship opportunities. Your student may be receiving the same attention for other test scores or even their high school achievements. I am focusing on the National Merit Award due to our experience, but financial awards and merit scholarship opportunities exists through other avenues as well, so if your student has the grades you may find this information beneficial. Honors housing is also available and scholars programs exist for scholarships outside the National Merit Program.

Again, this is my experience with the program and what a great fit it was for us.

If your student is recognized as a National Merit Semi-Finalist, be sure that the University of Oklahoma is on your list of colleges to visit. The University of Oklahoma is No. 1 among all public and private universities in the enrollment of freshman National Merit Scholars. OU is home to over 800 currently enrolled National Merit Scholars. The Fall 2015 class of 285 National Merit Scholars includes students from 39 states.

My son is among those who graduated high school outside of Oklahoma. He chose OU not knowing another person who¬†would be attending. A little overwhelming, but from his first visit to enrollment day, he felt like he could call OU home. The National Scholars Program Team was there every step of the way. They arranged our initial visit beginning with a tour from a current National Merit Scholar and arranged meetings with professors and department heads in my son’s interest of study. Our assigned adviser joined us for lunch along with others working in the Scholars Department that day. From that initial phone call, we knew OU was dedicated to this program.

As a parent getting ready to send my first born off to college, I had the feeling my son would not be alone here, but have a caring team to call on if he needed anything. What I did not expect was the camaraderie he would build beginning day one with the others. My son chose to live on a National Merit Scholars dorm floor. Everyone on his floor is a recipient of this scholarship and almost no one on his floor knew his or her roommate prior to being assigned. The students on his floor have come from many different states and social economic backgrounds. It’s been a pretty cool experience watching my son form bonds with these students as they immerse themselves in their freshman year.

Another bonus is the upper class men and women in this program. They are leaders and mentors who are dedicated to making sure these students are feeling at home, getting involved and making the most of their academic experience. The students who share this award make up a group on campus. They have dinners and events and are proud of representing the university. Yet, they are diverse enough and have time to pursue their individual activities and groups.

My son is also involved with many things that are not related to the National Scholars Program and has made many friends outside this program. From my observations of the National Scholars Program students, I see a diverse, intelligent group of students proud of the bond they share, dedicated to each other and the university, yet diverse and independent enough to branch out and get involved outside the scholars program. The program has had such a positive effect on welcoming my son and a few of his new friends to college that they now want to be a part of welcoming future freshman to campus and ensuring they too will have as positive of an experience! My son has immersed himself into so many groups and programs. A more reserved student in high school, I now see my student getting involved in a university system that he is passionate about. I’ve watched my son grow this year far more than I ever expected and I know it is in part due to the program that brought him to OU. He knows he made the right decision in choosing OU.

This program has exceeded all expectations that we had. The staff can outline the numbers and give you all the information on the opportunity. What we did not see until school began was:

  • The camaraderie these students would share
  • The dedicated programs and pride OU has for their merit achievers
  • The opportunity to transition to college not knowing anyone, yet being a part of some thing big
  • There is a reason The University of Oklahoma is No. 1 among all public and private universities in the enrollment of freshman National Merit Scholars.

You can find more information on the University of Oklahoma’s National Scholars Program here.

8 thoughts on “University of Oklahoma’s National Scholars Program: Our Experience

  1. Thanks for writing this. I have a weird question. Is there any gear like hoodies or golf shirts that say OU National Scholars? We are so excited that our son will be joining this program as a freshman in August! Any tips on moving in and getting acclimated would be appreciated.

    • Congratulations to your son! As an incoming Freshman, he will receive many T-shirts and a couple are National Scholar specific. When my son moved into his dorm, I believe he had about 3 t-shirts and other OU branded items waiting in the room for him! Last year, The National Scholars Office distributed shirts for the students the night of the welcome picnic. The Welcome Picnic is great for the entire family and last year was the day after move in. After dinner several upper class National Scholar Students accompanied the Freshman in visiting the Involvement Fair. The National Scholars Staff does an incredible job of making these students feel welcome and a part of OU. It also seems like many clubs and organizations have t-shirts and other gear that the students are given for participating. With my son home for the summer, it’s been fun to see all the different shirts he’s collected! As far as other specific National Scholars gear I am not certain nor was my son aware of additional items that can be picked up or purchased. I’ve emailed the office to inquire and will follow up when I hear back.

      Regarding move in, the housing office has a great system, that I hope they keep in place this year. We were given an arrival time slot, arrived and followed the signs. We were in the car line for about an hour, checked in and given a number tag and directed forward to the appropriate dorm. Movers in the unload area, moved everything from our SUV to a large cart, tagged it with the number we were given and away we went to park. We parked where directed and then were shuttled back to the dorm where my son picked up his key. His belongings were already awaiting us in the room! I believe they just began this last year and I hope for your sake it is continued! Moving day is an exciting day. Check out the tents in the open areas and definitely attend convocation (students received their class of 2019 T-shirt when they walked in). Lastly, I would highly recommend that your son attend a Camp Crimson session over the summer if he can. My son, who was very reserved in High School, attended Camp Crimson not knowing anyone at OU. He had an amazing few days and left camp anxious for move in day, and with many new contacts in his phone! Oh and he will get at least 1 T-shirt there too! Congratulations again! See you in Norman!

  2. You are so kind to ask for us. That move-in system sounds like a dream! Everywhere we ask about OU in the DFW area we hear nothing but wonderful. It will be an adjustment but we are excited for him.

  3. Thank you Mary for sharing your experience and information with regard to the National Scholars Program and move-in as our firstborn son also sets off to join OU this August and we will be making the long drive from Atlanta! OU was never on the radar for our son and he is so excited at this opportunity as a National Merit Scholar. We flew out to visit the campus last April and I knew from the reception alone that our son would flourish in such a beautiful and welcoming setting! He, too, had a somewhat reserved experience in high school but visiting and meeting the National Scholars team, being in the OU chat rooms for the last couple of months, and being at Camp Crimson last week, I see how eager he is to begin College. He is excited to join clubs and continue his involvement with Debate and explore new interests and friendships. It’s comforting to be reassured by someone who has gone through the same experience that OU will be a wonderful and supportive new home for him!

    • Congratulations to your son Lorraine! I hope you find the experience as welcoming as we did and that your son has an outstanding first year as a Sooner! The National Scholars Office works hard to give these students beneficial resources and support to help them thrive in their new setting. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me too.

  4. I would like to double what was written about the National Scholars Program and all of the amazing people who work so hard to make it successful. Our experience was like yours. Camp Crimson was amazing. Our student came home saying no one in his group wanted to leave when it was over. Move in this week went well and as described by the other writers here. Our student is in a super positive spirit and ready for classes to start this week.. We thank OU for everything they have designed and do to launch these Freshman in a very positive and supportive way, from the volunteers all the way up to President Boren. We are amazed by you all. We also thank the Honors College and their team as well! Go Sooners!

    • Thank you for sharing your experience! Congratulations to your student and best wishes for a very successful year ahead! OU has an amazing support staff and student organizations who really care about the success of the students. The transition from home to college can be tough for many and even outside the National Merit Program I have been impressed with the resources provided to all. I am going through the transition to college with my second child, also a Sooner, but not a part of the National Merit Program. She is finding her way and where to plug in with others there. It’s a little overwhelming at first with so many groups and organizations, but there really is something for all.

      • Thank you. Yes, my impression and from speaking with many people at OU, is the University as a whole is supportive across the board. Success is not about getting in, but about making it through to the end and graduating. That was what I heard from all the people I spoke with. There first year retention rate was 90% last year. Most schools hope for 60%. Proof they are doing an outstanding job. They also have teams who visit the dorms at least twice during the first year and seek out every Freshmen to ask how they are doing. Their goal is to find those who do/or are not seek needed help and get them on track with whatever it is they may need. This is outstanding outreach. I want to confess, I was so surprised about all of the positive things I was learning about OU, I made extra phone calls with some crazy questions just to see if maybe it wasn’t true. Every single encounter, be it students or staff, answered my questions with interest, in depth, and with great politeness. What can I say more. I’m looking forward to watching our student’s journey unfold now, and certainly with positive expectations that he is in good hands, in a great environment, and less, if at all with negative concerns. Best wishes to all of you here and your students.

        First home game is Sept 2nd. Go Sooners!

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