6 Famous People Who Won Scholarships for Their PSAT Scores

M. Night Shyamalan

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Some people say that the PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is a predictor of success in college. Some say that the PSAT only really predicts a student's success on the SAT, but does nothing more than that. Some won't even go that far. They believe the PSAT is merely a standardized test that can take up a kid's breezy afternoon during the October of his or her junior year.

However, there are those who believe that achievement on the PSAT indicates the amount of success a person can achieve later in life. They think that early success breeds the ability to achieve. The desire for it. The need.

Whether or not you subscribe to any of these beliefs, you can't repudiate the success the following people have achieved in their lifetimes. What links them all together? Winning a National Merit Scholarship or a corporate or college-sponsored Merit Scholarship. Sure, one does not necessarily equal the other (as there are certainly Merit Scholarship winners who have quickly and succinctly tossed their bright futures into the wind with poor choices in the present), but you have to admit that this list is impressive either way.

William H. "Bill" Gates

Bill Gates

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Scholarship awarded: The National Merit Scholarship

Year: 1973

Claim to fame: If you haven't been living under a brick, you realize that Bill Gates is the former chairman of Microsoft, a little software/computer/rule the world company you may have heard of before. He is one of the world's wealthiest individuals but consistently gives his money away through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has dispersed hundreds of millions of dollars to philanthropic endeavors. Awesome. Besides all that, Gates is the author of several books, an investor, and a software guru. Does his PSAT score have anything to do with that? Maybe.

Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer

 Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Scholarship awarded: Brigham Young University Merit Scholarship

Year: 1992

Claim to fame: Anyone ever heard of Twilight? Edward? Jacob? Bella Swan? Sure you have. There isn't a tween girl on the planet who hasn't read that series right along with her 8th grade English teacher. And if you didn't read the series, you've certainly heard about (or seen) the movie once or a hundred dozen times. Stephenie Meyer penned this famous series of novels, along with several other books, and continues to write in her post-Twilight glow. Perhaps she began dreaming about those famous plotlines right around the time that scholarship check came rolling in for her PSAT score.

Manoj "M. Night" Shyamalan

M. Night Shyamalan

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Scholarship awarded: New York University Merit Scholarship

Year: 1988

Claim to fame: Although "I see dead people" is a movie line made famous by Haley Joel Osment, M. Night Shyamalan, the Sixth Sense's writer and director, made the movie famous and very, very profitable. Besides writing killer plot lines with coronary-inducing endings, Shyamalan also pens stuff for kids like Stuart Little and The Last Airbender. He has received two Academy Award nominations and has written nearly all of the films he has directed, which is almost unheard of in Hollywood.

Jeffrey Bezos

Jeff Bezos of Amazon

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Scholarship awarded: National Merit Scholarship

Year: 1982

Claim to fame: Chances are good you've used his site if you've purchased anything online. Bezos is the founder, Chairman, and CEO of Amazon.com, the world's largest online marketplace. If you need anything from a 68-pack of rulers to a 10-pack of tube socks, you can get it on Amazon, probably with free shipping. Bezos was named Time magazine's Person of the Year in 1999, has been selected as one of America's Best Leaders according to U.S. News and World Report, and has received an honorary doctorate from Carnegie Mellon.

Oh. And he bought this little rag called the Washington Post in 2013. 

Yes, a National Merit Scholarship doesn't guarantee you an honorary doctorate later in life, but remember that early success breeds future success!

Steven A. Ballmer

Steven Ballmer

Jesús Gorriti/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0


Scholarship awarded: The National Merit Scholarship

Year: 1973

Claim to fame: Ballmer, awarded the big ol' grand finale of scholarships the same year as Bill Gates, was actually Gates' successor to the Microsoft kingdom. That's right. Ballmer was CEO of Microsoft until February of 2014. And now, he owns the L.A. Clippers.

As a graduate of Detroit's Country Day school, one of the best private schools in the country, and Harvard, which is well, Harvard, he was prepared to eventually take over this company early on, although it took him many years before he worked his way from a business manager to the top. He is the second person in the world to become a billionaire based on stock options from a corporation he didn't own. Whew!

Jerry Greenfield

Ben Greenfield

Gareth Davies/Getty Images

Scholarship awarded: Bache Corporation Foundation Merit Scholarship

Year: 1969

Claim to fame: Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, Chubby Hubby, Jamaican Me Crazy. Yep. All those flavors and dozens more have made Jerry Greenfield, one of the co-founders of Ben and Jerry's, a very wealthy man. He and his buddy Ben started the business in a revamped gas station with minimal success at first. Repeatedly, Häagen-Dazs tried to limit their distribution, the cold Vermont climes restricted their sales in the winter months, and business was ever dwindling. Eventually, they gained a foothold and sold the company to Unilever, where the ice cream could be distributed across the globe. Now that's delicious.

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Roell, Kelly. "6 Famous People Who Won Scholarships for Their PSAT Scores." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/famous-people-who-have-won-scholarships-3211716. Roell, Kelly. (2023, April 5). 6 Famous People Who Won Scholarships for Their PSAT Scores. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/famous-people-who-have-won-scholarships-3211716 Roell, Kelly. "6 Famous People Who Won Scholarships for Their PSAT Scores." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/famous-people-who-have-won-scholarships-3211716 (accessed June 10, 2023).