Taking College Readiness to the Next Level

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17th Annual PSJA College Night 2016From football games to finalizing their SATs and ACTs, the fall season for high school seniors is also crucial for their future as it comes with the pressure of selecting universities, meeting admission deadlines, and applying for scholarships.

For the last 17 years, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA), in partnership with the Texas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (TACRO), has hosted an annual College Night event to provide students with access to important information regarding universities, tuition, scholarships, and financial aid.

During this year’s PSJA ISD College Night, which was held Sept. 27, more than 1,500 students and parents packed the Boggus Ford Events Center in Pharr to meet with over 51 in-state and out-of-state university representatives.

 

Although the annual event aims to help high school seniors finalize their choices and encourage them to apply to college, PSJA College Night is open to students of all ages in hopes of motivating them to start their research early.

Seeing representatives from dozens of institutions was a wonderful surprise to many students, especially for Bryan Marroquin, who is a senior at PSJA Southwest Early College High School.

“Coming here, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I’ve been blown away by seeing all these colleges.”

With the district’s mission of encouraging all students to graduate college ready, college connected and college complete, a vast majority of them are enrolled in college courses each semester through dual and concurrent enrollment programs. Last year, over 1,300 students graduated with college credit hours and 232 earned associate degrees from South Texas College.

PSJAFor Alyssa Mendoza, a junior at PSJA Southwest ECHS, attending the event with her family helped her learn what she needs to do to be prepared for her senior year.

 

“I feel very happy and grateful to have come tonight,” said Mendoza, who is pursuing an associate degree in biology from South Texas College. “I think it’s important to start focusing on your college goals early because as a senior you won’t have much time to choose colleges.”

Through opportunities like College Night, PSJA hopes students become informed and aware of resources available locally, statewide and nationally.  Working closely with their success in mind, the event is possible due to a team effort and collaboration with PSJA Financial Aid Officers and PSJA College Transition Specialists.

“This year we had more than 50 universities represented,” said Vera Boda, PSJA College Transition lead. “It was a great opportunity for students of all great levels to come out and learn about the admissions process for each school, scholarship deadlines, transferring credit hours, majors offered, and establishing relationships with the universities.”

For Boda, seeing the great turnout made her realize how much the initiative has grown since 1999.

“It’s so exciting to see how hundreds of students and parents came to take advantage of this event,” she said. “College Night has grown so much. We outgrew hosting it at the high schools three years ago. The City of Pharr has been so generous to sponsor this event by allowing us to use the building.”

This year, 51 in-state institutions attended the event, including Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin, St. Edward’s University, Baylor University and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, to name a few. Additionally, six out-of-state institutions were present, which included the University of Missouri, Iowa State University and Santa Fe Institute of Arts and Design.

In addition to bringing admission officers from universities, PSJA also had representatives from numerous organizations share valuable information regarding scholarships and advanced programs, such as the VAMOS Scholarship, the PSJA Education Foundation Scholarships, and the Joint Admission Medical Program.

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