PSJA providing free college tours to Ivy League universities

Local News
Alexis Barrios.jpg

Photo Courtesy of Alexis Barrios. Senior Alexis Barrios tours MIT as part of the PSJA ISD Summer Ivy League Tour Program.

Attending an Ivy League school may seem like a high reach, or some believe  it would take a  miracle for someone from the Valley to gain acceptance to a school like Harvard. 

But PSJA’s Ivy League and University Summer Tour Program is helping its underclassmen know these schools are an option after high school. 

And to help their students believe its possible they are taking them to explore these ‘miracle’ schools with PSJA teachers who have graduated from Harvard University.

“This tour is unbelievably advantageous for students from our area because some students rarely get a chance to travel outside the Valley or even state, for free,” said  Erica Ramos, financial aid advisor. “Students are able to see the caliber that these Ivy League schools are looking for. This trip prepares the families to grow a college-going culture and let students leave to college without fear.”

The first tour will take PSJA ISD students to Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Brown University June 25-28, 2019. Students that attend this tour will fly to the Northeast and be exposed to the majors and degree programs that can be obtained through these universities.

The college trip is coordinated by the Texas Graduate Center, a component of the Texas Valley Communities Foundation nonprofit that promotes higher education, based out of Mercedes.

The Texas Graduate Center is dedicated to the betterment of public school education in the Valley by providing graduate programs to Valley teachers and opportunities to high school students to visit Ivy League colleges.

Other Valley schools who participate or have participated in this program in the past are: Weslaco, San Benito, Donna, Hidalgo, Mercedes, McAllen, La Joya, Edinburg. Lyford, and Mission.

“I went on this tour in 2017 and I highly recommend it because we were able to not only see the campuses, but also go on tours within the city. We went on a boat ride on the Charles River and shopping at a nice farmer’s market outside MIT, the college culture was definitely my favorite part,” senior Alexis Barrios said.

The second tour runs from July 7 to 11, will taking students to George Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. This tour will have a larger focus on the biology and medical field, while exposing students to hands-on activities, living on-campus, and sightseeing.

Students with a larger focus on computer science or cybersecurity should attend the last tour of the summer, which takes place at the University of Maryland and also at Washington University. This student tour will take place July 23-26, 2019. Students can see the many different organizations that make these campuses stand out.

“I was interested in the schools so I applied in 2018 and I loved it. We visited Maryland’s athletic program where Michael Phelps swam and visited the White House and other Washington D.C. monuments,” said Junior Gianna Salinas. “They gave us a lot of information about minority assistance at their campuses and I was able to meet nice people from across the valley through this tour.”

To attend these Ivy League and University Summer Tours, students must apply before the deadline of Sunday, April 16. This application is open to all current 9th and 10th grade students within PSJA ISD. 

Applications for the all expense paid summer tours are covered for PSJA ISD students. Applications to apply to take the tour can be found on

For more information on how to apply please visit the PSJAISD Facebook page here 

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