HIDALGO – Over the course of three days at the State Farm Arena, seniors from IDEA campuses across the Rio Grande Valley walked on to a stage at the center of the floor, and at the top of their lungs announced what university they would call home in the fall.

For 12 years seniors have participated in the annual college signing day and while they are not the first to do so, the class of 2018 has racked up impressive numbers which include:

$435,545 in grants

$4,034,500 in scholarships

3,795 acceptances to 313 universities across the country

7 Ivy League acceptances

141 Tier 1 acceptances, 430 Tier 2 acceptances


More than 450 seniors will be first generation college students. As was the case of Jose Romero, a senior who was accepted to a number of universities which included Brown, Princeton and Yale.

Romero was the only student from all schools in the Rio Grande Valley to be accepted to Princeton, but in the fall he will attend Brown University.

A sampling of schools include Cornell, Brown, Columbia, MIT, Loyola University of Chicago, Air Force Academy, UT Austin, Texas A&M and UTRGV to name a few.

The seniors from IDEA Edinburg College Prep will also be the first graduating class from the school.

“Part of the reason we do our ceremony in such a public event is because we want there to be thousands from our community to bear witness,” Founder Tom Torkelson said.

He continued to explain that bearing witness helps spread the news of the signings but it also holds people accountable to their word. Torkelson hopes one day a group of seniors signing to go to college will all graduate and make history.

Since their first event IDEA public schools has generated more than $41 million in grants for seniors.