Loyola Marymount University (LMU) hosted its second annual college-awareness program for more than 500 students from Westchester High School, Tuesday and Wednesday, March 20th and 21st.

Designed to spark interest in students and encourage them to pursue a college education, this college-awareness program was created in partnership with local Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ office.

The two-day program began Tuesday, when nearly 150 Westchester High juniors met with a panel of LMU staff members.

They discussed the importance of deadlines, financial aid, applying to college and how to begin the application process for college or a vocational school.

Following the discussion, the students were led on a campus tour and engaged in a panel discussion with current LMU students.

On Wednesday, 400 Westchester High freshman visited the LMU campus and went through a similar process of student and faculty panels, as well as a campus tour.

“An important goal of the LMU family of schools is to raise the college-attendance rate for these schools and their students,” said Shane Martin, dean of the School of Education. “By increasing the amount of higher-education exposure WHS [Westchester High School] students receive, we hope to encourage and support them to consider attending college.”

According to Westchester High School statistics, approximately 15 percent of students either drop out of school before graduation or don’t pursue further education. Less than 45 percent of students enroll in either a two- or four-year college program and another ten percent enroll in technical or trade schools.

“I was extremely excited to see the students of WHS see how beautiful LMU’s campus is and to actually speak with students and faculty who believe in a college-going culture,” said Dechele Byrd, assistant principal of the school. “Many students were impressed to see that despite the cost of tuition there are many opportunities to further their education by applying for financial aid.

“I believe both days enhanced our relationship with LMU and strengthened the bridge from secondary to post-secondary education.”