NORWALK – More than 1,000 Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District students filled the gym at John Glenn High School for third annual District College Expo on Oct. 23 to learn more about what their futures hold for them.

More than 50 colleges, universities, trade schools and military representatives were available to answer questions and hand out information about their institutions to students and their families. The event also featured information tables hosted by Project Lead the Way, Regional Occupation Program, District counselors and U.S. Rep. Linda Sanchez.

“I think this is very helpful,” said Norwalk High School senior Javier Valencia, who attended the Expo to learn more about University of California, Irvine and its mechanical engineering program. “Parents don’t have the time to go to these colleges individually, so all these colleges are here to answer your questions and you fill out contact forms and they send more information to you.”

A variety of college and career options were available for students to explore. Several community colleges, private four-year universities, California State Universities and UCs were represented at the expo, as well as such trade schools as Brownson Technical School, the Hospitality Institute of California and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.

“There are so many options out there for our students that they may not even be aware of,” said Interim Superintendent Ginger Shattuck. “Events like this are perfect for those who know they want to continue their education because they can look around to see what would suit them and their aspirations best.”

For smaller schools like Hope International University, a private four-year college in Fullerton that specializes in business majors, events like the College Expo offer an opportunity to reach out to students who may not otherwise hear about what the school can offer.

“Most kids want to go to USC and UCLA because that’s what they know,” said Chris Randolph, a representative from Hope. “Their parents encourage them to visit other tables and when it’s time to apply, they remember the smaller schools and what they have to offer.”

While the colleges, universities and trade schools were a major draw, the expo also offered several workshops for students, including: financial aid and community college programs and transferring options; NCAA college recruiting simplified; writing personal statements; tips for high school success; admissions to independent colleges; SAT/College Board tests; and college admissions information.

The expo was even open to students who aren’t yet attending high school. Parent Gus Arroyo brought his eighth-grade daughter, Celeste, to the expo to expose her to her higher-education options early.

“I’m happy that the information is out there,” Arroyo said. “It’s added motivation for kids and shows them that there’s a whole world out there outside of high school.”

Celeste, who attends Benton Middle School, said the expo made her look forward to pursuing higher education.

“I only knew about a couple schools at first,” she said. “Now I know all the options out there. It’s been a great experience.”