The University of Georgia is relaunching and revamping the Road Dawgs program, where UGA students visit high schools across the state of Georgia during UGA’s spring break.
The program aims to inspire the next generation of college students by encouraging those still in high school to explore the benefits of a college education — and to consider becoming students at UGA.
“We want to get students excited about life after high school,” said Barkley Barton II, director of undergraduate admissions at UGA. “It’s providing students with access to what the college experience could and would be like for students who may not currently see themselves as going off to college. We want them to think about college and their future.”
“Students at the high schools we visit may have been admitted to UGA,” said Barton. “The tour is an opportunity for admitted students to meet with current students and gain their insight on why they should make the decision to attend the University of Georgia. We want to have those conversations, to help students in the Atlanta area and in rural Georgia to see themselves thriving at UGA.”
UGA sends students, faculty and staff to the schools on red and black UGA buses. Then UGA students charge into the school’s gym to a cheer, telling high school and middle school students that “it’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog.” A few Road Dawgs share their own experiences and answer a variety of questions from the audience during a panel discussion. After that, the UGA students scatter into the audience for group discussions, which is where the most meaningful conversations take place because the high school students are free to ask specific, one-on-one questions on everything from applying for scholarships to finding the best pizza in Athens. It helps give them a sense of what college life is like.
Before they leave, current UGA students hand out souvenirs and teach the students to “call the Dawgs.” The aim is to leave students a spark of interest in higher education.
This year’s program is also expanding to community-based organizations and nonprofit partners. This spring, students from select community organizations will attend a workshop with the Road Dawgs students for small group conversations.
Later this year, UGA will also be holding the Home Edition of its Road Dawgs Program. In December, after UGA classes conclude, select students will return to their high schools and talk about the UGA experience. This might mean talking to a class or meeting one-on-one with a high school student at a local coffee shop. Advice will be targeted to attending college in general. Information sessions and student training is currently being planned for any student wanting to lead a Road Dawgs Home Edition event in their community.
Expanding the Road Dawgs Program was part of the 2021 Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Plan, UGA’s new roadmap for enhancing diversity and inclusion across campus.
Back on track for 2021
Established in 2016, Road Dawgs is a student-driven program that originated when a student wanted to share their college experience with their high school alma mater. That tradition of student involvement in the program carries on in a student advisory committee that professional staff work with to curate the experience.
The Road Dawgs program has taken University of Georgia students to 38 high schools and 21 cities around the state. The program facilitates visits to four to five cities across the state each year. Past visits have included metro Atlanta, Columbus, Albany, Augusta, Macon, Bainbridge, Douglas, Tifton and Dublin. Cities for the 2022 tour are still being determined.
The Road Dawgs program targets students who might be first-generation, low-income, underrepresented or underserved. “We want to create excitement about postsecondary opportunities for high school students throughout the state by engaging with them and showing them that they belong,” said Rosa Arroyo Driggers, the associate director of admissions for access and inclusion.
The program was paused in 2021 because of the pandemic but will resume during UGA’s spring break, March 7-11, 2022.
Road Dawgs is a partnership among the Office of the President, Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Office of Institutional Diversity.
For more information, see: https://news.uga.edu/road-dawgs-share-their-stories-across-the-state