This spring break, University of Georgia students spent two days talking about the benefits of college to students around the state as part of the Road Dawgs program.
UGA students visited Dooly County High School in Vienna and Crisp County High School in Cordele. There they gave a presentation on college life and had small group discussions with high school students all about college life—from picking a major to finding a social life. They taught students how to Call the Dawgs and gave away UGA T-shirts.
William Redding, a third-year linguistics major from Cordele, went back to his alma mater Crisp County High School. He got to see his old band room and talk about his own experience as a first-generation college student.
“College is a mutual relationship,” he likes to tell students. “What you pour into it is what you get out of it.”
Road Dawgs students answer questions about residence halls, grades, scholarships, balancing sports and classes or working a part-time job in college.
When potential students ask him, “What if I don’t know what I want to major in,” he tells them that’s completely normal. College is about finding your calling.
Redding, currently vice president of Georgia Daze Minority Recruitment, said he joined “everything [at UGA] and figured out what I loved most.” And one of the things he loves most is talking about how important college is. “Education is a key component to life,” he said.
The Road Dawgs 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.
This year’s program expanded to include community-based organizations and nonprofit partners. The Road Dawgs visited B.E.S.T. Academy in Atlanta and met with Breakthrough Atlanta, 100 Black Men of Atlanta, the Latin American Association, Odyssey Atlanta, C5 Youth Foundation of Georgia and First Tee of Metro Atlanta. The UGA students worked in small groups with high school students and discussed college life. There were also admissions sessions for parents and they answered parent questions in English and Spanish.
“We want to get students and parents 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 students and their parents to think about college and the 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 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.
In December, UGA held the Home Edition of its Road Dawgs program. Seven students returned to their high schools to talk about the UGA experience. They talked to classes and met students one-on-one to chat in general.
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.
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 40 high schools and 23 cities around the state. Usually a weeklong program, this year’s tour was abbreviated to two days, in part because of the pandemic.
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.
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