Campus News

Weekend pass

Elizabeth Connell

Talent Identification Program gives young students a taste of college life

More than 100 of the brightest middle and high school students from Georgia and surrounding states will get their first taste of college courses during a Scholar Weekend hosted by UGA’s College of Education Nov. 15-16 through a partnership between UGA and Duke University.

The UGA Scholar Weekend is part of the Duke Talent Identification Program, which seeks out academically talented children and provides resources to challenge, nurture and identify each child’s abilities.

TIP scholars are identified through standardized test scores and invited to take the SAT or ACT in the seventh grade as part of the program. Those scoring exceptionally well are invited to attend TIP’s Scholar Weekends, in which they are exposed to topics not typically covered in middle or high school curricula.

UGA is one of six locations in the Southeast to host TIP Scholar Weekends. Other sites include the University of South Carolina, Appalachian State University, New College in Sarasota, Fla., the University of Houston and Duke University’s main campus.

However, Duke is interested in making UGA its main regional site, according to Elizabeth
Connell, coordinator of educational programs in UGA’s Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development.

“The opportunities this program creates for UGA and its faculty are incredible,” she said. “Not only are exceptional students from around the state and surrounding states visiting our campus, they are learning from talented UGA faculty and graduate students and experiencing the vast resources available through the university. It’s an excellent opportunity for recruitment of some of the best and brightest students to UGA’s programs.”

At TIP Scholar Weekends, students participate in two days of intense study in one of the provided courses taught by UGA professors and Athens-area schoolteachers. The goal is to enhance student skills, enrich the learning experience and foster an interest in college and specific majors.

Courses in the Nov. 15-16 session include “Shakespearean Comedy: 16th Century Prime Time,” “An Introduction to Behavioral Theory and Applied Behavior Analysis,” “International Relations: U.S. Foreign Policy in the 21st Century,” “Geocaching: High Tech Scavenger Hunt!” “Architecture: From Playhouses to Mansions,” “Introduction to German Studies: Language, Life and Culture” and “Intelligence and the Brain.”

The Torrance Center hosted its first TIP Scholar Weekend in May 2008 with 100 students from Georgia and Florida participating. In November, students from not only Georgia and Florida, but also South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and even Texas have applied.

UGA’s participation in the program will continue to grow. Next spring, UGA will host two Scholar Weekends for exceptional eighth through eleventh graders who have participated in the Duke 7th Grade Talent Search, and begin a program called Academic Adventures for students in grades 4-6 who have participated in the Duke 4th-5th Grade Talent Search. It is hoped that these younger students will be able to move from the Academic Adventures to the Scholar Weekend programs.

“The new program will offer Academic Adventure programs on select Saturdays,” Connell said. “We will be providing a valuable service to bright children from across the state who may not be appropriately challenged in school. Having these students on our campus provides tremendous opportunities for our undergraduate and graduate students to engage in research and teaching experiences with groups of high-ability children from various grade levels.”

UGA professors and Athens area school teachers interested in participating in future Scholar Weekends at UGA should contact Connell at