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Program gives early glimpse of college life
Boys & Girls Clubs send high schoolers to UGA campus for a 2-day visit
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Tyeisha Williams, left, with help from Alexis Hawks, makes notes Friday during a scavenger hunt while visiting the University of Georgia as part of a Girls & Boys Clubs day on the campus. Tyeisha and Alexis are rising juniors at Gainesville High School. - photo by Carolyn Crist

A handful of Gainesville students got a taste of what it’s like to go to college.

Under a Boys & Girls Clubs’ program, six Hall County high schoolers met students around the state while staying on the University of Georgia campus Thursday and Friday.

“They get the hands-on college experience to stay in the dorms, eat in the cafeteria, hang around campus and learn about things like financial aid,” said Derrick Caldwell, unit director of the teen center for the Hall County Boys & Girls Clubs. “They get to check out anything and everything and all the small things they need to know. I talked to a few students yesterday who said, ‘Wow! I see what it takes, and I’m ready.’”

Thursday, the students took part in “Reality Store,” a game of life simulation. The teens are assigned a marital status and a number of children, and they choose a career and income. With several factors at play, such as rent, utilities, child care, food and life circumstances, the students learned how their choices in education can determine their future.

“With different obstacles like buying a house, paying child care and insurance, you see how big of a difference education and career choices make moneywise,” said Tyeisha Williams, a rising Gainesville High School junior. “It was really cool and opens your eyes.”

On Friday, the students broke up into groups and tackled a college scavenger hunt. Armed with clues, the students had to find the library, student center, bookstore, admissions office, study abroad office, health center and dining halls. They also snapped pictures at UGA landmarks: the Arch, Sanford Stadium and Stegeman Coliseum.

“This activity is important because if students plan to go to college, they need to know the history of their school and know where buildings, like the admissions building, are located,” said Leon Hubbard, unit manager for the Central Georgia Boys & Girls Clubs.

“Several students have told me they plan on going to college now, after these activities.”

Williams, who wants to be a paralegal, said she doesn’t plan to attend UGA but knows more than ever that additional schooling at a technical college is in her future.

“I came here to try something new,” she said.

Alexis Hawks, a rising Gainesville High School junior, helped to lead her team through the scavenger hunt. She hopes to study biology at Emory University and was excited to step foot on a college campus.

“I thought this would be a great way to learn the college feel,” she said. “It’s realistic because you bring your own sheets, and there’s no TV or fridge or car. You learn to compromise and learn your way around. You also learn independence without your parents around.”

Students talked in a large group about what they learned and earned graduation certificates after signing a poster to focus on graduation.

“I pledge to stay in school until I graduate. I make this promise for myself and my family,” the poster reads.

The group leaders said they could see how much the two-day experience meant to students.

“Some students have come up to me and told me they like the idea of going to college and the opportunity to go to college,” Hubbard said. “They understand education is their key to success.”

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