ATHENS, Ga. - Ever since he was a little boy, Timothy Page has wanted to be a Bulldog.
With the help of a University of Georgia summer program, the soon-to-be senior at Atlanta's Booker T. Washington High School might get that chance.
The summer institute, sponsored by UGA's Office of Institutional Diversity, brought nearly 60 high schoolers from Atlanta and Athens to the campus June 4 for two weeks of dorm living, dining hall meals and intense college-preparatory classes.
Students come from Atlanta's Project GRAD (Graduation Really Achieves Dreams) and Athens' Project READY (Reaching Academics Daily), which aim to improve academic performance, high school graduation and college attendance for students in Atlanta's inner-city schools and Athens' two high schools.
The program has helped Timothy feel more prepared for college and to take the SAT, he said.
And Timothy, who hopes to play football for UGA, said his experience has just made him want to attend the university even more.
"It is my first choice," he said.
The summer institute program was designed to introduce the students to the university and expose them to UGA's colleges, facilities and activities, said Keith Parker, the associate provost for institutional diversity.
Officials hope to expand the program to four or six weeks next year, he said.
Though some students said they had expected the program to be less class and more fun, Hailie Glover said the program was better than she had expected.
"We get to experience being in college," said Hailie, a rising senior at Booker T. Washington High School.
Chelsea Doyle agreed.
"It's been much more than I expected," said the rising senior at South Atlanta High School, and the program has pushed UGA a little higher on her prospective colleges list.
For some Athens students, the program is a chance to get a real look at the university next door.
"I've lived in Athens all my life, but driving around the campus doesn't do it justice," said Michael Anderson, a rising senior at Clarke Central High School. "It is a lot bigger and better than I thought."
In addition to the daily six hours of classes, students get an introduction to many of the individual departments and learn about admissions and scholarship opportunities.
A scholarship that allows students to study abroad had Jean Carlos Arias, a rising sophomore at Clarke Central, "almost shaking" with excitement.
The summer institute continues through Friday, when students will present projects they've completed during their time at the school.