John Tolley, April 28, 2018
DaVonti' Haynes isn't terribly worried if the high school students visiting the campus of Ohio State matriculate to the university. It would be nice, he concedes, to welcome them as incoming freshman, but the program he founded is about more than that, which is an odd fact, given that it's called A Day in the Life of a Buckeye.
"It's not about promoting Ohio State University," says Haynes, a graduate student. "It's more so about promoting college in general. We tell our students, whether you're going to be a Buckeye or a [Ohio University] Bobcat, we just want you to get this experience."
Growing up in Cleveland, Haynes didn't always see himself attending college. But thanks to a program similar to Day in the Life of a Buckeye, he was able to go on more intimate and personalized tours of college campuses. The visits opened his eyes to the opportunity alive in higher education; opportunities that he didn't know were available.
So, when he became an undergraduate at Ohio State, passing on the same kind of experience was a top priority. In 2018, the program paired 400 high school students, from underrepresented urban and rural school districts, one-on-one with undergraduates whose backgrounds, interests and fields of study matched their own. For many of the high school students it is their first time setting foot on the campus of a college or university.
"The goal is to motivate these students to see themselves in college," Haynes explains. "There are barriers, yes, but you can overcome them and you can go to college and you can be successful and you can achieve your dreams."
Throughout their day as a Buckeye, the high schoolers get a feel for campus living and attend classes that meld with their academic interests. They are exposed to groups, activities and research that broaden their view of what higher education entails. This is often in contrast to preconceived notions the young students have about what goes on at a university and what it takes to be accepted.
"When they get here and sit in these classes, they have a more realistic view of what college is," says Haynes. "They get to interact with real college students and find out a little bit more about their experience and ask those in-depth questions."
Day in the Life of a Buckeye currently hosts students on campus during the spring semester, but the program is looking to expand into the fall in order to reach more kids. There have also been talks to work with other colleges and universities to broaden the scope of the program, because expanding awareness of educational opportunities, whether at Ohio State or elsewhere, is a boon for all, notes Haynes.
"We like to say, as long as we increase their aspirations and hopes in going to college, then we feel we succeeded."