News release from ABAC
TIFTON – Over 3,000 students from almost every county in Georgia will begin fall semester classes on Monday at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.
ABAC President David Bridges said the college attracted students from 152 Georgia counties last fall as well as students from 17 other states, and 11 other countries.
He expects that same kind of geographic distribution this year. "ABAC is so different than most state colleges," Bridges, the only ABAC President to have ever been a student (Class of 1978) at ABAC, said. "Because of our wide range of courses in the agriculture field, we draw students from all over the world. But we also have a nursing program that attracts hundreds of students from right here in South Georgia. So we actually have the best of both worlds."
Bridges said despite constant news about budget cuts and the economy, ABAC students and employees have much to look forward to in the upcoming year. "We expect to matriculate the best prepared and most committed class of freshmen in years," Bridges said. "Our enrollment in the bachelor's degree programs in agriculture has quadrupled, and I believe those numbers will increase again this fall."
Bridges will be back in the classroom this semester, teaching a Biofuels class for the second year in a row. "I like the interaction with students," Bridges said. "I get to see them around campus and when I eat in the dining hall, but there's nothing like being in the classroom with them."
ABAC began classes for its bachelor's degree program in Rural Studies last fall, and this year a new track in Writing and Communication will be added. The new track joins business and economic development, arts and culture, and community and social affairs.
Rural Studies is the only bachelor's degree of its kind in the United States. Enrollment has tripled since its inception. ABAC also offers bachelor's degrees in Diversified Agriculture and Turfgrass and Golf Course Management.
Through a cooperative agreement with Georgia Southwestern State University, complete bachelor's degrees in accounting, management, and early childhood education are also offered at ABAC.
The return of the students to ABAC always means an economic uplift to the community. A recent economic impact study showed that ABAC had a $251 million annual impact on the South Georgia economy.
One big reason for that impact is the fact that over 1,000 ABAC students live on the campus in modern residence halls and apartments. "I'm sure the area merchants welcome the return of our students each fall," Bridges said. "We have students living on campus who all need the necessities of life, whether it's food or fuel."
Classes end for the fall term on Dec. 3. The fall commencement ceremony is set for Dec. 10.