ABAC bursting at the seams - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

ABAC bursting at the seams

July 26, 2006

Tifton-- More collegebound students are seeing agriculture in their future. The proof is in Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College's enrollment. It jumped from about 2,500 students to more 3,400 in just a few years. That's good news but it's causing a pinch on campus.  

Talk about change.  When did campus living get this glamorous?  Water fountains, 24 hour fitness and access to a quick game of pool between classes.

"I never really got homesick here," says student Mike Smith.

It's the luxury that brought Smith all the way from Atlanta to Tift County. "ABAC was the place to come to," Smith.

It's because of the fairly new $32-million  apartments.  In fact, ABAC Place was his deciding factor in attending the school.

"Everybody wants to come here," says Smith. The proof is in the numbers.  The school had more than 3,400 students last Fall, an all-time enrollment record.

"We're looking to beat that record this Fall with somewhere between 35 and 36-hundred students if things go the way they're going now," says Mike Chason, Director of Public Relations.

But at the rate the school is going, they've run into a problem. "How can we fit all the students in the space that we have," says Chason.

The more than 800 rooms at ABAC place are now full for the Fall but as of last week, 240 people were on the waiting list to get in. "We're looking for rooms on the campus, off the campus, anyplace we can put students," says Chason.

They've talked to apartment complexes to see if they have room for students.  About 75 students on the waiting list will be placed in Comer Hall, an older dorm at the college. But these solutions are only a temporary fix.

"That's why they're building the new dorms. It's getting a little cramped," says Smith. Construction should begin this year on a new 530-bed facility on Lake Baldwin.  It will hold incoming freshmen.

"It doesn't do us any good for August 21st when classes start this fall but it will be good for 2007," says Chason. It's a growing problem, but Chason says it's a good problem.

"Growth is the key. Let's keep growing," says Chason.

"It's a very good thing for this college. We need some more people to come over here. We've got enough as it is but every college wants more students," says Smith.

More students getting an education in agriculture with a taste of modern southern living. It's now up to the school to keep up with the growth.

Another solution to the rooming problem would be for some apartments to hold five students instead of four. All four roommates would have to agree to it and get a reduction in rent. ABAC's master plan forecasts as many as 10,000 students by the year 2020.

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