There is zero doubt the agricultural leaders of tomorrow are roaming ABAC’s campus, but what about the other people on campus?
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College’s main persona encompasses everything a Southern lifestyle is. It is down-to-earth, humble, welcoming, and honoring of the agriculture industry.
Everyone knows what they are getting into when they apply to the “ag school” for a major that is not related to agriculture.
I was once asked to speak to the ABAC Foundation Board about my experiences as a writing and communication student. It was a wonderful opportunity to see the kind of individuals on the board and hear their feedback. For a brief moment, I felt rather important being allowed to speak as a student of one of the smallest majors in SAS.
In my senior year of high school, I was stopped by a guidance counselor on my way out for the day. I’ve forgotten the exact words she said to me, but they were close to, “Are you sure you want to go there? With your grades, you can go somewhere better.”
I came to ABAC because I knew I could succeed here, but also because it was the cheapest option in the area. When someone wants to succeed, it doesn’t matter where they are. The grass eventually breaks through the hardest of concrete.
However, majors like writing and communication stay small because they don’t get the sunlight they need to grow. I am sure students in majors like music, history and government or rural community development would argue the same thing about their majors. Their experiences are just as valid as mine.
I looked into attending Georgia Southern University’s writing program simply because I knew about it already. If it weren’t for my mom just clicking around the ABAC website one night, I would have never known about the writing and communication program.
When our newspaper goes to large events related to student media, we aren’t taking the top prizes. We have the talent, but we do not have the numbers. You cannot stretch the best writers, editors, and photographers so thin they can’t do the schoolwork they’re at college to do.
Other University System of Georgia colleges have journalism programs of the highest caliber. Their newspaper staff lists are double and triple the size of ours because those students hunger for the experience.
Oftentimes, I feel like a desperate car salesman convincing people to come work at our newspaper. It’s difficult when most students just don’t need or want news writing experience for their resumes.
Despite my original outside perspective, I’m one of the people who took a chance to come to ABAC. I was wrong about it in some ways. I continue to be right in other ways. I’ve enjoyed my time here thanks to my professors and the community. There are still times when I feel out of place and at odds with the values here, but I stay.
There are, unfortunately, a lot of people who aren’t willing to take that chance. Maybe, they’re afraid of missing out on that “college experience” that just isn’t here in Tifton. Some specific majors aren’t offered at ABAC. Maybe, they’re simply afraid of not being represented on an ag school’s campus.
I feel like I have succeeded and continue to succeed at ABAC, but I look at the media and communication programs at other colleges and wonder if I would still compete and succeed in a larger major.
The more fish you add to a pond, the more they fight for a food source. ABAC’s writing and communication program feels like an aquarium where our owners try to make sure we are eating equally. We get challenged, but being in a small major allows for more one-on-one opportunities with professors.
It isn’t a bad thing, but I hope I am prepared for a competitive field as media continues to take over. None of our ~50 WRCM students are exactly cutthroat or competitive. Some people want to be in media, while some want to work in human resources, go to law school, or some other career. It is a rather chill, “work-at-your-own-pace” environment.
Seeing other colleges expand their media and communication-related programs at a faster rate provokes a bit of child-like jealousy in me.
Georgia Southwestern State University officially introduced its Communication and Emerging Media (B.A.) degree after ABAC’s Writing and Communication (B.S.), and I find myself comparing our program’s progression to theirs.
I think our program has the ability to compete with other USG institutions, but those colleges do more promotion because their personas aren’t solely reliant on agriculture.
Approaching my senior year as a writing and communication student and editor-in-chief, I wonder what ABAC will look like in five years with these bigger efforts to showcase the school for everything it offers.
Change is coming as the school edges towards bigger growth spurts. The ball is quite literally in ABAC’s court; they just need to make the right plays.