Thoughts on Eckerd
Just wanted to share my thougts as a way of processing since it's down to "crunch time" in the decision making process.
Our overall impression of our time spent there was very positive. The students we met who were accepted came from all over the country. This was exciting. At the welcoming dinner they read a list of the accomplishments of the students. They all seemed to be active, engaged and very academically minded. Many of my doubts about the academic rigor were calmed by speaking to the Dean and several professors. With a strong emphasis on writing and speaking, the programs there seem challenging and productive.
Most of the people we dealt with couldn't have been more friendly or helpful. We were impressed with the accessability of the professors who we just "popped in" on. They spoke of the mentoring program where a professor mentors a student in a major . This seems to be an important aspect of the program and not just something that is there in name only. The professors are very much involved with their students.
The area, of course, is beautiful. We loved St. Petersburg. The campus itself seems to have been built in the 60's and the 70's and seems to have been designed by people who build strip malls. Servicable at best. The dorms, with the exception of the new dorm OMEGA (which is reserved for upper classmen if they win the lottery) were awful. Small, univiting cement blocks.
There really is no student center. Many of the kids were in the fitness center , some at the pub, a lot at the library and an equal number sunning at the beach. While there was diversity in terms of region (states), there was not alot of diversity in terms of race. There were some, but not many international students. The kids all looked like they were ast the beach. The mood on the campus is definitely LAID-BACK. One of the professors complained girls would visit her during office hours in bikinis.
With that laid back mood, I was and still am concerned about student involvement. The school newspaper was filled with AP news releases which told me that no one worked on the newspaper. When I talked to the Dean of students he confirmed that this was a problem. I also saw lots of open spots for the campus radio station. He told me however that students were active and involved and were in control of student activities so that it was up to the students themselves to make a go of it. Student are very involved in the community and in environmental issues.
The marine biology program is incredible. Unfortunately, my daughter is not interested in this. She is, however, interested in art and we were a little concerned about the facilities and the structure of this program. Even after visiting and speaking to people we're still not sure.
You do need a car or a friend with a car to get off campus. There is alot to do in St. Petersburg and Tampa, but you have to get there.
All is all - a really nice school and, if my daughter goes there, I think she'll get a great education with caring teachers and a good tan.
Hope this helps. Let me know what everyone out there is thinking.