It’s been almost two weeks since we toured Eckerd, and we had a completely disconnected vacation in between then and now, so I’m hoping I don’t leave anything out of this review. If I do, I may be editing it, so if you’re interested in this school, check back in a few days to see if anything’s changed.
When we got back from vacation this past Sunday night, we arrived to find her first application response letter waiting for us, and it was from Eckerd. Seeing that it was a large envelope, and obviously had more than a single piece of paper in it, we all knew what that meant, she got in. Now, I realize Eckerd has a high acceptance rate, and I know some people tend to look down on that (heard it more than once on vacation), but it was nice to see an acceptance come in off the bat, especially on the heels of a very relaxing Thanksgiving vacation. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t put much stock in stats, acceptance rates included. If a particular college is a good fit for someone, the acceptance rate is a meaningless statistic for making a choice on whether or not to attend it (in my opinion, of course).
As I mentioned early on in this blog, she’s wanted to go to school in SoCal as long a I can remember. Up until recently, she wasn’t even looking at schools in other states, but that changed when a friend toured both Eckerd and Miami and fell in love with them (as mentioned in “Four Down, Four to Go!“). She decided to go ahead and apply to both, and we decided to tour them on our way down to Miami for Thanksgiving. After seeing the campus, and talking to her advisor, she really liked it. SoCal’s still the front-runner for location, and if she got in to one of her top two schools out there, I think she’d still take those, but Eckerd moved up the list pretty far.
When we arrived on campus, we got there a bit early and drove around as we had on past tours. Honestly, that didn’t take long, as Eckerd’s a pretty small campus. Some new buildings, some old, and not comprised of the Collegiate Gothic buildings many of the previous schools had. Nothing against that style, it makes for a beautiful campus, but some of the charm of other schools on her list came in part from the stark contrast of their buildings versus the more traditional campuses. Back on topic, we got a pretty good tour of the campus, minus being able to take the boat tour, which only happens on certain days. Yes, I said boat tour :). This campus is right on the water, and has waterways running around it, as shown here. They even have a little area they call the Waterfront where students can check out various equipment, all included in tuition/fees. Looked like some pretty cool stuff:
Eckerd’s tour included free lunch in their cafeteria, which was pretty good. The caf was the one area where being a smaller school stood out. In the bigger schools, the food options are a little better, as many include real (fast food-ish) restaurants in addition to the standard cafeteria fare. Not a huge deal though, there are plenty of places to eat off campus if warranted, and the dorm we saw did have a central area where students could cook for themselves.
On to the dorms: They were fine, the one we saw on the tour was an older one, but had undergone some renovations in the common area to make it look more modern. Here are a couple of shots of the room, as well as the common area:
On a related note, Eckerd has no Greek life, so something to keep in mind for those who want that experience in college. In my pictures below, you may notice names like ‘Kappa’ on the graffiti walls outside of the dorm blocks. They just use Greek names for some of the dorm blocks, it’s not actually Greek housing. You’ll also notice the amount of graffiti on those boards. We were told that they’re in place to give the students an outlet for any graffiti work they want to do, so they don’t just go spraying building walls. To be honest, I’d never heard of that happening on a college campus, but maybe it’s an epidemic no other schools bothered to mention? :). Anyway, the dorms themselves were fine, not the worst we’ve seen, nor the best. Some of them have some pretty awesome views of the water, too.
A quick note on parking, another thing we always ask about on a tour – freshman can bring a car, and the parking fee is $110 per school year. Far cheaper than many of the schools we’d toured in SoCal.
On the tour we also go to walk through a few buildings, including the Galbraith Marine Science Laboratory, which is right along the water. Very nice facility in my opinion. This really seems like a good fit for someone who wants to major in marine sciences, at least based on what we saw, heard, and have read about the school. Here’s our approach to the main entrance, as well as a shot from the beach are on the other side
The tour itself ended with our daughter meeting with the admissions counselor for our region. Our daughter met with her alone, and we joined her after they’d talked a few minutes. Very nice touch to include that by default, something only a couple of the SoCal schools did. All were among the smaller schools, and I fully understand that it would be harder for a school like USC or UCLA to automatically do that considering how many people tend to tour them at any given time, but it’s still a nice touch that we enjoyed at each school that did it. When touring schools that don’t automatically set it up, I’d highly recommend scheduling a visit with an advisor in conjunction with your tour if it’s a school your child is really interested in, as it gives you the chance to address any of the more academic related topics you may not have been able to get answered on the tour. Trust me, the admissions staff can make or break how you feel about a school, as I’ll cover in my review of Miami.
In the end, my daughter really liked Eckerd. We toured during the middle of the school day, and the campus never felt busy. The only think she didn’t like was the lack of food options (meaning outside restaurants) in the cafeteria, but that’s a minor thing that wouldn’t actually be a factor in her decision. The only other issue is that while they do have a program for her desired area of study, it’s a fairly new program. She’ll need to do more research to see if that’s going to be a problem or not. Regardless, we’ll see how this all plays out over the next couple of months as more response letters come rolling in.
UPDATE: I knew I’d forget something… Financial aid. Eckerd has a program to award an academic scholarship, applicable all 4 years, based on the incoming student’s GPA:
See the “Academic Achievement Scholarships” section. Interesting concept, and my daughter came home to find her letter Thursday, which put a smile on her face, but she was quick to point out it doesn’t mean she’ll automatically go there, which I understand. Obviously we’ll be sitting down to have the “cost” talk once we heard back from all of the schools she’s applied to, but I get that going somewhere with a strong program in your area of study is important, too.
UPDATE #2: I just realized I left out one other important thing – pet friendly dorms! You read that right, Eckerd allows something we hadn’t heard of before, students can have pets in their dorms. Now, this only applies to certain dorms, and there are rules around the type/size/age of pets you can have, but still, it’s kinda cool. My daughter loves animals, and I think this was the first thing that struck her fancy when she was reading up on Eckerd before she applied.
Next up: My review of our University of Miami tour. For now, enjoy the pictures of Eckerd’s campus!