Eckerd College

Visited by Beth Cassie

Set on acres 188 well-manicured acres on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Eckerd College’s campus draws you in at once. But Eckerd is more than just good looks—it is also one of only forty colleges profiled in Colleges That Change Lives.

IMG_0203The importance of community is stressed in admission presentations and in small group conversations with Eckerd faculty and students. At Eckerd, students look out for each other and administration, faculty and students collaborate and work well together. Eckerd’s 1,800 students hail from all over the U.S. and 5% are international.


Like most things at Eckerd, the admissions process is very personalized and files are read holistically. The average accepted student has a 3.3 unweighted GPA, 1120 SAT CR+M, or 26 ACT. SAT and ACT are both super scored. While the cost of attendance is $52,000 all in, the average financial aid package is $29,000, so don’t be deterred by the sticker price. Eckerd is generous with merit money (ranging from $11,000 to $21,000), and students are automatically considered for awards. Transfer students and international students are also eligible for merit aid.


Eckerd prides itself on doing things differently, starting with how freshmen are introduced to the campus. Freshmen orientation is a 3-week “Autumn Term” where students take one class (taught by their first year mentor), and get a chance to meet other first-year students and acclimate to college. Eckerd operates on 4-1-4 calendar with a three-week Winter Term. Many students “go somewhere” with a professor during this term. Hands-on learning with close faculty mentoring is a hallmark of an Eckerd education, and 68% of students do some sort of study away while at Eckerd.

Sciences are very strong at Eckerd, and the Marine Science program (focus on Marine Biology, Marine Chemistry, Marine Geology or Marine Geophysics) is one of the finest in the country. The combination of the Galbraith Marine Science Laboratory, fleet of Eckerd vessels, and professors with millions of dollars in research funding, allow Eckerd students to do real fieldwork early on.

Academic support is readily available on campus. Services range from individual weekly meetings to work on time management to bi-weekly group sessions to address study strategies. Students do not need an IEP to access these services.

Community service is an integral part of the academic and extracurricular life on campus. Graduation requirements include doing 40 hours of community service with one organization and taking a course with a reflective service learning component.

Recreation and Social life

Eckerd’s marketing tagline is THINKOUTSIDE and many popular activities on campus take advantage of the good weather. Eckerd’s Waterfront Program has paddleboards, kayaks, windsurfers, snorkel equipment and sailboats available to check out with your student ID. (Work study positions are available to work on the fleet of boats or run the Waterfront activity hut.) The Eckerd College Search and Rescue Team (EC-SAR) is the only college marine rescue team in the country.

We met two members, both of whom are planning on going into the field of emergency medicine. Requirements for joining are the ability to swim and to learn. Both students said joining EC-SAR was a way to have an immediate group of friends and to develop leadership.

Men’s basketball and soccer draw the biggest crowds in Eckerd’s DII sports program. A new NCAA Sand Volleyball court was being installed whiled we toured. Hundreds of free beach bikes are available to borrow through the “Yellow Bike” program. There is no Greek life or football on campus.

Students can bring their family pet with them to campus through the Pet Life program (some restrictions). We saw a few dogs playing in a dog run, and a student had her cat wave at us as we walked by her dorm! This certainly added to the homey feeling on campus.

For a student looking for a personalized education, excellent support, a supportive community with an emphasis on service, Eckerd College is an excellent choice in the beautiful location of St. Petersburg, Florida.

4200 54th Avenue South

St. Petersburg, FL 33711

Eckerd College
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