I’m a senior. This semester, my friends and I will leave Eckerd with four years of experience navigating the writing portfolio, oyster wounds and moldy AC vents.
But before we go, my friends and I wanted to give future Eckerdians some hacks on how to make the best out of our weird community. Our advice ranges from how to save money to how to save yourself, as you navigate life as a barefoot sunburnt college student.
Don't impulse buy pets. Please, please, please do not buy an animal unless you have the money, time and dedication to give it the best life possible. I’ve seen hamsters die, cats escape and dogs bite my friends because of their owner’s lack of attention. College is the time that you learn how to take care of yourself, so don't commit to protecting another life if you aren't fully ready. Plus, dogs deserve more space than a dorm room. Seriously.
Never go to the Cafeteria without a clamshell. The number one complaint I heard at Eckerd was that the cafeteria sucks. But whether you love the Caf, or vehemently despise it, the clamshell takeout containers make it much better. If nothing on the menu gives you an appetite, use your clamshell to take a handful of spinach, half a loaf of bread, a few slices of lunch meat, and a fat dollop of mayo. Boom. Sandwiches for days. Plus, with the cafeteria’s restricted hours, you can always grab some butter and the display vegetables (which are actually somewhat fresh) and use them to cook later on. Clamshells cost $10, but they save a fortune on an already pricey meal plan.
Fall semester of junior year is the best time to go abroad. You will likely have a solid group of friends, and you will know what to expect from the semester you miss, so there’s no fear of missing out. Plus, you’ll be back in time to celebrate Springtopia with all of your friends, which no one wants to miss.
Flip yellow bikes if you want them to stay where you left them. The universal protocol for finding a broken yellow bike is to flip it upside down. This tells others not to move them so the bike crew can find them later on. But if you do this with a working yellow bike, people will assume it’s broken and leave it alone. Although it’s slightly unethical, this tip will save you hours of time over the course of four years. And to make it fair, you should also test every flipped bike when you can't find a working one. Chances are some students figured this out before you, and the upside down bikes are good to go.
Don't run in the sprinklers. Do I even need to say this? We irrigate our campus with reclaimed water, which means it’s non-potable, which means you probably should not run through it and risk getting it in your mouth. It also smells like dirty socks.
Never buy books or movies. I constantly saw students buying their textbooks from the bookstore, or renting movies on Amazon, without even checking if the library had them first. Many of our required reads, including every Human Experience and Imaging Justice textbook, are available at the library. The film collection is also incredible and has hundreds and hundreds of DVDs. And even if you can't find what you need, just request it via interlibrary loan. The form takes one minute on the library website, and you can get almost any film or text in less than a week. Interlibrary loan saved me hundreds of dollars, and I didn't buy a single textbook after my first year.
Always wear shoes when you jump off the pier. Actually, maybe don't jump off the pier at all. I did a flip off of it during a Kappa Field day and landed directly on a rusty shopping cart. And, of course, many of my friends got sliced by the infamous barnacles that live on the sides and the ground. If you're gonna jump, please wear Chacos or some kind of waterproof shoes. ECERT has enough to worry about when half of campus is getting drunk in the 90 degree heat.
If you run out of printing money you can log in as a guest. It’s as simple as that. Instead of bugging your professor to request more printing money, just log in as a guest and the school gives you a few extra dollars to print for free. This is especially useful when you’re printing the writing portfolio, because typos become a lot easier to see on paper. Chances are, you’ll be living in the printing room for a few hours your sophomore or junior year.
Don't procrastinate the writing portfolio. Unless you're cool with staying at Eckerd for a fifth year, you should submit the writing portfolio as soon as possible. The truth is, this is a difficult graduation requirement and a serious hurdle for our student body. A lot of people end up having to submit twice, and when you fail, you have to take an extra writing class the semester after. Don't risk waiting until senior year to submit and having to cough up another $50k in tuition. It’s not worth it.
Go to church yoga for free. Don’t pay for bougie fitness or yoga classes in downtown St. Pete. Eckerd has lots of options, like spinning classes in the gym, yoga classes in the dance studio and my favorite: restorative yoga in the Chapel. It’s the perfect way to meditate during stressful times in the semester, and I promise it’s not religious, just restorative.
Use the waterfront! The best part of Eckerd is paddling around in the Boca Ciega and looking for sharks, dolphins and manatees on hot days. I had the best moments of college out there in the mangrove shade looking for wildlife. The waterfront also offers rental gear for free, so if you want to snorkel or camp somewhere off campus, you can rent the equipment right in our backyard. Out of everything I love about Eckerd, I’ll miss the waterfront the most.
Book study rooms in advance. There's nothing worse than walking in circles around the library looking for a study room. Since everyone wants one, and they’re in such limited supply, it’s easiest to book them online at the Armacost Library website. Additionally, every classroom is unlocked, so if you want more space just choose any room you like, so long as it’s empty.
Come to St. Pete early for Trash to Treasure. If it’s possible, try to come to St. Pete at the beginning of Autumn Term, even if you're an upperclassman. The Sustainability Department resells everything that students couldn't store or take with them at the end of spring semester. They sell couches, lights, microwaves and mini fridges for a fraction of what you’d pay at Walmart. Dorm essentials on deck.
Wear sunscreen. For the love of god just wear it. It’s easy to lose track of time during a Kappa field day or rugby match, and the Florida sun is a killer. Unless you want to look like Freddy Krueger by the time you graduate, just use some damn Coppertone.
Utilize every resource. The Writing Center, the Center for Academic Excellence, Career Services, Health Services and the Armacost Library all exist to make your life easier, so let them help you. Unlike most colleges and universities, you can pop into any office at Eckerd and sit down with someone who knows your name and likely has the time to talk. Don't waste these resources by taking them for granted. When you have to present at a job or event in the future, you’ll wish you had Rahall, and if you're in serious need to talk to someone, Eckerd Counseling Services are free and easy to use. We go to an expensive school, and you’re probably going into debt to spend four years here, so use every resource and make it worth it.
Eckerd is a special place, but it has faults just like the rest of the world. The solutions I listed above tackled some pretty small ones, but if you use them to make your day-to-day life easier, you can spend more time fixing the big ones, and focusing on the schoolwork that brought you here in the first place.
So keep being weird, Eckerd. And once again: please wear sunscreen.