More than 500 members of the freshman class began their transition to college life Friday with the start of Autumn Term, a three-week program unique to Eckerd.
Autumn Term is the Eckerd College version of freshman orientation, with a heavy emphasis on academics and adjusting to the realities of college life. The students will familiarize themselves with everything the College has to offer, bond as a class and explore what it means to be a member of Eckerd’s family of scholars.
Autumn Term is a longstanding Eckerd tradition that has received national recognition. The 2005 book “Achieving and Sustaining Institutional Excellence for the First Year of College,” praised Eckerd as an Institute of Excellence and one of 13 colleges and universities that place a high priority on the first-year experience.
“Honestly, I think it’s probably the best way to dive into college as a freshman,” Nick Bernabe, an international business major from Des Moines, Iowa, told The Tampa Tribune during last year’s Autumn Term. “I’m 1,400 miles away from home. If I’m overloaded with stuff to do, with class schedules and all that in one or two days, that’s a little overwhelming. I think to spread it out over three weeks is absolutely brilliant.”
The term began with registration and move-in on Friday morning. Students bought the books they need for their first course of the year and for the Human Experience, a mandatory course for all first-year students designed to immerse them in the liberal arts. Students and their families met with mentors and gathered late afternoon in McArthur Gymnasium for the annual Ceremony of Lights, which as the Tampa Bay Times reported symbolizes “the spread of knowledge from the faculty to the students.” The day ended with a welcome picnic in Hough Quad and house meetings at residence halls. View photos from this year’s ceremony.
While students attended their first class Saturday morning, parents gathered for a 90-minute session on “Long distance parenting and successful power shifting.”
The rest of Autumn Term is filled with activities, from the Waterfront to the beaches to learning all they can about the Armacost Library.
“Autumn Term is designed to help them get off to a good start so they are ready to go in the fall,’’ explains Political Science Professor William Felice, associate dean of general education. “It really pays dividends in terms of academic achievement and success in college.”
Students will be in class for three hours every morning and expected to study four hours a day. “It introduces them to what a college course is like, so it’s really rigorous,” Felice explains.
To prepare for their first year, students were assigned the summer reading book, Enrique’s Journey, by Sonia Nazario, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Nazario will discuss the book with students on Sept. 12. She will also give a public lecture at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Fox Hall, joined by Enrique’s mother, Lourdes Flores.