NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

NECC Students Make Road Trip out of College Visit

NECC students Christian Doyle, Tarah MacGregor and Geehae Moon went on a road trip this summer to visit two colleges in Florida. The road trip was initially the idea of MacGregor, a Liberal Arts major in her fifth year at NECC. She wanted to visit her to top choice schools: New College of Florida in Sarasota and Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. “I was inspired to go on the trip for a couple of reasons, most important being that I watched my sister visit her number one choice for transfer and hate it earlier this year,” she said.

The three friends decided to make stops at several different places on the way to Florida, including Washington D.C. “Tarah figured she had to make the trip down to the schools anyways, so why not make it into something fun, like a bonding experience for a couple of her close friends?” said Doyle, a sophomore studying theater at NECC. It took them six days to get to the first college, and they slept in MacGregor’s car at night.

A lot of the highlights of their trip occurred on the way down. They visited the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Freer Museum, and Edgar Allan Poe Museum. They also stopped in Savannah, Georgia, and went to the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens. Moon, a theater major in her seventh full time term at NECC, described them as “breathtaking.”

The three students had one last adventure in Florida, at St. Petersburg Beach, which Doyle described as “really spectacular.”

“There were actually four dolphins that were about 10 feet away from us. I initially thought it was a shark. . . I was like ‘Honestly, I’m not going to be a special on Shark Week,’ so I ran out of the water. Then as soon as I realized they were dolphins, I went back,” he said.

Their first college visit was at New College in Sarasota.

“I’ve been looking at New College for years now; it’s been my dream school,” said MacGregor. The college’s campus is actually the former estate of the Ringling brothers. “New College was very impressive. The campus is gorgeous. The admissions building is made of pink marble, set right on the bay. It was like a dream,” said Moon.

Despite New College’s charm, and MacGregor’s high expectations for the college, the students found themselves feeling much more enamored after leaving Eckerd College. “Honestly, I ended up hating New College. The campus was beautiful, but I couldn’t see myself there,” she said. “I was freaking out. I didn’t know a world where New College wasn’t my next step and I was terrified of letting that go. I didn’t even want to visit Eckerd the next day,” she said. Before visiting Eckerd, she didn’t know as much about what they offered and wasn’t nearly as excited about it as she was about New College. She decided to go because her mentors strongly encouraged her to and she trusted their advice. To her surprise, she ended up falling in love with Eckerd after only 5 minutes on the campus. “It felt like fate,” she said.

“Visiting Eckerd made me realize that one thing I really like about NECC is that it has a very holistic view of its students. They aren’t as rigid as other universities. Eckerd and Northern Essex kind of share that,” said Doyle. Eckerd appealed to Doyle because they don’t rule out students who may have a nontraditional path. Eckerd offers a program that, in a way, lets you build your own major. Basically, you work under an umbrella of a major and then work with an advisor to create a course load that’s more specifically aligned with what you are interested in. While Doyle is pursuing a theater degree, he also has many other interests, and wasn’t sure how he could incorporate them into one degree. “I realized that’s the kind of program I would like to go into, and had I not visited Eckerd, I don’t think I would have realized that’s what I needed,” he said.

Moon was also impressed with Eckerd. “I loved the community feel of the campus. I realized that the sense of close knit community feeling I have at NECC could be something I could find at Eckerd,” she said.

Reflecting on the experience, MacGregor realized that what a school’s website looks like is not indicative of how it will make you feel. “Nothing can measure comfort or community other than how you actually feel there, and that cannot be taken for granted,” she said.

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