Receiving an education is important when going to a college or university. For Eckhardt Van Der Linde, Olgethorpe University in Atlanta offers that plus a whole lot more. “I like the fact that Oglethorpe is small population wise, a small school in a really big city which gives you the best of both worlds.
When I look at big schools here in Atlanta like Georgia Tech or Georgia State, it is very hard to find a campus community because it is downtown and everything is everywhere and there is no real sense of a campus, but here at Oglethorpe you drive into the front gates and you know you are there on campus and people are walking around and sitting on the lawns and chairs and you know the university feeling is a campus feeling,” he says.
“Also, I really appreciate the professors level of education. I think I might be mistaken but something like ninety-five percent of our professors have PhD’s or at least the highest level of education in their fields. You don’t find that at many schools anywhere so I think that really improves the quality of education here.”
Eckhardt received an academic scholarship to attend Oglethorpe. Now, the twenty-one year old from Cape Town, South Africa is busy dividing his time between pursuing a double major and participating in campus activities. “I’m on an academic scholarship and I am a Communications and a Psychology double major,” he says.
“I was originally a Communications major and I choose that because I have always had a love for writing and I wanted to be a journalist which I still do so I choose that and while I was doing my undergrad I realize I had a fondness for Psychology as well so I took that up as a major, and I pay Tennis for the tennis team and I am also the Sports Editor for the school newspaper.”
With all that Eckhardt is involved in, he says it wasn't much of an adjustment for him to leave home and come to the United States. “I think it was easier for me than it would have been for many students coming abroad just because English is my first language so I really didn’t have a problem adjusting to the language,” he says.
“I would say the culture is a little different, mannerisms here and there, but overall it wasn’t anything overwhelming and I wasn’t really bothered by it much.”
Eckhardt is in his junior year. He says much more emphasis is placed on the importance of college while back home many people do not get an opportunity to go pursue a higher education.. “In my opinion the secondary education in South Africa is more challenging than the secondary education here. I don’t have first hand experience, but from my classmates and throughout college what I have learned is that especially your senior year in high school is not the most challenging year and it is completely the contrary in South Africa and we take a national exam and everyone takes the same exam and I stop playing tennis for three months in my senior year just to focus on my studies it is a really big thing,” he says.
“So that and then when you switch over to college it is really different because not so many people in South Africa go to college just because of the employment opportunities and the economy, a lot of people can’t wait to tell her than in about three or more years to get the money and that economy so they go straight to work,” he says.
“Over here there is a much bigger college culture just with college sports and mostly everyone in class know they are going to college so I would say it is very different in that sense.”
Once Eckhardt graduates in May of 2008, he isn't in a hurry to begin working, however, he is interested in traveling a bit first. “I wouldn’t immediately like to go into a job unless something attractive came along. I can see myself traveling for an extended period of time so that would be really great,” he says.
“My girlfriend is from Australia and she is a Master’s of Education major here at Oglethorpe as well so when we are done the options are always there to go back abroad to South Africa or Australia or maybe somewhere else so we are always thinking of traveling and seeing other places.”