Undergraduate Programs

15 Questions I had before coming to Clarkson

Two women holding up signs. The women on the left is holding a sign that says Clarkson 125 and the one on the right is holding a sign with the logo that reads Clarkson 125 Founded 1896
Clarkson 125th year celebration

After getting acceptance letters to all the colleges I applied to, I thought the hard part was over. However, it had just begun. It was a good problem to have – receiving acceptance letters from over ten colleges. But I was struggling with how to find which one was the right fit for me and worried about making the wrong choice. 

It’s now that time of year again, so hopefully, you’ve received some acceptance letters and found yourself with some choices. Unless you already had your heart set on one school that you were accepted to, you now have the challenging task of trying to decide for yourself where to spend the next four years!

As I was trying to make my own decision, I found myself asking certain questions about each college to try and compare the experiences and better understand what exactly I was looking for. Here are some of the questions I asked before making the decision to become a Golden Knight!  

Where is Clarkson? 

A Drone image of the downtown potsdam main street
Downtown Potsdam

Clarkson University is located in Potsdam, New York. Potsdam is a small village with a rich history. It is located only 40 minutes from the Canadian border and 2 hours north of the heart of the Adirondacks. It is the perfect location for winter sports and early fall lake trips, among many other things.

What are some notable features of Clarkson’s campus?

Clarkson has over 640 acres of wooded and waterfront areas, meaning there is plenty to do outdoors all year long. For those extra cold Potsdam winter days, my favorite feature of the campus is the newly renovated ERC (Educational Resource Center) where I can sit by the window and do some work while enjoying my Starbucks coffee from Schuler’s Cafe. It also helps that all of our academic buildings are connected so you don’t have to go outside! 

What’s the weather like? 

Being only 40 minutes away from Canada has its ups and downs depending on the weather. During the Fall and Spring Clarkson has beautiful weather, perfect for outdoor activities. From November to March Clarkson can get pretty cold! However, just because the weather is cold does not mean you can’t enjoy it, check out some Winter activities to do on and off campus

What are the classes like? 

A lecture hall with students laptops on tables
Snell 212 Classroom

One of my favorite parts of being a student at Clarkson is the class sizes and how lectures are organized. With an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio, you are able to make that personal connection with your professors and advisors. Even in larger lectures such as general chemistry and Calculus, you are able to attend office hours and get to know your professors and TAs to get the most out of every class.

What is the typical Clarkson student like? 

I would say that the typical Clarkson student is not your typical student. Our catchphrase used to be “defy convention.” Clarkson students are here to get a great education, challenge themselves, develop research and new ideas, and make new friends and memories along the way. Lots of students (including me) are hockey fans. I didn’t start out as one when I got here, but I became one quickly and love it!

How involved are the professors?

No matter the lecture size, professors make an effort to know who you are and what your goals are (half of our classes are less than 20 students). Many professors also participate in advising students. Advisors help you pick classes, give career advice, and be a liaison for all your major-related questions. Additionally, professors host research opportunities that students are able to participate in and contribute towards. 

What do students do during the week? 

A group of students crafting while standing next to a row of tables
Room decorations event hosted by the Office of Student Life

During the week the typical Clarkson student has anywhere from 4 to 6 classes. Besides classes, most students are involved in one or more campus clubs, teams, or organizations most of which host meetings and events on campus throughout the regular week. Some organizations such as CUB (Clarkson Union Board) and ResLife (Office of Residence Life) host multiple events during the week such as free Boba and giveaways. 

What are the residence halls like? 

A women sitting on her bed with arms open smiling into the camera
Quad Dorm room

Clarkson has a variety of different residence halls, from classic dorms, and suites, as well as apartments for up to 7 people. The most common residence for incoming first-year students is the Quad, which is made up of classic two-person residence hall rooms with shared bathrooms on each floor. You will also get to pick which Living Learning Community (LLC) you live with. The LLCs are meant to connect like-minded students. The Quad is conveniently located close to Cheel Arena, the IRC (Indoor Recreation Center), as well as Ross Brooks Dining Hall. For more information about the quad and how to get your room ready check out Decorating your dorm: the quad basics

What do students do on weekends? 

Weekends at Clarkson can be anything you want them to be. You can go out or stay in. SPEED teams work on their projects, intramural and club sports host practices and games throughout the weekends, and varsity sports teams also host games on the weekends. Student clubs and organizations host a variety of events for students to enjoy, as does our Student Life team. One of the recent favorites is CUB bingo which typically is hosted online with great themes such as electronics, dorm room, and random prizes that range from AirPods to microwaves! Off-campus also has some great adventures too! The local town of Potsdam has some great restaurants, shops, and parks to explore. Additionally, you can take a weekend trip up to Canada or the Adirondacks. 

What extracurricular activities are there? 

The spike-ball team with the Golden Knight
Activities Fair during move-in weekend

The spot for extracurricular activities is KnightLife! Knightlife is a website where you can explore events and clubs. Some clubs include a variety of organizations, from Greeks to religious clubs to professional societies, Bass Fishing, High Dive Frisbee, SWE (Society of Women Engineers), CULT (Clarkson University Laser Tag), as well as a variety of SPEED (Student Projects for engineering experience and design) teams. Additionally, the Clarkson University Instagram houses a collection of club and organization features with insights from members, as well as information on how to join. 

What opportunities does Clarkson have? 

Offering opportunities is where Clarkson really shines. Outside of the many extracurricular activities Clarkson provides, students have a variety of knowledge enrichment and career-advancing opportunities. Every semester the Career Center hosts a massive Career Fair on campus to connect hundreds of top employers with Clarkson students. Additionally, Clarkson provides research, internship, co-op, and study abroad placements to ensure you leave here feeling prepared for your industry and receiving job offers. 

What services does Clarkson offer to help me succeed? 

The front of the International and Career office
Career & International Center

Whether it is academic, personal, or professional, Clarkson has many resources that are available to students. The Student Success Center (SSC) provides tutors as well as writing and study habit assistance. The Student Health and Counseling Center (SHAC) “is an integrated health and counseling center at Clarkson, whose mission is to empower students to become active participants in their physical health and mental wellbeing, while supporting their pursuit of academic and personal goals.” As mentioned before, the Career Center helps students to build their resumes as well as provides interview and job fair preparedness workshops. We also have Clarkson Ignite, for innovators and makers, the Writing Center, an incredible Library system, Student Achievement Services, the Office of Undergraduate Advising, and more to ensure no student is left behind. 

How will I afford Clarkson? 

There is no question that college is expensive. Coming into it I was not sure how I was going to be able to afford it. While the FAFSA is open to all students, Clarkson provides additional financial aid based on both financial need, as well as merit. Clarkson also has a wide variety of scholarships for incoming and current students to apply for ranging from STEM education to your on-campus involvement. Work-study positions are also granted to many students as a part of your financial aid package. These positions are available in a wide variety of departments with flexible hours. The Clarkson website also has a section about Financial aid FAQs, this is a great resource for new and current students to get some answers regarding financial aid and affording college. 

What is the biggest struggle of a first-year student? 

Going into college unaware of what to expect had me more worried than I should have been. Now that I have three semesters down I have to say the biggest struggle of being a first-year student is finding what you want to do, and how to manage your time. There are so many clubs and organizations that seem interesting or fun, but it is important to find the ones that are the right fit for you. My biggest piece of advice is to join a club that will benefit you professionally, allow you to meet new people, or volunteer and give back. Some clubs and organizations overlap these categories, but I have found that being a member of organizations that are in these categories has made me a better student and a better person. 

How is the job outlook after graduation?

A man standing up in a sea of green graduates
Clarkson Class of 2022 Commencement Ceremony

Any student no matter the university is looking to find a place in a career field after graduation. With numerous resources and professors who work with students to achieve their goals, it is no surprise that in a survey conducted in 2022 (of Class of 2022 graduates), 96 percent of all graduates had been placed in a full-time job in their chosen field, entered graduate school or joined the military within six months of graduation. The survey also showed that the average starting salary for Clarkson graduates was nearly $70,000!

In conclusion, there are going to be a lot of questions you have before finding the college that is the best fit for you. These 15 questions are just the ones that went through my mind that I had about Clarkson, and many of which were deciding factors in my enrollment. If you are interested in learning more about Clarkson be sure to check out the Clarkson University admissions Instagram page for updates on admissions, financial aid, and all things Clarkson.

Author: Cassidy Marshall

My name is Cassidy Marshall, I'm a Communication, Media & Design Major with a new product development & marketing minor in the class of 2024. I am currently a member of the Pep Band, Kappa Delta Chi, and am a student worker in the Marketing and External Relations Department. In my free time, I enjoy photography, exploring downtown Potsdam, and attending all the hockey games with my friends.

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