Undergraduate Programs

5 Reasons You Should Do the Adirondack Semester

Hello! My name is Maria Pelusi ’22, and I’m a sophomore environmental science & policy major at Clarkson. I just returned from the fall 2019 Adirondack (ADK) Semester, where we conducted an integrated research project on hiking trail overuse in the Adirondack Park High Peaks Wilderness. In December, we presented our research to Clarkson students and professors, along with an audience of Adirondack locals, people from the Department of Environmental Conservation and other interest groups in Keene Valley, New York (a tourist-heavy area in the Adirondack Park). This experience has helped shape my academic career and goals, as well as given me professional experiences, unforgettable memories and amazing friendships. If that doesn’t convince you, then here are five reasons you should do the ADK Semester!

The Adirondacks Are Beautiful 

The sunrise over the Adirondack Mountains.

Living on the campus of Paul Smith’s College in Saranac Lake, New York, you’ll be surrounded by mountains and an endless network of trails to explore. The High Peaks Wilderness is a short drive from Paul Smith’s, or you can enjoy the views right from campus on Lower St. Regis Lake. Sunsets and sunrises, and especially the night sky from “the point” (a lookout spot on campus), are always beautiful. Whatever you’re looking for, wilderness is everywhere, and the views are unbeatable! 

Hands-On Field Work

Throughout the semester, you’ll have the opportunity to work with both Clarkson and non-Clarkson professors. You’ll get to experience in-field research in a professional manner and learn about different aspects of the environment you’re studying. You’ll be doing hands-on work relevant to your project — all while exploring the Adirondack Park (you have class in the woods!).

Unlimited Access to the Outdoors

Hiking, biking, skiing, rock-climbing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, kayaking, canoeing or even just hammocking around … you name it. Any outdoor activity you can think of, you can do it! Fill any free time you have, before or after class, with these easily accessible activities. You can walk over to Paul Smith’s Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) for a cross-country skiing trip or take a short drive to St. Regis Mountain for a sunrise hike. Whiteface skiing is less than an hour away, and Paul Smith’s has an indoor rock climbing gym on campus! There are several biking trails, and Paul Smith’s boathouse lets students take kayaks and canoes out on the lake for free. You can expand on what you know or go outside your comfort zone to try something new. Plus, you’ll have two to 14 other people with the same schedule as you to do it with. 

Paul Smith’s Food is Awesome

No, they don’t serve you mushrooms from the woods. However, being a culinary school, Paul Smith’s means business when it comes to dining. The options can sometimes be limited, but there are always new and delicious dishes that the chefs come up with for students to try. They have excellent vegetarian and vegan options, along with a make-your-own-pasta station. They also have soft-serve ice cream and serve maple syrup straight from Paul Smith’s. I had the maple syrup with their oatmeal everyday, and it was amazing. I’m still trying to get them to tell me how they make their oatmeal … They also have a student-run bakery that always has the best baked goods — and free samples! 

Lifelong Friendships

Probably my favorite part of the ADK Semester was being able to work with five amazing people on research that we all cared about. The bonds you form from the many hikes, kayak and canoe trips, backcountry camping trips and more are quite unique — not to mention the relationships you form with professors from working in the field and on your project throughout the semester. You get to explore the Adirondack Park with a group of like-minded people from different backgrounds and majors and come back to Clarkson with new relationships and memories. Also, getting lost in a corn maze with Dr. Bird is pretty hysterical. 

There are countless other reasons why the ADK Semester is a great opportunity for Clarkson students, but these five are some of my favorites. And if all these awesome pictures taken by the fall ’19 ADK students aren’t enough, here’s a short video of what we did for fun over the semester!

Thanks for reading! 

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  1. I’m so amazed to see this program offered to Clarkson Undergrads. Watching the video, I reminisced memories of several activities that were one time, others that became regular escapes from the routine overpressure experienced by studying too much. Some of which might have been frowned upon. The rope swing that hung high over the Raquette from a tree on a cliffside perch that screamed “stupid”; considering the familiar depth of the river, it was out of the question, had it not been in active use by a group of local teenagers. The view from the cliff was daunting even after the locals assured the depth to be some 300′, one had to question how one might know this. We were told; assuming you were able to let go of the rope, you dropped into the water above abandoned, submerged (Clarkson) Sandstone quarry. Which, if you drive west(?) on Clarkson Ave. out past Woodstock Village, turn left on the Back Hannawa Road, turn left heading toward Sugar Island

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