Undergraduate Programs

What to Expect: Orientation and Convocation for First-Year Students

The Golden Knight with a thumbs up standing on cheel lawn with the student center in the background

Orientation for students who are new to the Clarkson Family is a new and exciting experience. There are a lot of opportunities to meet new people, explore a new campus and local community, and so much to learn about Clarkson as well as your area of study. Orientation for new students is designed to be a place to get comfortable with campus life, get set up for your academic pursuits, and integrate with the Clarkson community all at once. I’m excited to meet you during your first weekend on campus, but before we get there, let me give you some information about what to expect when you arrive.


Move-in is held on Friday, August 25th for first-year students so that you have the opportunity to arrive with your loved ones, get settled and explore campus with them before jumping into orientation activities.

You’ll arrive at your building, either Donohue, Brooks, Cubley, Reynolds or Ross Houses for most first-year students and be greeted by an Orientation Leader, Resident Assistant (RA) or volunteer move-in crew member. Orientation Leaders and Resident Assistants are current second, third or fourth year students, who work for the Office of Student Life or Residence Life on campus. The volunteer move-in crew member will unload your belongings from your car and help carry them to your room so that you and your family have plenty of time to set up your new space together. You may even see some members of the University Leadership breaking a sweat out there with the move-in crew! 

As you check in, you’ll receive your room key, student ID card, orientation schedule and some Clarkson swag. You’ll also be able to ask questions and meet your RA. You can pick up your mail key and your parking pass from the Student Center mailroom staff on the first floor. 

Commuter students can report directly to the Student Center on Friday (9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.) to pick up their commuter swag packs and get instructions on navigating campus. We hope to see you at the Convocation Ceremony later in the afternoon!

Move-in crew members pose outside of Brooks House while they await the arrival of new first-year students.

Convocation and the VanSickle Endowed Lecture

Convocation and the Van Sickle Endowed Lecture is the annual kickoff to each first-year student’s Clarkson career. Convocation is a lively ceremony which marks the official matriculation of students. Kenneth J. and Irla Van Sickle Endowed Lectureship was established in 1992 through generous bequests from the estates of Kenneth and Irla Van Sickle of Shortsville, N.Y. 

Convocation 2022 featuring ReVoiced and the Class of 2026.

The theme for the 2023 Convocation ceremony is about learning about history and culture and our performers will be a local group of Akwesasne women dancers. This is the first opportunity for your class to be in the same location, celebrating becoming members of the Clarkson Family together. The class will officially be integrated into the Clarkson community with the traditional ringing of the bell in Cheel Arena during the ceremony: the same bell that is run at Graduation at the close of your Clarkson career.

Convocation closes out with a bang; students will get their first introduction to the university’s leadership including the President, Provost and others and get to meet the Pep Band, who plays at the hockey games!

Holcroft Knight of Fire!

Holcroft Knight is where you’ll learn more about your incoming class and get to see a fireworks display, right on campus leading up to CUB’s Glowfest! Holcroft Knight of Fire is a tradition on campus for each incoming class.

CUB’s Glowfest

Get to know one of Clarkson’s most exciting student-led organizations, Clarkson Union Board (CUB) during your first couple of days on campus by attending CUB’s Glowfest! Glowfest takes place Friday night and students have the opportunity to mingle and dance the night away to CUB’s lights and sounds. 

Click here to learn more about how to join CUB. 

Saturday Rotation Groups

Two people in the foreground of the image smile and show a group of 5 women in the middle all wearing pink shirts
Orientation Leaders get ready to break students into groups for rotations.

Saturday’s sessions kick off with a session called Welcome to the Clarkson Family, which is led by our university’s leadership. You’ll learn about the Clarkson values, resources on campus and how to get involved in clubs and organizations. 

Once you’ve had a chance to get acquainted with the Clarkson Values, we’ll break you into groups to dig into those values a little deeper in the Student Center, Cheel Arena, and our dining locations on campus. Your orientation leader will lead you to each location so your group sticks together. During the sessions, you’ll meet staff from the Chief Inclusion Office and student leaders who will lead sessions on Building a Shared Community. These trainings are required for all new students, to give you the same starting baseline on campus information.

President’s Reception

President Marc Christensen officially welcomes first-year students to campus with a Reception at Foster House. Not only will there be some refreshments, but students will have the opportunity to meet the President at his on-campus residence. Students will be led over by LLC so make sure you double check your timeframe to attend with your RA!

Snow Cones with Security

Students who attend Snow Cones with Security will be able to get to meet our Campus Safety and Security (CSS) staff while enjoying a frosty treat. CSS is a resource for students throughout the college experience and can even help with things like changing a flat tire, facilitating the bike rental program, and issuing parking passes. CSS is also happy to help students with questions about safety on campus, providing guidance when you have a concern for yourself or others and connecting students with local police and medical resources.

Scotty Wiese Comedy Magic Show

Saturday night, students can come together for their first programming experience in the Student Center Forum for a comedy magic show hosted by Scotty Wiese! 

Late Knight Movie and Games

Following the magic show, we will be showing the new Super Mario Bros movie in the Student Center with video games for your enjoyment! And yes, that does include Super Smash Bros.

Meet your Academic Department

Many academic departments will be hosting an opportunity to meet faculty and tour the facilities you will be working in during the meet and greet in all of the various locations that those offices are located.

CUSA Carnival

The CUSA Carnival is hosted on Sunday by your student government, CUSA Senate! The Carnival truly has everything you can imagine, games, activities and bounce courses. You’ll even find a massive tent of prizes outside the Student Center! Come out to enjoy a day outside with your peers and loads of clubs and organizations. If you’re lucky, you’ll even see the President in the dunk booth!

Activities Fair

The Activities Fair held on Sunday night is your opportunity to meet all of the clubs and organizations on campus. Over 100 organizations attend each year and will be stationed within and around Cheel Arena. Participating organizations are assigned their booths based on the type of organization they are, meaning that you’ll see fraternities and sororities together, club sports, performing groups and others grouped based on their club’s interests.

Open Skate with President Marc Christensen

Wrap up your orientation experience with an open ice skating night in Cheel Arena with President Marc Christensen! Not only does President Christensen know how to skate, he wants to see your moves on the ice!

Welcome Week

Welcome Week is our very own programming on campus to help you acclimate to your environment and enjoy the first week! Take a look at our Instagram for updates @clarkonu.osl and check out the full schedule below.

Monday, 8/28 First Day of School Pictures: Get your first day of classes headshot snapped with the Photography and Videography (POV) club in the Student Center MPRs from 10-2pm

Tuesday, 8/29 No Butts About it: Safely Start out your College Career: Take part in an opportunity to get your silhouette sketched by the original butt sketch artist from 11-2pm, while learning about bystander intervention, safe alcohol consumption, and on and off-campus resources.

Wednesday, 8/30 Creating your CU Home: Join OSL and Residence Life for some DIY decorations to make your room feel like home from 5-7pm

Thursday, 8/31 Student Support Services Snack Time: Connect with the different support offices on campus from 12-2pm in the Student Center and grab a quick snack during your first week of classes.

Friday, 9/1 Lore and S’mores: Learn about campus and Clarkson’s history in this interactive scavenger hunt and s’mores at the Student Center Fire Pit. You can explore from 8-10pm and have the opportunity to win a Clarkson swag-themed gift basket!

Saturday, 9/2 Day of Play: Join clubs and organizations outside for a day of play. We will have lawn games as well as organized games for you to enjoy.

Sunday, 9/3 Community Clean Up: Take care of our local Potsdam community with a service opportunity from 12-3pm with various clubs, organizations and offices.

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