Clarkson University is up there–as in way up north. Located in Potsdam, New York, Clarkson has 3,100 undergraduates. Drive 90 minutes further north from this campus and you are in Canada. This is one of the few US universities where a current passport should be part of your educational costs.
Like Rose-Hulman, a school that I wrote up a few weeks ago, Clarkson University is in a fairly isolated location. As a result, nearly everyone lives on campus. Six fraternities and one sorority have houses, but Greek life attracts less than 15 percent of the student body. But Clarkson has about 1,000 more undergraduates than Rose-Hulman and several more majors. The rigor in the business programs appears to be as heavy as it is in the science and engineering programs. This school also appears to be more sports-oriented than Rose-Hulman. Clarkson competes in 18 varsity sports. Men’s and women’s hockey are D-1 in Hockey East, the other sports are D-3. Clarkson students also have more opportunities to get away, not only to travel to larger cities, but also into the Adirondacks or on the Raquette River. It will really help if you like to fish, hike, mountain bike or ski before you come to Clarkson if you want to make friends quickly.
The average high school GPA for the Class of 2022 was a 3.7. The average SAT was a 1260. Like most US colleges Clarkson is test-optional, but the school also requires two letters of recommendation and a personal statement. This is one school where recommendations are considered to be very important. Prospective students should talk to teachers, coaches or employers who know them well. It will probably be easier to get into Clarkson than schools such as Lehigh, Stevens or Rensselaer if you have the right grades and recommendations.
While Clarkson graduates nearly two-thirds of a freshman class, and retains students about as well (89%) as some of the public colleges prospective students might consider, you will have some large classes with 100+ students at the start. Just over half (53%) of all undergraduate classes have fewer than 20 students. But if you get past the freshman and sophomore year, the experience will be more personal than or would be at most business and engineering schools. You are not competing with masters and doctoral students for a professor’s attention.
Clarkson’s direct charges, tuition and fees, room and board, are nearly $73,000. But Clarkson’s discretionary merit-based awards and need based awards made it possible for members of the Class of 2019 who borrowed to owe, on average, $29,000. The maximum that they could have borrowed for four years under the Federal Student Loan Program was $27,000. Obviously, you want to see students borrow less, but students who graduated from Home State U have owed more.
Payscale ranks Clarkson among the top 35 colleges in the country for early and mid-career earnings.The median (midpoint) starting salary for Clarkson graduates was over $79,000 in 2019. The university also reports that one in five alumni are a CEO, senior executive or owner of a company.
At present 60 percent of Clarkson students come from New York State. However, among the 34,000+ Clarkson University alumni registered in Linkedin.com, less than ten percent are based in or around New York City. By comparison, nearly 10,000 are based in Central and Western New York or the Southern Tier. These regions are trying to grow as technology centers. But if you come from outside New York and plan to return to where you’re from, talk with students and alumni close to home, if you can, before you commit. Clarkson is one of a select number of target schools that work with General Electric. It is also one of the smallest schools that offers co-op during the academic year as well as summer internships. Clearly, the school will be as helpful, possibly more, than a mid-sized tech-focused school that is more research based such as Rensselaer that has graduate students on the main campus.
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