Clemson University - Comments and Student Experiences|
I grew up in Upstate South Carolina and transferred into Clemson after spending one year at USC Upstate in Spartanburg. I transferred into Mechanical Engineering, and then two months later transferred to Food Science.
Location / Surrounding City:
This is a much talked about topic with Clemson. In case you don't already know, Clemson is located in the rolling foothills of Upstate South Carolina. The surrounding area is very much rural, with plenty of farms and generally a beautiful hilly landscape. The city itself is tiny, with only about 11,900 permanent residents. If you are from a big city, Clemson will be a huge change for you. There are no major music venues, no huge shopping areas (other than a wal-mart), and not much in the down town area, except for bars. Needless to say, the immediate vicinity of Clemson leaves much to be desired for a night life. Bars are plentiful, so if thats your thing then its a plus. If you want to go shopping, or experience some amenities that larger cities offer, you can travel 30-40 minutes east to Greenville. This is a good way to spend a weekend, as Greenville has several things to offer. Anderson, Easley, and Seneca are all larger cities than clemson, and are within 15-20 minutes of campus. These cities offer some good stores for shopping.
Be forewarned, if you stay here during summer or between semesters, you will be bored to death. The town literally shuts down pretty much without all the students. Some businesses will even close until the students come back.
If you are an outdoor person, then this place is definitely for you. The foothills region of NC/SC is literally covered with hundreds of parks, hiking areas, camping areas, waterfalls. I often travelled to Caesars head State park in northern Pickens county (1 hour from campus) for a day hike with friends. If you are a mountain biker, then the Isaqueena falls area will be like heaven for you. It is located about 4 miles from campus, and has literally 60+ miles of mountain bike trails.
I feel that the campus is quite beautiful. The grounds are always kept nice, so a big Kudos to the people who take care of it. In fact, the whole campus gets soo messy and Trashy after football games, but the grounds crew always has it spotless by classes on Monday Morning.
The campus itself is rather large, but I feel it is not too large. You can easily get from one end to the other in 15 minutes walking, which is the time allowed between classes.
Parking has slowly become an issue for the campus. I can't speak for people who live on campus, but off campus commuters such as myself can expect to fight for parking spots unless you arrive before 9am. The university is currently addressing this issue, and a parking garage is being planned for 2009 I believe.
If you don't have a car, don't fret. Clemson is home to the CAT (clemson area transportation) service. CAT Buses run day and night while classes are in session, and service just about anywhere you could want in the Clemson Vicinity, including Seneca, Central, Anderson, Pendleton. The CAT Buses are top notch, and have even been rated among the highest of transportation services on the east coast. Best of all, its free (kinda. You have to pay a $35 transportation fee each semester in your tuition). If you don't feel like taking a bus, bicycles are a great option here too.
Academics: Like any Big University, you can't base Academic quality on the entire university. So i'm giong to discuss the two majors I had experience with
I started off in Mechanical Engineering but soon transferred into the food science program. In engineering, i was treated like a number, and the classes were very difficult. Engineering is what this school is known for though. If you plan on going into engineering, plan on long nights studying, but it will be worth it. A Clemson engineering degree goes a long way.
Apart from engineering, the school is known for its strong agricultural programs. I am having the best time in Food Science. Its a smaller department with smaller classes. Each teacher knows you by name and are willing to help in any way they can. I have been presented with numerous opportunities including two well-paid internships, ability to help out faculty with research projects as an undergrad, numerous field trips throughout the southeast, and so forth. The major offers a great hands on approach to learning, and the things you will learn will be applicable to real world work.
If you are considering coming here for something like art or music, you should probably look elsewhere. This is definitely not a school that is known for a strong liberal arts program. Once again, Engineering and agricultural sciences are what shine here.
If you like clubbing and huge cities, this place isn't for you. If you love going out on the lake, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, waterskiing, fishing, and in general just being outdoors, this is the place for you. Just spend a day out on Lake Hartwell, or make a short drive to the mountains of the Upstate for a hike at Table Rock, and you'll see what I mean.
Even if you don't like the outdoors, I can't see how you'd be disappointed walking in my footsteps each day. I wake up and walk to class across the library bridge, over the reflection pond. From there I walk back for a couple of classes, grab some food at the dining hall, and head to work. After work I walk the brick pathway with the names of all the Clemson graduates, through an amazing landscape on my way back to my apartment. I have to cross one two-lane road, but that's about it. Outside of my apartment is an open grass field with huge oak trees. It's never a problem throwing the football around; there's plenty of open space in which to do it.
Come saturday, you'll never experience anything like Clemson. Being at Death Valley on the hill for a night game is a thrill one can only imagine. The pure pride and surroundings are enough to convince all but the most die-hard Gamecock fan to come here. You'll truly be having "the best time of your life with 80,000 of your closest friends" as you find yourself jumping up and down and high-fiving complete strangers (as well as yelling alongside them) at every moment of the game. Just listening to the Alma Mater play while standing on the field after a big win is unlike anything else in the world.I can't think of any other place I'd rather be. This truly is one of the most amazing places in the world - "where the Blue Ridge yawns its greatness, where the Tigers play."
Other strengths: Division 1 sports, study abroad, leisure skills, emphasis on being well rounded, community spirit
My experience academically has been great - the honors program let me sign up for classes with the seniors so I always got to pick my professors according to ratemyprofessor.com. The only bad professor I've taken was in Physics and he got fired. Overall, my classes have taught me a lot, and most importantly, inspired me to keep learning in those areas.
Architecture at Clemson is more about design than practice. A lot of my friends want to go into other design fields than architecture anyway so that's good for them. I do want to be accredited so I will have to go onto a 2-3 year grad school. The 5 year program other schools offer is good if you are 100% sure architecture is what you want to do but the 4+2 program is good for flexibility. I like that I'll be able to do graduate work in a city.
I know I checked this site out before applying to Clemson for architecture and was worried because they don't have a national reputation for it: after studying there 2 years and spending the last semester abroad in Barcelona with their program there - I have to say that they deserve a great reputation. This is a public university: there are opportunities and professors there to be great - but you don't have to take them.
Clemson provides diversity though it could be said that it exists without integration. Your experience here really depends on your major and extracurriculars. The administration does a lot for minorities and international students - that said, Clemson is still 82% white. The bulk of that demographic follows an image of rainbows/sperrys and polos. At a shallow glance then, Clemson students may seem (visually) cookie cutter. Another (subjective) weakness: the town of Clemson pretty much is the University; it's small and controlled by sporting events. It's rural. On the other hand, you're two hours away from Atlanta and Charlotte and in the middle of a bunch of outdoors activities (water sports, hiking, etc).