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Information for Incoming Students

Orientation and Advising

Clemson provides a comprehensive new student orientation to introduce incoming students to campus life, resources, and traditions. During orientation, you will also get an introduction to the School of Computing (SOC), meet with a School of Computing advisor, and register for classes.

If you're not certain about which degree you want to pursue, discuss your interests and options with an advisor during the advising session. To make the best use of the session, have a list of interests, prior computing history and/or courses, and any information that you think would be helpful.

Use Clemson's iROAR system to search for courses ahead of the advising session. If introductory courses are full, spots may open before the semester starts. During summer orientation, many departments hold back available seats for incoming students and release them in blocks throughout the summer. Your advisor will help you through the process during your orientation session.

Laptop Information

Clemson requires all entering students to own a laptop; Clemson’s Computing and Information Technology (CCIT) publishes information on laptop support and lists recommended laptop configurations for each fall. We strongly urge students to consider extended warranties for laptop purchases. Extended warranty coverage can help recover quickly through manufacturers’ authorized service centers. Clemson’s CCIT offers limited computer repair services and a loaner laptop program for certain laptops purchased through Clemson. About half of our students opt to purchase a laptop on their own.

The School of Computing does not endorse a particular laptop model—our students use a mix of Windows, Macintosh, and Linux-based devices. All of these operating systems allow a Computing student to connect remotely to our systems. Please note that required software may only be available for Windows and/or Mac in some cases. If you plan on developing iOS applications, Apple’s Developer Guidelines specify that you must use a Macintosh-based computer to run the XCode integrated development environment.

Laptop Recommendations

One of the most common questions incoming students ask us is, “Which laptop should I get?” To supplement information provided by CCIT, our recommendations come from experiences from the SOC systems support staff, faculty, and students who responded to a survey.

For most students, personal preference is a driving force between selecting a laptop, and SOC does not specify one particular model. Our students use a mix of laptops from different manufacturers and use the major operating systems. During a recent survey of students, the highest percentage of students happiest with their laptops had purchased 13.3” MacBook Pros.

  • Size and weight: Consider how you may use your laptop—in class, in your residence hall room, at the library, or in an auditorium. Generally speaking, larger laptops give you more screen real estate at the expense of being less portable (e.g., heavier, larger). A minimum display resolution of 1080p (1290x1080) is recommended.
  • Processors: Most modern processors (e.g., Intel i5, i7) are powerful enough for the majority of programming assignments School of Computing students will encounter during their tenure at Clemson. The School of Computing also provides 24-7 access to high-powered computer workstations within McAdams Hall; selected CPSC-prefixed courses enrolled students are granted access to high-performance computing clusters. Note: The recently released M1 (Apple Silicon) Mac devices should still support the general functionality required.
  • Operating Systems: Our students use a variety of Windows, Mac, and Linux-based devices, and all of these operating systems can allow a School of Computing student to connect remotely to our departmental Linux systems, as well as the Clemson CUapps remote Windows application system (although additional free software may need to be installed). Please note that in some cases, required software may only be available for Windows and/or Mac.
  • “Future Proofing”: - While technology changes at a very quick pace, there are a few factors that can help you select a laptop that will extend the useful lifespan:
    • Durability: choosing a laptop that has a strong reputation for being long-lasting and can handle being hauled to class each day.
    • Memory: many laptops do not allow you to upgrade the memory, so choosing a minimum of 16 GB of RAM for a Windows laptop or 8 GB for an Apple Silicon Mac is recommended.
    • Storage: like memory, storage may be difficult or impossible to upgrade after purchase so think carefully about how much space you need. We recommend at least 256 GB (512 GB if you plan on installing multiple operating systems or plan to keep a lot of photos or videos)
    • Warranties: consider an extended warranty for your laptop purchase. An extended warranty can help you recover more quickly from an unpleasant experience through manufacturers’ authorized service centers.
    • Power adapters: Consider purchasing a second power adapter for your laptop and keeping one at home and one in your bag. Not all classrooms have power ports at each desk, so you may need to find time to top off your laptop’s battery during the day. (Note that the McAdams 110A lab has lockable charging lockers).