Selecting the right college can be difficult. We strive to pick a school that is worth our investment of time, money and engagement—a place that will have a lasting impact on our life, certainly economically and professionally but also through the skills we develop and the relationships we cultivate with peers, professors and mentors.
Anecdotally, we have always known this to be true of a Denison education—that our alumni obtain great jobs after graduation and lead personally and professionally rewarding lives after college. Now, through a research project at Denison, we can confirm those anecdotes with data.
Without Denison, I'm sure I would have had a fine life, but it would certainly not be the great life I'm leading now.
In 2015, the college surveyed Denison alumni who graduated in the Class 2010 to examine the value of their education from their perspective five years after commencement. We asked questions, certainly in economic terms of employment and preparedness for their careers, but also about how the Denison experience transformed their lives and provided them with opportunities to succeed in the world. Forty-seven percent of our alumni returned that survey, (which is a statistical home run). In addition, we augmented our knowledge base via profiles on LinkedIn and other sources. The resulting information we report here is based on information on 81% of our 2010 alumni.
First, after five years, 99% of alumni are either employed or in graduate school. The other 1% also is engaged in meaningful ways. Currently, they are pursuing the start-up of entrepreneurial or artistic endeavors or enrolled to begin graduate programs.
Nearly seven out of every 10 alums went on to pursue a graduate degree within the last five years— pursuing master’s, doctors of law, doctorates, masters of business administration, or masters of fine arts — and 91% report Denison prepared them well for graduate school.
Five years post-graduation, 96% of alumni report they are in their desired field/position or on their way to what they hope to accomplish professionally. In addition, 95% of alumni are satisfied with how well Denison prepared them for professional success after college and 92% indicate that Denison contributed to their ability to lead a rich and fulfilling life—professional, personally and/or civically.
How did their Denison experience contribute to such positive outcomes after college? Alumni report that their engagement in off-campus studies, internships, clubs and organizations, varsity athletics, community service, campus jobs, performing arts, research experiences and leadership positions were very important to their post-college success. Through these curricular and co-curricular experiences at Denison, students and alumni report the development of critical thinking, written communication, teamwork, ability to problem solve, oral communication—skills that directly align with what employers seek when making hiring decisions.
Even before administering the survey, we knew that relationships are a cornerstone of a Denison experience, and the data confirm that: 89% of alumni report having at least once close relationship with a faculty member, and the majority report that this relationship was very important to their post-Denison success.
While these numbers powerfully quantify the value of a Denison education, here is a direct quote from a 2010 alum about the transformative nature of their education:
“Denison formed who I was as an adult. It allowed me to cultivate social and educational experiences that led me down a path that has forever shaped what my life will become. When I started at Denison, I had a vague idea of what I wanted my future to become. It was through classes, late night conversations with my peers, and encouragement from my professors that I was able to gain enough confidence to believe that I could actually seize the future I had in my dreams. Not only did Denison provide me with the critical thinking skills and a liberal arts mindset, but it also helped me gain ‘real world’ experience that helped me land a dream job prior to graduating…Without Denison, I'm sure I would have had a fine life, but it would certainly not be the great life I'm leading now.”
A Denison experience has a lasting impact. Through a multitude of curricular and co-curricular opportunities, Denison students develop skills that prepare them for their post-graduation lives, to thrive in the workplace, to lead teams, to communicate effectively, to work well with others, and to make significant contributions to the world around them.