The Denison experience is unlike any other. We prepare our students for lives of professional, personal, and civic success. Data from our 2014 administration of the National Survey of Student Engagement reveal ways in which the Denison curricular and co-curricular experience prepares students for successful lives after college.
Denison provides an intellectually rigorous curriculum. Denison seniors were significantly more likely to report that their coursework emphasized higher-order thinking than seniors at similar institutions, which are represented here as the Carnegie classification. Specifically, Denison students were more likely to report:
A Denison education is not about rote memorization of facts. In fact, Denison students are significantly more likely than students at similar institutions (represented here as Carnegie) to report that their coursework prompts reflective and integrative learning. Specifically, Denison seniors were significantly more likely to report having:
Note: These graphs compare Denison data to “Carnegie” and “National.” As classified by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, Denison’s Carnegie Classification is Baccalaureate Colleges—Arts & Sciences, thus comparing Denison to a group of similar institutions, mostly comprised of small, private colleges. “National” represents the data from all 983 institutions participating in the National Survey of Student Engagement in 2013 or 2014.
Denison students are highly engaged in the co-curriculum, and 75% of Denison seniors report having held a formal leadership role in a student organization, which is significantly higher than students at similar institutions.
The Denison curriculum places a high emphasis on students’ ability to write well. Denison students reported writing significantly more than students at peer institutions (measured in number of pages).
Denison professors are scholars in their fields but also are masters in the crafts of teaching and advising. Denison seniors rated the quality of their interactions with their faculty advisors significantly higher than students at other Carnegie institutions.
Denison is a pluralistic community. The Denison experience provides opportunity to dialogue and learn from others. Denison students report dialoguing with others who are different than them (in terms of race, economic background, and political views) significantly more often than students at similar institutions.
Denison students actively engage in the opportunities offered by Denison. In comparison to seniors at Carnegie institutions, Denison seniors were significantly more likely to have conducted research with faculty, completed an internship or field experience, or studied abroad.
In comparison to seniors at other Carnegie institutions, Denison students were significantly more likely to say that their college experience contributed to knowledge, skills and personal development in: writing clearly and effectively, speaking clearly and effectively, and thinking critically and analytically.
Students indicated how their experience at Denison has contributed to skills, knowledge and personal development in ways that connect to our core student learning outcomes. (Sources: National Survey of Student Engagement 2014; EBI Resident Survey 2014)
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My Experience at Denison...
As I reflect on my Denison experience, I cannot help but think about the challenges and struggles that I faced as an undergraduate student. Denison’s curriculum was rigorous and I was forced to think critically and push beyond what I thought my inabilities were. As a student, I was involved in more than seven organizations and had leadership positions within those organizations, which taught me about the importance of consistency, patience, networking, collaborations, and organization. I was prepared through my participation in those organizations to be the young professional I am today. Denison continued to nurture my potential and build on the foundation that had been laid by my high school. At Denison I had the opportunity to do anything I found intriguing whether it was coordinating a variety of events or hosting meetings and study groups. Those opportunities provided me with a platform to express myself and to become the leader that I am today. Denison was truly challenging for me but I took advantage of easy to build relationships with my professors to help carry me when I struggled. I knew that I could depend on my professors to assist me with the learning process, both in academia and life. This allowed me to have very open and honest conversation with them about how to be more successful.
“My training in math and physics at Denison (including summer research opportunities) prepared me well to handle graduate coursework and research. The liberal arts curriculum at Denison also strengthened my interpersonal skills. And in academia, relational skills are just as important as research skills.”
My Denison education has given me a breadth and depth across all subject matters, whereby I can respond and react to whatever situation I am placed in, and has given me an edge for success beyond college. My Denison education has ensured that I know not only about my Communication major, but also a little bit about Spanish, Psychology, Geology, Cinema, Accounting, and more (thanks to those GE requirements!) Therefore, a four-year Denison experience ultimately has us all prepared for moments of discomfort by having knowledge across all fields, while at the same time specializing in a field in which we are passionate.
Living on campus all four years fostered a caring community with people from different backgrounds, opinions, and beliefs, and prepared all graduates to face difficult conversations and deal with conflicting opinions. This type of experience gave me the opportunity to be in constant dialogue with others who differ from my own beliefs, to expand my knowledge, and to be open to new ideas and viewpoints. Denison has given me the tools and the passion to realize authentic communities of difference and empathy beyond the hill.
Denison’s liberal arts education has allowed me to not only think holistically, to understand and solve problems, to take different opinions into consideration but to then also question. These outlooks crafted at Denison, ultimately have helped provide fresh new perspectives and business partner relationships skills within my current fast paced rotational program at Discover card.
“Having the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of campus organizations provided me with a diverse set of experiences that helped prepare me for life after college. In addition, I would not have been able to undertake a French major—including a semester abroad—while still completing all of the pre-med requirements, without the advice and support of the staff and faculty at Denison.”
Denison prepared me for life after college by fostering connections, both among individuals, and enabling me to draw connections among ideas.
Denison is made up of exceptional people. Growing up in rural Ohio, most of my peers had a similar story to mine, but Denison gave me the opportunity to live and learn with new friends who had different outlooks on life. I grew a great deal personally because friendships and exchange of ideas with my peers pushed me to evaluate how I see the world. The faculty and staff at Denison are also top-notch. Individuals who began as supervisors or professors grew to be trusted friends and mentors. These mentors pushed me to take challenging and diverse courses, think critically, and do things I never thought possible. The idea to publish my work never crossed my mind as an undergraduate, but several faculty members pushed me throughout my research and writing process to get me there—I even co-published with my senior research advisor!
A Denison education also prepares students to make connections of ideas, a skill valuable both in the workplace, and life in general. Whether I was in a general education course, or a course for one of my majors, my experience in other courses was always applicable. Class discussions are vibrant because individuals are prepared, and encouraged to share and make connections from other disciplines. Denison also encouraged my innate desire to understand how things work, rather than simply memorizing and restating facts in a paper. Students are encouraged to delve deep into subject matter and find the “why.” My Denison experience uniquely prepared me for my current position not because of the facts I learned, but by the ways in which I learned. I didn’t study marketing, and neither did most of my peers—my company regularly employs students of the liberal arts because we are uniquely positioned to communicate and write effectively, understand complex ideas and systems, and draw connections. Denison students are the ultimate “doers,” and take the preparation traditionally offered by liberal arts schools to the next level.
My Denison education has been indispensable in my post-grad professional life. On a very technical level, I gained skills through my Communication and English courses that help me on a day-to-day basis. I learned to collaborate with others, build relationships, write effectively, manage multiple projects at once and pay close attention to detail. All of these things, I’ve found, are valued in the Communications field. On a broader level, though, Denison helped me develop a more confident and self-asserting presence in the workplace. During one of my first employee reviews, my supervisor told me she was impressed with my willingness to voice my opinion and challenge our organizational conventions. I have no doubt that those skills were fostered in the Denison classroom, where debate and reflection are encouraged and expected.
I met some of my best friends during my time on The Hill. I met people who share my values and interests, and I’m incredibly grateful to Denison for providing the stage for these relationships to grow. However, I think an even bigger advantage Denison gave me was to introduce me to people with different backgrounds, values, opinions and interests. These relationships expanded my horizons and have helped me build more diverse and strong-rooted connections post-graduation.
Denison gives its students every opportunity to explore and engage with issues that matter personally to them. With Denison’s help (shout-out to the Center for Career Exploration), I was lucky enough to secure a Marketing internship with Make-A-Wish during my junior year of college. In four short months, I truly fell in love with the mission of the organization and began to realize that my Denison skills – writing, creative problem solving, collaboration, communication, etc. – could directly impact and improve the lives of others. Now, I get to use my Denison education every day to make a difference for kids and families locally and across the country.
“Denison taught me how to “learn how to learn”, communicate effectively, problem solve, and interact with others at a professional level, thereby allowing me to feel comfortable in any situation. Denison has allowed me to be a competitive candidate for job opportunities because I learned valuable skills that I use daily in my professional life.”
“I have been engaged with my local community on multiple levels, including purchasing a home in the neighborhood which I teach so I am truly a part of that community. I also have gotten more involved with Special Olympics and Habitat for Humanity on local, national, and global campaigns. I learned how to actively be a supportive member of a community at Denison and balance my time so that I am able to work full-time, get a master’s degree, volunteer, and have a family all at the same time.”
Although I graduated in Spring 2015, I feel that my experiences at Denison are still enacting on my life as a graduate student, and as an adult-in-training. My rigorous academic responsibilities as an undergraduate equipped me with the writing, communication, and research skills that help me excel in my graduate school classes. Organizing my personal planner to complete assignments, feeling comfortable to reach out to professors to ask questions about class, and working with diverse groups of people on projects, are some of the many tools that I acquired as a former Denison student that I apply to my current graduate career. This skill set was especially put to the test this summer. I served as a public service intern at the Mayor of Chicago's Federal Affairs Office in Washington D.C., where I was responsible for completing project deadlines, researching partnerships for the city, and managing grant opportunities. Despite that I am approaching the end of my Recent Student Trustee position (at Denison), and my graduate school career, Denison will remain at the epicenter of my adult life. I know that my undergraduate experiences and being a Denisonian will continue to light the way in an unknown, adult world.
We encourage students to explore and to take full advantage of the liberal arts. The very core of the liberal arts is that we prepare students to be successful in whatever profession they choose to pursue by providing them with skills in critical thinking, effective written and oral communication, leadership and civic engagement, and individual agency. Through these core outcomes, we prepare students to live and lead in a complex, global society.