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...
“My coursework at Denison heavily emphasized critical thinking, remaining objective when examining an issue, and clear communication. I can't think of anything that has been more valuable to me than just examining information with a critical eye. I can't read a news article or editorial without having 20 follow-up questions. That doesn't mean I necessarily dismiss the author's argument outright, but I try to look at it from all possible angles. Quite frankly, I think Denison has helped inoculate me against a lot of the vitriol that typifies our current media/political culture. I think that has made me a better citizen. If you're trying to look at an issue objectively, you can't get worked up into an emotional frenzy.”
“Denison taught me to take initiative in my own growth and learning. I learned to ask questions and do my own digging when I want to understand more about a subject. I learned that my learning is in my hands. There are so many resources available post-graduation these days for you to expand your professional skills and understanding. The sports and entertainment business is always changing - so for me, it's critical to grow and develop with it. You must know how to learn.”
“Denison taught me to prioritize. I used to be a perfectionist, but Denison taught me that it's impossible to do everything perfectly. You have to pick what's important to you. A friend once told me that life is a juggling act. You are juggling glass balls and rubber balls. You are eventually going to drop some of the balls. Just make sure that you keep the glass ones in the air. I love that! And what constitutes a glass ball is different for everyone. I see a lot of other women like myself who want to do everything perfectly. And that's impossible - especially if you want to have both a career and a family.”
“At Denison, I was a part of Amnesty International. It taught me to have a global outlook and a sense of social awareness. It's easy to get overwhelmed with all the issues of the world and to think ‘there are so many huge problems in the world and I'm just one person, I can't make a difference.’ But Amnesty International club taught me that you can make little changes that have an impact. For example, you can write a letter or make conscious decisions about what you buy. There are so many affordable, sustainable, fair trade products out there now. I recently decided to switch out all my soaps, shampoo, and lotion in favor of more biodegradable products without Parabens, BHA, TEA, Siloxanes, Sulfates, and other harmful chemicals - better for the wildlife, the higher paid factory workers, and for my health!”
“The relationships I built at Denison and the love for the place will never leave me. I was well-prepared academically, of course; but the feeling of having so many people together, and being constantly encouraged to pursue and question… I can't explain myself properly, except to say this: not a week goes by where I don't find myself homesick for it.”
“Education at Denison is, in a word, sweeping. It's an education that covers such a wide-ranging variety of topics that I am never lost now that I have graduated into the 'real world', and one that sweeps you up with a thirst for knowledge and ideas. My Denison education promoted excellence in every category, and through the liberal arts motto and ideal I developed the functionality and organizational prowess needed to excel in all aspects beyond the hill. That thirst for knowledge has translated into a passion for learning, both in pursuing further education and in excelling in the work world. I have only been able to achieve and grow into a 'real adult' through the life skills gained at Denison. It is an irreplaceable experience to be exposed to such vibrant, vital and inspiring ideas as I found on the hill - an education that has made me who I am today.
Tangibly, Denison has given me the tools to make an impact. In my career, I have grown, developed and expanded my skills and reach within the company because of the tools I gained at Denison. My well-rounded educational background has allowed me to thrive on new projects, to step outside my comfort zone, and to impress others with my knowledge and skill base. Most impressive in my career has been the range of my skillset: at Denison I learned to write with flourish, to create print and electronic media that stands out, and to speak with conviction and passion – all with a Biology major.”
“Denison taught me to be kinder, more considerate, and more selfless. College life was never about competition (despite friendly inter-Greek life or intramural sport rivalries) and as a person I have grown into someone who supports others instead of looking first to myself. Selflessness gained through the community service projects and groups I was a part of has informed my most basic human interactions, and I would never have become ‘me’ without my time at Denison.”
“At Denison I was heavily involved in community service and was exposed to real world problems beyond myself and the Denison bubble. As a student, I took part in organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, seeking to end homelessness. As a ‘real world’ employee, I now sit on my company’s Charitable Giving Committee, planning a Day of Service event with Habitat for Humanity and distributing a sizeable charity budget to worthwhile causes. I remain engaged with service through my Denison experiences – by continuing my commitment to giving back, I have enhanced my awareness and participation in the issues facing society today.”
“My Denison education prepared me to deal with people from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives as I began my adult life and career. Like most Denisonians, my Denison education was not only in the classroom. The level of expected community involvement is very high at Denison, so Denison taught me how to balance “work” with the other things I was passionate about being involved with. The quality of the liberal arts education that Denison provides is truly outstanding. The writing and researching skills that I honed at Denison keep me well above my peers both at work and when I was in graduate school. The ability to communicate clearly and efficiently in my writing has helped me excel professionally and provided me opportunities I wouldn’t naturally pursue.”
“During my time at Denison I made friends that I treasure and found passions and hobbies that I didn’t know I had, but Denison does that to everyone! Specifically I learned the importance of creating a family of friends. Since so many of Denison’s students are from out of state, and we all live on The Hill, it is crucially important to create a chosen family. Learning how to open up to people and ask for help when you need it is important, and very important as a young adult. Denison allows, and encourages, professors and staff to mentor students and create bonds with them, there for guidance and advice. Denison is full of some of the most wonderful people on earth, and creating my own chosen family while I was there taught me that you can have family no matter where you are geographically.”
“Personally, while at Denison I was lucky enough to be able to study abroad. I chose to study in Germany partially because of some amazing classes I took at Denison about German history and culture. We have an amazing faculty who are experts in their field and are eager to open student’s eyes to the “outside world.” Denison encouraged me to engage with global issues through study abroad, and those experiences really influenced the rest of my education.”
“My Denison education taught me how to think analytically and critically. It helped me hone my writing skills, both in writing long research papers but also shorter, more policy memo-like papers. These skills have been incredibly helpful as I spent three years working in various think tanks in DC—first at the Pew Charitable Trusts and then two years at the Brookings Institution. They have also served me well so far in my graduate program at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, where I work on public policy and write a lot of memos. In addition to the critical thinking and writing skills I honed at Denison, I benefited from the small class size. I always felt that I was able to, and encouraged to, share my opinion in class. While I still get nervous speaking in front of a group of people in an office environment, my experience at Denison taught me that my opinions matter, especially when I can share them thoughtfully and analytically.”
“I have greatly benefited from the connections I made at Denison. I developed a great relationship with my advisor, and he has helped me hone in on what I want to do. I have stayed in touch since I graduated and we have gotten dinner once a year for the last three years when he has been in DC. These are the types of connections that would not be possible at other schools.”
“My experience in economics and political science at Denison helped lead me to a summer internship in DC between my junior and senior years of college. I loved DC so much that I knew I wanted to be back after graduation. With the skills I honed at Denison and recommendations from fantastic professors, I was able to secure a competitive one-year fellowship at the Pew Charitable Trusts. I actively worked on fiscal and economic policy issues and found that I was interested in this type of policy work. I then moved to the Brookings Institution and spent two years working on various aspects of health policy. When I realized I needed the data skills to advance in my career, I applied to graduate school. I knew from my educational and career experience that I wanted to go into public policy so applied to the Master in Public Affairs program at Princeton. I believe that my commitment to public service, starting with Denison and fostered throughout my career, helped get me into such a prestigious school. After graduation, I hope to continue this public service in the federal government.”
Coming to Denison I was undecided about what career path I wanted to pursue after college. The liberal arts experience allowed me to gain versatile experience that is transferable throughout many fields. Gaining valuable writing skills, presentation of research, and participation in various clubs and organizations prepared me to grow in the corporate world. My Denison connections and education ultimately helped me get a job with Columbus' biggest employer, Nationwide Insurance. My role as a Claims Analyst has allowed me to travel to other states and assess catastrophic losses after weather disasters and while in Columbus, I get to use the skills I obtained in my economics courses and analyze claims data as well as brainstorm with other associates on how we can improve our processes. Thanks to all my extracurricular involvement and collaborations with organizations on campus during my time at Denison, I am able to bring these skills to the conference room and contribute to Nationwide's growth and development.
“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.”
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.