Our alumni success story.
Students come to college to learn how to be the architects of their lives. A Denison education expands our students’ knowledge, opens their horizons, and tests and refines their aspirations. We unlock our students’ potential and give them the skills, values, habits, networks, and experiences needed to launch into successful lives.
After 6 Months
Within six months of graduation, 85 to 90 percent of alumni are employed, in graduate school, or completing post-graduate service (Teach for America, Fulbright, Peace Corp, AmeriCorps, Lutheran Volunteer Corps, and City Year). These charts illustrate the outcomes for students in the three most recent graduating classes. Note that the data are based on especially strong reporting rates, making this a very strong representation of the early success of Denison alumni.
Denison students’ acceptance rates into law and medical school are consistently better than the national average. (Percentage of applicants accepted, compared to the national average.)
A Denison education prepares students to compete for highly selective and prestigious international and national fellowships. These awards, including Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards, Gilman (for study abroad), Truman, Goldwater, and National Science Foundation scholarships, provide opportunities for Denison students and graduates to study and work abroad. The Lisska Center for Scholarly Engagement supports students in their applications for these awards.
More than 65 Denison students have received Fulbright fellowships, prestigious awards won through national competition. Denison students have won several types of Fulbright awards, including English Teaching Assistantships, Research and Study grants, and Fulbright Summer UK Institute Awards. Denison is a top producer of Fulbright and Gilman scholars.
Other prestigious awards won by Denison students include the Truman Scholarship, the Beinecke Scholarship, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the Boren Scholarship for International Study, the Critical Language Scholarship, scholarships from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Humanity in Action, and the Udall Scholarship.
Since 2008, Denison has been a leader among small colleges producing the greatest numbers of Peace Corps Volunteers.
Note: The post-Denison outcomes provided reflect aggregate data for the classes of 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 collected within six months of graduation for each class. These data are collected between May and November for the graduating cohort.
After 5 Years
What impact does a Denison degree have from the perspective of alumni five years after graduation? This survey highlights the current professional status for alumni five years after graduation and all the ways in which the Denison experience positioned alumni to lead successful lives—personally, professionally, and civically—after college.
At the five-year mark since commencement, nearly all alumni (99%) are currently employed or in graduate school. Alumni indicating “other” typically referred to being in a period of professional transition, articulating upcoming plans for graduate school or forthcoming entrepreneurial or artistic endeavors.
Using survey responses and professional profiles (LinkedIn), data on current status are based on an 80% knowledge rate for the members of the Class of 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Since graduating from Denison, 60% of alumni went on to pursue an advanced degree.
Source: Five-Year Out Alumni Survey (Class of 2010, 2011, 2012)
Response Rate: 44%
Types of Advanced Degrees Pursued By Alumni (of those Pursuing Advanced Degree)
Note: Master’s includes various types of Master’s Degrees including MA, MS, MPH, M.Arch, M.Div., M.Ed, MPP, MSW, etc. MD category also includes DO, DMD, DPT, DVM, and OD.
89% of alumni report Denison prepared them very well for graduate school.
86% of alumni report Denison prepared them very well for interpersonal relationships.
69% of alumni report Denison prepared them very well for civic engagement.
- 73% - Spent time volunteering/serving
- 66% - Been involved with your local community
- 65% - Led a group of people to accomplish a goal
- 31% - Served on a board or committee
- 9% - Participated in campaign work (for candidate/issue)
Reflecting back on their time at Denison, 92% of alumni report having close relationships with faculty and staff and 50% report having a research experience with a faculty member.
Most alumni report that these experiences were critically important to their post-Denison success.
The majority of alumni report that their co-curricular involvement (those who participated in internships, off-campus study programs, student organizations, athletics, and/or leadership positions) significantly impacted their post-collegiate success.
Our alumni overwhelmingly report that Denison significantly contributed to their ability to…
- 95% - Think critically and analytically
- 94% - Write clearly and effectively
- 89% - Work effectively in teams
- 91% - Speak clearly and effectively
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.
I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the transition into my first “real world” job was. The skills I learned as an orientation leader, Admissions Senior Interviewer and chair of the D-Day committee translated seamlessly into my current role in the Campus Leadership Programs department at the American Association of University Women (AAUW). At AAUW, I coordinate three programs that allow college students to use AAUW resources to implement activism and make a change on their campuses. The event coordination, volunteer management and creative marketing skills I learned at Denison gave me the professional experience that qualified me for this position.
The education I received at Denison not only made a profound impact on my ability to write and communicate well, but most importantly, taught me how to think critically. From my first “Introduction to Feminism” class to my senior research project on “The Politics of the N-Word through a White, Privileged Perspective,” my classes helped me understand issues through a global, feminist lens and challenged me to recognize my own privilege and social location. My coursework in Communication and Women’s Studies taught me how to incorporate intersectionality into everything I do, something that has proved invaluable in my work at a women’s advocacy non-profit.
My courses and professors introduced me to theories and ideas that shaped my personal growth as a student, as a writer and as a feminist, but it was my classmates, roommates, teammates and friends who helped me grow the most during my four years on the Hill. After I graduated, I began searching for a community similar to the ones I had at Denison. One of the first things I did when I first moved to DC was join the Women’s Information Network (WIN), a social and professional network for “Pro-Choice, Democratic” women. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the current Chair of that organization is a Denison graduate.
Denison helped me realize how important civic engagement was to my everyday life. Whether it was knocking on doors in Newark to help register people to vote, or planning Denison’s first ever “Equal Pay Day rally,” I sought out ways to engage my community and encourage others to take action. There are many different ways to get involved at Denison – take advantage of the classes, guest speakers and organizations that teach you how to become an active citizen, outspoken advocate and compassionate ally. I feel privileged to be able to continue advocacy work in my career and encourage other Denison students to follow their passions after they graduate.
“Innovation occurs at the intersection of multidisciplinary minds. Denison is an environment that fosters these interactions and fuels a broader outlook to solving global issues.”
As a 2015 Denison graduate, I am grateful for four years of being encouraged to think with a curious and critical mind. As I grow personally and professionally, I'm finding the world requires us to make connections across disciplines, think critically, and navigate ambiguity—three skills a liberal arts education instills best.
At Denison, the relationships I built will never leave me. My professors and peers challenged me to think through complexity and inspired me to form points of view. Denison generates an exciting energy around learning and growing as an individual, and it is something I am homesick for each and every day.
When I started at Denison as a freshman in 2010, I had no plans to go into the private sector – frankly, I had no idea where I’d end up. Four years later, I’d had an amazing and formative experience as a student at Denison, and I knew that Nielsen – a leading global market research company – was the right place for me to begin my career journey. It was at Denison that I developed my love of research, and gained very practical real-world experience as a research assistant.
Now that I’m here at Nielsen, I find the habits and mindsets that I picked up at Denison help me every day. Since I don’t come from a business school background, I was nervous that I’d be behind the curve as I started in my new role. It turns out that my experience has been just the opposite. Sure, it took a few weeks to pick up all of the new vocabulary, but market research is, at its heart, all about analysis, drawing out insights, and communicating them clearly and effectively both internally and to clients – all skills that I developed in the classroom and in leadership roles at Denison. Additionally, the adaptable mindset that I developed at Denison comes in handy when I need to learn how to use a new platform, or build a new type of report.
One of Nielsen’s core values is openness. That’s an attitude that I learned very early on at Denison. Now, I find that I listen to new ideas with receptivity, and I don’t turn down an invitation to work on a new project because it seems unrealistic or out of reach. The ability to take risks and to push the boundaries of my comfort zone has made me much more valuable to my team, and will be important factors as I move forward both professionally and personally!
“My Denison experience helped prepare me for success in many ways. I learned how to properly communicate both efficiently and effectively, and I also honed my ability to think outside of the box. The different classes that were made available while I was a student (such as learning how to use Excel pivot tables) provided me with the different skills needed in the professional world. This along with a plethora of other things helped prepare me for my new career, and I urge every student to take advantage of the opportunities that Denison provides.”
My time at Denison was a transformative experience. I came into college quiet and reserved, unsure of what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. I found friends and mentors who propelled me to work hard, try new things, and take risks. Not only did Denison provide a platform of support, it also offered invaluable opportunities through academics and extracurriculars, pushing me to grow and affect change within my community. Everyone at Denison is passionate and excited about something; every student, professor, and staff member wants to see one other succeed.
Through my involvements across campus, I came to understand my own values and priorities. This led me to the University of Pennsylvania where I’m now enrolled in the Urban Teaching Apprenticeship Program, a Master’s and teaching certification program serving students in the Philadelphia school system. My Denison classes and internships helped me discover the career I want to pursue in elementary education. My mentors at Denison helped shape who I am as a teacher and leader, and how I approach education as a means of empowerment.
Running student organizations, gaining experience in the field, and making deep connections across difference gave me confidence in my ability to listen to, work with, support, and uplift others. These skills have proven vital in working with children, parents, other teachers, and administrators. Most importantly, because of my experiences at Denison, I’ve grown into a caring, empathetic, and engaged citizen, not content to sit back and wait for things to happen but instead ready to use my own voice to create positive change. Teaching is my way of making this difference. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for Denison.
“Attending Denison University has been one of the best decisions I have made. At a most fundamental level, Denison has prepared me for the academic rigors of medical school. Beyond memorizing the facts, my professors taught me to actively engage and be critical of the material and to extrapolate information to real-life situations. These skills have allowed me to not only memorize the large content presented in medical school but also understand clinical implications to better serve my future patients. Second, Denison has increased my awareness of cultures and identities other than my own. I had the opportunity to experience other cultures, religious and political beliefs, and biases. These experiences along with the emphasis on community service at Denison have allowed me to be more civically engaged in my community during medical school and help advocate for medically-underserved people. Third, through classroom discussions, on-campus employment, and great mentorship from faculty and staff, I observed and was asked to display professionalism. Growing in these skills has been very beneficial as a medical student because I am always wearing the “white coat,” whether in the classroom, clinics, or community. And last, Denison emphasizes building relationships like no other institution, which has allowed me to better connect with my peers and be conscious of engaging patients as human beings rather than as duties of the job. Overall, the relationships and skills I gained from attending Denison have benefited me in so many ways and will continue with me the rest of my life.”
When I think back to my time at Denison (it’s just been over a year), I often think about how similar the “Real World” is to the life I lived on campus, to life on the hill. I learned it’s all about perspective. A job working at a bank or a startup in New York is essentially the same thing as working as an RA or leading a campus organization. You have a set of responsibilities, goals to reach and a community to be a part of. Through this lens, almost everything I did at Denison was a testing ground for what my journey in the “Real World” would be. In essence, it was an easier, more forgiving environment that promotes making mistakes and learning from them.
If I look at the “skills” that I learned at Denison, the ones that have helped me the most are my ability to question and break down complex problems, build personal and close relationships within communities and to be curious. These three skills or abilities have helped me grow immensely in the last year and will forever challenge me, allowing me to perfect them every day. There are definitely other baseline skills such as effective writing that should not be taken for granted. But of all the skills, if you can sit in a room and stop a discussion because you had an insightful question that was phrased in an impeccable manner, one that helped others understand the topic more clearly, you have taken a step in the right direction. That is what I learned at Denison and still perfect every day.
Starting with your first year on campus, and continuing five years after graduation, you’ll learn to combine your academic knowledge, values, and habits with the career-oriented skills, networks and experiences you need to be the architect of your own life.
And you’ll build the foundation of all of this, as you work with the Knowlton Center team, faculty, coaches and staff across Denison to help answer three pivotal questions:
- What kind of life do I want to lead?
- How do careers and professions fit into those lives?
- How do I use my time in college to develop the skills, values, habits, experiences and networks to get started?
The Knowlton Center for Career Exploration
You can tap Knowlton Center resources for career exploration over the entire four years of your time at Denison, and for five years after graduation.
Denison Connecting adds the power of almost 40,000 alumni and friends to your career network, getting together at events around the world to network and learn from fellow alumni and industry experts.
Featuring upcoming events and other opportunities for Denison alumni, parents, friends, students and faculty/staff to connect.
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 2017; EBI Resident Survey 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.
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 2017.