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, 94% of the most recent graduating class were employed, in graduate school completing post-graduate service (Teach for America, Fulbright, Peace Corps, 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.
Since 2012-13, Denison students and alumni have received 29 Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards, 19 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, 13 Critical Language Scholarships, 5 DAAD Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) in Germany, 5 Boren Scholarships/Fellowships for language study abroad, and 1 Beinecke Fellowship for graduate study.
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, National Science Foundation (NSF), Graduate Research Fellowships Program (GRFP), scholarships from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Humanity in Action, and the Udall Scholarship, as well as many other fellowships.
Since 2008, Denison has been a leader among small colleges producing the greatest numbers of Peace Corps Volunteers.
In addition, Denison graduates win prestigious and highly competitive positions with Teach For America, and consistently place at the top of our peer group in national rankings.
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, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Since graduating from Denison, 57% of alumni went on to pursue an advanced degree.
Source: Five-Year Out Alumni Survey (Class of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
Response Rate: 42%
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.
90% of alumni report Denison prepared them very well for graduate school.
86% of alumni report Denison prepared them very well for interpersonal relationships.
70% of alumni report Denison prepared them very well for civic engagement.
- 75% - Spent time volunteering/serving
- 67% - Been involved with your local community
- 64% - Led a group of people to accomplish a goal
- 31% - Served on a board or committee
- 11% - Participated in campaign work (for candidate/issue)
Reflecting back on their time at Denison, 93% 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…
- 96% - Think critically and analytically
- 95% - 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.
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.
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.
“I believe my Denison experience has definitely prepared me well for my professional journey, especially in three aspects:
1. Never just say “I don't know.” Say “I'll look into it” instead. In other words, attitude matters. In my first official job review, my boss told me that my attitude is my biggest asset. When tasked with something new or daunting, I said, “I don't know how to do it, but I'll look into it.” My employer was a young entrepreneurial company. We were just launching a new open source CRM system. Nobody wanted or had the time to study the 600-page admin manual. So I said, “I'll look into it”, and I finished reading the whole manual in a week and started practicing what I learned. When the company was looking to streamline our core business process, I built a new module with our CRM so that two teams can connect with each other seamlessly. I never knew I'd become an IT guy. It's my research experience at Denison that makes me more prepared to take on new challenges. Teaching myself new things from scratch is not daunting to me, because that's how I learned when doing research or taking research classes at Denison. It's just different subjects in professional life.
2. Work with people. I worked a lot and did a lot of extracurricular activities at Denison, most of which involved interacting with other people. I worked in groups with other students in some classes, with professors and peer researchers to complete semester-long research projects, and with fellow RAs and HRs when I was on the Residential Education staff. I learned a good team is so much more than the sum of all the individuals in it. So when I started my professional life, it's very comfortable for me to work with other people: co-workers, bosses, clients, or external contractors. This makes me very effective in leveraging bigger projects. Working well with people is very important because projects at work take more than one individual to complete. You have to work with other people to get it done. If you enjoy that and know how to make people work better as a team, then you are in a very good place. There are self-help books that teach you how to do better teamwork, but it's nowhere near the experiences I've had from the four years at Denison.
3. Follow your heart. After working full time for less than a year, I was offered partnership by my employer but decided to quit my job instead to start my own company. I saw a need and envisioned a better solution for communication and collaboration between companies engaging in international trade. They need something better than email to orchestrate the complicated processes to get their products across the ocean and borders. I think I came up with one such tool that could do just that. Staying longer with my previous company wouldn’t necessarily help me in getting that tool built and tested, so I decided to quit my job and return to China to give it a try. I call this following my heart. When I was at Denison, I picked most of my classes following my heart; applied for jobs and clubs that interested me the most, and talked with great people who followed their heart and never regretted it. Those experiences turned out to be very influential in the way I think, behave, and treat people. So when I faced a tough decision, the Denison experience made the decision-making process much easier. So I followed my heart. In that sense, my Denison education supported my professional effectiveness.”
“A Denison education is an extreme “best value”: never could I have expected to form such long-lasting and deep relationships, to have life-changing conversations with brilliant professors, to take on a real-life leadership position managing 100 volunteers (which would get me not just one but two jobs post-graduation), or to be pushed so far out of my comfort zone that I don’t even recognize myself at the end.”
“My Denison education has allowed me to excel in my first job as I brought a valuable set of liberal arts skills to my career. The most tangible aspects of my Denison education that have been effective in my work-life are my abilities to problem solve, conduct research, write professionally, and express myself in a clear and concise manner. My Denison education provided me the space and opportunities to develop my professional skills in a variety of different settings, which has set me apart from my peers in the workplace.”
“My time at Denison allowed me to better understand who I am as a person and what I need to do to take care of myself (mentally, physically, emotionally, etc.). By the time I left Denison I better understood what it meant to care for myself and the tactical actions I needed to take to support my health and well-being. I attribute a large portion of this to the resources that were available to me through [the Whisler Center for Student Wellness]. Additionally, Denison provided me a safe space to explore who I am and what I am passionate about. This has allowed me to develop interests in, and connections to, similar communities outside of Denison. The best example of this is the fact that I grew into myself as a member of the LGBT community through my involvement in Outlook, and I have since established myself as a member of LGBT-related groups in both my work-life and community.”
“I am engaged with issues of both my local community and more global concerns. I intentionally sought out a smaller, more passionate neighborhood that would provide me an opportunity to more closely interact with my community. I am involved through service as well as social activities in my local community and within the city on the whole. I have become MORE engaged in global concerns since I left Denison… I became the most engaged with local and global issues through my academics at Denison. I was able to craft a curriculum for myself that really let me explore the things I was the most interested in. Denison also gave me the skills and opportunities to develop myself as a citizen, allowing me to understand my responsibilities and passion. Through this I have become a more active citizen and have taken an interest in advocating for the things I feel are most important to me in my world (whether that is on a micro or macro scale).”
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 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.”
I work where I do, in the way that I do, because of my experience at Denison.
I work at an interfaith organization because it allows me to live out my personal values — the values that Denison leadership initiatives pushed me to name, develop and put in to action. I was hired at this organization in large part because of the experiences I had at Denison, in and out of the classroom. A Denison internship in Washington, DC and a community service program showed my employer that I had a track record of success. Four years of professors helping me articulate complex ideas in straightforward ways assured the Hiring Manager that I could communicate with sophistication. Campus dialogue initiatives prepared me to build solid relationships, giving my organization confidence that I could work closely and effectively with colleagues and inspire our organization's supporters.
At Denison I had the privilege of forming the closest friendships of my life with incredible peers. With my friends, I learned how to support others and live in a community. I also learned how to be authentic and vulnerable: how to be me. Is my life different because of the transformative friendships I developed at Denson — in pre-orientation trips and 8am classes, in campus dorms and homestays abroad, and in so many other places? Yes, every minute of it. I simply couldn't be more grateful. Looking forward, I am excited to maintain these important friendships while building new ones, wherever I may be in the world.
The great focus of my time at Denison was about community — how we build it (or break it), how we strengthen it (or weaken it), how we can make decisions together to solve shared problems (or face the implications of our inability to do so). I learned about community in courses and in readings — several books from Denison sit on my desk at work — but also by living it. The triumphs and struggles of participating in a diverse community on campus shape how I have chosen to engage my neighbors now. In addition, my experience at Denison motivates my current engagement with the social justice issues of our time, and my skills and experiences set me up to make a difference.
My civic commitment is not separate from my personal and professional lives — it grows out of them, and shapes them in return. One more connection between my professional, personal and civic lives: I cultivated them at Denison.
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: College Senior Survey 2018; 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.