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 43 Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards, 23 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, 17 Critical Language Scholarships, 5 DAAD Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) in Germany, 6 Boren Scholarships/Fellowships for language study abroad, and 2 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 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.
My Denison experience helped me become a more efficient communicator which is essential to my job in admissions at Purdue University. From presentations on research and constant engagement in the classroom, to assisting as a panelist and host in the Denison Admission Office, I learned how to effectively communicate with others. I am able to connect with students daily on a personal level about the college experience because I am able to reflect on the many opportunities Denison had to offer. Denison challenged me to think outside of the box and step outside of my comfort zone and I am so happy to have had the experiences that I did during my 4 years on the hill, because they helped shape me into the professional I am today.
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!
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.
“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.”
My Denison experience has prepared me exceptionally for the engagements that I am currently involved in relating to sustainability, food justice, and social justice advocacy. My curricular, as well as co-curricular activities at Denison exposed me to the complexity and intersectionality of global systems, as well as deepened my interests in food, ecology, and agriculture. Serving as a 2015-2016 AmeriCorps VISTA Member at Tremont West Development Corporation in Cleveland, Ohio coordinating food access initiatives after graduation, and now as a Program Fellow at The Food Recovery Network in College Park, Maryland supporting West Coast colleges and universities in fighting waste and feeding people, has made me realize ever more the power of the Denison experience. Ironically, it was at Denison where I first heard of The Food Recovery Network (where we have a chapter!) and now where I work to support my alma mater, as well as 190+ chapters across the country in food justice initiatives. My gratitude for the college is immense, and it is especially clear to me now as it was during my admission journey, that choosing to attend Denison was the best choice for my personal, as well as professional development.
“I learned more about politics, religious differences, world events, racism, prejudice, pride, gay rights, and social justice during my time at Denison than I did in all of my other years combined. I felt safe enough to truly grapple with some of the world's (and my own) biggest issues while at Denison: the life altering conversations with peers and professors still stick with me today. That type of engagement and commitment — I haven't found it anywhere else.”
“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.”
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.