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 35 Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards, 19 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, 13 Critical Language Scholarships, five DAAD Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) in Germany, five Boren Scholarships/Fellowships for language study abroad, and one 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.
“More than anything, my education at Denison taught me how to think. The environment at Denison provided an ideal environment to explore my potential as a leader, a learner, and a global citizen. The culture at Denison forced me to interact with a diverse array of high performing individuals at the highest level. My experience at Denison set me up to approach every opportunity in my adult life with an awareness and aptitude to succeed. My Denison education has supported me to be able to rise to every occasion presented to me. Having developed a clear sense of who I am as a leader in society through my experience at Denison, I am empowered to expect the most from myself and those around me. Whether pushing a colleague to achieve their goals or working with an administrator to optimize the efficiency of an organization I feel practiced and prepared to make the world around me better with my Denison education.”
“The greatest gift that Denison gave me was my lovely wife! We believe that it is no coincidence that we found each other on the Denison campus and are immensely grateful for Denison having brought us together to live a life full of moments shared to the fullest in a world of exciting opportunities that our Denison experience prepared both of us for. With a Denison liberal arts education, the question seems to be how to choose between so many possibilities in life. This allows you to strive for the life that you want to live rather than life having to fit with what you are able to do.”
“Denison provided a safe environment to experiment with making change. Talking to fellow students, professors, coaches, administrators, and community members, I built an awareness of issues on the local, national, and global scale. Wherever there was an idea, Denison offered up the resources in bright minds and connections from the campus into the community to make a change. My experience cultivated a craving to be constantly learning and experiencing the world around me in new and different ways to broaden my perspective to the greatest extent possible in order to be an informed and active participant in society.”
“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.”
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.
“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 for the real world and pursuing my dream of becoming a doctor. The demanding curriculum pushed me to think outside the box and push me beyond my limits. I was able to grow and mature in all aspects.”
“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.”
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.
“My time at [Denison] gave me the reading and analytical skills that have made me a much more mindful consumer of news than I was before I went to college. Also, while at Denison I spent a lot of time being involved with community issues. If there were rallies on campus or big campus events or just little nooks and crannies of Denison culture, I wanted to experience them. I have taken that skill and applied it to my life afterwards, and it has paid off handsomely in community engagement.”
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.